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Accounting Alums Urge Students to Stay Open, Be Prepared

Accounting Day 2010

Kevin Gerrity, right, BSBA '05, talks with Associate Dean Larry Ward after the speaker panel on Wednesday.

You can always find a place for yourself after you’ve studied the numbers.

That's how Kevin Gerrity, BSBA '05, explained the wealth of options that lie ahead to a packed room of aspiring accountants at Accounting Day on Wednesday.

The industry-focused day of events included a panel of speakers from a diverse range of firms, an alumni luncheon, and a career and networking fair.

Gerrity (who's now a finance and accounting recruiter at hirestrategy) explored his options through internships as an undergrad – in wealth management, at a small firm, and finally at KPMG – before he landed at the "big four" firm after graduation.

"I stumbled upon an internship at forward a few years, and now you have a sophisticated career management department," he told the students. "It's exciting to see as an alum."

Although Gerrity enjoyed collaborating with his colleagues and traveling to meet with government clients, his heart wasn't completely in it. After a few years he made the jump to the recruiting side in 2008, what he called "the worst time possible" to enter the field.

Still: so far, so good.

"I am passionate about helping folks find the right match," he told the crowd Wednesday. "Sometimes, after we talk, I advise people to stay where they are."

Gerrity was joined by seven other panelists, a mix of alumni and others, hailing from employers including the United Nations, the FBI, and First Washington Realty, in fields such as forensic accounting, nonprofit accounting, auditing, and consulting. They included: James Blumenthal, Stefanie Gerard, Hakeem Khwaja, Lorraine Pascual, Tanyetta Pittman, Andrew Scalise, and George Saitta, Jr.

While each panelist had personal advice to relate – from staying open to new opportunities to being motivated by passion, not just salary – they each shared a respect for the field of accounting.

As Gerrity put it – "I still have a CPA and a pocket protector, too."