Hans Mortimer is excited to begin a new career as a public accountant after graduating from the MS Accounting program at CU Denver in the spring of 2020, just one year after enrolling in the program.
Hans’ path to an accounting degree was not straightforward, but his passion for continued growth and learning drew him back to school to study accounting. Hans originally studied biology and K-12 education as an undergraduate at the University of California – Berkeley, where he studied Vitamin A metabolism as a student researcher in the Napoli lab.
CU Denver offered flexibility and great networking opportunities
After moving to Denver to begin a career in education, Hans realized he wanted to pursue a different career path. Although Hans had no prior coursework in accounting, he used his network to learn about the different career options for accountants such as public, industry, and government.
Hans chose CU Denver because of its connections to downtown businesses and the flexibility of the program. When he inquired about the program’s duration, he was told the program’s length was his to determine. Hans said, “I’m on track to complete the degree in three semesters with a May 2020 graduation date. I also have peers in the program who plan to complete an MS Accounting / MBA dual degree with a two-year plan.”
After he applied, Hans met with academic advisors to plan his course of study. Meeting with the graduate advising team was incredibly valuable, as they were able to help him construct a rigorous schedule to meet his goal of attaining his degree in one year. After taking three prerequisite classes over the summer, Hans is now enrolled in six classes per semester to graduate in May of 2020. “I appreciate that I can complete the degree in about a year, while other students can take one or two classes at a time. It means that I am taking classes with people who have different backgrounds, and makes for a more diverse student body.”
Guidance from the BCC helped Hans to navigate a whirlwind recruiting season
The recruiting season for public accounting starts in September and consists of both informal meetups with staff, and formal interviews and office visits. To prepare for Meet the Firms, Hans reached out to the Business Career Connections (BCC) office early in the fall semester. With the BCC’s help, he polished his resume, created a LinkedIn, and participated in mock interviews. Most importantly, the BCC helped align his work history with his desired job and prepared him for interviews.
“CU Denver has both large and small firms at its Meet the Firms event, hosted by Beta Alpha Psi, and the school has great resources for finding a public accounting position. There are many firms to network with and great people to meet.”
Hans recommends that students participate in the recruiting season to develop their professional networking skills. “Although I knew about the fall recruiting season from talking to my peers, I didn’t realize what a positive experience it would be. Now, I’m more comfortable starting a conversation with professionals and speaking to my experiences and value,” said Hans.
Hans was lucky to receive job offers for 3 of the “Big 4.” These are the four largest accounting firms internationally. The firms are Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG, each of which has an office in Denver. Most public companies use a Big 4 firm to complete their annual financial statement audit, as required by the SEC. Hans says “CU Denver alumni at each firm helped me with informational interviews, advice, and offers for office visits and technical tutorials. Additionally, these alumni request that their firms recruit at CU Denver. Without their advocacy, these firms would not come to CU Denver. So, I’m incredibly grateful that our alumni network supports current students.”
Getting involved with student organizations
Hans balances six classes along and his role as president of Business Ethics Club. “I’m the current president of the StudentCPT (Business Ethics Club), which works with the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative (DFEI) to promote ethical business leaders on campus. Our advisor is Ira Selkowitz, senior instructor and director of the DFEI at CU Denver. Often, the ethical dilemmas we’ll face in business are difficult to identify and then even more difficult to act on. The club competes in ethics competitions in Colorado, which helps us sharpen our skills and instincts.”
After being admitted, Hans started attending events at the business school which interested him. The first club meeting he attended was the International Student Business Network’s (IBSN) alumni panel. There, he connected with Merrily Kautt, senior instructor for international business, and was able to attend additional events such as the World Trade Center Denver’s Annual Member Gathering. He said, “I’m incredibly appreciative of IBSN and its events which emphasize Denver as an expanding international business hub.”
Hans attended the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship’s THE CLIMB, business plan competition, and connected with Madhavan Parthasarathy, professor of entrepreneurship. Over the summer, he was invited to be a business plan mentor at the Colorado Student Leaders Institute (COSLI.) COSLI is a state-legislated, summer residential program for high school students on the University of Colorado Denver campus. “I met Jake Jabs and heard his stories about building a business. I also helped high school students develop their plan for selling 3D printed products.” With an upcoming graduation date of May 2020, Hans is optimistic about the future. “I was recently asked if I consider myself to be lucky. I would say I am, but only because of the amazing opportunities and resources available at the CU Denver Business School. The opportunities are here to network with Denver CEOs and alumni. Any career in Denver is within reach.”