Twenty Area High Schoolers ACED it at the Second Annual Accounting Summer Camp!

July 15, 2023

Twenty Area High Schoolers ACED it at the Second Annual Accounting Summer Camp!

“I think the most beneficial thing I learned throughout this camp is what accounting is. I feel like that sounds really simple, but I went into the camp not really knowing what it is. I had the misconception that it was all numbers and math, and I feel like it did a great job of opening up my eyes to the fact that it is not just numbers and math. There is a lot you can do with accounting and there are a lot of careers in accounting,” reflected one high schooler who participated in the 2023 Accounting Careers + Education Discovery (ACED) camp at GVSU. This three-day, two-night experience was designed and coordinated by faculty within the Seidman College School of Accounting. The camp supports GVSU’s and Seidman College of Business’s values to create an inclusive and equitable environment by exposing high school students from a wide range of backgrounds to the opportunities in an accounting career.

Twenty area high schoolers from seven different high schools participated in the ACED camp. Highlights of the camp included an on-campus residential experience in Allendale, visits to the downtown Pew campus and two area accounting firms, an improv session, and the chance to custom design and manufacture a pair of Chaco sandals.

The content of Day 1 centered on life as a college student. Participants learned about the expectations demanded of college students, time management strategies, and how to apply to college and for financial aid. Four current GVSU accounting students – Bailee, Jordan, Rachel and James – served as camp counselors and advisors. These students offered concrete advice and the invaluable perspective of their own experiences at GVSU. The students enjoyed campus games, staying overnight at the Holton-Hooker Learning & Living Center, and trying out on-campus dining at “The Dish.” A Kent City High Schooler had this to say: “I did not expect to come here and experience all this. I love my counselors, I love all the people that came to talk to us. It was very fun and I felt very included and I feel like I learned a lot.  And, I think I found some interest in accounting as well.” 

On Day 2, students learned more about the accounting profession, including the wide array of career options available to accountants and their first taste of how to navigate life in the world after college. In the morning, they traveled to the Chaco factory in Rockford where they learned about the roles accounting and finance play within the organization. Students had fun designing their own custom pair of Chaco sandals, which were manufactured during their tour of the factory and presented to them after they enjoyed a food-truck lunch. The afternoon featured a tour of the Grand Rapids office of accounting firm BDO and guidance on how to build an effective professional network. Students immediately applied what they learned and kickstarted their networks with an engaging round of speed-networking with professionals from BDO. Day 2 concluded with a session by Grand Rapids-based improv group “The Comedy Project.” The well-practiced performers from The Comedy Project helped students hone an overlooked – yet critical – skill needed by accountants: communication.  Students learned how to listen, how to build upon ideas of others, and to accept failure or imperfection. The improv experience was also packed with fun and helped students overcome the nerves that often accompany public speaking.

Day 3 was another packed day that taught students more about careers in accounting and lessons in professionalism. They started with a trip to the accounting firm Crowe LLP office in downtown Grand Rapids. There, they explored the building and had a chance to speak with numerous business professionals. The visit concluded with some accounting trivia, played Family Feud style! From there, the group headed to the downtown GVSU Pew Campus. Once again, students went outside their comfort zone, this time with a formal lunch and a lesson on dining etiquette guided by a member of the GVSU Career Services team. Continuing the theme of preparing them for a successful transition into the professional world, students had headshots taken by the GVSU photography staff.

The Seidman School of Accounting faculty hope that the experience made a lasting impression on the campers. If this one camper reflection is any indication, it most certainly did! “At the beginning of camp, I wasn’t very optimistic about my future here or college in general, but now I feel very optimistic about wanting my place here at Grand Valley.”

Attendance at the camp was free to participants thanks to the generosity of our sponsors: GVSU, BDO, Crowe, EY, Plante Moran, PwC, Dan Carter Advisors, Deloitte, Hungerford Nichols, and Wolverine Worldwide/Chaco. We thank these sponsors for their generous support!

If your organization is interested in being a sponsor for the 2024 ACED camp or you would like to learn more about engaging area high schoolers in ACED, please reach out to the ACED planning committee in the Seidman School of Accounting at [email protected].

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Page last modified July 15, 2023