Student Stories | Troy University

Student Stories

Olivia McCool

Olivia Collier McCool

B.S.B.A. and Masters of Accounting
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL
Expected Graduation Date: July 2017

Why did you choose to major in Accounting?

I have always welcomed a challenge. Since a very young age I excelled in academics, and just knew that I wanted to pursue a worthwhile education. Upon my arrival at Troy I was determined to go pre-med. However, I quickly came to the realization that I had no desire to stay in school for extensive amounts of time, and quite frankly I found those science classes terribly boring. I had worked as a receptionist and thoroughly enjoyed the business sector so that’s when I became familiar with SCOB.

I initially thought I wanted to pursue a Marketing degree. In my Marketing curriculum though, some of the first classes I had to take were Principles of Accounting 1 & 2. I remember some of my classmates truly struggling throughout the entire semester as I just kept growing more intrigued by this language of business. I was told that there is no grey area when it comes to accounting, you either like it or you don’t…you either get it or you don’t. I liked it and I got it so after consulting with my advisor and learning about the endless opportunities that an accounting degree can offer, I decided Accounting was the place from me!

What will you take away from your coursework?

The main thing that I will take away from my coursework is how much this school truly prepares you for real world experiences. Having just completed an internship with a Big Four Accounting Firm, I can honestly say that the coursework given by the SCOB reaches far beyond the four walls of a classroom. I was worried that I might feel inadequate compared to some of the other interns coming from much larger universities however, I found that I was just as prepared, if not more, to perform not only successfully but also competitively.

What are some lessons you learned from professors or mentors in the SCOB?

o The professors at Troy University, more specifically within the Sorrell College of Business, are among the best and brightest mentors that would rival even your biggest cheerleaders. I remember being in my Principles of Accounting 2 class with a B (remember, overachiever) and thinking “This isn’t for me, I can’t do this.” I went to my professor after class and asked if I was right in switching my major because I felt I was struggling. He looked me in the eye and said “Olivia, I am one of the toughest professors at this University, if you have a B in my class then you’re doing pretty darn well. Don’t give up.”

I believe that was the first time I truly learned that this is not going to be easy, it is not always going to be enjoyable, and if there is something you want then you will have to earn it. Also, I learned how incredibly detrimental it is to build relationships. Not only with your classmates, (hello study groups), but also your professors, and most importantly those within the business community because it is those types of relationships that build a strong foundation for a successful career and a rewarding life.

How should business students build their networks?

Looking good on paper is great, but I have learned that it truly comes down to whose hand you shake. I feel that in the business world, you owe a responsibility to yourself to network and meet as many people as possible because each connection offers endless possibilities. Troy School of Accountancy does a spectacular job of helping you to meet future employers through “Meet the Firms” events and Accounting Society meetings, but building your network comes from being present, making yourself available, and putting yourself out there.

I was able to interview for my internship only because I had made a few connections in years prior and didn’t hesitate to reach out to those people requesting some help. PwC does not actively recruit at Troy for interns in the same way that they do at larger universities which means that if I wanted that internship, then I would have to pursue them. Although there were a few dead ends as well as more obstacles to face and hurdles to jump, I was finally placed in contact with the right people simply by using my initial connections. Your professors, LinkedIn, and simply submerging yourself in the business community are among the best ways for business students to build their networks.

Have you participated in any extracurricular activities during your time at TROY?

Absolutely! My college experience would not have been the same without the extracurricular activities that I engaged in through campus involvement. I held several leadership roles in Alpha Gamma Delta including VP Finance as well as VP Campus Relations. I served as both President and Secretary/Treasurer of Accounting Society which really helped me grow my network since I served as the liaison for many of the regional accounting firms and the accounting students. I was secretary of Delta Mu Delta, a national business honor society as well as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and the University Honors Alliance. I also had an absolute blast participating in “Geek Fest” which is SCOB’s event that provides networking opportunity for students while raising awareness of the college’s strategic initiatives. I strongly encourage everyone to get involved in extracurricular activities because it will enrich your college experience so very much. You will only get out of these opportunities the amount of effort that you put in.

Have these experiences helped you clarify what you want to do after graduation?

These experiences have played a very large role in helping me to decide what I want to do upon graduation. I learned through each of these organizations that it is so incredibly important to surround yourself with people that you not only enjoy working with, but also people who will challenge and inspire you to reach farther and dream bigger. I am also quite confident that my internship experience played a tremendous part in helping me to decide that this is in fact the path that I want to take. Although you can say all day long “I want to be here” or “I want to do this” I feel as though you truly don’t know if that is what you want until you fully submerge yourself in those experiences and just go for it. There’s no failing in trying, either you will harvest success or find redirection.

What advice do you have for current or future TROY business students, particularly those about to start in internship?

My biggest advice is to not limit yourself. So many times we see certain things as unattainable or not very likely to happen because it seems farfetched. But just because others aren’t taking your path or maybe you choose to go in a different direction, don’t let fear stop you. There are a few things that take no talent at all such as being on time, demonstrating a strong work ethic, and having a positive attitude; all of which will set you apart tremendously as a Troy business student. Find your “why” and go after it wholeheartedly. The only regret you’ll have is wishing you had done it sooner.