Smith & Howard and Smith & Howard Wealth Management recently announced the launch of a new program for Atlanta’s high school students: Smith & Howard’s Advancement of Rising Professionals (SHARP).
The goal of this innovative program is to introduce juniors and seniors in Atlanta Public Schools to the potential of a career in accounting or finance. SHARP will offer a one-day program for students selected through an application process. The day will offer conversations with a panel of accountants and financial executives who have pursued accounting or finance degrees and have experienced success in their chosen areas. It will also provide an introduction to basic networking skills and other interactive sessions, such as “day in the life” discussions with professionals in the industry.
John Lucht, Managing Partner of Smith & Howard says, “The accounting and finance industries recognize that engaging teenagers prior to their enrollment at college is one important – and often overlooked – piece of developing a pipeline of future accountants and finance professionals. One of our goals in this project is to have Atlanta Public School students interact one-on-one and in small groups with professionals who chose accounting and finance as a career and help them discover that there are surprising – and yes, even often exciting – career paths in those industries.”
Developed with the support and input of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Atlanta Public Schools, SHARP will host its inaugural session on April 28 at the offices of Smith & Howard in Atlantic Station, Midtown Atlanta, Georgia.
Of the importance of an early introduction to careers in these fields, Dr. Florence Holland, Lead Manager of Pipeline Initiatives at the AICPA said, “When we survey young CPAs we find that for a lot of them, particularly underrepresented minorities, pre-college courses and exposure were the key and deciding factor as to whether accounting was a field they wanted to pursue. Therefore we must be engaged in the pre-college space to provide these opportunities for students otherwise we allow other professions to pounce on this highly qualified talent that we need to continue building our pipeline in a robust way.”
Dr. Michael Maze, Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education with Atlanta Public Schools says of the program’s emphasis on getting high school students prepared for college and for future careers, “Atlanta Public Schools is committed to ensuring that all students are college and career ready. I’m excited about our partnership with Smith & Howard, because this partnership will afford APS students the opportunity to be exposed to the accounting and finance industry. More importantly, students will better understand the diverse career options in the fields of accounting and finance, while understanding the industry trends and best practices.“
On May 3, one junior and one senior from the program will be awarded the firm’s first Jim Howard Scholarship, named after co-founding partner Jim Howard who graduated from Grady High School. For more information, contact Julie Barnes at 404-874-6244 or via email.