Most people have said they want to change careers at least once in their life. Actually having the guts to quit and go down unchartered territory is another story.
One CU Denver student did just that. After 10 years as a math teacher, Kristine Napier was ready for a change. A master’s degree would give her both the skills and connections to jumpstart her new career. Napier applied and was accepted into CU Denver’s MS in Accounting program.
Her hard work in the program paid off when her managing partner offered her a full-time position from the accounting and consulting company, Anton Collins Mitchell (ACM), she interned for this past summer. That offer made all of her sacrifices and hard work worth it. The job offer was a full-time position as an auditor.
Accounting was not Napier’s first passion. Growing up as a third-generation Coloradoan, Napier stayed to work as a high-school math teacher all over the centennial state.
Napier loved teaching math to her students, but as time passed she became restless and ready for a new challenge. She was searching for a career where she felt fulfilled in a team-based environment.
With those expectations in mind, she decided to dip her toes into the world of accounting through a handful of online classes.
Napier instantly fell in love with the world of logical thinking, problem-solving, and conceptual understanding that accounting requires. Convinced that she had found her next calling, she set her eyes on a reputable business school to help establish herself as an accountant.
“I chose CU Denver because of its excellent reputation and downtown location. I knew how well-connected CU Denver was with companies and working professionals,” Napier said. The school’s separate AACSB accreditation in accounting and industry connections were something that no other business school in Colorado could offer her.
“I chose CU Denver because of its excellent reputation and downtown location. I knew how well-connected CU Denver was with companies and working professionals.” – Kristine Napier
Finding her place at CU Denver
Coming back from the workforce as a non-traditional student can feel intimidating. Napier felt relieved when she saw the variety of traditional and non-traditional students at CU Denver. “It’s a nice combination of students. It’s easier to fit in since I don’t feel like the oldest one pursuing my master’s degree,” Napier shared.
Throughout Napier’s time at the Business School, she observed how strong and knowledgeable the accounting professors were in their field. “All of the professors I’ve had have been active accountants themselves,” Napier said. “They relate the material back to the real world which makes it much easier to understand.”
“All of the professors I’ve had have been active accountants themselves. They relate the material back to the real world, which makes it much easier to understand.” – Kristine Napier
Wanting to make industry connections, Napier became an officer for Beta Alpha Psi, an honor organization for financial information students and professionals, to learn more about the accounting world. She also took advantage of the Business Career Connections (BCC) office to begin her search for internships. The BCC reformatted Napier’s resume and walked her through accounting’s unique recruiting process.
New to the accounting world, Napier wanted to find a company that best fit her future goals. She sought an internship where she could get hands-on experience. In one of her classes, an ACM partner spoke about his experience at the firm. “My professor, Jami Jhabvala, introduced me to the partner and I began to learn more about the firm and had the company on my radar,” Napier said. It was only a short while later she found herself applying for and accepting an internship position there.
Applying coursework to her internship
Napier was treated like a first-year staff auditor. By the third day of her internship, she was already at a client’s office working on a financial statement audit. Her responsibilities consisted of auditing financial statements, EBPs, communicating with clients and working on various accounts throughout audits.
Her time at CU Denver paid off when she saw how much of an impact her auditing courses made at ACM. “I was pleasantly surprised how much I learned from my auditing courses. What I learned applied to the day-to-day work that I did. From vocabulary to procedures, everything in my auditing classes helped me,” Napier said.
“What I learned applied to the day-to-day work that I did. From vocabulary to procedures, everything in my auditing classes helped me.” – Kristine Napier
“If you find yourself in a career where you’re not fulfilled, change it!”
Thanks to her hard work and diligence Napier was offered a full-time position at the end of her internship. She is looking forward to jumpstarting her new career at ACM following her graduation.
Napier advised future students to take time in getting to know different accounting firms. She recommended that you should find a firm where you truly fit in and feel appreciated as an individual. “Also remember that nothing must be permanent. If you find yourself in a career where you’re not fulfilled, change it! You may have to make some sacrifices but it is always possible,” Napier said.