Seton Hall University and Withum announced this week the launch of a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Pathway Apprenticeship pilot program to help alleviate barriers for accounting students to fulfill the 150 credit hours needed to complete their CPA license.
The one-year pilot program, revealed Aug. 16, will give students the opportunity to earn their final credits while gaining first-hand work experience at a prominent accounting firm – and receiving compensation – during their final year of school.
At Withum, students will be full-time apprentice-level team members with the opportunity to work in all service lines and industries, while earning credits for curriculum-driven experience alongside their coursework. They may also sit for the CPA exam during the program, which will offer the opportunity to become a licensed CPA by the time a student starts their career as a full-time, entry-level team member at the firm.
It is modeled after a similar collaboration between Saint Peter’s University and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which NJBIZ first reported about in October. That Work for Credit pilot is now entering its second year – with a new cohort of six students gearing up following a successful start.
The program was the brainchild of Dan Geltrude, the founder of Nutley’s Geltrude & Co., “America’s Accountant,” and No. 3 on this year’s NJBIZ Accounting Power 50. He spearheaded the effort to create an alternative path to the 150 credits needed to be eligible for the CPA license, working with the New Jersey Board of Accountancy and the different stakeholders to set the stage for the pilot between Saint Peter’s and PwC.
“The Work for Credit Program is groundbreaking for the accounting profession, and it will advance the performance of our young accountants as they enter the profession,” Geltrude told NJBIZ earlier this summer. “What we have done in the past is not going to work in the future. Work for Credit is a critical part of the evolution of educating and preparing accounting students for their careers.”
Withum Chief Talent Officer Theresa Richardson consulted with Geltrude on how to create a program like this for the firm.
“The CPA Pathway Apprenticeship Program is an exciting new venture that will benefit both the firm and the students,” said Richardson. “By getting real-life experience as a team member at Withum, students will be that much further ahead of their peers as they approach the job market. And, by exposing new talent to our unique benefits and culture, we can jumpstart long-lasting careers right here.”
“We truly value Withum’s partnership and investment in this innovative apprenticeship model and the Seton Hall accounting pipeline,” said Mary Kate Naatus, assistant provost and dean of continuing education and professional studies at Seton Hall University, who previously served as dean of the Frank J. Guarini School of Business at Saint Peter’s and was a key stakeholder in that initial pilot program. “The combination of a strong curriculum with excellent faculty members with the real world ‘Work for Credit’ experience on-site at Withum is an exemplary model that mutually benefits the students, industry partner and the broader accounting field.”
“As we join hands with Withum to address the talent shortage in the accounting industry, the CPA Pathway Apprenticeship Program embodies our shared commitment to fostering a diverse, skilled, and vibrant accounting profession,” said Joyce Strawser, dean of the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall. “Together, we are paving the way for an exciting and rewarding career path for our students.”
“Withum has a longstanding relationship with Seton Hall and is a well-respected, nationally recognized firm with a reputation around campus for being a fun and innovative place to work,” said Pat Walsh, managing partner and CEO of Withum and a Seton Hall ’90 alum. “We have a mutual desire to fuel the talent pipeline and support the longevity of accounting as a sustainable career. Our goal is to use this experiential learning program to help break accounting stereotypes, enable students to get a taste of what the profession truly is about and highlight the value of this profession as an exciting career.”
The collaboration was applauded by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA).
“The CPA license is critical to upholding the quality and value of the profession and earning it can open the door to many different career opportunities,” said Aiysha (AJ) Johnson, CEO and executive director of the NJCPA, as well as No. 1 on this year’s Power 50 Accounting list. “This program will support students, proactively expand avenues to entry and help students build the fundamental skills needed to become a CPA.”
Five students were selected to participate in the program, which begins next month.
“Everyone knows how hard it is to obtain the CPA certification, and with this program, I am substantially closer to obtaining the certification,” said Amaury Flores, one of the participating students. “With the help of Seton Hall University and Withum, I can now continue my academic career with the people who helped get me here.”