Jillian Myers ’20 finished her five-year BBA/MBA program in four years, passed the notoriously difficult CPA Exam on her first try, and is now on staff at the Big Four accounting firm of Ernst & Young.
Jillian Myers ’19, MBA ’20, always knew she wanted to be an accountant when she grew up.
“When we were having elementary school fundraisers, I loved to be in charge of the money,” she said. By the time she was 12, she was writing checks and recording them in her parents’ checkbook. When she was in the eighth grade, she signed up for an accelerated business program and eventually earned enough college-level credits that she was able to glide into Adelphi as a sophomore.
Myers continued her rock-star trajectory on arrival at the Garden City campus. She completed Adelphi’s five-year BBA/MBA program in four years, graduating in May 2020, and then passed all four parts of the notoriously difficult CPA Exam, three on her first try. Not even the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed her from taking part of her exam, could deter her.
Now, at 22, Myers has landed a job at EY (Ernst & Young), one of the storied Big Four accounting firms.
Her secret to success? Working really, really hard. And getting good preparation at Adelphi.
Choosing Adelphi for Business
Myers chose Adelphi because the University has a strong business program and because it accepted the college credits she had earned at New Hyde Park Memorial High School in New Hyde Park, New York. The school partners with the Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City, New York, to offer a business-intensive curriculum and college-level classes for high school students.
The program not only gave her the chance to earn college credits—it saved her a lot of money. “Obviously, a year’s worth of credits from college is a huge savings when you are able to buy them at a discount in high school instead of at a university,” she said, speaking like a businesswoman.
She also lived at home with her parents and commuted to Adelphi, not only to save money, but because she felt dorm life wasn’t for her. “Being able to stay home kept me focused,” she says.
And, boy, was she focused. In addition to completing her degree a full year faster than most students, she took the first section of the four-part CPA Exam in 2019 while she was still in grad school. She passed, which was far from a given on an exam with a pass rate of only 53 percent. She then spent a year studying for the other three parts of the exam, taking each section, one per month, in the summer of 2020. She passed all of them.
Myers prepared for the exam by taking advantage of an opportunity Adelphi offers accounting students—intensive on-campus review courses run by Becker Professional Education. “I got unlimited access to Becker’s online platform and a live class with a Becker instructor on Saturdays,” she said. “And I studied around six hours a day, every day, for a year.” Given that the CPA Exam is a total of 16 hours, she estimates that she spent more than 135 hours studying for every hour of test taking. “Passing it wasn’t a matter of being naturally smart,” she said. “It was about the amount of studying you put into it. I got up every day and studied, even when I didn’t want to.”
Advice From Professors
And, of course, Myers gives plenty of credit for her success to her professors at Adelphi, with special thanks to Jack Angel, associate professor of accounting and law, and Arthur Leibowitz, clinical associate professor of accounting and law, both CPAs.
“I was really close to my accounting professors in my graduate year,” she said. “They gave me great advice on how to study for the CPA Exam,” as well as classwork that would be on the exam. “Being able to have relevant material in class, while you are studying for the exam, was a great resource,” she said.
They also taught her to treat challenges as a chance to learn. “Professor Leibowitz said to take whatever opportunity you get and be a sponge and learn as much as you can,” Myers said. “He said that when you are in your first couple of years of work, you will be learning a lot, and it’s overwhelming. But just take it all in. You won’t even realize how much you are learning until afterwards. That’s great advice.”
Now she’s at EY and, indeed, learning a ton. “I’m getting great exposure to new things and I’m really excited about that,” she said. Myers works in the company’s Long Island office on the assurance staff, performing audits of the firm’s clients.
She’s also on her way to landing her first client. Her dad is so impressed with her accomplishments that he wants her to take over all of the family finances.