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Ashley Austin

Ashley Austin

M.S. in Accounting 2008 (Financial Reporting & Assurance Track)

Now: University of Georgia’s J.M. Tull School of Accounting, Ph.D. Candidate (Athens, GA)

Most memorable class

My most memorable class was Professor Martin’s auditing class. He had us think critically about the material and encouraged us to use our own judgment—which often led to lively discussions among students in class. Auditing seemed boring and static until that class. Now that I’ve started teaching auditing to students myself, I try to mimic that class by making the topic seem interesting and dynamic.

Leveraging the M.S. in Accounting degree in the workplace

I think a McIntire degree attracts recruiters’ eyes, and once you’re hired, I think it positively affects people’s first impressions of you. It seemed as though the new hires from well-respected schools, such as UVA, were assigned to the bigger and riskier clients when I started in public accounting.

A typical day on the job

I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, working towards becoming an accounting professor. During the first two years of the program, I took accounting research, econometrics, statistics, and psychology classes, all to help me become a well-trained researcher. Now that I’m in my fourth year of the program, I spend most of my time working on my dissertation and other research projects. In addition, I also teach an undergraduate course in auditing.

What makes the job great

The best parts of my job are when I’m interacting with other people—both with my research and in the classroom. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with the accounting faculty and fellow Ph.D. students on research projects. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together. There’s also nothing more rewarding than putting your heart into teaching and then feeling that effort paid off with students learning more in the classroom and enjoying accounting/auditing more than they thought they would.

Advice for future M.S. in Accounting students

Really make an effort to bond with your fellow classmates, both in and out of the classroom. You will all start careers at the same time, in roughly the same industry, so it’s really helpful to already have a network of colleagues and friends when you start your career. Those connections can become really valuable when you’re trying to figure out the next steps in your career. Some of the friends I made during the M.S. in Accounting Program are my best friends still today!

Preparation for professional success and leadership in the workplace

McIntire gave me a sound technical base to start my career in accounting, but far more valuable than that are the general professional skills I learned. For example, McIntire’s emphasis on business writing and presentations put me a step ahead of other graduates who entered the workplace without these skills. In addition, McIntire gave me an appreciation for working in groups that I never had before. It wasn’t until McIntire that I realized (through firsthand experience) that a group of people with very different strengths and weaknesses could work together to make a final product that was superior to anything we could have accomplished individually.

Favorite Charlottesville activity

Getting a Bodo’s bagel and coffee on that perfect early fall day (not too hot, not too cold, and leaves on the ground), and then strolling across the Lawn, taking in everything. Charlottesville is just gorgeous in the fall!