When Christina Choi moved to New York City from Seoul South Korea in 2014, she was looking to change careers from research to accounting. To obtain an accounting license, she would first have to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accounting exam— an extensive four-part test that roughly 57 percent of test takers nationwide pass according to a spokesman for the American Institute of CPAs.
Although Choi had a Bachelors of Science degree in Economics from the University of Washington and a Masters of Arts degree in Labor Economics from Korea University, she would also need to earn additional college-level accounting credits before she could sit for the CPA exam.
In fall 2015, Choi enrolled in the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Accounting Certificate Program (ACP), a two-year-old, 30-credit non-degree certificate in accounting that allows students to earn accounting credits on an accelerated basis.
BMCC’s ACP is designed for individuals who have earned baccalaureate degrees in disciplines other than accounting and would like to transition to a career in accounting without having to bear the cost of enrolling in a graduate program.
“The ACP gave me more than what I would have expected,” said Choi. “The professors were incredibly supportive and they shared their own professional accounting experiences with the students.”
She says some of the most beneficial components of the program included drafting professional correspondence supported by accounting evidence, financial reports and account analysis.
Choi completed the program in summer 2016 and became the first ACP graduate to pass the CPA exam. While Choi was enrolled in the ACP, she was also connected to an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) through BMCC Accounting Professor Corinne L. Crawford.
“I completed my internship with PwC during the busy winter tax season,” says Choi.
Then in April 2016, the Big Four accounting firm offered Choi a full-time position as an associate. Her first day is January 16.
She said the ACP was an important first step in her path to an accounting job, because it provided her with the essential accounting knowledge and practical skills, which proved invaluable during her internship.
BMCC Accounting Professor Josh Wolfson says there are many students enrolled in the ACP who have degrees from impressive domestic or international colleges and universities. Many of the students enrolled in the ACP are already employed but are looking to change careers or climb the career ladder, he says.
For Choi, the motivation in pursuing an accounting career was rooted in her economics background.
“Proper accounting is pivotal to a well-functioning market economy. Practicing professional accounting will allow me to gain practical knowledge through engagement with corporate clients,” Choi says.
Wolfson says BMCC Accounting department faculty are delighted by Choi’s success thus far.
“This program has a lot of gifted, talented people enrolled. Many of the students come from very good schools,“ said Wolfson.
In addition to her family, Choi says she is grateful to BMCC Accounting faculty including Professors Wolfson, Yvonne Phang, Sidney Askew, Connett Powell and Corinne Crawford.
She says Crawford was especially encouraging and shared much of her own professional experiences with Choi.
“The CPA exam can be very challenging, but I always looked at my favorite Albert Einstein quote, ‘You never fail until you stop trying,’” said Choi.