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Insight and Advice – Life After MAC

(Written by Jon Malote)

Hello to our Wolfpack family and friends! October is here, and with midterms in the rearview mirror we can welcome the cooler weather with cups of coffee (pumpkin spice if you prefer) and flannel apparel.

It’s hard to believe, but with classes ending on November 20th, we are beginning our last full month of classes for the Fall semester. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to connect with Carson McLean, a MAC Class of 12’ and UNCA Class of 11’ Alum. He is an Audit Senior Manager with Deloitte, and has been working in public accounting for the past eight and a half years. I may be biased as we share the same alma maters, but Carson’s industrious and gregarious attitude makes him a great example of making your career your own.

As he is only a handful of years removed from the MAC program he was able to provide great insight on how to succeed as a new professional entering the industry. Here are some takeaways from our conversation that I would like to share.

Three Misconceptions

As incoming accounting professionals, many of us have undoubtedly heard some variation of these phrases.

  • You will be doing data entry and other “grunt work” during your first or early years. The implementation of new technologies has automated much of the “grunt work” in past years.
  • As a first year, your contributions won’t be important to the engagement. Diversity of thought is encouraged, and your work is important to the completion of the engagement.
  • Busy season will never end. Varying client needs and year ends are part of the profession, but others before you have completed busy seasons and so will you!

Overall, the introduction of new technologies and shifting firm sentiment regarding the involvement of first year staff in the competent and diligent completion of engagements has altered what we can expect as incoming accounting professionals. As a result, you can expect to work on technical accounting matters, controls testing, and professional communication sooner in your career. This is valuable in accelerating the growth of your career, and results in a more challenging and rewarding work environment.

As students in the MAC program, you can get a head start by establishing a strong foundation in researching authorities and communicating results. Specifically, Carson highlights the value of our Accounting and Tax Research class, taught by Scott Showalter and Kathy Krawczyk, which focuses on developing the skills necessary to research, analyze, and communicate findings on complex issues.

Principles for success

Take all the opportunities that come your way, ask questions, and seek out mentors! Carson encourages us to learn how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. To say yes to the opportunities that present themselves, and to embrace the discomfort and challenges that accompany growth. To realize that being wrong and asking “dumb” questions is a part of the learning process.

We talked about his experience as a first year auditor with Deloitte, and the opportunity that came to join a Real Estate engagement. Making the most of the opportunity, he diligently worked within that niche, asked questions, and sought out mentorship. As a result, he was recently promoted to an Audit Senior Manager role working with public and private REIT clients.

Network with your peers

You never know where everyone’s career will take them, and how your paths may cross in the future. They could be future co-workers, clients, fellow board members, or business contacts. One perk of being in the Wolfpack is the community. After all, “The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. Therefore, it is important to build those relationships with your peers and professors while you’re in the program.

Although we can’t have MAC tailgates or traditional networking events, there are ways for the class of 2021 to connect. The MAC Organization recently hosted a Zoom trivia and game night, and we also have a Halloween social scheduled for 10/29!

That’s all I have to share for today’s blog post! I hope that it provides value to you, as it did for me, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Carson McLean again for being generous with his knowledge and time. See you around, and Go Pack!


Jon M