APU’s School of Accounting Connects Students with Dream Opportunities

If asked what a dream internship would entail, a flexible schedule, networking with multinational corporations, and an all-inclusive trip to Disneyworld may come to mind. Kellie Platek ’17, an accounting major at APU, lived this dream internship experience through PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the “Big Four” firms that offers corporate financial and legal services in 157 countries with global revenues of $35.9 billion.

Platek’s internship, while glamorous, served a practical purpose, earning her a full-time job offer from PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The public accounting world is quickly evolving and in high-demand, so corporations need a large and capable work force of ethical accountants,” Platek said. “They want to win us over so we will work for them,” John Thornton, Ph.D., department chair and professor of the L.P. and Timothy Leung School of Accounting, said that incredible opportunities like Platek’s are not uncommon among APU’s accounting majors. “When one of our students is selected into an internship program by an accounting firm, they are almost guaranteed a job,” Thornton said.

A goal of APU’s School of Accounting is for 100 percent of its students to secure a job prior to graduation. An annual “Meet the Firms” fair gives APU accounting students the opportunity to network with both accounting professionals from top local, regional, and international firms, as well as peers from other universities. A total 80 Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) from 18 CPA firms attended the fall 2016 event, along with students from Biola, Cal Baptist, LaVerne, Vanguard, and Concordia. “CPA firms are already interviewing prospective employees for next fall,” said Thornton. “They know they’ll get ahead by finding the best candidates early.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the Leung School of Accounting was only four-and-a-half years ago, yet in that short time the program has grown to become a leader in producing ethical professionals for the accounting field. Thornton sums up the aim of APU’s accounting education in two words: character and competence. “We teach the same classes as other accounting programs, but it is our integration of Christian faith and ethics which sets us apart,” he said. “Truth is the core of accounting.”

The School of Accounting produced shirts that tout the slogan “Be Like Dan” in reference to Daniel 6, where Daniel’s political opponents tried to find evidence to convict him of corruption, but they could find no grounds, “because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (6:4). Thornton explained, “Daniel demonstrates that despite opposition and hardship, servants of God must live honestly through faith. By doing so, two kings changed their edicts from, ‘worship me only,’ to, ‘worship Daniel’s God only,’ simply because he was such an honest accountant..”

The firms who seek APU accounting students through internships and career fairs prove the efficacy of the Leung School’s emphasis on competence and character. “I see the accounting program as a perfect fit with APU’s God First mission,” Thornton said, “and this highly ethical approach to accounting is good for the firms, too—it builds their reputation as they serve the public interest.”