Ephrem Eshete B’23 is excited about his future.
First, he has enlisted in the Army Reserve and is headed to basic training, excited to serve the country he has called home since 2017 when he moved here from Ethiopia.
When he returns, he has a dream job waiting for him with a Big 6 accounting firm — a pinnacle career aspiration.
He credits double majoring in Accounting and Business Administration in Saint Mary’s bachelor’s completion programs for helping him get where he is today. “Because of my degree, I have had so many changes in my life, including my language,” he said. “My grammar has improved, my writing has improved. I now have an understanding of business communication skills and how useful that is, and because of my degree, I got the best offer from the best accounting firm, a Big 6 firm that has the best culture and good diversity. This is a huge opportunity for me.
“I wouldn’t see myself in this position unless I got this degree,” he adds, explaining that he has worked with the accounting firm as an intern since last fall.
He believes internship experiences, coupled with his education, have prepared him for his career. “I’m ready,” he said. “I already tested myself with two internship opportunities, and they believe in me; that’s why they gave me the position.”
Eshete also says the educational knowledge he acquired helped him pass the required exams in order to qualify for military service.
In Ethiopia, he had also earned a degree in business management, and accounting was his minor. He found he especially enjoyed his accounting courses, but unlike the U.S., he says, it’s difficult to change majors once you’ve made progress in a program.
“If you get in, either you like it or not; you have to finish,” he said. “So I didn’t get the chance to switch from business management to accounting. So when I came here, I liked accounting and saw it as a great opportunity for me. In 2020, I needed another course for my CPA exam, so when my credit was short, I had a discussion with my adviser. She gave me three options: continue on toward my master’s, take electives, or double major. It thought double majoring was the best solution at the time. Double majoring in Business Administration paired well with Accounting.”
Eshete chose to apply to Saint Mary’s because one of his wife’s best friends had obtained her master’s degree from the university and had recommended it. Although Eshete had applied at multiple schools in the U.S., they chose to move from Tampa, Fl., to Minnesota, to be closer to family.
When questioned what Eshete liked the most about his experience, his answer was simple. “I think … everything.” He elaborated: “I enjoyed my professors. I enjoyed the course. The curriculum is good, especially for working people like me. I have to work 40 hours to support my family, but I was working while I was studying. I liked the flexibility. Professors understand when you are in a time crunch and will be flexible as long as you communicate with them. They understand that we are adults with family responsibilities and work. They are also very knowledgeable. Their feedback is timely and constructive.”
Eshete, who also has a nearly 2-year-old daughter, says obtaining a degree — despite being a busy adult — is doable, you just can’t procrastinate.
“You can do it,” he said. “We all have 24 hours. It’s all about how you use your time. I spent my whole time on family, career, and school, that’s all. I didn’t waste time on social media or things like that. Stop telling your mind you don’t have the time. It’s all about prioritizing. My wife was also helpful and supportive.”
He recommends Saint Mary’s because of the quality of the education and professors who understand their students. “They understand our situation, and the curriculum is designed for busy adults. The price is good too. Whether you want your master’s or to complete your degree, they will provide all the support you need.”