LeAnn Boron had a chance to take a trip with the Titanic of accounting firms.
She was a junior in accounting at West Virginia University when she got a summer internship with Arthur Andersen, an internship that went so well that she was to obtain a job with the”Big Five”accounting firm when she received her diploma in May 2002.
But Andersen hit the iceberg Enron during winter of 2001. Enron, a major Andersen client, declared in December 2001 the largest bankruptcy in history (WorldComs topped Enron in July, 2002). Within weeks, there was talk of Andersens demise, and by June, 2002, Andersen was found guilty of obstructing justice and began to sink in the icy waters of scandal.
Boron, a Wheeling resident, adapted.”When I originally heard about the Enron and Andersen scandals, I didnt think it was a big deal,”she said.”I thought the big accounting firms were so strong that the scandal wouldnt take such an international company down.”
She was wrong, of course, and soon faced the dilemma of whether to see if a job was going to be available with Ernst and Young, which was scheduled to merge with Andersen, or to attend graduate school. She chose the latter and receives a masters degree in accounting from WVU s College of Business and Economics Sunday, May 18.
Boron is one of many accounting graduates who are finding jobs despite a continuing weak economy and the scandal that brought the profession under intense scrutiny in 2002. She has been hired by Deloitte and Touche in Pittsburgh as a first-year auditor.
“With Andersens fall, a lot of people are questioning the profession, but I think its definitely a good profession to go into,”Boron commented.”Theres always going to be a need for accounting, and since the Andersen scandal, there are better standards being established. Accounting is what I want to do, and Im not going to change because of the fall of Andersen. Although our industry in under scrutiny, there are still jobs. The majority of the students I was in school with have jobs lined up.”
Another student going into accounting is Christopher Hinchee of Millersport, Ohio, who just finished his undergraduate degree at the business college. He has a job lined up near Naples, Fla, with Girardin, Briant and Baldwin.
“I expected to work in Pittsburgh, but my mom wanted me to come live near her and sent a newspaper advertisement for auditors with experience,”Hinchee said. Although he didnt have much experience, he applied and landed the job. His path was prepared by another WVU accounting grad who had left the company.”The company had already had a WVU grad, and when I started telling them about how good WVU s program is, my interviewer said,Yeah, I know.”
The company was also impressed by Hinchees six and one-half years in the Army.”I had a strong resume,”he said.
“I believe accounting is still ethically upright,”Hinchee said.”The foundation of accounting is the trust of the users of the financial statement. I think were ethical enough to earn their trust.”Hinchee hopes to some day become a partner in an accounting firm or to open his own practice. He said he was”very happy”with the efforts of WVU s Career Services, which helped him get the job.
“The interesting result of Enron and Andersen is that the amount of required accounting work has actually increased, not decreased,”commented Richard Riley, B&E assistant accounting professor.
“From a placement perspective, the recruiting challenge has been for the remaining accounting firms to figure out which firms clients will choose.
“Facing the unknown has meant that accounting recruiters are carefully considering their staffing needs, trying to ensure that they dont over-hire. Despite this complexity, our placement efforts seem to be on par with usual expectations.”
Matthew Alexander of Bruceton Mills will be starting a job as auditor for Ernst and Young in Charleston. He will graduate with a degree in finance and accounting. Alexander worked in Morgantown for Mylan Pharmaceuticals as an intern last summer and during the fall semester and was offered a job there.
“I talked to a lot of people before I made my decision to go with Ernst and Young,”he said.”I think Ill get broad experience therebeing a public auditor, Ill be able to see the strengths and weaknesses of companies and get ideas of how to help them improve.”
Did Andersens fall worry him?”Actually I did take that into consideration. I was worried about taking a job and then having something like the Andersen happen.”Alexander thinks the Andersen problem stemmed from greed.”I just think that the main problem behind it was ethics and morals, which you cant teach in school,”he said.”It comes from your parents. I think if you have a good ethical background, you dont have anything to worry. When companies put money in your face, you have to turn away. Some people at Andersen fell into that trap.”