ACAP-Ohio shows students opportunities available

ACAP170614aBy Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

As part of its ongoing effort to replenish the accounting pipeline, The Ohio CPA Foundation on Sunday gathered 45 high school students for a weeklong, in-depth introduction to the profession. Though it might be technically considered a summer camp, the Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio), presented at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, does not include crafts or leisure time by the pool.

“It’s not just a summer camp where you get to lackadaisically pass through,” said Jasmine Mickey, manager, diversity and inclusion. “It’s work. We require academic rigor and professionalism and a lot of time from these students.”

ACAP170614cAttendees are also not typical students. Hailing from every major metro area in Ohio, they come from groups that are racially and ethnically underrepresented in the profession, and Mickey describes them as “highly motivated and intelligent.” The average GPA of an ACAP-Ohio student this year is 3.9, and some have already started their own business or nonprofit. For a profession hungry for talent, these 14- to 17-year-olds represent what every employer could hope for in their future staff.

Students who arrived Sunday checked into the residence halls at Ohio State and received a roommate at random, because another important component of the program is introducing students to college life. Thanks to support from CPA firms, corporations, corporate foundations and the Accountancy Board of Ohio, students participate in a variety of workshops and interact with CPAs and other business leaders throughout the week. They’ll receive leadership development training with lessons on soft skills and communication. Professors will walk them through introductory accounting courses and they’ll work on a weeklong group case study competition.

Highlights include a bowling night with professionals and downtown firm shadowing sessions to learn how the business runs, what’s required of an accountant and the future job opportunities available.

“It’s not just what they’ve been learning in the classroom throughout the week, but it’s a hands-on experience where they get to see what an accountant does and what they’ll hopefully be doing in the future,” Mickey said.

In its 22nd year, ACAP-Ohio was launched by the National Association of Black Accountants and The Ohio Society of CPAs to address the lack of diversity in the profession. Although efforts to diversify continue today, ACAP’s successful history reveals itself in the ACAP alumni who act as chaperones in the program and volunteers who return year after year.

“We definitely want to build upon this program’s legacy of success,” Mickey said. “We want students to understand accounting is a profession that will provide a lot of opportunity for them should they choose to follow it.”

Sponsors for this year’s event include Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Deloitte, L Brands Foundation, White Castle, Kaiser Consulting, JP Morgan Chase, Marathon, Honda of America, RSM, Schneider Downs, Nationwide Insurance and many others.

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