By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
When Libby Cullins, CPA, discusses the accounting profession with high school students, she begins by dispelling some myths.
“One of the things that is most important is to level set what an accountant is and what it isn't,” Cullins said.
An executive director and controller at JPMorgan Chase, Cullins has been presenting to students on the profession for about five years. She said it’s become a passion of hers, and when the pandemic limited in-person events she presented virtually to students instead.
Unless students are familiar with the profession, many might have a narrow view of what accountants do, Cullins said. During the presentation she covers necessary secondary education for accountants, salary expectations and opportunities the profession provides.
Cullins said her goal when presenting is to have the students begin to consider accounting as a possible career path for them.
She said she appreciates that many of these students might have never met or spoken in-depth with someone in the profession before, and without presentations such as these they might never learn more about the reality of the profession.
There is a lot for teachers to cover in class, Cullins said, and though accounting might be mentioned in a textbook, that is different from hearing an experienced professional describe its opportunities.
“For me it's the light bulb moment,” Cullins said. “The light bulb moment of the students that maybe weren't even looking at me or making direct eye contact with me in the beginning, but by the end of the presentation they're literally and figuratively leaning in.”
While professions like STEM, law and medicine are regarded as popular and lucrative fields, Cullins said accounting is both of those things, too.
“I think everyone should know regardless of background, regardless of your financial situation, regardless of your race, or your gender identity, this career is for you,” she said. “That's what makes me get up and drive across the state to stand in front of students that maybe didn’t know about accounting. But I think by the end of it, they are glad.”