Earlier this month, theIllinois CPA Societyhosted this year's Mary T. Washington Wylie (MTWW) Internship Preparation Program, providing 25 minority college students with access to training and resources essential in the transition from student to professional.

“Advancing diversity is crucial to the accounting profession’s sustainability,” stated Illinois CPA Society President/CEO Todd Shapiro. “CPAs must embrace and foster diversity within the profession to stay relevant in an increasingly multicultural environment.” 

Named after the country's first female African-American CPA, the program is geared towards students from higher education institutions where accounting firms may not typically recruit. Each MTWW scholar is awarded a scholarship and interviewed for an internship with at least three of the seven participating accounting firms. Since the program’s inception in 2012, 75 students, representing 32 schools, have participated, with 43 students receiving an internship or other offer to date. To be eligible, students must have sophomore or junior standing at an Illinois college or university during the previous school year, have a 3.0/4.0 GPA, and complete the application.

“It was a really great experience to meet and network with actual business professionals. The experience inspired me think about my own career path and how earning the CPA could lead to a variety of interesting jobs,” stated Artaysia Clark, 2015 MTWW scholar.

Over the course of the three-day program, students interacted with accounting and finance professionals from leading firms and organizations as diverse as the Chicago White Sox, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Easter Seals. The Careers in Accounting Panel also addressed various career paths for CPAs, with panelists sharing personal stories of how they found their niche in the profession, what daily workload to expect, how students could be successful in similar roles, and possible earning potential.

New to this year’s program, students learned the value in marketing their personal brand, as well as tips to a successful mentorship. Participants learned how to recognize, develop and communicate their brand to “step up and stand out” from a crowded talent pool. They also gained insight into why mentors are so important, how to identify mentors and how to leverage those relationships.

“I really appreciated the one-on-one feedback on my resume and the time professional recruiters dedicated to our group practice interview sessions. On the final day, I had enough confidence to “market myself” during my interviews, which may very well lead to an internship opportunity with an accounting firm,” said Deon Taylor, 2015 MTWW scholar, in a statement."

Students additionally participated in interactive sessions dedicated to business ethics, etiquette, team building, and the CPA exam. Other key components to the program included the much-anticipated advice students received about improving their resumes and interview skills from recruiters.

The all-expenses paid program is funded by donations to the CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois’ Mary T. Washington Wylie Opportunity Fund.

For more information on the program, head to Illinois CPA sitehere.