Oct 22

Standing Out by Adding a Master’s Degree

Unsure of what to do after graduation? Bryan School alumnus Elizabeth Friss was in the same situation after earning her BS in Accounting in 2015.

“I was not sure of my next move. I had an internship for the summer but was unsure of what to do next. I decided to get my MS in Accounting so that I would be eligible to obtain a CPA license. Obtaining an MSA (from UNCG in 2017) was the best thing I could do to set myself apart from other candidates in my field.”

Today, Elizabeth is senior auditor of finance and IT at HanesBrands, Inc.

“My role mainly consists of reviewing and testing internal controls for both finance and IT business processes to validate they are functioning properly and in accordance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX),” said Elizabeth. “This also includes reviewing any acquisitions the company makes. I get to interact with many different areas and learn more about the company every day.  My daily job also causes me to think outside of the box and use my problem-solving skills.” In her role she also travels overseas to meet with consultants and performs testing on information systems.

“The most rewarding part of my job is that I know I am making a difference in the company,” shared Elizabeth.  “The team I work with is fostering an environment that allows for open communication between the business and the Audit Services Department.  This allows the business to come and meet with our department to discuss potential risks and opportunities for improvement prior to issues arising.”

Going the extra mile to pursue a graduate degree can help you stand out to employers when applying for a job, and there are several ways to start preparing for your career while still in school.

Elizabeth’s tips for career preparation include:

  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone and talk to people you usually wouldn’t talk to.
  • Attend Company Spotlights to meet employers and talk one-on-one with company representatives.
  • Get involved with organizations on campus to expand your network and meet new groups of people.

As a student, Elizabeth joined Beta Alpha Psi, an honor society for accounting, finance, and information systems majors at universities accredited by AACSB. Through this organization she met her current employer and from there was offered an internship and gained invaluable experience to help her land her current role as senior auditor.

“My education at the Bryan School fully prepared me for my position at HanesBrands,” stated Elizabeth. “Every day there is a new challenge where I must use my problem-solving and analytical skills. I also get to utilize my people and communication skills as my job allows me to interact with people all over the world every day, all day.”

Elizabeth stressed the importance of building connections with other students. “You never know who you might end up working with.” Some of her colleagues and clients are fellow graduates of the Bryan School.

“My biggest advice for MS in Accounting students is to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams while still in graduate school,” said Elizabeth. “In order to pass these exams, you have to truly want it and be dedicated to your future professional goals.” She also recommends having a good support system behind you. Whether it’s your family, friends, or a significant other, having someone to cheer you on over the lengthy process will be extra motivation to help you reach your goal.

What is the best way to start the process? “Jump in and don’t stop.” Keep pushing and working hard until you earn the certification. “This exam will take over your life for about 12 – 18 months, but after passing you feel so accomplished and the feeling is like nothing you have experienced before.”

 

Written by Nicole Natchus

Interested in exploring the Bryan School’s MA in Accounting program? Visit our website or contact our graduate recruiter at bryangrad@uncg.edu.