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Ken East Students Receive Professional Experience Through Accountants | Schools

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Ken East Students Receive Professional Experience Through Accountants
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Ken East Students Receive Professional Experience Through Accountants

In this technological day and age when teens prefer texting rather than talking, Kenmore East High School Accounting teacher Jennifer Dorigo came up with a great way for her students to strengthen communication skills while at the same time build their business knowledge: pick up the phone and interview a professional accountant.  Dorigo worked closely with major accounting entities, Gaines Kriner Elliott LLP, the M&T Bank Audit Department, and select independent firms, and lined up accountants for her 32 students to call.

“For most of them it was their first professional phone call, and some were nervous.  A few asked ‘can I text them?’  We expect students to become responsible adults when they walk off our stage with a diploma, and I thought it was important for them to have a professional conversation with a professional adult,” said Dorigo, who has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Canisius College and was an internal Auditor prior to her teaching career.

Count Kenmore East High School Senior Samantha Sokan as one of the students who at first was a bit nervous having to pick up the phone, call a professional accountant, and conduct an interview concerning the details of the profession.

“Because I text a lot more, it’s been some time since I actually picked up the phone and talked to someone.  This was a great experience.  I learned a lot about accounting and how I can improve my communication skills.  It helped me learn some of the necessary steps to become a successful accountant,” said Sokan, who wants to pursue accounting at the college level.

As part of the “Ask an Accountant” project, students were required to write a report based on the initial phone call, and then formulate their own opinions on what was discussed during the phone interview.  “New technology” enters the lesson plans next, as students then are responsible for contacting each accountant via email, to gauge professional opinions on financial-related topics.  Those issues will then be discussed as a whole in the classroom.

Finally, students and their respective accountant will meet the “old fashioned way,” face-to-face, during an informal get together at Kenmore East High School in early June.  The festive atmosphere will provide students with a “real-life” networking experience with a professional accountant.

“I learned that everything we’re learning here at Kenmore East, in our business classes, is taking place in professional accounting firms.  I also learned the steps needed to go from high school, to college, to becoming a CPA,” said Kenmore East High School student Austin Ford, a 17-year-old Junior.

According to a recent study by the research company Nielson, teens receive or send a text every ten minutes, and send or receive 3,400 texts per month.  Statistics like that reinforce the need for young adults to actively communicate with adults and professionals in order to succeed in the global workforce, according to Dorigo.

“In the classroom, we do teach the importance of communication skills.  This project takes teens out of their comfort zones of texts and emails, and provides them with the necessary tools to carry on a professional conversation.  They also learned that accountants can make a pretty good living in the Buffalo-area, where there is high demand and low supply of accountants,” added the Kenmore East High School Accounting Teacher.

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