Alumni Spotlight

UT Tyler Soules College of Business

Name: Maria Campos, CPA

Degree/Degrees: Master of Accountancy (2015) & Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting with a minor in Management (2013)

Year of Graduation: See above

Maria Campos

Tell us a little about you.

I’m a CPA who’s been working in public accounting for about 9 ½ years. I’m a numbers person who loves puzzles, so I genuinely enjoy what I do for a living. I like to spend my time outside of the office volunteering; traveling; reading; binging crime shows; playing games, watching movies, and doing crafts with my niece and nephews; and spending quality time with my friends and the rest of my family.

What did you do right after graduating? 

Two weeks after graduating with my bachelor’s degree in 2013, I started working full-time for Henry & Peters, P.C. in Tyler, Texas as a staff associate in their audit and tax department and continued my studies in the graduate accounting program. I worked on various audits including audits of employee benefit plans, financial institutions, not-for-profit organizations, local governments, and manufacturing companies. I also prepared multiple types of tax returns but mostly individual and trust returns. In 2015, I began sitting for the CPA exam, graduated with my master’s degree, and was promoted to senior associate where I began in-charging audits and continued preparing tax returns. I started to specialize in governmental and single audits. I became a CPA in 2016 and was promoted to supervisor in 2017 at which point I began focusing solely on audits. 

Tell us about your current job and what you do. 

In 2018, I left Henry & Peters, P.C., and returned to Palestine to work at my dad’s firm, Campos & Associates, PLLC. where I get to work closely with my dad and brother who are also CPAs and my sister. I am a manager now and still work primarily on audits of local governments and not-for-profit organizations.  I manage my workflows, personnel, and clients. Since it’s a small family firm, I’m also heavily involved in the management of the practice. 

How did your Soules College of Business degree help you with your current position? 

My degrees gave me the knowledge in business, accounting, tax, and audit to pass the CPA exam. They also provided me with solid foundational skills in research, communication, critical thinking, and leadership that I’ve been able to build upon as a working professional. These skills have been especially important when researching and applying new accounting and auditing standards, communicating with clients and staff throughout the audit, and leading the audit team, so we perform high quality and efficient audits that add value to our clients. 

The teacher-to-student ratio created a great environment for me to get to know my professors and utilize their expertise and contacts. The size of the classes also gave me a greater opportunity to get to know other students which has resulted in life-long friendships and professional relationships. 

In addition, after having worked professionally with alumni of other universities of varying sizes, I feel confident about the quality and value of my education at UT Tyler.  

What was your favorite Soules College of Business class and why? 

Intermediate I and II with Dr. Willis were my favorite classes. While I was taking them, I would not have said that because they were certainly the most difficult classes I took at UT Tyler. However, they are also the classes I learned the most in. Learning the material in those classes was absolutely crucial for passing the financial section of the CPA exam. As an auditor, I also know I would be completely lost if I didn’t have that strong foundation in financial accounting that can be directly linked to my intermediate classes. In addition, my classmates and I formed a bond in those classes because of the shared difficulty we were all experiencing. Although Dr. Willis had high expectations for us in intermediate accounting, she really did us a service, and it made it even sweeter when we succeeded. 

Any Soules College of Business/UT Tyler memories you would like to share? 

I don’t have any specific memories to share, but overall, I had a really great experience at UT Tyler and I have zero regrets about transferring from UT Austin to UT Tyler after my freshman year. 

Were you involved in any student organizations while a student here?

I was part of Beta Alpha Psi. I formed a lot of good relationships with the other members. Through these relationships, I was recommended for the job I had during my undergraduate degree and my first professional job after graduating. To this day, I will get client referrals from other alumni who I met through Beta Alpha Psi. I learned so much useful information at our regular meetings and actually met my future employer, Henry & Peters, P.C., multiple times through different activities sponsored by Beta Alpha Psi. I enjoyed attending the regional conference each year and having the opportunity to challenge myself by presenting in the best practices competition. I also really enjoyed participating in our volunteer activities like packaging food at the East Texas Food Bank or preparing tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at PATH. 

What advice would you give current Soules College of Business students? 

Join an organization like Beta Alpha Psi to network with other students because having those relationships will help you get through college, make the experience more enjoyable, and can be useful in the future when you’re all working professionals. It’s also an excellent opportunity to practice giving back to the community. It’s important when you become a working professional to prioritize giving back to your community because of the impact you can make especially with the practical knowledge and skills you will have acquired through your schooling and professional work. It’s also another great opportunity to network.

What insight do you have for Soules College of Business students that are about to graduate on how to land their first job?

Utilize your professors. Part of establishing a relationship with your professors is to succeed in their classes, but even beyond that, sometimes professionals will reach out to professors and let them know of open positions at their company and ask for recommendations. 

Reach out to alumni you know working in the profession you are trying to enter. They may know of open positions at their company and be able to recommend you to their employer. When I was getting ready to graduate and submitted my resume to Henry & Peters, P.C., an alumnus I had met through Beta Alpha Psi who worked there recommended me to the hiring team which helped me stand out. 

Practice your answers to basic interview questions and make sure they are tailored to the specific job or company you are interviewing at. For example, when they asked me in the interview why I wanted to work for Henry & Peters, P.C., I had already done my research and knew the company had an expansive list of charitable organizations that they supported and that aligned with my personal values. I was also able to show that I was familiar with the needs of the position I was applying for by describing how the skills and experience I had acquired at the job I had while in college would translate to the position I was applying for even though I hadn’t had an accounting internship.

Make it clear that you have a positive attitude and are willing to learn. You aren’t expected to know everything right off the bat, but you are expected to be willing to learn. In accounting, you are expected to know how to use Excel though, so make sure you know that beforehand!