Young organizations pour their energy and resources into products and customer relations, often with little left for the underpinnings of sustainability. Making sure the organization has sound accounting processes and procedures to operate and grow is an issue often overlooked.
ProConnect is a University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management program that pairs graduate accounting students with small and mid-size businesses, social entrepreneurs and startups. A team of students serve as pro bono “consultants” giving them the opportunity to take their accounting acumen out of the classroom and into real life.
A team of students serve as pro bono “consultants” giving them the opportunity to take their accounting acumen out of the classroom and into real life.
Meanwhile, the organizations they work with get help on project-type accounting work such as:
- Preparation of pro-forma financials for business plans
- Cash flow analysis
- Researching tax and accounting best practices related to an industry
- Evaluation of accounting-related processes and procedures
- Development of spreadsheet models for financial analysis
This free service, done in semester-long projects, is part of a required class (Professional Accounting Communications) in the graduate accounting student’s degree program.
“These small businesses many times do not have the expertise, time or finances to dedicate to accounting, but they really, really need to focus on it,” says Mary Beth Goodrich, Accounting Communications professor at the UT Dallas Jindal School. “These companies get so excited about the core business they are in and may put accounting processes on the backburner. Our students can add a great deal of value by putting their expertise to work for these businesses.”
Lucretia Ensminger, the Jindal School’s business relationship manager, is the ProConnect point of contact for businesses and social ventures seeking help from the graduate students.
“Our students can add a great deal of value by putting their expertise to work for these businesses,” said Mary Beth Goodrich, UT Dallas professor.
Cause Studio, based in Dallas, is one such group that received help from Jindal School accounting students. This startup nonprofit incubator and training resource helps local residents who are trying to create nonprofit organizations.
Cause Studio targets social entrepreneurs with less than five years of operations and budgets less than $100,000.
“The talent that was exhibited by UT Dallas students is comparable to the professionals who we have used in some of our other training programs,” Cause Studio’s founder Kimberly O’Neil said.
Coregami, a brand-new Dallas-based online retailer of high-performance formalwear for musicians that improves the clothes’ functionality, is a recent startup to have signed up for assistance.
Mary Beth Goodrich (@guofumeicpa on Twitter) monitors her student consultants throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, students deliver their reports to the organization and also make end of semester presentations which the leaders of the companies or ventures are invited to attend.
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