Feature Stories 2023: Joshua Keith '23, '24: Getting involved

Feature Stories 2023: Joshua Keith '23, '24: Getting involved
Joshua Keith '23, '24: Getting involved

Transfer accounting major and MBA student opens doors for himself through involvement in campus clubs and jobs

From a young age, Joshua Keith recalls being fascinated with computers, budgets, and watching his father run a mortgage brokerage business, making the choice to study accounting a perfect fit. Utilizing the MassTransfer program to attain his A.S. in business administration at Massasoit Community College, he transferred into UMass Dartmouth in the fall of 2021 as a junior accounting major in the Charlton College of Business (CCB). 

Transferring to UMassD

What brought you to UMass Dartmouth?

"The newly renovated Charlton College of Business, the location of the campus, and the expertise of CCB professors. After attending Open House, I knew that I would meet a lot of like-minded people and grow both academically and personally. Also, my cousin graduated with a crime and justice studies degree from UMassD in 2013 and had a great experience here."

What stood out about the Charlton College of Business?

"The Charlton College of Business caught my eye by having the AACSB accreditation, the accounting program I was looking for, and the ability to have a 4+1 MBA. I knew these qualities, as well as the student clubs and organizations, would allow me to utilize classroom learning in a real-world setting."

What strategies for overcoming new student nerves worked for you?

"I am a big proponent of getting involved on campus. In my experience, it was beneficial to talk to professors outside of class, join clubs and organizations, and go to campus events to meet new people. It was tough at first, but breaking out of my comfort zone opened so many doors and opportunities. My professors Christopher Jacobsen (Accounting) and Jacqueline Einstein (Management and Marketing) really helped me step out of my social comfort zone."

Becoming a leader

Keith didn't take long to settle in at UMass Dartmouth. He began working on-campus jobs before he started his first semester, and quickly took leadership positions for UMassD's Collegiate DECA and Beta Alpha Psi chapters, and the university's Student Alumni Association.

As part of DECA, his teams finished third in Massachusetts and 15th in the world for Financial Statement Analysis. In May 2023, four of UMassD DECA's six teams finished in the top 15 in their respective categories, at an international competition in Orlando, FL, competing among 250 universities worldwide. He's also volunteered over 130 hours in the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement and CCB Serves, and helps his fellow students create résumés, LinkedIn profiles, and internship applications.

When did you feel comfortable enough to get involved in extracurriculars?

"Right away. I applied for my first student job as an Office Assistant at the Office of Student Accessibility Services the summer before I moved to campus. The first student org that I joined was Collegiate DECA and Beta Alpha Psi. I was instantly welcomed by other members who ended up becoming such great friends. I knew that I wanted to hold a leadership position and become more involved on campus during my second semester (spring 2022) where I became the treasurer of Collegiate DECA, and a CCB Student Ambassador. During my fall 2022 semester I also became the treasurer of Beta Alpha Psi and a CCB Peer Mentor."

Do these experiences enrich your professional skills?

"These experiences have allowed me to sharpen my networking skills and become a better professional. In April 2022, our DECA team traveled to the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Baltimore, MD to compete in the international competition in our Financial Statement Analysis case study category. I was able to network with students from business schools across the globe."

How do your on-campus jobs help add to your professional skills?

"I take a lot of pride in working with the CCB Dean's Office and with many of the faculty and staff of CCB. It has been such a great experience meeting such friendly and helpful professionals that have supported me. My on-campus jobs have allowed me to become more connected inside of CCB and throughout campus. I've also met friends with similar interests through my work experiences."

Real-world experience

Between three accounting internships and a plethora of on-campus jobs, Keith has built a lengthy résumé on and off campus.

Where have you interned and what did you do?

"My first internship (spring 2022) was working as a VITA Tax Intern for a local nonprofit in New Bedford called the Community Economic Development Center, where I prepared income taxes for low-income families of the greater New Bedford area. There I would intake taxpayers, input their tax data into our tax software, and prepare the tax return.

"In my second internship (summer 2022) I worked as an Audit Intern for Withum, where I worked in an audit engagement team and completed 401(k) audits, Single Audits, and Student Financial Aid audits for colleges and universities.

"This semester (spring 2023), I'm starting my third internship as a Tax Intern for Withum where I'll prepare tax returns for high-net-worth individuals, businesses, and partnerships. These experiences have led me to accept an offer to become a full-time Staff Accountant at Withum following my spring 2023 graduation."

How does this experience complement your education?

"These practical experiences allow me to utilize and build upon classroom learning. I would prepare for my internships by studying the materials from my previous classes and talking with professors to gain additional support and resources."

4+1 MBA

Already needing an additional 30 credit hours on top of the standard 120 to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Keith decided to apply those credits to earn his MBA in Charlton, which he accelerated by taking graduate-level coursework during his senior year, which "double-dips" for undergraduate elective credit.

What made you want to pursue your MBA?

"To become well-rounded and have expertise in all areas of Business Administration. I remember seeing advertisements as a kid on TV about why students and professionals should pursue an MBA degree. I chose to stay at UMass Dartmouth to complete my MBA because I like the structure of the classes and am already familiar with the MBA faculty."

Does the 4+1 program make this a smooth transition?

"Charlton makes the transition smooth by allowing students to 'double-count' their senior business electives as MBA courses. For me, this saves a lot of money and time, and I can complete the MBA program while working full-time."

How will this benefit your future career plans?

"Holding an MBA degree will benefit my future career plans by allowing me to be able to sit for the CPA exam, look more attractive to employers, and have a higher starting salary. I look forward to creating a real-estate business in the future and I believe that learning skills such as organizational leadership will allow my future business to be successful."

Why should other business students look into Charlton's 4+1 MBA program?

"It gives students an unbeatable value. The high-quality undergraduate education directly feeds into a fantastic graduate program. The 4+1 MBA allows students to choose a concentration or individualized option depending on their educational and career goals. It is interesting to see the different perspectives from students who are returning to school, international students, and from my classmates that I studied with during my early years at UMass Dartmouth."

Looking back

How do you know UMassD was the right choice for you?

"The combination of meeting great students, working with professors that are supportive and encouraging, and the opportunity to make a name for yourself and your peers is second to none, and I firmly believe that I was really meant to go to UMassD."

Do you have a favorite memory during your time here?

"There are so many fond memories that I could choose from, but the one that really sticks out to me was attending the spring 2022 commencement to watch my roommate Will and my other friends graduate after the hard work that they had all put in for the last couple of years. My friends are a source of inspiration and motivation for me, and for that I am forever grateful."

What is your favorite thing about UMass Dartmouth?

"My favorite thing about UMass Dartmouth is the faculty that I have had the privilege of meeting and working with. I have gained valuable wisdom, teachings, and support. The overarching message that I gained from working with such talented professors is that if students put their mind to something, utilize the resources at UMassD, and work hard, they can achieve anything they want in life."

Any specifically you want to shout out?

"Assistant Teaching Professors Christopher Jacobsen (Accounting), Jacqueline Einstein (Management and Marketing), and Marilyn Ardito (Management and Marketing), Associate Professor Kellyann Kowalski (Management and Marketing), Commonwealth Professor Dan Braha (Decision and Information Sciences), and Associate Dean Chan Du."

What's next?

"After I graduate from UMass Dartmouth I will begin working as a Staff Accountant for Withum, attain my CPA license, and begin to create a real-estate business. I look forward to coming back to campus to help in any way I can, and inspiring the next generation of students, leaders, and professionals."

Connect with Joshua

Joshua welcomes you to connect with him on LinkedIn, Handshake, or the Corsair Network. He's also shared his PowerPoint for his submission in the 2022 Corsair Idea Challenge, which came in 3rd place out of 30 participants.