From animal science to accounting
By Jess Clarke
Sloane Patterson enjoyed working with dogs, cats, and other companion animals as an undergraduate in NC State’s Animal Science program. The problem? They were animals, not numbers.
When she took an undergraduate accounting course, she realized that financial statements, audits, and tax filings suited her best. “It seemed pretty easy to me, and I really liked the numbers part. I’ve always loved math,” says Patterson, who will graduate in May from the Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) program.
With her major in animal science, she earned minors in business administration and entrepreneurship in 2020. She traded veterinary clinics for a job as a tax intern in 2021 and enrolled in the MAC program last summer.
To feel confident as a full-time accounting graduate student, Patterson previously took courses through the Jenkins ASAP Program, a self-paced curriculum of foundational accounting courses for eligible non-accounting majors. . “I was nervous before entering the MAC program, but since taking ASAP, I definitely felt prepared,” she says.
Working as a teaching assistant at the MAC was a highlight of her graduate experience. Teaching the basics of accounting to undergraduate students reinforced these concepts for herself. “It was a good experience teaching others, a great opportunity,” says Patterson.
As she plans to pursue a doctorate in accountancy, the research roundtables she attended in Poole gave her valuable insights. Professor Nathan Goldman, one of his MAC mentors, organized the events, at which accounting PhD students from across the United States presented their research.
Patterson also cites the sense of community and the MAC lab where students work together as strengths of the program. “We have camaraderie and real friendships,” she says.
She is set to start her new full-time job in August with the accounting firm Williams Overman Pierce in Raleigh, where she will initially work in tax and audit services. She also wants to explore the company’s forensic unit.
Her position was advertised in April 2021. As a recipient of a merit-based MAC scholarship, Patterson interviewed companies before starting the program, which led to her tuition being paid by her sponsor , Williams Overman Pierce, and NC State.
The program’s reputation was one of the reasons Patterson chose Poole for his master’s degree.
“The MAC program is known for offering really good courses and really preparing you for the accounting industry as a professional,” she says.
She learned a variety of skills required of accounting professionals and gained significant practical experience. “Before the MAC program, if you told me to give a presentation, I would probably freak out. Now I can give a presentation without even looking at the PowerPoint,” Patterson says.
As part of an internship for her Enterprise Risk Management course, she worked with the Port Authority of Virginia, interviewing the management team and assessing risk. “Getting this real-world experience on the job was great,” she says.
Patterson’s teachers — and their willingness to maintain a connection with her after graduation — are as valuable as their classes.
Bonnie Hancock, executive director of Poole’s Enterprise Risk Management Initiative, occasionally went out to eat with Patterson and other students she mentored. The tight-knit group discussed much more than accounting. “It’s nice to know I have a teacher I can always talk to,” she says of Hancock. “And it’s great to have the kind of relationship with my teachers where I know later on I’m always free to email them.”