by Darla Vasquez - Apr 11, 2017
Originally from the small town of Tulia, Texas, Kristen Bigbee joined the Rawls College faculty as an accounting instructor in 2005. Today, she teaches Income Tax Accounting, Managerial Accounting, and the Seminar in Professional Practice courses. She also serves as the faculty advisor for the Accounting Leadership Council, which is a student organization open to accounting majors. Bigbee attended Texas Tech University and graduated with her bachelor’s and master’s degree in 2002. Before returning as faculty, she worked in a public accounting firm. Bigbee is married with three sons, Mack (5), Graham (2), and Zeke (1). In the Q&A below, learn what she has to say about the accounting industry and program at the Rawls College.
How will the skills that students acquire through the accounting program help in their career?
Our goal as faculty is to grow and develop the students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills. These skills pay dividends upon graduation as the lessons learned enable students to thrive in any environment they find themselves in.
What do you do, as a faculty member, to position your students for success?
I try to provide as much information as I can about opportunities available to the students post-graduation. I coordinate a course which advises students about available career options and provides them a clear path for pursuing their desired career. By empowering students with this knowledge, we are able to see our students thrive to reach these goals.
What qualities are most looked for in recent graduates applying for entry-level positions in accounting?
I have found that the number one trait all employers consistently seek is a student with a strong work ethic. The students needs to come out of our program willing to work hard, work long hours, and do what is takes to get the job done. Another key trait seems to be a positive mental attitude. When you are placed in a stressful environment, students without a positive attitude can have a negative effect on the overall project or goal. Those students with a positive attitude seem to lift up the other members of their team and assist everyone in completing the project. Going along with a positive mental attitude, those students willing to do whatever is asked of them whether that is sitting in on a meeting with the CFO of a company, working late on a Friday or Saturday night, or picking up dinner for their team and having a smile on their face while doing it seem to excel. Those are traits we try to identify and reinforce in our program.
What advice would you give current students in the Rawls College pursuing, or considering, an accounting degree?
Accounting can be a difficult and often a stressful field/profession. It is not for everyone. If you really want to pursue accounting, you must be serious about it. You have to go to class, pay attention, and study. Your education should be your priority. That being said, an accounting degree (specifically one from Texas Tech) can open doors you never thought possible post-graduation. Therefore, the payoff for all your hard work will be realized once you begin your career.
What resources does the Rawls College provide to help students obtain an internship or full-time position after graduation?
Our Career Management Center (“CMC”) does an outstanding job helping our accounting students obtain an internship and/or full-time placement in the accounting field. Each spring, CMC coordinates “Meet the Firms”, which is a formal recruiting process for accounting students in their third year who want to work in public accounting. Over 20 firms (international, national, state, and local) come to Lubbock throughout the semester and host social events for the students. These events range from bowling to scavenger hunts to casino nights, as well as dinners and interviews. Office visits are extended by the firms after interviews which allow the firms to bring the students to their offices. Students are then extended an internship for the following spring, which often turns into a full-time position. Most of our students have full-time jobs lined up over a year before they graduate taking away a lot of the stress felt by your typical college student.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at the Rawls College?
I absolutely love getting to know the students. I enjoy hearing their stories and where they are from. So many of them have such interesting and diverse backgrounds. It is remarkable how each one, regardless of background, has found Texas Tech and has put themselves into a position to succeed. I enjoy getting to know these students and learning about their goals and aspirations. I find myself “rooting” for so many of them to get into grad school or get a job with an employer they’ve aspired to work for. And I know that “from here it’s possible.”