Clubs Offer Career Contacts, Practical Experience
By Jill Gambon
Eric Peary’s efforts to revive the student Accounting Society were his way of giving back to the University. A Manning School of Business (MSB) junior, Peary felt he had gained so much at UMass Lowell that he wanted to contribute something in return. The accounting organization had been dormant for several years and Peary thought restoring it would provide an outlet from which students could get career guidance, network and do community service.
“I don’t want to leave this school and not leave a legacy,” says Peary, who has duel concentrations in accounting and finance. “I want to have an organization where all accounting students can get advice.”
Peary drew on his knowledge of student organizations – he’s involved in several and serves as president of Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society – to set up the Accounting Society last fall. Since then, the group has gained members, held regular meetings, visited accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, sponsored a résumé workshop with the Career Services and Cooperative Education Center and organized volunteers to help local senior citizens with tax preparation.
Like Peary, other MSB students are finding opportunities to develop professional skills and contacts through campus clubs. In the past year, several students helped start a campus chapter of Collegiate DECA, part of a national organization that prepares students for business careers and entrepreneurship through conferences and case-study competitions. The group held networking meetings with alumni on such topics as social media and surviving in the business world. Members traveled to conferences in New York and Rhode Island and a team of three students went on to win first place for an advertising campaign at DECA’s annual international competition in Salt Lake City in late April.
Test Driving a Major
“DECA is a great way to test drive a major,” says sophomore Eric Howe, president of the club’s campus chapter and a member of the team that beat out more than two dozen competitors in Salt Lake City.
Howe and freshman Ibrahim Lahlaf and senior Reynaldo Santana pitched a campaign promoting the breakfast menu at fast-food chain Wendy’s. They devised a budget, planned media buys, created social networking outreach, built a scale model billboard and developed a prototype for a smart-phone application. They presented their work to a panel of judges made up of advertising industry professionals.
“I was able to put to use what I’ve learned in my classes,” says Howe. “The case studies give you hands-on experience.”
Club members have gotten to know students from across the country at the conferences and are keeping up with their new contacts through LinkedIn and Facebook. Howe says his DECA experience helped him land a paid summer internship at Enterprise Bank in Lowell, where he’ll help with marketing.
“It gives students such confidence when they are able to apply theoretical knowledge to practical use,” says Karen Hvizda, an MSB visiting instructor who serves as an adviser to the DECA club. “I love seeing them apply their skills and grow.”
Peary says with a constitution in place, subcommittees formed and a core group of members actively engaged, the Accounting Society is poised to grow more next year. His goal is to make all students aware of the benefits they can reap from getting involved.
“I want to open up students’ eyes to what’s available. The opportunities I’ve had here have opened up so many doors,” he says. “This is my way of giving back.”