Accounting students earn scholarships at Casino Night


Photo by Jenna Herman

Scholarship winners Jenna Herman and Andre Bennett pose with their awards at the PICPA Casino Night on Sept. 24.

Written By Hattie Charney, Co-Features Editor

Students gathered last Monday night at the Sheraton in Station Square to spin some wheels and network with professionals.

Casino Night, hosted by the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), is an event where students from the Pittsburgh region come together to accept scholarships, win prizes and further their careers.

“PICPA and the AICPA [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants] want to encourage young talent to go into the profession,” Professor of accounting Cheryl Clark said. “To facilitate that they create opportunities for students and one of them is the PICPA Casino Night.”

Clark said that Casino Night has been an event hosted to draw students into entering the field while having some incentives.

“It’s a fun night where they have games and door prizes and they have exhibitors come in and employers and universities and just anybody that’s interested in getting in front of these students and encouraging them,” Clark said.

Casino Night is an entire night dedicated to networking. Typically aimed at juniors and seniors to get jobs and internships, it can be beneficial to freshmen and sophomores to get their name out there and for employers to look at their resumes.

“Teachers are there to teach you the book stuff and they’re there to teach you what you need on the job and in the field.” Andre Bennett, senior accounting major, said.

Students get face-to-face time with employers and professionals in on the spot interviews.

Last year, Michael Williams got an internship which led to a job through Casino Night. Jenna Herman, junior accounting major, realized how important these types of events are to go to because of stories like Williams.’

“It’s a really nice event because the employers there are more geared towards accounting. They’re all accounting firms, graduate school programs for accounting,” Herman said.

“Even if you don’t get a job, if you network, for example at Casino Night, if you went there you might not get a job from Casino Night but you might meet someone who can in the future refer you or they themselves can call you for an interview,” Bennett said.

Casino Night is used as an opportunity to network and encourage people to plan on becoming a CPA and getting involved in the profession.

“Most of the students in the Student Accounting Association (SAA) are student members of the PICPA and by going to these events and being club members, the PICPA gives them a free student membership. It has value because they have a lot of resources and it keeps them intune with the opportunities available to students,”
Clark said.

PICPA has internships listed on its website and scholarship opportunities that two students, Bennett and Jenna Herman, applied for and won.

For the scholarship, both students had to submit an essay and recommendations by an April deadline. They found out about receiving the award in May. Scholarships are awarded during Casino Night in person.

PICPA is a network of professional accountants that offer students more than what they can get from just a college education.

“Any college student getting a scholarship is cool, and then also, if you want to be an accountant, the PICPA is an entire network of accountants,” Bennett said. “They’re already there, they can tell you what you need to do and who you need to get in contact with.”

Bennett is the student liaison with PICPA in which he promotes PICPA events on campus.

Opportunities like Casino Night are spread throughout the student body primarily through the SAA.

Herman joined SAA as a freshman and said that through the PICPA ambassador her freshman year, she found out that not only can Casino Night further your career, but the PICPA gives a free student membership to those who participate.

“I wanted to start from the get-go to try to find internships. At least getting that networking experience and the experience of talking to people and giving them your elevator pitch,” Herman said, “It was just a really good way to practice that and build my confidence when speaking to professionals.”

SAA is an on-campus club that wants to help majors within the School of Business further their careers. Recruiters and other professionals get to talk to students on different topics during their meetings.

“It’s helped me kind of hone in on what I really want to do because the professionals that come in and speak, they talk about the real world stuff, they talk about what they do day-to-day and they give you the honest story about what it is that they do, because yeah you learn debits and credits in class but I mean you don’t know what you’re actually going to be doing with it,” Herman said.

SAA is also a liaison between the faculty and the students when it comes to learning more about scholarships and internships.

“For me personally, since I have been a part of SAA they have exposed me to the ACFE [Association of Certified Fraud Examiners] scholarship, the NABA [National Association of Black Accountants] national and Pittsburgh chapter scholarship and the PICPA scholarship,” Bennett said.

Herman, President of SAA, mirrors Bennett’s beliefs that SAA is helping with furthering students careers.

“That’s information that you’re not going to get unless you’re in the accounting association and I’m sending that information to you,” Herman said. “I think it’s a really good way to supplement your education and to get all these extra things and benefits.”

Clark explained how accounting is a misunderstood degree and how there aren’t a lot of freshmen or sophomores involved in SAA.

“This year we’re falling short on the new students coming,” Clark said.

SAA wants to keep building up their student base and get Point Park on the map for the accounting major. This all starts with students coming to SAA meetings.

“The people that come to our meetings, we may have only 10 consistent but they are really involved and take advantage of everything and I think the things we have to offer are really beneficial especially if you come into accounting and not really knowing what it is that you want to do,” Herman said.

Through the SAA students like Herman and Bennett have been able to take internships and job offers from going to events like Casino Night. Both students have shared that being involved within the club has helped their careers and where they are today.

“I know if I wouldn’t have had this opportunity I would probably still be like kind of lost so I just think we’re just kind of there to really help and yeah we don’t have crazy events, but it’s more geared toward helping them with their career paths,”
Herman said.

SAA meets bi-weekly from 5-6 p.m. in West Penn 704. To find out more information about SAA contact Jenna Herman [email protected]