Minority accounting doctoral students will gather today and over the weekend in New York City for their annual conference.

Sponsored by the PhD Project, the Accounting Doctoral Students Association Conference hosts panels and speakers dedicated to supporting African American, Hispanic and Native American accounting doctoral students. Forty-six students are slated to attend the event.

“There’s a lot of professional development involved and an incredible network,” said Bernie Milano, president of the KPMG Foundation and the PhD Project.

Sessions cover how to conduct research, present yourself for new jobs and go over the pipeline of writing a paper and getting it published. The agenda is created by a committee of doctoral students and tends to stay the same every year since students are moving through the ranks.

The idea is to create and provide a community for these doctoral students, help them get their PhD and then become faculty. Many faculty who are involved today have been past participants of the conference.

Milano said one of the biggest challenges minorities face is they are constantly being pulled out to set an example – for instance, if a dean of an university wants to show how diverse his department is, he’ll ask a person of color to give a tour or talk to interested parties.

Faculty often are met with stares by students because for many students it’s their first experience with a minority professor.

“Minorities are a little tired of being pioneers, of being the only one, of seeing a head jerk when the person walks into the room,” Milano said. “It’s because there are so few.”

The conference starts today, Friday July 31, and runs through Sunday, August 2.