The UND Department of Accountancy within the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration is using innovative strategies to connect with employers and continue providing outstanding experiential learning opportunities for their students.
For decades, the Department of Accountancy has hosted an annual field trip to Minneapolis, MN providing accounting students the opportunity to network with employers, visit businesses, and learn more about the accounting profession.
Due to COVID-19, this spring the in-person field trip had to be cancelled. This did not stop UND Accountancy, instead they continued the tradition by working with firms to organize a 2-day virtual field trip. Dr. Kate Campbell, Kulas and Koppenhaver Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Accountancy, said this was a new approach for a field trip, but everyone was enthusiastic about finding ways to make it a success. Every firm that was scheduled on the original field trip was eager to
participate virtually, and Kathy Lund, Kathleen Kittridge and the Pancratz Career Development Center staff immediately volunteered to help.
The virtual field trip took place on April 23 and 24, with approximately 20 students participating each day. The department hosted the event on Zoom, scheduling 5 firms each day in 20 minute blocks of time. Dr. Campbell shared that firms developed different interactive experiences to engage students, including virtual games such as Kahoot! and Family Feud, as well as embedded videos and virtual office tours.
Freshman through graduate students participated, with some logging in from as far away as Miami, FL. “The breadth of students participating was fantastic,” says Campbell. “Firms hadn’t done anything like this before either, and they were wonderfully creative and innovative.”
Campbell indicated that even when things get back to “normal” the department is exploring ways to utilize virtual platforms for more recruiting events and summer experiences. She indicated these formats would allow students to have more touchpoints throughout the year to build valuable professional relationships with recruiters and alumni.
The virtual format made the field trip accessible to online MAcc students, and they found added value for their decision to attend UND online. “I am making really important connections through UND. When I started this program I did not know that as an online student I was going to be able to network like this. Because of this, UND is not only helping me, but making my career goals possible,” says Laura Pflucker, online MAcc student.
While many industries are facing challenges in these unprecedented times, Campbell says she continues to see strong demand for UND Accountancy graduates in both the public and private sectors.
Students were grateful for this experience as they begin to anticipate entering the workforce. Combined BAcc/MAcc student MJ Cruz said, “Being able to talk to professionals at a number of different accounting firms, and being able to ask questions about the current job market, what we can do to stay competitive during this time, and how each firm was adapting to the pandemic was invaluable. I applaud the hard work and dedication of all individuals involved, both from UND and from the accounting firms, to provide this opportunity to the students. I am proud to be a part of a school and program that gives so much to its students.”
Thank you to the Department of Accountancy, the Pancratz Career Development Center, and all of the outstanding firms that contributed their time in creating this exceptional experience for our students!