This month, a group of accounting students visited Robins School alumni at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in Washington, D.C.

“This excursion taught us that accounting can lead us to many different paths beyond the big four accounting firms,” said Tana Kuptanon, ’20. “It was a fun and eye-opening experience.”

She and 12 other students first visited Spiders at the FBI, learning about the forensic accounting program and white-collar crime investigations.

“We got to pick the brain of the Special Agent in Charge,” Kuptanon said. “He and other RSB alumni emphasized that where we start may not be where we end up.”

Then, the group toured the SEC headquarters, which included a visit to the market watch room, and a meeting with Spider alumni who work for the U.S. securities market regulator.

“It was the day when the Dow was down by 600 points, and the staff there was very active,” said Whitney Bai, ’20. “It was exciting to have this experience as future auditors who will be working on lots of SEC related issues.”

Students met with Caryn Kauffman, ’98, CFO of the SEC.

“I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with the students,” Kauffman said. “In fact, the time just flew by.  The students were very engaged, eager and appreciative.”

She told the students about the SEC’s mission to regulate the capital markets, and believes it is critical for business students to understand those processes.

“Given the pervasive role the federal securities laws play in our economy, I believe exposure to this ecosystem makes for more well-rounded young professionals starting their careers, no matter where it may lead,” Kauffman said. “I think any opportunity students have to visit the SEC or any other entity is a worthwhile investment.  Not only is it a chance to learn something new or expand existing knowledge, but it opens doors to new possibilities.  It is important to learn what is out there and seek new opportunities as one looks to progress throughout their career.”

She recognized those opportunities even as a student through professors in the Robins School, like Marshall Geiger, professor of accounting, who organized the visit.

“I knew early on how lucky I was to have the professors that I did at UR,” Kauffman said. “They really care about the students themselves and not just teaching course material.  The time that Professor Geiger invested by spending the day with the students in DC is just one example of that dedication.”

“I wanted to introduce our accounting majors to these internationally renowned organizations headquartered in D.C. in order to get them to consider a position at the FBI or SEC as a very viable career option in the future,” Geiger said. “We focus a lot on public accounting, but not much on other good options or career paths after leaving public accounting.”

The accounting and financial reporting courses in the Robins school discuss the SEC regularly, and visiting the organization gives students a tangible experience to tie to what they learn in the classroom.

“To get a chance to learn a little more about the alumniwhat they do, and how they work, is immensely valuable,” Geiger said.

“We got to see some cool sides of accounting,” said Whitney Bai, ’20. The students learned about how both organizations work to fight white-collar crime. And Geiger says having Spiders at the helm of these efforts is very inspirational for current students.

“We are very unique as our alumni are some of the most respected participants in the securities markets and in the fight against fraud and white-collar crime,” Geiger said.

Geiger shared that the students put their professional skills to work introducing themselves to the alumni, as well as others in both organizations, making connections that can be invaluable after graduation.

“The alumni we visited were very impressed,” Geiger said. “As a faculty member, it is always nice to get compliments on our students.”

For more information about the Robins School accounting program, and the experiential learning opportunities it offers, visit the department page.