Switching My Gameplan: Pursuing a Career in Accounting

How I landed a job as Tax Associate at KPMG in San Francisco

There are many academic journeys toward finding the right fit and career path. Some of my peers knew exactly what they wanted to do and how to get there. I had to experiment, and, along the way, I discovered my passion for accounting.

As a freshman undergrad at UC Davis, I started as an environmental policy and planning major; however, I quickly realized I was more of a “numbers” person and wanted to pursue a field that was more mathematically focused.

This led me to switch my major to statistics during my winter quarter.

The COVID-19 pandemic redirected my academic focus during my sophomore year, as I found myself trudging through online classes from home. Yet, this period allowed me to focus on general education requirements and prerequisites, setting the stage for my academic trajectory.

As I progressed into my junior year, I began contemplating my career path within Statistics and I discovered that the technical demands of traditional statistical roles did not align with my strengths or passions.

I did some research on careers, and my exploration led me to the UC Davis accounting minor offered by the Graduate School of Management (GSM).

Having already enjoyed introductory accounting courses, I recognized the versatility, stability and collaborative nature of accounting careers as ideal for me.

Kendall Richards in a group shot holding a giant check at the KPMG offices
Kendall Richards (front row, third from left) at KPMG Community Impact Day Summer 2023 during her audit internship with fellow MPAc student Ben Tjandra (top right corner) at KPMG offices in San Francisco.

Strategic Switch toward a CPA

At the beginning of my junior year, I came up with a game plan: switch my major to economics and pursue the accounting minor. During my major switch, I educated myself on the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requirements. I knew that I would need certain accounting requirements and classes that would fall under the CPA's business category.

I completed all five upper-division accounting minor classes during my junior year. This reinforced my dedication to becoming a CPA. That year, I also joined various business-related student clubs including the Davis Accounting Society and became a board member for DAS my senior year. Through my classes and DAS, I was introduced to the UC Davis Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) program.

My senior year, I decided my ideal plan was to enroll in the MPAc program at the Graduate School of Management since I was already so familiar with the Davis community.

The UC Davis MPAc program was the best fit for me because of the smaller classes, the GSM network, convenient location, available scholarships and teaching assistant opportunities to help with tuition.

I applied by the Round One deadline for the 2023-2024 MPAc program and was notified I was accepted in November 2022.

So far, I am happy with my choice of being a UC Davis MPAC student. The classes are much more engaging versus those I took as an undergrad. 

I am now studying for the CPA and the overlap between my classes and my CPA review course have made studying much better. The professors are adaptive and easily accessible to students. Additionally, opportunities like the Meet the Firms have been instrumental in securing job offers very early in the school year.

Kendall Richards with a group on interns at the Andersen offices.
Kendall Richards (front row, third from left) interned at Andersen Tax in Silicon Valley in Summer 2022. 

Benefiting from an Accounting Minor

Having the accounting minor background was beneficial, but not necessary to thrive in the MPAc program.

In my classes, there is some overlap of material. It is nice to not learn everything from scratch in some classes so I can study more for other classes that I struggle in more. I am also a TA for MGT103, an upper division class within the accounting minor, so the minor made it possible for me to get this opportunity.

There is another benefit of completing accounting courses as an undergrad before I joined the MPAc. Students who have completed certain undergraduate classes with the minimum grade level are eligible to waive an MPAc class in the fall and winter quarter for an elective.

This is a bonus to students who do the accounting minor prior to MPAc. I personally did not choose to take any electives because I took the intermediate accounting series my junior year and wanted to refresh my skills for the CPA exam, but many of my peers enjoy the elective classes offered.

Even though my path to choosing a career in accounting was not straightforward, it is a rewarding one. The program has so many people from different academic backgrounds. With or without the accounting minor, the MPAc sets you up to succeed.

I’m happy to share that I will be starting as a tax associate at KPMG in San Francisco in November 2024.

If you have any questions about my internship experiences, accounting minor at UC Davis, my experience in the MPAc, or anything else, feel free to contact me via my email or Linkedin!