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Katie Carlson Used FastForward Program to Run Toward Her Future As An Accountant

Katie Carlson knew she wanted to work in accounting, and couldn’t wait to get started.  So she took advantage of Seton Hill’s FastForward to an MBA Program to earn her undergraduate degree in accounting and her MBA in forensic accounting and fraud examination in record time. 

“This program made it easy for me to see the finishing line as I ran towards it,” she says. 

Katie started as a first-year college student in 2017 and became an associate with CliftonLarsenAllen (a national accounting, consulting and wealth advisory firm) right after graduating with her MBA in 2021. She graciously took some time out of a busy tax season to answer some questions about her Seton Hill experience. 

Why did you choose Seton Hill for your MBA in forensic accounting & fraud examination? 

I chose Seton Hill for my MBA because my experience during my bachelor’s provided me with an educational environment in which I thrived. I saw the great opportunity of being able to take 2 MBA courses while still finishing my bachelor’s degree in order to complete the MBA sooner. The ability to complete my MBA in only a year allowed me to start my career earlier as the starting positions in a public accounting firm required 150 credits. 

What was the journey like from the MBA Program to your current position?

Seamless. One of the many perks of Seton Hill University is the ability to find assistance in searching for a career at the Career and Professional Development office. George Carter (assistant director of experiential learning and employer relations) sent many emails about upcoming career fair opportunities. I started going to the career fairs my sophomore year. I wanted to be able to network, and get comfortable with the process of interviews. I found a part-time job as a bank teller located close to the Seton Hill campus, and the internship that led to my current job. Seton Hull participates in the Accounting Consortium every year, which allows students to submit resumes to their choice of participating employers and go through the interview process. Through the Accounting Consortium I interviewed with CliftonLarsonAllen, who I interned with in the Spring of 2020. This led to another internship in Spring of 2021 and Fall of 2021 until I completed my MBA in December of 2021 to start full time as an associate in January of 2022. The MBA program is asynchronous, which allows for individuals to continue advancing their career as they earn their degree. 

"The ability to complete my MBA in only a year allowed me to start my career earlier as the starting positions in a public accounting firm required 150 credits." 

Do you use things you learned at Seton Hill in your current job?

I do. At Seton Hill I learned many Excel skills that I use most days. I sometimes create new work papers to show calculations for complex options our system does not allow for us. 

It looks like you've devoted quite a few summers to serving as a YMCA camp counselor. Why was that important for you? 

Growing up my sister and I spent many summers at YMCA as a camper. Growing up at the camp made it feel like a home away from home. When I became too old to be a camper, the camp offered a leadership training camp. I was a part of the leadership training camp for two years. I learned how to be a better leader in my life. After the camp was over, I applied to be a camp counselor to offer young campers a similar experience to what I was so lucky to have. 

How did you balance service commitments and other activities with the demands of earning two degrees?

After the summer of 2018 I started a job as a bank teller. Earning two degrees does make other activities more difficult to be a part of. I learned great time management skills from that experience. I set aside time immediately after receiving projects and assignments to ensure they were taken care of with plenty of time to spare. I also would set personal deadlines to complete assignments in order to be able to enjoy my weekends or events I was planning to go to. There is nothing worse than being somewhere and constantly thinking about the assignment I didn’t get taken care of. 

Do you have anything you’d like to share about the MBA Program with people who may be considering it?

This is a great opportunity to be able to continue one's education while advancing their career. I’m not sure if I would be able to be in the position I am without being able to learn and earn work experience. I know sometimes the long road seems like it will never end and that can be very difficult for some to get past. When I started college, I was excited to be able to see the finish line for working in the field I enjoy. It helped me stay motivated throughout.