Thomas Tomlins decided in 2010 to not do everything by the book, and it has better prepared him for life as a Certified Public Accountant, he said.
A professional mentorship allowed him to step away at times from textbook learning and into the offices of Knueven, Schroeder & Co., where CPA Angela Bursby guided him. She continues to do so via an internship, which is enabling Tomlins to assist the firm with tax preparation for his third season.
Their successful working relationship is a testament to The University of Findlay’s mentoring program for its accounting students, which includes 76 participants. At a fall breakfast, they were paired with professionals for resume improvement and to hopefully spark long-term mentoring connections.
It worked that way for Tomlins, whose mentoring experience led to job shadowing and interning at the firm.
“I can talk to her (Bursby) about my career goals or accounting in general,” said Tomlins. “She has always been a huge source of encouragement for me. I learned I could always turn to Angie for any problems or questions that I had.”
He now considers Bursby a “good friend” too, he said.
Bursby, in turn, said she has been impressed by Tomlins’ work ethic, personality and knowledge.
“He’s always been very motivated. He gives his all. He has questions that he’s not afraid to ask,” she said. “And when he does ask a question, nine times out of 10 he already knows the answer. He’s easygoing. He’s just a nice guy.”
Mentoring can also help in ways not necessarily intended.
Tomlins’ and Bursby’s mentoring experience, for instance, has prompted a key educational addition to the University’s accounting program. Tomlins said that Bursby and her colleagues impressed upon him the importance of using the accounting software QuickBooks. It took some convincing, but QuickBooks has since been added to the University’s curriculum, Tomlins said.
Tomlins, a 22-year-old from Findlay, said thanks in part to his experience outside of the classroom, he has come a long way since high school, where a class on the subject sparked his interest. He expects to graduate from the University’s five-year CPA Track program this fall with a Master of Business Administration degree.
“I’ve got a lot of options,” said Tomlins of his career possibilities. “Ideally I’d like to go into public accounting or work for a larger corporation like Marathon (Petroleum Corporation). But academically, I’m hoping to work too at UF as an adjunct.”
“It’s a very rewarding program,” Tomlins said of mentoring. He advised students at the accounting breakfast to be proactive about nurturing their mentoring relationships. “Ask as many questions as you can. If your mentor is OK with it, do at least a job shadowing. It gives you an idea of what life is like beyond the textbook,” he said.