MAC Online Alumna ’21 Trades Wedding Gowns For Tax Preparation
By Jess Clarke
As owner of a thriving Raleigh business, Traditions by Anna Bridal Boutique, for 12 years, Anna Kemp excelled at building relationships with customers to plan for a major life event. But her favorite part of the work was the business side: balancing the checkbook, working with the accountant, bookkeeping.
“I loved all the number crunching, planning and understanding the margins, making business decisions. I realized there’s so much more I should know,” says Kemp, a 2021 Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) program graduate.
She transitioned from her childhood dream of selling designer wedding gowns to now helping insurance companies with tax preparation as a tax associate at Raleigh public accounting firm Johnson Lambert.
“It’s a nice change. The main advantage to working for this type of company is…that it allows you to become more of an expert in a certain field,” Kemp says. “With this firm, I can focus on a niche” with insurance.
Her motivation to pursue a MAC degree was to work eventually with entrepreneurs like her. “A lot of people who own businesses end up bailing because they make poor business decisions,” she says. “I wanted to help small businesses flourish. They’re what make the world go ’round.”
As a MAC student, Kemp learned how big the accounting world is.
“The MAC program exposes you to different areas in accounting,” she says. “I had no idea there were so many career fields you could go into, the vast amount of options,” with the IRS and other government agencies, public accounting, forensic accounting and other sectors.
I had no idea there were so many career fields you could go into, the vast amount of options.
Kemp pursued the Jenkins enterprise risk management (ERM) specialization, which represents a growing segment of the accounting field. The ERM practicum was among her most valuable experiences as a MAC student. Her team worked with NC State administrators on ERM strategy related to IT security, health and other issues. “We helped make sure the continuation of their ERM program was focusing on the right things,” she says.
The hands-on project reinforced classroom concepts. “For me, it’s always easier to be introduced into a real live situation where you’re actually applying what you learn,” Kemps says.
In her accounting position, she applies what she learned in her MAC research class. “That class helped you understand a problem and go about researching it and finding answers,” she says. “Anything you decide to do with a master of accounting degree you’ll have to research different regulations and write memos for your clients.”
One of the main draws to NC State for Kemp was the Jenkins ASAP curriculum for students whose backgrounds aren’t in accounting. She took basic business law, tax and audit courses to prepare for the program. “You’re taking the classes you would have as an undergraduate,” she says. “It gave me a foundation.”
In MAC’s online cohort, Kemp did group projects and met classmates through Zoom, Google Meet and other platforms. The online format facilitates a mix of students from many backgrounds, which enhances the learning environment.
“There were so many diverse people — different ages, walks of life, and at different stages in their careers,” Kemp says. “It was interesting to see what they had done to prepare for an accounting career.”
There were so many diverse people – different ages, walks of life, and at different stages in their careers.
With all her success as a business owner, one of Kemp’s biggest accomplishments is her smooth move to a new career.
Her immediate goal is to earn CPA certification.
Beyond that, “I want to perfect a new skill set and see where it takes me,” she says. “I’m learning so much every day.”
That’s what’s most exciting about her transition. “In this profession, you have to constantly want to improve your knowledge. Laws are always changing. It’s not boring,” Kemp says. “I look forward to the day when I’m the one people ask questions of.”