At its spring board meeting, the USI Accounting Circle welcomed new board member Carlin Beckman. Beckman is Vice President of Finance and Administration at WNIN Tri-State Public Media, Inc.
Tell us about your career path in accounting.
My bachelor’s degree is in Merchandising (Home Economics), and I worked several years as a store manager for women’s clothing stores, then in outside sales for 6 ½ years. While I enjoyed my work, I felt that I was not a “salesperson” and wanted to make a career change. As an undergraduate I took an accounting class that I enjoyed and thought about changing my major or earning a minor in accounting, but did not, due to extending the years I would be in school. I had also served as Treasurer for my sorority, which included managing expenses for a house and several employees. As a nontraditional student I enrolled in an accounting class at USI at night 7 years after I received my first degree, while working full-time. I learned about the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in accounting program, and continued taking classes at night for 3 years to earn the Certificate. Upon completion I worked for a local CPA firm for 1 year, spent the next 2 ½ years working as Business Manager for a franchise of Avis Rent a Car, then spent several years at home with my children. I returned to work at WNIN Tri-State Public Media, Inc. as Director of Finance and Administration, was promoted after several years to Vice President of Finance and Administration, having been employed with WNIN for over 20 years.
What is your connection to USI, and what makes USI special to you?
I am an alumna, and thankful for the opportunity USI provides students to earn a Certificate in a specific field after previously earning a bachelor’s degree. I had many excellent professors for my classes and was very well prepared for the CPA exam upon completion of the program. I passed all sections on my first attempt. The smaller size of USI classes allowed me to get to know my teachers who were very engaged with students. I have participated in USI career fairs as an employer for 20 years, and continue to be impressed with the quality of students and their preparedness for work and internships. At WNIN we have had many USI students serve as interns over the years. My son is also a December 2021 USI computer science graduate.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions about accounting as a career?
Accounting is so much more than bookkeeping and working with numbers all day. While strong accounting and financial skills are vital to succeed, other skills are also essential. Today’s accounting professionals must possess skills to work closely with others in a team environment. In any organization, accounting staff work closely with all departments, and have a direct impact on every operational area.
What advice would you give USI students who are in their senior year, about to graduate? What do you wish you had known?
I would encourage all USI students to be open to the type of first job and career path you pursue. Everyone thrives in different environments. All organizations and industries have a need for accounting. I would tell them that if you have an interest or are passionate about something, consider working for an organization connected with your interests. This includes accounting firms, as all serve different sectors of business. I wish I had known more about types of career opportunities available with my original degree while I was in school, and that it was OK to switch majors halfway through college.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see in accounting, either in the short term or long term?
As technology and the business environment rapidly changes every day, there will be greater demand for adaptable, well-trained accounting professionals to meet these needs. It will be increasingly important for students and employees to be flexible, knowledgeable and possess key skills to meet these demands.
What attributes make a person successful in your industry?
To be successful it is important to be flexible, adaptable and able to quickly switch my focus from accounting to human resource or administration duties each day as the need arises. I work for a non-profit public media station, and believe in the importance of being a team player assisting with our events and programming activities as needed. When we have an event, I work where needed whether it is running an activity, grilling burgers, or assisting with clean up. As public media we receive federal and state funding, as well as maintain broadcast licenses, and it is vitally important in my role to keep up with rules and regulatory requirements, ensuring WNIN remains in compliance and continues to serve the local community.
What are you passionate about?
I have three children who are entering adulthood, and I will feel successful as a mother if each of them pursues a career path that fulfills their needs and makes them happy, whatever that may be. I enjoy being outdoors, walking, and working in my yard. I also greatly enjoy sewing and creating my own clothing when I have time, which is what led to my original degree.
Published July 12, 2022