Brian Denton, of Naperville, was one of 25 minority college students from Illinois selected to participate in the 2014 Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program by the Illinois CPA Society.
“I am honored to have been selected for such a competitive program,” said Denton, a 2012 Metea Valley High School graduate and Bradley University sophomore. “Having the opportunity to meet (others) that are in the same position as yourself is a great experience.”
The internship preparation program, in its second year, honors Washington Wylie, “a trailblazer for minorities in the accounting profession.” Over a three-day period, accounting students learn from experts how to best prepare for internship opportunities at major accounting firms. The program took place in January at the society’s Chicago headquarters.
“The Illinois CPA Society is committed to advancing diversity within the accounting profession,” said Todd Shapiro, president of the Illinois CPA Society. “We want to engage and encourage young professionals and the Mary T. Washington Wylie program accomplishes both goals.”
Denton, 20, joined 24 other students who were selected from 19 Illinois colleges and universities. The internship preparation program included educational sessions dedicated to soft-skills, business etiquette, leadership competencies and ethics. In addition, students received critiques and one-on-one advice from recruiters about improving their resumes and interview skills.
The involvement of leading area accounting firms is a key component to the program’s success. Each firm sent representatives to engage the scholars in different formats, including speakers and mentors to help develop and facilitate the program.
“I now have a broader network of fellow students who I know have the same anxieties and aspirations as I do. That’s a powerful bond,” Denton said. “The program helped kick-start my career with connections to young professionals as well as influential and established professionals who, I know if I work hard and apply myself, will be there for me with guidance and even perhaps a job.”
At the end of the program, participating firms interviewed the students for a variety of paid internship opportunities, and all participants received a $500 scholarship to help with educational expenses.
Denton plans to graduate with an accounting degree from Bradley in 2016.