Accounting Society Introduces Business Students to Career Path Less Traveled

Internal Audit panelists pose for a photo with Manning faculty Image by Ed Brennen
Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer, left, Asst. Teaching Prof. Lisa Andrusaitis, second from right, and Accounting Dept. Chair Khondkar Karim, right, welcomed panelists, from left, David Dyson, Danielle McCormick and David McMahon to Alumni Hall to discuss internal auditing with students.

By Ed Brennen

A concentration in accounting opens the doors to many career paths for Manning School of Business students. Graduates can go on to become certified public accountants (CPAs), financial analysts, tax experts and even FBI agents.

One career path that accounting students may not be as familiar with, however, is internal audit. An organization’s internal auditor reviews processes, operations and goals and provides management with objective, professional advice on how to improve and keep up with business trends.

To help students learn more about the field, the Accounting Society recently hosted an internal audit panel discussion and networking event at Alumni Hall. Three professionals from the Greater Boston chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) – David McMahon, David Dyson and Danielle McCormick – spoke about their work, the skills required for the profession and career opportunities in the field.

“We’re trying to show students what they can do with their accounting degree,” says Shaymus Dunn, a senior business administration major from Lowell who serves as Accounting Society co-president with fellow senior Sam Patel. “Internal audit is very interesting because you have to know the whole business; it’s not just an accounting focus. You use a lot more of the general side of your business degree.”

As part of its academic outreach efforts, the IIA’s Boston chapter awarded $1,000 scholarships this year to Dunn and Kelsie Howard, a senior business administration major from Georgetown, Mass.

Students Sam Patel, Caroline Burgess and Shaymus Dunn pose together at the Internal Audit Student Exchange conference Image by courtesy
Accounting students, from left, Sam Patel, Caroline Burgess and Shaymus Dunn represented the Manning School at the IIA’s Internal Audit Student Exchange conference in Orlando, Fla.

And in September, Dunn, Patel and senior business administration major Caroline Burgess represented the Manning School at the IIA’s Internal Audit Student Exchange conference in Orlando, Fla.

“It was an amazing opportunity to learn what internal audit is all about from professionals, educators and peers,” says Patel, a Tyngsboro native whose concentrations are in accounting and finance.

Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer says supporting students’ involvement with professional associations like the IIA is an important part of their business education.

“The IIA has changed my life,” says Richtermeyer, who offered to pay the $40 IIA student membership fee for the first 25 students who signed up during the panel discussion. “It’s been a fantastic way for me to stay globally connected.”

While many of the students who attended the panel discussion are studying accounting, the panelists pointed out that internal audit also attracts people with degrees in management, marketing, economics and general business.

Accounting Society co-presidents Sam Patel and Shaymus Dunn at the panel discussion Image by Ed Brennen
Accounting Society co-presidents Sam Patel, left, and Shaymus Dunn chat during the internal audit panel discussion they helped organize.

“Internal audit is often seen as a training ground for future managers. If you want someone to understand how a company works, you put them in internal audit,” said Dyson, who is chief audit officer at The Nature Conservancy and has more than 30 years of experience in the field.

In terms of skill set, the panelists agreed that internal auditors should be analytical, creative and have some technical know-how. They should also be good listeners, possess strong communication skills and have a desire to learn.

“As auditors, one day you could be at the loading dock interviewing someone from shipping and receiving, and the next day you could be sitting with the CFO,” said McMahon, who recently moved from his job as an internal audit manager at iRobot to work in the Office of the State Auditor.

McCormick, meanwhile, is a senior associate in the risk advisory group at the accounting firm RSM – where Dunn has a full-time job waiting for him as an assurance associate after he graduates.

“I definitely want to go into public accounting and see where it takes me,” Dunn said. “But if I realize after a few years that it isn’t for me, internal audit is a viable option.”

A student takes notes during the Internal Audit panel discussion Image by Ed Brennen
Michael Aurelio, a sophomore business student from Mendon, takes notes during the internal audit panel discussion.

While internal audit doesn’t have a big presence in the Manning School curriculum, Dept. Chair Khondkar Karim and Asst. Teaching Prof. Lisa Andrusaitis hope events like the panel discussion will spark student interest.

“I think students came away a good understanding of the field,” says Andrusaitis, who advises the Accounting Society. “Hopefully it will increase.”

Renee Twogood, a junior business administration major from Westford with concentrations in marketing and management, had “no idea” what internal auditing was before she attended the panel discussion.

“But I’m glad I came, because it gave me a new perspective,” says Twogood, who signed up for the IIA student membership on her way out of Alumni Hall. “I like that you can look at the structure of a business and figure out what’s wrong.”

“As accounting students today, you are lucky because there are several career paths when you leave college beyond public accounting,” McMahon said. “There’s nothing wrong with the CPA route, but there are jobs out there (in internal audit) for college graduates.”