Student Spotlight: Erin Rosas

Accounting Major Balances School, Work


Erin Rosas doesn't shy away from hard work. In high school, she worked part time at a fast food restaurant and began fully supporting herself after graduation. During her first two years as an accounting major at Cal Poly Pomona, she took night classes and worked full-time during the day, first at a grocery store and later at an accounting firm in Monrovia.

But if you ask her about it, she says it wasn't that hard. "It's really not. You just have to do it - work and go to school. It'll all work out."

When she graduates after four years with a bachelor's degree in accounting and a lucrative position lined up, Rosas can honestly say that her efforts have paid off. She'll be an auditor starting this fall in the Orange County offices of McGladrey & Pullen, the largest national accounting firm in the United States.

"If you work hard, you can definitely have a successful career in whatever you want," Rosas says. "I know it is possible in this state for anyone to get an education and begin a great career. If your parents didn't go to college or you do not have any financial support, you can still do it. Cal Poly Pomona provided me with all the skills that I needed to earn a degree, grow personally and professionally, and market myself upon graduation."

Rosas says the practicality and hands-on approach of her classes helped prepare her for the working world. Nearly every class required a group project and paper. For one course, students put together financial statements for a mock company. In her intro to accounting class, she built a database and learned the accounting process from start to finish. In a tax class, the professor had students prepare returns for fictitious clients with complicated stories, such as a woman who was married twice in the last year and has a child she sometimes visits.

The practical experience gave her a leg up when she interned at McGladrey & Pullen last summer. She won the sole internship position, beating out candidates from UC Irvine, USC and CSU Fullerton.

"In accounting, the theoretical background is necessary; however it can only take you so far. When it comes down to it, you have to deliver, and that's where the hands-on approach from Cal Poly Pomona really gives you an edge," Rosas says. "By doing the technical and physical work in class, I found that I gained confidence and was not quite as afraid to make mistakes. The learn-by-approach definitely helped me prepare for a career."

Attending class and getting good grades weren't the only keys to Rosas' success. During her junior year, she wanted to be more involved on campus and joined Beta Alpha Psi, an honor society for financial information students. An officer her junior year and president this past year, she gained invaluable tools and a lead on her career. Business students shared their work and internship experiences. She got tips about dressing and acting professionally, as well necessary business syntax and people skills. Group members also conducted mock interviews and critiqued each other's resumes.

"Beta Alpha Psi gave me the soft skills that are needed in industry, such as the art of networking, professional conduct and proper dress," Rosas says. "I found insight into the different career avenues available to accounting students and worked on my leadership and social skills. I would encourage all students to get involved in their respective clubs on campus to help further their growth."

The honor society also allowed Rosas to give back to the community. Through her part-time job at the accounting firm, she got in touch with Rebuilding Together, a local nonprofit organization that repairs houses for low-income and elderly residents. She organized a daylong event in November for 25 accounting students and professionals to network while rehabbing a house. Other service events this year included a blood drive, work on the Cal Poly Universities Rose Float, a volunteer tax assistance program, a beach clean-up, and visiting local high schools to share the importance of higher education and careers in business and accounting.

"I am very impressed with Erin's leadership," says Meihua Koo, an accounting professor. "Erin had planned all of the volunteer opportunities that Beta Alpha Psi had taken part in this year with her already busy school and work schedules. As the advisor, I could not get any better club leader than Erin."