This is the way to build a future CPA

By Jennifer Rieman, CAE, manager, public relations

Candice with captionThe accounting profession almost lost Candice Hayes-McInnis, CPA. If she hadn’t taken an accounting class in high school, she thinks she would have been a teacher. Like many students, she was adamant about picking her major before she went to college. 

“Without having had my high school accounting class, it would have been too late,” she said. “High school gave me the jump to see the material first and then decide what I wanted to do with it.”

Her high school accounting class was also the catalyst that led her to The Ohio CPA Foundation’s Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio) which she attended her senior year. If the class was the introduction to the profession, ACAP-Ohio solidified accounting as the choice for her.

“Every time I told someone I wanted to do accounting before ACAP-Ohio, they would say, ‘Why? You’re just going to sit at a desk,’ Hayes-McInnis said. “ACAP-Ohio showed me the vast opportunities that accounting offered. I really attribute it to my choice of the accounting profession.”

While enrolled in the Master of Accountancy program at Ohio State, Hayes-McInnis signed up for another Foundation program, the Accounting Careers Leadership Academy (formerly the ASCEND Leadership Conference). At the program, she met leaders in the profession and other students in the same boat, and made connections that have benefited her throughout her career.

“I met a lot of new people and maintained a lot of relationships through ASCEND, and we still talk to this day,” she said. “The best thing about ASCEND was the networking.”

Despite earning her CPA and securing a position at Clark Schaefer Hackett, Hayes-McInnis is still thinking about what’s next. Her ultimate goal is to start her own non-profit that will help adults with financial literacy. But for now, she’s content in public accounting.

“I love public accounting on the tax side because we really are a trusted financial advisor,” she said. “I like the one-on-one personal contact with clients. You get to see a number of different situations and clients.”

The Ohio CPA Foundation is dedicated to creating and expanding programs like ACAP-Ohio and ACLA, experiences that are integral to attracting students of color to the accounting profession. The goal is to create a community of mentors that will encourage students throughout the CPA journey, from learning about accounting in high school, to choosing the major in college and sitting for the exam. 

“It was kind of intimidating to try and go into a career where not a lot of people look like you,” Hayes-McInnis said. “So when you have programs like ACAP-Ohio and ACLA, you get to see other people doing things that you want to do, so it makes it more attainable.”

A gift to The Ohio CPA Foundation’s Annual Fund Campaign will directly support pipeline initiatives like ACAP-Ohio and ACLA that build a more diverse and inclusive profession. To learn more or make a contribution, visit or contact Jerad Wood.

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