When she first joined Marshall University, Karis Shannon was still deciding which major to pursue. “In high school, I took a personality test to help guide me toward a major,” she says. “I had two possibilities: Occupational Therapy and Accounting. I knew I never wanted to do anything related to science, so Occupational Therapy was out of the question.”
Then came the spring semester. “I took ACC 215 and fell in love with it; I’ve been in accounting ever since,” Shannon says.
Established in 1837, Marshall University is home to the Lewis College of Business, Here, students gain the skills and knowledge to become sought-after business professionals in West Virginia and beyond. As an Accounting, B.B.A. Shannon is part of its Department of Accountancy and Legal Environment, home to award-winning faculty who are experts in their field. Under their guidance, she’s set to evolve into a professional capable of pivoting alongside market demands and embracing the changing business world.
Below are not one but five ways Marshall University is empowering tomorrow’s financial leaders like Shannon:
Versatile, transferable skills
The Accounting, B.B.A. fosters critical thinking skills and introduces students to basic domains of thinking that transcend disciplines. By completing its core curriculum, Shannon believes she’s gained many new skills. “From taking a full class load for accounting and a minor in English, to being involved in campus organizations, to maintaining a social life, and to training for the Marshall University Marathon, time management has been an essential factor for success in my school career,” she says.
Marshall University prioritizes communication in its accounting curriculum. “Accounting majors receive a Communications Portfolio that is to be completed while earning an undergraduate degree,” Shannon says. “Each accounting class requires a written or oral assignment to place in the portfolio and is graded based on communication skills.”
Experiential learning opportunities
Shannon’s experience with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) exemplifies the university’s commitment to providing practical, real-world learning opportunities for aspiring accountants. For her Federal Taxation course, Shannon also dedicated 15 hours to assisting residents with tax returns, gaining hands-on experience in tax preparation and direct client interaction. During Beta Alpha Psi’s Visit the Firms event, students met with professionals and toured their firms as well. “This event is a fantastic opportunity to connect with professionals in the industry and grants easy access to ask these professionals questions about their day-to-day work and experiences,” Shannon shares.
That’s not all. “This summer, I attended the WVSCPA’s annual meeting at the Greenbrier,” she says. “After months of research with four other students, we gave a research presentation to the CPAs that attended the conference. This experience allowed me to network with professionals in my desired field and gain hands-on research experience relevant to my future career.
Support and mentorship
The support and mentorship from professors at Marshall have been crucial to Shannon’s growth. She describes their support as “overwhelming” and borne out of a “genuine desire to see their students succeed.”
“I’ve forged relationships with my professors and mentors through organizations and events on campus, attending office hours to seek guidance on class material and career advice,” she says. “In turn, they’ve been supportive, addressing my concerns, ensuring I’m doing well outside of academics, and provided me with opportunities to gain experience and make connections in the accounting industries.”
Professional development initiatives
Marshall’s Office of Career Education provides a wealth of resources for students, offering services such as resume polishing, mock interviews, internship placements, professional advice, and more.
“The Office of Career Education has assisted me in polishing my resume to send to professionals and has provided me with advice on how to carry myself on social media and maintain a LinkedIn profile,” says Shannon.
The best part? The university’s alumni can also access these resources at no extra charge.
A great location
Studying in Huntington, West Virginia exposed Shannon to a diverse range of professionals — from those rooted in the local community to individuals with varied experiences around the country. Here, many big and small accounting firms are constantly looking for accounting graduates — something Shannon can attest to.
“There are many opportunities and experiences available at Marshall students’ fingertips to delve into. Even companies that aren’t accounting firms are always looking to hire accountants,” she says.
For now, Shannon plans to pass her CPA examination. To that end, she intends to pursue the 3+2 MS in Accounting program to obtain the 150 required credit hours for the exam.
“I am confident that through Marshall’s education and guidance, as well as the support I’ve received from faculty, I will be prepared to succeed in any path I choose,” Shannon says.