Teaching Has Taught Me

Here is another “first” for The Accounting Friars! We are pleased to present our first-ever “personal reflection” essay, written by Professor Faith Lamprey.

Teaching college level classes is always challenging and fun.  The students have a great desire to succeed in their field in business, but lack the knowledge of how business works and what they will actually be doing once they join the full time work force.

Mastery of Excel skills is something I always stress in all of my classes.  While I use Excel on a daily basis, teaching it to students forces me to keep up on the current versions of Microsoft and learn more of the techniques that are available.  I now use Pivot Tables, Conditional Formatting, and LOOKUP Tables on a regular basis.

Looking at your business processes from someone else’s eyes is a good practice to find places in which you can improve.  Our Accounts Receivable process got reviewed this spring by a team of students from an Accounting Information Systems class.  What they performed is part of the internal control work that is done prior to a financial systems audit.  It included interviews with me and other of our personnel.

The student team prepared narrative descriptions with flowcharts of the processes we use, documented controls we have in place, and identified missing controls.  They came up with a few suggestions for improvements to allow for greater integration.  In Academia we call this type of project Experiential Learning (students doing projects out in the real world) and it is all the rage on campuses.  It was fun to be on the other side of this and sit in the “real” instead of the “academic” chair.

Another thing that students help me with is to think “outside of the box” in solving problems.  This is something we talk about a lot in our industry.  Inexperience, sometimes seen as a weakness, is in fact, many times an asset as these students are not set in always looking at a problem the same way.

They are not afraid to try new things and many times they come up with a new way to look at a problem that provides for a streamlined solution.  Problem solving skills is one of the best things they will take with them into their careers.

They say to really learn something is to teach it and I have found that to be very true.  It is refreshing to work with these young minds and to be able to help them on their road to success.  The students certainly keep me on my toes and they have made me a better business professional in the process.

This essay first appeared on the web site of Aurora EDI Alliance. We have modified it slightly for editorial fit.