When Denise Bailey graduated from Tri-County Technical College’s Accounting program in 2004, she narrowed her entry-level career options down to two areas in public accounting –tax or audit compliance.
She successfully landed a full-time job as a tax preparer in a Seneca accounting firm, expanding her skills in tax preparation while beginning work on a bachelor’s degree.
Sixteen years and two advanced degrees later, Bailey, the leader of Accounting Systems Consulting Specialty Group for Elliott Davis in Greenville, tells recent college graduates that today there are so many more career options to consider – positions in consulting that include improving accounting processes through the use of technology. “It’s not just math and numbers. That is always involved but it is so much more,” said Bailey, who was the first student from Tri-County to transfer to Franklin University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a master’s in Business Administration (Finance).
As a member and chair of Tri-County’s Business Technology Advisory Committee, she tells Tri-County students to think outside the box, not just about debits and credits and tax and audit compliance services. There is so much to explore in Accounting, she says. Although she started out as a staff accountant preparing tax returns, she listened to instructors and colleagues, who became mentors, such as Brenda Mattison, accounting instructor, who boosted her confidence to continue her education during her time at Tri-County, and colleagues at Elliott Davis, who encouraged her to develop her area of expertise.
“Denise was such a committed student,” said Mattison. “She was a joy to teach because she was always prepared and ready to learn. I knew that with a little bit of encouragement she would continue her education and make a difference in the accounting field. But all I did was provide some information and a small nudge. She had the desire. I’m so pleased to see how much she has accomplished and so thankful she is willing to give back to Tri-County and work with our current students.”
Bailey gives students and co-workers the same advice she received – “choose a career you are passionate about.”
“In college and in the workforce, I found individuals to invest time in me. Find people you trust and admire who can help you to get where you need to be,” she said.
“A good mentor asks you to stretch yourself and is willing to invest in you and help you navigate through the process,” she said.