Kelly Swart is thriving.
The accounting major, who this fall will enter her senior year at Lakeland College, recently earned a scholarship and landed a 40-hour-a-week accounting internship with highly regarded global company Curt Joa. It's the first time Swart has worked in an accounting department, so she's gaining valuable exposure to real-world corporate accounting.
"I do a little bit of everything, and I'm learning so much," Swart said of her internship at Sheboygan Falls, Wis. based Curt Joa – arguably the world's top manufacturer of machines that produce diapers.
"I work on accounts payable, accounts receivable, just about everything related to accounting. It's been great, and it's really preparing me for a future career. I'm really thankful for everything that's happening right now. I'm happy."
Swart also applied for and won a $500 scholarship from the Institute of Internal Auditors Fox Valley/Central Wisconsin Chapter. In a letter she received telling her she had won, Kenneth J. Stephani, the academic relations committee chair for IIA Fox Valley/Central Wisconsin Chapter, wrote, "The Scholarship Committee is impressed with your passion and desire to build a career in Internal Audit. We know that someone with your attention to detail and drive will succeed in this field."
Swart is from Oostburg, Wis., just 20 miles away from Lakeland College. But after high school, she attended Grace College in Indiana. Swart liked the school, but felt homesick and realized she wanted to eventually establish career roots closer to home. "I knew that with all the great companies in the Sheboygan area, it would be ideal for me to go to Lakeland," she says.
Swart transferred and has exceled in Lakeland's highly regarded accounting program. She has also taken advantage of Lakeland's many career development opportunities, participating in the speed networking event that featured local business leaders, the mock interviews with business leaders and an HR panel, among others.
"Every one of those events was different, and I learned something at all of them," Swart says. "I'm so thankful for how hard Lakeland's career development staff works to provide these opportunities."
Swart also helped with Lakeland's Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which prepares tax returns for lower income citizens in Sheboygan each winter. Swart worked five-hour shifts each Saturday for about two months.
As far as her career goes, Swart isn't sure yet which type of accounting path she will follow. She might take the CPA track, or decide to choose internal accounting. Lakeland's diverse curriculum is giving her a broad sampling. Next spring, she'll pursue a tax internship.
"I think accounting fits my talents," Swart says. "Some people have the talent to give great speeches; other people are great writers. I think I have good attention to detail, I'm organized and I have good analytical skills. I think accounting matches my gifts very well."
As for her indirect journey to Lakeland, Swart says she is thrilled she decided to attend her home-county college.
"Lakeland has exceeded my expectations," she says. "I had heard that the accounting program was very good, but I didn't know what to expect. As soon as I got here, I knew it was a great place. I came in and was challenged in my classes from the start. And the professors are so kind and helpful. It's been a great experience."