Bailee Steinle, ’22, a Master of Professional Accountancy student from Salina, Kansas, joined elite company becoming just the eighth student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln ever to be accepted into the Financial Accounting Foundation Postgraduate Technical Assistant (PTA) program. Only accepting a select few applicants every year, the prestigious program allows recent accounting graduates to play a direct role in the accounting standard-setting process.
“A lot of what I've done so far at Nebraska and internships is the application of rules. But, what goes into making those rules? What sort of thought processes and decisions are involved? Those are the types of questions that fascinate me, and getting an in-depth look at the standard-setting process is what the PTA program is all about,” said Steinle, who begins the program this summer. “I’m excited by the challenge of figuring out how to apply my accounting knowledge in a completely new way and contribute something meaningful.”
Graduates either serve as a PTA with the Financial Accounting Standards Board or the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. Technical assistants gain a behind-the-scenes look at how the boards establish Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States.
Designated as a Governmental Accounting Standards Board PTA, Steinle will spend a year in Connecticut engaging in hands-on projects throughout all stages of the standard-setting process.
“Working with senior members of the project staff, I will be involved in various phases of the standard-setting process. My work could involve anything from performing technical accounting research and preparing memos to communicating with stakeholders and even presenting my findings to board members,” Steinle said.
Technical assistants have gone on to work for companies like American Express, Credit Suisse, Deloitte and other globally recognized financial institutions. Passionate about helping others learn the importance of accounting, Steinle believes the program will make a positive impact on her future career.
“Getting a glimpse of the rationale underlying accounting standards will allow me to have a more well-rounded perspective, which I believe is a critical component of conveying its importance and uses to other people. Part of interacting with such a diverse spectrum of accounting professionals is getting exposure to so many different paths and stories,” she said.
“I'm really excited for these interactions and the opportunity to explore how I can make a career in accounting unique to me.”
As a former Financial Accounting Standards Board PTA, Amanda Gonzales, Senior Seacrest Teaching Fellow and associate professor of practice in accountancy, ’03, knows the value of the program and its merits moving forward in the accounting profession.
“The PTAs are working with the brightest minds in the accounting field and gain an understanding of the forces at play in the industry. Students become experts on the topics they are assigned to work on and participate as a valuable team member in all aspects of standards development,” said Gonzales, Nebraska’s last graduate admitted into the program 20 years ago.
Gonzales shared how her time in the program shaped her career and led to exciting opportunities, from furthering her academic career to becoming a project manager at the International Accounting Standards Board after her time with the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Her experience helps advance her teaching and research at Nebraska, whose accounting faculty have been recognized by BYU as among the best in research output.
“A research article I wrote with Dr. Katherine Schipper (Thomas F. Keller Professor of Business Administration at Duke University and former FASB Board member), Yonca Ertimur (Tandean Rustandy Esteemed Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder) and Jennifer Francis (Interim Provost at Duke University) was based on a standard-setting approach to solving a current accounting issue. I also use my knowledge of standard setting all the time in the classroom. I bring issues to life by discussing the alternatives that the standard setters considered when explaining the ‘why’ behind a certain accounting topic,” Gonzales said.
Nebraska’s School of Accountancy is one of seven programs in the Big Ten that is dually accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Steinle explained how both her undergraduate and graduate experiences at Nebraska readied her to thrive as a PTA.
“I definitely would not be in the position I am in right now if it weren't for Nebraska's accounting program! Outside of a strong technical accounting education, some unique components of the undergraduate and master's programs have prepared me for the PTA program. The MPA program encouraged me to focus on critical thinking and creative problem solving in ways I hadn't before. I also think ACCT 455 (Research and Communication in Accounting) was the perfect prep for this program, which taught me to act quickly, think creatively and support my teammates' ideas,” Steinle said.
With a curriculum designed to cultivate in-demand skills in the accounting profession, the School of Accountancy offers innovative courses pushing the boundaries of learning in the accounting space. As the capstone course for accounting majors, ACCT 455 combines theatrical improvisation and technical research and writing to grow communication abilities, a vital skill in accounting.
“ACCT 455 equipped Bailee to succeed in her all-day interview with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and will help her thrive on her project team there. The course is designed specifically to help students have confidence in articulating their ideas with clarity, concision and professionalism, and she can draw on the teamwork, research and critical thinking in the course to help her make an impact,” said Gonzales, who co-teaches the course with Julie Uribe, ’84, lecturer at the Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film and an Emmy Award-winning producer who has more than 25 years of experience in the television industry.
According to Gonzales, Nebraska fosters a dynamic learning environment that prepares accounting students like Steinle for careers in an ever-evolving industry.
“At Nebraska, accounting students are equipped with a powerful combination of technical, communication, critical thinking, leadership and teamwork skills. These skills will set up Bailee with success on a project team at the program,” she said.
As the faculty member who recommended Steinle to the program, Gonzales credited her leadership, motivation and communication skills as direct attributes to her acceptance into the PTA program.
“Bailee is a model student. She is intelligent, dedicated, hardworking, respectful, responsible, curious and proactive—everything we could ever desire in a student,” she said. “We are proud of Bailee and confident she will be a valuable contributor to her project team.”
Graduating with her MPA this spring, Steinle looks back fondly on Nebraska’s accounting program and Gonzales, calling them invaluable to her.
“I am so grateful to the School of Accountancy for their support. The department has consistently challenged me and helped me to grow as a student and a professional. I am also especially grateful to Dr. Amanda Gonzales for believing that we could make this happen! She has been so encouraging and an incredible mentor in ways that stretch far beyond the PTA program. I’m so grateful that she made this dream come to life and helped me find my confidence along the way,” Steinle said.
Once she completes the PTA program, Steinle will return to Omaha, Nebraska, to begin her career as a staff accountant at Lutz.
“I can't imagine a better way to kickstart your career than going back to the ‘beginning,’ as in the standard setting process. By improving my ability to comprehend accounting topics on a deeper, more conceptual level, I will be a more productive member of the accounting profession. This deeper understanding will also allow me to serve clients better as I will have a unique set of tools that will help me to contemplate, research and formulate solutions to their questions,” Steinle said.
To learn more about the Master of Professional Accountancy and the accounting major, visit: https://business.unl.edu/accounting.
Published: May 23, 2023