Black Hills State University accounting students talk with accounting professionals from around the Black Hills during the annual Accounting Fair and South Dakota CPA Society Accounting Showcase. More than 100 prospective accountants attended this year’s event held in both Spearfish and Rapid City.

SPEARFISH … Elise Foltz always knew she wanted to go into public accounting. However, the Black Hills State University senior now has a better idea of the day-to-day life she will soon be living as an accountant.  

Elise was one of more than 100 students who attended the Accounting Fair and South Dakota CPA Society Accounting Showcase in Spearfish and Rapid City Monday. The annual event brings students and prospective accountants face-to-face with accounting professionals from around the Black Hills. Accountants from Black Hills Corp, Casey Peterson & Associates, Ketel Thorstenson, David Plummel & Associates, Donna Denker & Associates and Karen Simmons attended the two events.

The showcase, hosted by the College of Business and Natural Sciences, provides BHSU students with firsthand insight into the many options available to them in the accounting field, especially at a time when they are picking their career, according to Laura Coome, executive director of the SD CPA Society, the sponsor of the showcase.

“It was really helpful,” said Kari Johnson, a BHSU junior accounting major. Initially tentative about going into auditing, she feels more certain about her decision after speaking with some practicing accounting professionals. Both Johnson and Foltz also used the showcase and fair as an opportunity to network with professionals and secure internships.

“Gone are the days when you network after graduation,” according to Dr. Priscilla Romkema, dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences. “This brings the professionals right to the students.” The showcase and job fair often lead to internships and jobs for BHSU students, Romkema said.

“Accounting graduates are on the critical needs list not only now, but it is also projected for the future,” according to Liz Diers, assistant professor in accounting. Accountants rank second in the number of job openings for graduates with bachelor degrees projected for the next decade.

Many BHSU graduates are now working at regional accounting firms and financial institutions. Jess Weaver, a BHSU 2009 graduate, who is an accountant at Ketel Thorstenson in Spearfish, was one of the professionals on hand Monday to talk with students. “I like to encourage the students and give them some perspective,” he said. Weaver received a job offer from Ketel Thorstenson following his internship with the regional firm.

BHSU offers several degree options for students interested in earning an accounting degree. The bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in accounting is a four-year degree. BHSU also offers a bachelor of science degree (150 credit hours) in professional accountancy. This program is designed for students who plan to take the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam.

Aside from sponsoring the showcase, the SD CPA also annually gives out scholarships to students who excel in accounting. This year, two BHSU accounting students received scholarships. Foltz, who is also a BHSU accounting tutor, received a $6,800 Accounting Program Completion scholarship, and Cynthia Wellard received an Excellence in Accounting scholarship for $1,000.