Robert Perez is no stranger to hard work. At FPU he combined academic excellence with real-world work experience.
Now business development manager with Boos & Associates, a Fresno accounting and consulting firm, Perez credits his professional internships, alongside his undergraduate studies, with positioning him for this job and success in the field.
Perez decided to major in accounting while attending FPU on a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship. “I have always been good with numbers and into finance,” he says, “and if you have a degree in accounting, it’s hard not to have a job.” He cites the school’s smaller classes and opportunities to connect with professors as a major factor in choosing FPU.
One connection, Sylvia Kim, D.B.A., helped Perez land a senior-year internship with Boos & Associates. An associate professor at FPU, Kim is also Boos’ tax director. (Kim and Perez are pictured above.) By Katie Fries fpu.edu | pacific magazine 23 “An internship in business, especially in accounting, is very important,” Kim says. “Students usually don’t have any accounting experience.
An internship gives them a little bit of experience with the real business world, and when they start working as accounting professionals, they feel much better about themselves.”
Focused work experience
Perez already knew how to work: summers at dairy farms around his hometown of Kerman during high school, and a sales job at Fresno’s Clawson Honda starting his sophomore year of college. But he knew a professional internship was crucial to becoming an accountant.
After a summer internship with the San Jose office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a “Big 4” accounting firm, he hoped to stay around Fresno after graduation. Boos eventually offered him a fulltime position.
“Almost all of my accounting students get full-time job offers before they graduate,” notes Kim. “Our accounting curriculum includes more indepth courses and hands-on practices than other universities, which is possible because of small classes.” FPU’s humanities courses, which focus on writing, presentations and discussion, also prepare students for a professional environment, she adds.
The value of an internship can’t be understated. “When you’re actually doing the work, everything makes a lot more sense than just doing accounting problems from a textbook,” Perez says. For example, being able to look at a client’s financial statements and understanding why it experienced a net loss.
Learning to be a professional
Another benefit was getting used to a professional schedule. This is especially important in accounting, which is seasonal. “From January to April 15, you’re going to be busy,” he says. “It can be different for somebody who has never been an intern and goes from being a student and having more free time to sometimes working up to 80 hours a week.”
During college, Perez says, he primarily focused on school and work, foregoing many of the social activities associated with the undergraduate experience. However, he adds, his demanding schedule helped him when the time came to study for his CPA exams while working full-time at Boos.
“It worked out perfectly, and helped me go up the corporate ladder here,” he says. “I started as an associate in 2019, then became a senior associate, and now I’m a manager.”
Today Perez has the opportunity to work alongside his mentor Kim while mentoring a new class of interns. “At Boos & Associates, we have a coaching system, and I actually mentor some of the interns. I know they appreciate it, and it helps prepare them.”