As Bryant’s seniors prepare for life after college, they’re finding they have the skills, experience, and support to make a difference, no matter their chosen field. Inspired to excel, their Bryant experience is assisting them in turning their talents and passion into meaningful careers.
“My parents were so thrilled that their daughter got a job at a Big Four Accounting firm, especially in a tough job market,” says Accounting major Shannon Flaherty ’21, who will be working as a Tax Associate at KPMG after graduation. Bryant, she says, helped her stand out and aided her in developing the skills to flourish.
Over the summer, Flaherty researched the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides federal loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19, under the guidance of Professor of Accounting Michael Lynch. Learning the inner workings of real-world Accounting policy gave her a new insight into her chosen field, says Flaherty. “In Bryant’s Accounting program, you don’t just memorize things and learn the process, you really come to understand the material and how to apply it,” she says.
“All of my professors are so passionate about their field, and that helps contribute to my own passion for accounting.”
Her professors also helped her learn about different opportunities in her profession. Projects such as the PwC Challenge, where students work through accounting issues with professional mentors, put her a step ahead. “My friends at other schools tell me, ‘I can't believe the opportunities that you have, or that your professors are so willing to help you,’” Flaherty says.
A dedicated student, Flaherty notes that her faculty mentors helped instill in her that desire to always be learning and doing more. “All of my professors are so passionate about their field, and that helps contribute to my own passion for accounting,” she notes.
Flaherty was also recently accepted into Bryant’s Master of Professional Accountancy Program, which she will complete before joining KPMG. The decision to continue her Bryant education, she says, was an easy one. “I’ve loved my time at Bryant and I’ve made so many great connections,” says Flaherty. “Bryant’s MPAc program is nationally recognized and I know it will help me stand out in my career in the future.”
Experience and context
Finance and Applied Analytics major Kojo Appiah ’21, will be starting as an Associate Financial Analyst with Fidelity Investments after graduation. As a portfolio manager for Bryant’s Archway Investment Fund, Appiah helped steer a $2 million investment portfolio. That’s a rare experience for a college student, he notes, and it allowed him to show employers what he was capable of. “Having the freedom to have the hands-on experience of running the fund, with the support of the Archway faculty, was key,” he says.
“I wanted a skillset that was uniquely my own and that would be attractive to employers. Bryant has provided me with a wide variety of skills and experiences beyond my major.”
Courses like Financial Statement Analysis and Portfolio Management taught him how to analyze companies and use his findings to guide his investment philosophy and theses. “One of my favorite things about finance is you can build your own assumptions into the different models that you're using,” states Appiah. “So, while finance can sometimes be technical, it also allows you to make your own decisions.”
Appiah says that the complexity of the financial markets was one of the things that drew him to the field. A wide range of courses in areas from marketing to literary and cultural studies have given him the context to navigate complicated financial matters. “I wanted a skillset that was uniquely my own and that would be attractive to employers,” says Appiah. “Bryant has provided me with a wide variety of skills and experiences beyond my major.”
Leadership opportunities and involvements in Sigma Chi Fraternity, Student Government, where he currently serves as Treasurer, and the Bryant Senior Advisory Council taught him how to work on a team – and how to take charge. “I've been able to learn about different leadership styles and how to get a team to mesh together and work well together,” he notes.
“The relationships I had with my professors really helped me figure out what direction I wanted to go in. They all told me, ‘The reason I took this job is to help students learn what they want to do and then help them do that.’”
Appiah also benefitted from events like the annual Young Alumni in Finance panel, where recent graduates return to Bryant to share advice. “It’s one of my favorite events,” he says. “You get to hear from someone who was in your position only a year or two ago talk about their experience at Bryant and how they’ve used that experience.”
Making a difference
“I've always wanted to have a job that helped other people help themselves,” says Psychology major Michaela Robbio ’21. A Bryant Alternative Spring Break service trip to New Orleans solidified that decision. “It really opened my eyes,” she remembers. Already making a difference in the lives of Rhode Island’s children and families as a caseworker with Tides Family Services, she’ll continue working there after graduation.
Robbio, who aims to one day work as clinical therapist, says her coursework helped her better understand other people and their needs. “Being able to empathize with one another is everything when it comes to human connection,” she says. “Our relationships are at the core of who we are as humans. Getting to know the ways that we talk to each other and the ways that we are with each other is so important.”
“Bryant teaches you self-confidence, to be secure in the skills you’ve developed, and to advocate for yourself. The University does a really good job making sure students know how to do that.”
Through her Women, Gender, and Sexuality minor, she learned about the wider context that shapes the concepts she studied in her Psychology classes. “It made me consider the bigger picture,” Robbio notes. “You begin to recognize the structural issues that impact people.”
Bryant’s faculty worked with her to find a path that would fit her skills, goals, and personality. “The relationships I had with my professors really helped me figure out what direction I wanted to go in,” she states. “They all told me, ‘The reason I took this job is to help students learn what they want to do and then help them do that.’”
Robbio first became involved with Tides through a course that allowed her to intern with the organization for academic credit. Impressed with her work, her empathy, and the knowledge of people and systems Robbio had gained, they offered her a job.
“Bryant teaches you self-confidence, to be secure in the skills you’ve developed, and to advocate for yourself,” says Robbio. “The University does a really good job making sure students know how to do that.”