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In the Spotlight
November 10, 2020

St. Francis College Accounting Department Propels Students to Career Success


SFC Accounting alum

Graduates from St. Francis College's accounting program consistently land some of the most coveted jobs in their industry, benefitting from the department's forward-looking academic curriculum and personalized support that propel them into long, rewarding careers.

"All the professors in our department are also practitioners, so we have many contacts in industry," said Carmine Nogara, Ph.D., who is in his eleventh year as Accounting & Business Law Department Chair, having been an SFC faculty member since 2002. SFC awarded its first undergraduate accounting degrees more than 70 years ago and began awarding master's degrees in 2008. "We developed a nice network over the years, and our students certainly benefit from that."

According to Dr. Nogara, the rigorous accounting program is characterized by the individual attention each student receives, differentiating it from many bigger institutions.

"It's absolutely unique," said Dr. Nogara, describing the hands-on approach the department takes when preparing its students for a competitive job market. "All our faculty know all our students. Our accounting majors aren't going to slip through the cracks."

Graduates of the program frequently point to the instrumental role of faculty in their post-SFC success.

"[My professors] always steered me in the right direction," said Jenna DeBernardo '17 (BS/MS Accounting), who is an Asset and Wealth Management Senior Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world's largest accounting firms. "I had a relationship with each of my professors. They knew who I was and the path I was on."

Accounting students receive extensive training outside the classroom, too.

"In addition to the coursework, we help students polish all the skills – interviewing, networking – they need to thrive. Many of our students are first in their family to attend college. We prep them to flourish in a professional environment that may be new to them," said Dr. Nogara, who, along with his colleagues regularly helps students secure internships in companies including JP Morgan Chase, Pomona Capital and National Grid, with whom SFC has an internship and scholarship program.

Particularly noteworthy is the College's track record placing graduates in positions at PwC, Ernst & Young (EY), KMPG and Deloitte, the world's four largest accounting firms commonly referred to as the Big Four. Big Four jobs right after graduation are often steppingstones to prestigious careers within those companies or elsewhere. SFC's Career Center works closely with accounting students to groom them for these positions.

"The Big Four firms typically have recruiting deadlines in September or October," said Naomi Kinley, Director of SFC's Career Center who works hand-in-hand with accounting students in their job hunts. "Throughout the year, we help motivated students gain the specific experience – including internships and co-curriculars – that the firms look for in candidates. We make sure their resumes are ready to go when firms recruit. We're proud that so many of our students receive interview invitations and job offers."

SFC Accounting graduates frequently attribute their success to the education and preparation SFC provides, rivaling that of bigger institutions.

"The education you're getting at St. Francis is really good. It's on par with any school, and I've worked with people from all different schools," said Jeffery Tavares '10 (BS/MS Accounting), who is a Director of Asset and Wealth Management at PwC." Being part of a small school helped me build connections and understand the importance of knowing people and how that would translate into business opportunities."

Recruiters at accounting firms confirm the appeal of hiring SFC graduates.

"SFC accounting graduates make good employees at PKF O'Connor Davies because they have a solid foundation of knowledge to build from and the work ethic it takes to succeed in public accounting today," said Melissa Strauss, MBA, PHR, SHRM-SCP, Human Resources Manager at PKF O'Connor Davies, LLP. "They know how to conduct themselves in a business environment and take pride in their ability to deliver excellence and expertise in client service."

The College awarded an average of about 50 accounting degrees each year for the past six years, including both bachelor's and master's degrees. In 2008, SFC launched its stand-alone MS in accounting program. Its five-year combined BS/MS program enrolled its first students in 2006. The student-run Accounting Society and SFC chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants supplement classroom learning by hosting guest speakers and organizing professional networking events.

With ninety-six percent of its students receiving institutional aid, SFC is one of the most affordable private colleges in New York City. A 16-to-1 faculty-to-student ratio means students receive close personal attention in their classes.

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