Internships solidify accounting major’s career path

Luke Wagner (BSBA ’17) started as an international business and German language major when he arrived at TU. “I knew I wanted a global context, and I knew I wanted to pursue business,” he says. As a freshman, he took the opportunity to study abroad at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. The experience opened his eyes to the world of business and upon returning to campus, Wagner decided to specialize in accounting. “I learned so much as far as the culture and language, and it really enhanced my academic performance at TU.”

He added a second major in management and in each program, gained both technical skills and a theoretical foundation. Hands-on experiences like participating in the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition also gave him a chance to apply those skills to solve a real-world problem. Wagner teamed up with international business and language major Sarah Hicks to develop a business model based on sustainable development and recycling and reuse. “We learned a lot as far as business valuation and what goes in to making a business plan,” he explains.

Wagner knew that securing internships would be a key component of his academic success. “I started early in my sophomore year, knowing I wanted to get work experience,” he says. A faculty member was able to connect Wagner with Eric Kunkel, the founder of local accounting firm CCK Strategies. “During my internship with the firm, I got to learn more about my industry and about the different service lines as far as audit, tax and business advisory; that really catapulted my job search because I knew I wanted to go into public accounting and what service line I wanted to go into.”

Wagner also took advantage of the accounting program’s compressed schedule in order to participate in an internship during the spring semester of his senior year. He interned at Grant Thornton for the first part of the semester then returned to campus in March to finish his coursework. “It’s an advanced workload, but it’s very manageable,” he says. “I learned specific skill sets during my internship and realized that I wanted to see different perspectives of accounting.” He completed his internship experience at PwC in Houston in the summer of 2017. “I’ve gotten experience with a smaller firm, a mid-sized firm and a Big Four firm.”

Campus involvement was a must for Wagner, so he worked as a desk assistant his freshman year and the next year served as a resident assistant at Fisher South residence hall. “It’s connected me so much more with campus, and I’ve met so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise,” he says. Wagner also wanted to get involved with internationalization efforts on campus, so he worked in the study abroad office. “Being a peer advisor is an awesome opportunity for students interested in internationalization. You get to talk with students one-on-one, and set up a plan before they meet with an adviser. It’s a great way to help other students achieve their goals with study abroad.”

Wagner is completing his time at TU in the Master of Accountancy program, which is a great option for accounting majors who want to take the CPA exam. The program can be completed in as little as one year and satisfies requirements for the CPA exam eligibility for most students.