A Profitable Exchange

INA, Ill. (Feb. 6, 2019) - Rend Lake College accounting students heard two very different sides of the same coin to kick off the spring 2019 semester when RLC graduates Cassidy Neal and Steven Tate came to present their personal journeys from the classroom to the business world.

In addition to providing current RLC students a glimpse into the field they are currently studying, the presentations were also a passing of the torch of sorts for the presenters involved, showcasing the influence one successful graduate can have on future Warriors.

For her part, Neal is fresh out of school. The Benton native just recently made her splash in the job market, graduating from RLC in 2015 and wrapping up her Masters in Accounting at SIU in 2018. She spoke to students about the ins and outs of completing their education, taking the dreaded CPA exam and how aggressively employers pursue a qualified accountant.

CassidyNeal WCassidy Neal answering RLC accounting students' questions during a classroom visit

Fresh out of school, Neal fielded offers from several firms, all offering a good starting wage and, in many cases, signing bonuses.

She then took a moment to field questions from the class, offering a first-hand experience on many of the hurdles that students will face while continuing their education, providing tips and tricks on how she succeeded, supplying them with the insights from someone who had recently sat where they are now..

Standing in front of the class, answering questions and providing a view on the post-graduation world was an unexpected place for Neal to find herself. But, it was a fitting one. She admitted to those gathered that she didn’t know what she wanted to do professionally when she started classes at RLC. Yet that all changed when someone did exactly what she was doing now.

When asked why she ended up choosing accounting, Neal simply said “Steven Tate convinced me.”

So, for the other side of the coin.

After hearing from someone who navigated academics into the accounting field in one fell swoop, students then heard from Tate himself.

Tate originally graduated from RLC in 1993 and then spent the next 17 years in manufacturing and maintenance. But, Tate was ambitious and wanted something more. So, after nearly two decades out of the classroom, he returned to RLC to brush up on his accounting.

After graduating a second time from RLC, with honors, Tate continued on to Carbondale where he completed his education and his CPA exam largely while maintaining his midnight maintenance shift at the Walgreens Distribution Center in Mt. Vernon.

SteveTateWSteve Tate, left, standing with RLC Business Associate Professor Mark Jornd, right, during a classroom visit to answer questions about accounting.

It didn’t take long for Tate’s hard work to get noticed though. He was offered his first accountant job before he even graduated from SIU and has turned that initial foothold into his current position of Vice-President of finance for Lincoln Crude Oil Marketing in Mt. Vernon. 

Like Neal, Tate took time to answer questions from the gathered students offering a non-traditional student’s insight on the world of accounting, both in and out of the classroom.

For RLC Business Associate Professor Mark Jornd, it’s all just part of the plan, provide students with real-world resources and information to give them a leg up, no matter if they are entering the job market or continuing their education.

Interested in Business? Check out https://www.rlc.edu/programs-degrees for information on our Business program or any of our other program offerings.

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