www.accountingdegreesonline.org: Jamie, please give us some background about yourself, your education and your work.
Jamie Lee: I graduated from the University of Maryland and studied Finance and International Business. I have been working at GE for four and a half years. For the first 2 years I was part of the FMP (Financial Management Program) and I joined CAS (Corporate Audit Staff) upon FMP graduation. In the FMP I worked in 4 different finance roles covering supply chain accounting, controllership and financial planning & analysis at a subsidiary in the Philadelphia area. While on CAS I’ve been an associate and manager performing finance and operational audits at nearly 10 different GE businesses around the world.
www.accountingdegreesonline.org: Why did you choose to major in Finance and attend the University of Maryland?
Jamie Lee: Tuition amount played a big role in my choices for college. Since I was an in-state student, I received the advantage to pay the in-state tuition for Maryland, which was considerably less expensive than a private school’s annual tuition or another state’s out-of-state tuition. I have always wanted to learn the business world, and I had originally chosen Marketing but I felt there were no special skills that I could acquire in Marketing classrooms. So I chose Finance, which taught a more concrete set of concepts and theories.
www.accountingdegreesonline.org: Why did you choose to work at GE?
Jamie Lee: It was primarily the reputation of the company that attracted me first. GE also had a great presence on campus through alumni and on-campus interviews. They had a great alumni network that they recommended me to reach out to for real life experiences about what GE culture was like.
www.accountingdegreesonline.org: What did you like most and least about your education experience?
Jamie Lee: The most beneficial aspect of the UMD business program was a special program called Quest. It selected number of students upon interview / resume review, which linked the students to various local companies’ (Black & Decker, Marriott International etc.) six sigma projects (quality & process improvement etc.). It was great working on an actual business project that added value to the business operations. What I liked the least was the limited support/guidance/network around the co-op and internship programs.
www.accountingdegreesonline.org: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your work?
Jamie Lee: The most challenging and rewarding aspects are the same: auditing through different business processes in a limited amount of time, coming up to speed on how accounting literature applies to a particular situation and identifying what is black and white within what seems to be an extremely gray area. As an auditor, I’m able to provide expertise and clarification to business divisions around the world.
www.accountingdegreesonline.org: What advice do you have for people who are in the process of choosing an accounting program?
Jamie Lee: I would recommend everyone to do a co-op, whether it is accounting related or not. More than a short-term internship, a co-op, where it may require students to take a semester off, would give a more realistic view of working in the accounting/finance/ other business field to the students to help make a career choice upon graduation.
Even though I didn’t find too many of them useful, try to use campus career services; their experts can help you if you’re having trouble preparing to transition to the professional world. I found that building a personal network with recruiters during Career Fair was extremely helpful and talking to alumni who are already working was a great way to gauge the corporate culture of different firms.