Accounting Capstone course provides real-world experience

Learning the ropes of being an accountant in the real world of work is the goal and desired outcome for students enrolled in a new Accounting Capstone course offered by the NTID Business Studies Department. Launched this past fall, the course is led by NTID instructor Michael (Mike) Kane.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing accounting majors are required to take the course before they can graduate with an Associate of Occupational Studies or Associate of Applied Science degree. Because accounting students already have taken three prerequisite accounting courses covering sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations, they are familiar with financial reports and financial analysis as well as generally accepted accounting principles.  The curriculum of the Accounting Capstone course emphasizes the technical and soft skills required for a typical accountant in private, public or government sectors.          

In the capstone course, students perform a variety of tasks to get real-world work experience before they graduate. For example, they use QuickBooks Pro accounting software to enter real-life transactions for a sports store before completing an income statement, statement of owner’s equity and balance sheet at the end of a monthly cycle. Guest lectures provide career advice from current accounting professionals in the field. Students also are required to interview accounting professionals, both on and off campus.

“From the guest lectures, interviews and in-class discussions and projects, students learn about different fields of accounting such as tax, auditing, financial, managerial, cost, forensic and government,” says Kane. “They become more knowledgeable about various accounting organizations, accounting certifications and licenses, and accounting software.”

Students also become members of the Next Generation of Accountants Club sponsored by the RIT Saunders College of Business, which offers outreach and networking at events such as job fairs, additional guest lecturers, and professional accounting organization gatherings. The students also meet with RIT Institute Audit, Compliance & Advisement Department personnel to become familiar with this particular field of accounting.    

Students also conduct comparative financial analysis among corporations. They research, discover and examine differences between merchandisers and manufacturers.  To do this, they become familiar with finance.yahoo.com and money.cnn.com websites as well as the Securities Exchange Commission website. They track market trends involving U.S. stocks and compile online portfolios of selected corporations. The students then present their financial research on selected corporations in similar sectors or industries. 

Lastly, students keep journals that cover a wide range of topics, such as identifying their professional role models, summarizing a finance-related current event, describing their interview experiences, and noting main points of assigned chapters of their textbook dealing with professionalism in the workplace. 

Charles Mutio, a student in the Accounting Capstone class who has completed a cooperative work experience as an accounting intern in a non-for-profit organization in Houston, Tex., is grateful for this classroom opportunity.

“I gained meaningful insight from both the accounting professionals that I met in class, and those I interviewed off campus,” he says. 

Another Accounting Capstone student, Cathy Bellevue, who worked at a government agency in Boston, Mass., for three summers, adds, “This class taught me how to survive in the real world with additional knowledge about QuickBooks, companies and financial research. I’m so glad to have had this class to support my success.”