CVCC’s Accounting and Business Administration program is rich with dedicated, experienced instructors. As Director of Accounting and Business Administration, Christy Lefevers manages lofty expectations. She has taught at CVCC for 18 years, and started while earning her Masters degree. Six years ago, she became the Program Director for Accounting, and last year she took over the Business Administration side of the department.
One CVCC student is on a similar path. Ralph Bumgarner, who is enrolled in the accounting program, aims to earn the credits that qualify him to take the CPA exam. He selected CVCC for its convenience and its previous rank as one of the Top 10 Community Colleges in the nation. Ralph also has professional experience in education; he teaches sixth graders in the Catawba County School district. He is a future-forward thinker, and once he retires from the state he plans to enter the accounting field.
Christy and Ralph were both quick to share the value that accounting or business administration bring to the entire community. As Christy mentioned, everyone needs an accountant—everyone has to do taxes, distribute paychecks, and handle financial statements. There is a misconception that accounting is all math, but there is so much beyond numbers and tax. From auditing, to insurance services, to communication, to data analytics, the accounting field plays a role in everyone’s lives. CVCC recognizes this; the college aims to grow its range of classes and certificates in data analytics.
The goal is to help students see the numbers and explain the data in words that people can actually understand. This can be helpful, for instance, when entrepreneurs must become their own managers. It’s common for artistic Entrepreneurial students to get caught in the passion of their 60+ hour projects, but it’s difficult to translate this talent to dollars. After the project is complete, artists must understand what their true costs are and understand what they should sell their products for. That’s where accounting comes in.
Christy recalled one conversation with a student who loves to bake. When she asked the student how much her cake cost to make, the student simply replied, “Nothing.” Christy asked her about the cost of ingredients. The student replied, “They were free. I found them in my kitchen.” Still, whether from the grocery down the street or ordered offline, the equipment and ingredients came at a price.
Ralph shared a perfect example of how CVCC’s program will help him in the real world. Last fall, he took a course in non-profit tax and auditing, and was introduced to an outside-in perspective of his professional administration experience. Now, he understands the audit and accounting process along with the administration process, and can easily converge how the fields “think” in order to meet business needs.
After the Accounting and Business program, CVCC graduates find much success. Some move to new universities and earn their Bachelors, some become CPAs, and some open their own franchises. Christy, as well as the rest of the faculty in the department, want to make the course engaging. Students tour several businesses—the BMW plant in Spartanburg, tours of restaurant kitchens, tours of Biltmore Estate and its sustainability efforts—all to help textbook case studies come to life. Hands-on learning is not as simple for the accounting field as it is for technical or manufacturing trades, but instructors provide several chances to learn from outside professionals, too.
Ralph and Christy agree: Soft skills and time management are key to finding success and achievement in this program. If you’re considering taking these courses in the fall, Ralph suggests to schedule yourself and stick to your plan. If not, you will get behind, and it can be difficult to catch back up (especially if your class is a hybrid or online). Christy encourages students to ask for help when needed and to build a network of peers and instructors. If there are field trips, join them; if there are club events, come to those. Building relationships will help make connections for future jobs. When an employer calls for reference, instructors remember the students who engage well.
Accounting students might think they don’t need communication skills, but the opposite is true. You communicate a lot. As a student, you set the tone for the people you work with. Just network, dedicate time to your degree, and don’t be afraid to share your passions—this fall, you might be sitting beside your future employer in the classroom without realizing it.
For information about the Business Symposium, click here.