At a young age, Darius Lewis noticed he was very good at math. As he got older, he realized he could use his talent to serve the accounting profession, in the same way his father and grandfather have been doing for many years. With dreams of becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) and an executive leader, Lewis has taken many steps, including working and interning for NASBA while still in college, to learn the lifecycle of what it takes to be a CPA. We recently interviewed Lewis to learn more about this inspiring college student. Learn how he landed at NASBA and why he continued to stay with this organization, what advice he’s received about the CPA Exam, the CPA profession, and much more.

What goals are you currently working toward?

I want to be a CPA. In fact, the apple doesn’t far fall from the tree. My grandfather was a CPA, started his own firm, and my father has been an accountant for 20+ years. At a young age, I not only realized how rewarding the accounting profession is, but how important the profession is and the need we have for accountants.

Once I become a CPA, I want to join a good company and possibly start my own firm, like my grandfather. “I want to actually apply what I’ve learned to help people because that’s the whole purpose of becoming a CPA. Ultimately, I want to be an executive leader.”

What steps are you taking to accomplish those goals?

I am applying myself, doing great in school, and taking on internships where I can gain relevant experience. Networking, getting my name out there and building rapport with as many professionals as possible is also very important to me. I use LinkedIn every day, about two hours a day, to reach out and make new connections with people who do what I want to do.

I am also accepting leadership roles at a young age. Currently, I am Fisk University’s Student Center for the Public Trust President, Fisk University’s Student Development Team Ambassador, and Fisk University’s Business Club Representative.

How were you connected to NASBA?

I was connected to NASBA through INROADS, a nonprofit organization that helps college students connect with organizations for internships. I expressed that I wanted to be a CPA, and my advisor reached out to individuals at NASBA.

In May 2015, I started off as a client services intern, to learn the lifecycle of a CPA and rotated through each department to learn the vital process of becoming a CPA. Because of my strong work ethic, during the fall semester of my sophomore year, NASBA reached out to me and offered me a part time job as a records management coordinator for three months. I later transitioned into being a data entry clerk for the following three months.

During the summer of 2016, I interned again at NASBA, as part of my INROADS requirement, for the NASBA Store and Wall Certificate Services department. Fast forward to today and through a few other positions, I am currently a finance and staff accountant intern.

What interested you in continuing your journey of internships/part time jobs with NASBA?

I have continued to stay with NASBA because not only did I want to know what it takes to become a CPA, I also wanted to be challenged. One thing I have realized is that a leader faces many challenges. NASBA, like most businesses, faces many challenges and as a result, they have challenged me many times. I have overcome many challenges while at NASBA, and now I face challenges with a boldness that I didn’t have before.

NASBA has also poured into me with the resources I need to accomplish my goals. For example, I told NASBA leaders that I wanted to be an executive one day, and they set up lunches for me with NASBA directors. These individuals gave me advice on how to incorporate necessary skills that will allow me to be an effective leader. “It’s great to be surrounded by so many professionals of the highest caliber who contribute to your success.”

It sounds like you have learned a lot about the CPA Exam by working at NASBA. What advice do you have for candidates who are also working toward taking the CPA Exam?

I have been told that it is extremely important to commit time to studying, and that you must make sacrifices. But, these sacrifices will yield a far greater reward if you persevere.

Also, make sure to use NASBA resources and tools, such as the CPA Exam Checklist and The Candidate Bulletin, and make sure to have a few CPAs in your network who can serve as mentors. “Be a sponge around them and absorb what they say.”

What do you think will be the trickiest part about the CPA Exam process?

The CPA Exam process can be tedious and stressful, but the trickiest part will be patiently enduring the process. You must do a lot of work before you see the results. It’s not something that will happen overnight.

Since your expected graduation date, May 2018, is just around the corner, what advice do you have for incoming college students?

Right off the bat, I would focus on building a strong LinkedIn profile and becoming involved in extracurricular activities. Also, make sure you establish a good relationship with your career services department as they have many helpful resources. Start thinking about internships as soon as possible, too, and let the right people know what your career goals are.

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To connect with Darius Lewis, find him on LinkedIn.

Interview By: Jenna Elkins, NASBA Communications and Digital Media Specialist
Posted: August 9, 2017

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