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Faculty in Accounting use various methods to help students get ready for careers in the accounting industry. Preparation begins in the classroom, where mid-level students work with case studies and examples that are based on models used in professional exams like the CPA. Students also apply their knowledge in the classroom setting by preparing a series of tax documents, including tax returns and recommendations, for fictional clients. For students in spring sections of Federal Income Tax II (ACC 355), these skills move from the classroom to the community by way of required participation in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. In this external practicum, each student talks with and prepares individual income tax returns for 25-35 taxpayers in the local community during a mandatory 50 hours of contact time. Accounting concepts are put into practice while interpersonal communication skills are developed.
Accounting majors learn about much more than tax preparation, however. Touring CPA firms in the region, attending monthly meetings of local CPA and CMA organizations, and hearing presentations by members of WICPA opens their vision to the diversity of opportunities within the accounting field. A few years ago, agents with the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit came to campus to work with 25 Lakeland students to investigate and solve five different financial crimes, their first effort of this type at a Wisconsin college or university.