Lights! Camera! Accounting!

Hear from winners of the most recent ThisWayToCPA student video competition.

The AICPA recently challenged aspiring CPAs to detail why they were entering the field of accounting by recording a video lasting two minutes or less.

Twenty-five finalists were selected, and five winners were chosen in a voting process open to the public.

Here are the stories behind three of the winning submissions, for which the creators each received $500:

Focused on the message

When Sara Liah Acosta Ortiz, a student at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, saw the competition announcement, she considered it “the perfect moment to share with the world the importance of being a CPA,” she recalled.

She wrote a script and got help from a friend with a camera, keeping the setting simple “because I wanted to concentrate on the message” of professionalism, hard work, confidence, and integrity, she said in an interview. “Not everyone can be a CPA,” she points out in the video. Plus, “being a CPA can open many doors.”

She graduates in May and has accepted a job in core assurance with PwC. Eventually, she said, “I want to go to consulting.”

What makes her so passionate about the field is “the power to help others” progress in business and to “connect with people around the world,” she said in an interview, adding that the designation will help her be a better professional and serve as a role model.

Standing out

Shehreyar Rehman heard about the contest from a professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., where he is a senior. Rehman’s roommate handled the camera work, and it took seven or eight takes because “I wanted a consistent flow of communication without stuttering, good eye contact, and a confident tone. Eventually, I managed to get it right, and I sent the video to the AICPA,” he said.

In his submission, he discusses standing out from the crowd at a time when Baby Boomers are retiring and jobs need to be filled. He also points out that CPAs earn more than other accountants. What’s more, “I want to be the best that I can be and make a difference in people’s lives,” he says before thanking viewers.

Rehman, who has accepted full-time employment with EY in the assurance services line in Philadelphia, said he got interested in accounting during high school. “Pragmatism was also part of my decision to join the accounting field because of the financial benefits, career versatility, prestige, and job security of the profession,” he said in an interview.

A second act

An email about the competition inspired Zachary Lane, a graduate student at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to produce a video using his computer’s camera feature. Lane’s interest in the field was sparked by an undergraduate accounting class. “I have a strong passion for numbers and math. These have always come natural to me,” he explained.

However, his post-college career took another turn at first, and he spent time working with at-risk youth for more than five years. He details his decision to return to school for accounting in his video, for which he wore a dark suit and tie and sat in front of a bare wall. “Accounting really stood out to me,” he recalls.

He is expected to graduate from business school this spring and take a job as an audit associate with Grant Thornton LLP. “I want to start my career in public accounting to get some experience and see how I like that,” he said. “From there, I am open to other opportunities.”

This year’s videos can be seen at Entry information for the 2020 competition is coming soon, so stay tuned.

Dawn Wotapka is a freelance writer in Georgia. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Chris Baysden, associate director, content development.

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