As millions of students around the globe have experienced their plans being altered due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many graduate students have focused on their future careers during the transition.
Three students in the Master's of Accountancy Program at Auburn University said that the coronavirus outbreak has affected their post-graduation plans.
Savannah Masucci, one of the students in the MAcc program, said that she was caught off guard by the COVID-19 outbreak. She had chosen to visit her hometown in New Jersey for spring break, intending to only stay for a week and not knowing what was on the horizon.
“I only packed a few clothes in a backpack and left all of my study materials in Auburn, I had no idea that I would not be returning home after spring break," Masucci said.
The program is comprised of a curriculum geared toward passing the Certified Public Accounting Exam, which certifies them to work as a public accountant. While Auburn doesn't require students to pass the CPA exam to get their master’s degree, most accounting firms want a passing score in order to be promoted later on.
Most students currently in the MAcc program have taken two parts of the CPA exam prior to the campus shutdown. The remaining two sections of the exam, however, have been postponed. Masucci said the most frustrating thing about this is that all four parts must be completed within 18 months, and students are encouraged to have it done before starting work as an accountant.
Will McMurry, also a student in the MAcc program, said he is not too stressed about the situation, given he's had a job secured since his junior year of undergrad. McMurry was set to graduate in May and move to California to start his new job.
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“I am not too stressed about it. I have been trying to take it day by day," he said. "This forced isolation has given me a chance to work on more creative things, like my podcast about accounting and business."
McMurry said he does expect his plans to shift a little since California is one of the states being most affected by the coronavirus.
“I predict that my plans will be pushed back, and I will end up starting in September as opposed to this summer," he said.
Chloe Barger, another student in the MAcc program, said her firm has assured her they will go on with business as usual, and they will not be pulling or moving any job offers.
“Most of my plans are staying the same. I have already signed a lease, and I don’t anticipate anything changing," Barger said. "I was supposed to go to Europe this summer, but obviously that can’t happen, which is sad, but other than that nothing is really changing much.”
Professors in the MAcc program have been very accommodating during this time, Masucci said. The only aspect that has changed is that classes are being conducted through Zoom.
“It was all really stressful at the beginning. We have been preparing to take these exams for two years, and to have that go out the door was hard to deal with," Masucci said. "But, also taking into consideration that people are losing their lives over this, it’s not the priority anymore."
McMurry, Masucci and Barger all said that having each other and the community surrounding the MAcc program has made their situation easier.
“I think the beautiful thing about the MAcc program is that we are all pretty close, we are all going through the same thing, and that has made it easier," McMurry said. "None of us are going through this alone. We have each other to lean on."
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