Hitting the books

Ernst & Young is kicking its recruiting efforts up a notch by offering qualifying college recruits a free post-graduate education.

Seven Northeast Ohio students accepted positions with the local accounting firm prior to their 2000 graduation on the condition that they would be able to go back to school for a graduate degree before entering the business world full-time.

“Your Master Plan” is an ongoing recruitment program developed by Ernst & Young as a way to counteract the rising attrition rates the “Big 5′”accounting firms are facing. The program offers primarily nonaccounting business majors the chance to earn their Master’s of Accountancy degrees at either the University of Notre Dame or the University of Virginia.

The 15-month program covers tuition, books, room and board, transportation and a stipend. Participants are considered full-time professionals of the firm while they earn their degrees and graduates must promise to stay with Ernst & Young for at least three years following the completion of their degrees.

Aaron Swartz, who works in Ernst & Young’s Akron office, was hired by the firm after graduating from Mt. Union College in 2000 and spent last year earning his master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

“They (Ernst & Young) initiated the process,” Swartz says. “The firm was trying to attract students who had majors in finance, who wanted to get a master’s in accounting and sit for the CPA exam. For me, I had always wanted to go to grad school and this was a good opportunity to get it started right away. It’s pretty innovative in that you can combine going to school and getting the work experience at the same time.”

Swartz, a staff accountant, committed to staying with Ernst & Young for three years. He hasn’t decided what he will do after that.

“I can stay with the firm and be marketable within the firm, or take what I’ve learned and go into the private sector.” How to reach: Ernst & Young, (330) 253-9264