Nicholas Gilliam, a 2017 graduate, is quick to shatter assumptions that accounting is a solitary profession.
“When people hear that I'm going to begin work at an accounting firm, they immediately jump to the conclusion that I’ll be sitting behind a desk, alone, crunching numbers late into the night,” said Gilliam, who is now in the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Science in accountancy program.
“More and more, we see the accounting industry becoming one that relies on ‘people skills.’ That necessity to be able to interact with a variety of people — your team, your clients, third parties, etc. — coupled with complex problem-solving is what I love.”
After interacting with peers from other universities, Gilliam said he’s come to understand three points that set Appalachian apart from other college choices: its communal feel, program flexibility and distinctive opportunities for students.
Appalachian’s communal feel “starts with the faculty who welcome you and become your friends as you progress through your studies,” he said. It wasn’t unusual for students to meet up with a professor outside of class, and he still keeps in touch with his professors today, he said.
The accounting program was flexible, Gilliam said, in that it went beyond demanding coursework. He was encouraged to take part in internships, study abroad and other opportunities.
Distinctive course options — such as nonprofit accounting, which other schools often don’t offer — were helpful in preparing him for the CPA exam. And, Appalachian’s proximity to the Charlotte financial hub creates internship and job prospects, he said.
“All of the largest firms in the public accounting world are able to and do recruit from App State,” Gilliam said.
“As a whole, Appalachian sets its students up for success at the caliber they desire, without letting them get lost in the shuffle.”