For 35 high school students, it was the easy first choice versus fun in the sun. For 19 years, the Isenberg School of Management has hosted Massachusetts high-school students predominantly from underrepresented backgrounds in an all-expenses-paid* weeklong immersion of accounting- and business-focused learning experiences. Also known as the Careers in Accounting and Management Professions program, C.A.M.P. features business-focused talks, workshops, skill-building activities, and field trips. The idea behind the successful initiative, notes Isenberg Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs Melvin Rodriguez, is to motivate minority high-schoolers to pursue collegiate majors, and ultimately careers, in accounting and other business areas.
This year’s C.A.M.P. retreat, from July 23 through July 28, attracted a record high 35 soon-to-be juniors and seniors from high schools throughout the Commonwealth. “We had never hosted more than 33 students, but realized that our resources could accommodate additional students with absolutely no sacrifice in quality,” emphasizes Isenberg Accounting Program Office Manager Shannon Petrin, who helped coordinate the program.
During the week, Isenberg faculty members introduced the students to accounting and its subdisciplines of auditing, managerial accounting, tax, and forensics. Students also received informative introductions to marketing, operations management, and other Isenberg majors/career opportunities. And they got inside advice on academics and campus life from Isenberg students/counselors, who helped supervise their activities. Those learning experiences included workshops, where the students practiced team building and oral and written presentation skills. In addition, they morphed into small student teams, competing on a business case. And they practiced career development essentials like resume writing, networking, and job search skills.
Just as valuable, C.A.M.P. excelled as a bonding experience. The students lived together in UMass Amherst’s stylish Commonwealth Honors College dorms and ate together in UMass Amherst’s award-winning dining commons. After hours, they enjoyed an ice cream social, movie night, bowling, and other recreations. In a more serious vein, they spent a day in Boston, where they got behind-the-scenes business tours at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Fenway Park. And they visited Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants headquarters, where a panel of accounting professionals explored careers and issues in the profession.
The students, notes Rodriguez, were nominated for C.A.M.P. by their high school guidance counselors. C.A.M.P. gave preference to motivated students with strong academic and leadership credentials. It also sought out students eager to explore accounting and other business disciplines. “For the students, C.A.M.P. was an information accelerator, exposing them first-hand to Isenberg and a wealth of career-focused insights and information. With C.A.M.P. under their belts, they are bound to make better informed decisions about college and their future careers.”
C.A.M.P. receives generous support from the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, Susan and Richard Gulman ’79, Scott ’92 and Melissa Kaplowitch, and Margery ’84 and Mark Piercey. The Big Four Accounting Firms also provide support with contributions, and gifts for the students.