Elizabeth’s Journey into Accounting and Project Management
A writing prompt sparked Elizabeth McCormick’s path to a future filled with hard work, a strong career, and organizing others to give.
For Elizabeth McCormick, an assignment in ninth grade English class got her worried and sparked a passion for finding who she was and what she wanted to be. As part of an autobiography writing exercise, students were asked to write about their passion. Instead of having an easy answer, Elizabeth started thinking about what her passion was or what it could be. This quest for self discovery led her down a path of trying new things, organizing and finding another way.
“I really wanted to find what my passion was and at the time thought I needed to find one single thing,” said Elizabeth. “When I thought about what I wanted to do, I mostly just knew that I wanted to work downtown and wear a fancy blazer, and I got excited about exploring options and learning everything I could based on that.”
In tenth grade, Elizabeth joined the Burnsville High School (BHS) chapter of DECA, an organization that aims to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management with clubs and competitions for high school students. She felt an instant connection and got more involved by becoming an officer in eleventh grade, participating in recruitment efforts, running meetings, and planning for logistics and events. One event unexpectedly sparked her interest, organizing blood drives.
“Organizing the blood drives was the best thing,” said Elizabeth. “I was never interested in healthcare and was pretty squeamish around blood and needles so I didn’t actually donate but I loved running and organizing blood drives. Something just clicked that this type of work was maybe my passion!”
Finding herself in exploration mode, Elizabeth wanted to learn more about different types of jobs and careers that were out there connected to what she was learning about in DECA and other organizations. She approached College and Career Specialist Marcia Sexton about the option to shadow different jobs and careers in the community and since there wasn’t a club already established, she started one!
“We set up a handful of different local shadowing opportunities at city hall, with mall management, at companies like Bosch and at Firefly Credit Union,” said Elizabeth. “Organizing that really fostered a sense of entrepreneurship in me knowing that even if you don’t see the club listed, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go do something that you’re interested in. As a woman and especially then as a teenager, there are parts of the world that can feel off limits, but I was never told no, just given the option to pursue an alternative.”
In the classroom, Elizabeth took several AP classes and College in the Schools classes, really diving in during her sophomore year. By the time she graduated in 2018, she had 51 college credits, all earned at BHS for free. She took that energy into her time at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, where she worked with counselors to set a plan that would work for her. She took her major-focused classes during the school year and did general education classes online in the summer at different community colleges.
She graduated in December of 2020, just two and a half years after high school graduation. When asked what advice she has for other students, she recommends exploring, experiencing and being open to change.
“It’s important to always have a plan, whether it’s the forever plan or the today plan,” said Elizabeth. “Don’t just set yourself on one path, I originally majored in Management Information Systems, which was not a good fit for me, and if I would have picked that one path as my identity, I would have missed out on a lot of opportunities. It’s good to research your future and figure out what is next for you and find different ways to do it!”
Elizabeth started at global accounting company KPMG in 2021 and officially became a Certified Public Accountant in January of 2023. She enjoys her work as an accountant where she can work on project management with lots of autonomy. She also plans to keep being involved in organizing, and since she has gotten over her fear of needles, actively participating in blood drives.