Albion College defensive linemen Jason Bajas, C.J. Carroll, and Jacob Heinrich are on a mission to change the perception of accountants from pocket protecting, pencil sharpening, adding machine punching, tax preparing workers in a cubicle to tough guys who are smart, too.
The three ‘tough’ economics and management majors with an emphasis in accounting have helped Albion’s defense rank first in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in rushing defense – the Britons are yielding a shade more than 100 yards a game on the ground – and sacks. In addition to stopping opponents, Carroll and Heinrich were nominees for Capital One Academic All-America consideration in voting by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
“When people think of accountants, they think of a guy with glasses and tie who is sitting behind a desk crunching numbers,” Heinrich, a Rochester Hills native who completed an internship with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Detroit last spring and has accepted a full-time offer from the firm, said. “There were comments made (about my size during the internship). People would say, ‘You’re big. You must play football.’ It was a conversation starter.”
The ability to start a conversation, it turns out, is critical as accountants need to have good communication skills to be effective.
“In public accounting you are going out, meeting people, talking to your clients, preparing financial statements and it’s a lot different from what people picture,” Carroll, a junior from Warren who started his collegiate career at linebacker before moving up to a position as a down lineman this season. “Accountants have to ask clients how they got these numbers, where they came from, and then check to determine if those numbers are right.”
The Albion Advantage helps students realize their professional goals through thoughtful integration of academic and experience-based learning opportunities, and Carroll took advantage of on-campus recruiting events to line up an internship that will keep him off campus for the first half of the spring semester.
While he expects the internship to challenge him by introducing him to diverse individuals and long hours, Carroll said he’ll continue to develop his football skills on the side.
“I hope to lift after work,” Carroll said. “I want to keep getting stronger as I prepare for next year because the transition to the defensive line has gone really well. I feel like I’m maximizing my potential.”
Heinrich, who plans to pursue a career as a certified public accountant, said the long hours required during his internship – a typical day lasted from 9 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. – left him mentally exhausted, but he relished the experience so much that it cemented his career choice and the desk work also gave Heinrich some time to heal after dislocating an elbow last season.
“I’m used to physical abuse after playing football for 13 years, but there were days I left the office totally drained,” Heinrich said. “I had never experienced that type of feeling from sitting behind a desk doing work.”
Economics and management majors can count on having daily homework assignments, but an additional challenge is to keep pace with changing rules that govern the field.
“My freshman year we were being taught one standard and by toward the end of the academic year we shifted to the international standard,” Bajas, a senior from Livonia who is in his first year as a starter on the defensive line, said. “We are always going to be learning because there is always going to be something better coming out.
“The parallel between accounting and playing on the defensive line is that you have to react to what you see,” he added. “You can’t go into a situation thinking you know what’s going to happen.”
Bajas and Heinrich are roommates and while they enjoy being part of the Briton program and playing video games off the field, they credit economics & management professors John Bedient and Gaylord Smith for leading them on their career paths.
“I knew I wanted to do something in business when I came to Albion, but once I took Accounting 211 (I was hooked),” Bajas said. “Gaylord was my teacher, and John is my adviser, and they got me interested in it by showing me what an emphasis in accounting could lead to.”