Even as a high school student, Ethan Smith knew he wanted to go to college and major in accounting.
But it was the internship experience offered through St. Joseph’s University, New York that really solidified his future career for him.
“I was so grateful when I was a student that I was able to get this opportunity to go out and work for a firm and see what it’s like,” said Smith, 25, who graduated from the Long Island Campus in 2018 with a B.S. in Accounting and again in 2019 with an MBA in Accounting. “I think that’s really what pushed me over the edge in terms of if I really wanted to do this.”
And not only did it confirm his career choice, it also led him to his current career: senior accountant at Craig, Fitzsimmons & Meyer, LLP (CFM).
“I did two internships through St. Joe’s, one of which was at Craig, Fitzsimmons & Meyer,” he explained. “Both of those opportunities got me to where I am now, and also prepared me for what was to come.”
Smith passed the final part of the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) exam early in 2021 and officially became licensed in New York state in June of 2021. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and NYSSCPA, the New York State Society of CPAs.
A Perfect Partnership
Because of his own experience interning with CFM as a student at St. Joseph’s, Smith helped establish a partnership between the two, offering more internship opportunities to current accounting majors. CFM also created a scholarship for accounting majors at the Long Island Campus.
“The partners and myself thought it would be great for both our firm and the University, to provide scholarship and internship opportunities to the students — just as I started as an intern from St. Joseph’s and continued on to the position I am in now,” Smith said.
This past semester, two students interned with CFM, and one of them, Brooke Popik ’24, stayed on for a part-time summer job.
“From what I’ve seen with a couple of the interns we’ve had, I think it’s a good experience for them,” Smith said. “I can see they’re learning, like ‘This is something that I really could do, make it a career and maybe do this for the rest of my life.’”
The scholarship, originally only available to juniors and seniors but now available to all undergraduate accounting majors, was awarded for the first time this past academic year. Two students received $750 each to help with their studies at St. Joseph’s.
His Experience at St. Joseph’s
As someone who knew he wanted to major in accounting, St. Joseph’s five-year dual degree program appealed to Smith right away.
“I found out about the program when I came for my first visit to the University in the Summer of 2014,” said Smith, who graduated from St. Anthony’s High School that year. “I liked how some of the undergraduate professors taught the master’s classes as well. And of course the tuition and time savings — completing your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years instead of six.”
In addition to the five-year program being a big draw for him, Smith said it was also the community at the University that inspired his decision.
“I think it was a little bit of both the campus and the people,” he said. “When I met the faculty, the initial impression I got was they were very personable with the students, and that’s something I like. I was interested in the smaller class sizes and knowing the professor; that’s just how I feel like I learn best.”
Smith shared that it was that dynamic with his professors that led to his internships — and eventually job.
“I built some close relationships with the professors here, and I still communicate with them now,” he said.
Loving What He Does
Smith explained that what led him to the field of accounting was the possibilities.
“Many people don’t really understand the many avenues you could go in accounting,” the Medford resident said. “There are a lot of different fields within accounting that you could learn about, which interested me.”
The area of accounting that interests him the most is employee benefit plans.
“It’s very niche, but there’s a lot of availability if you’d like to go in that direction of accounting,” he explained. “And for whatever reason, I kind of jumped into it, and it interested me. I’m not sure why, but I like to do it. That’s currently what I do.”
As for Smith’s favorite part of his job? He loves connecting with his clients and understanding how their business or organization operates.
“I think that’s one thing in accounting where you really don’t get it with other fields,” Smith said. “You don’t get to see the internal workings of an organization — how are they accounting for their records, are they doing the right thing, and kind of keeping them in check.”
If students have any questions about the field of accounting, an internship opportunity, the CFM scholarship or passing the CPA exam, they can contact Smith at email@example.com or 631.360.1400, ext. 307.