Paul Reardon always had an affinity for numbers – the practical sort that define businesses’ successes or failures, and help companies chart the future.
These days, you can find him crunching numbers as a bookkeeper for the Binghamton Tennis Center and tutoring students in SUNY Broome’s Business Lab. Reardon, who graduated from SUNY Broome in December with an Accounting degree, is a nominee for the Vanguard Award, which is administered by the New York State Nontraditional Employment & Training (NET) Program. The award goes to outstanding students in fields that are considered non-traditional for their gender.
As it happens, accounting is a career considered non-traditional for men, at least at some levels of the profession.
“I think it’s because the Associate’s is more geared toward becoming a bookkeeper,” Reardon mused. “I never thought about the gender ratio; I just wanted a new career.”
Career options with accounting can be broad, and include businesses large and small, government, healthcare and nonprofit organizations. It’s one of the reasons Reardon chose the field.
“No matter what the economy is doing, businesses need to keep track of their money,” he said.
The Vestal native minored in accounting at SUNY Plattsburgh, but opted for a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management. When he returned home, the available management jobs were in retail, sometimes with weeks of more than 70 hours.
After some years he changed paths, doing direct care at a local development center for the disabled. In many respects, it was a great opportunity with a 40-hour week and health benefits. That ended when a client knocked him unconscious, an incident that shook Reardon deeply.
He worked a variety of jobs after that – any he could get, he admitted – but decided he wanted a different, more stable future. Using his accounting minor to land a position seemed ideal, but it didn’t prove a viable option.
“I tried to find a bookkeeping position, but no one would hire me because I didn’t have the experience,” he said.
He decided to attend SUNY Broome, where he majored in accounting and graduated in just two semesters. Many of his credits toward his bachelor’s degree transferred to Broome, he noted.
“I didn’t think the education I got here was any less valuable than the education I received in Plattsburgh,” he said of his SUNY Broome experience. “I like the professors and I like how involved they are. I can always find a professor here; they’re always around on campus.”
The second time around
An adult student and a father, he took his college experience more seriously than when he initially attended Plattsburgh. He had a grade point average of 3.0 when he attended the northern New York college – respectable, but not the 4.0 he achieved both semesters at SUNY Broome.
“I studied hard and worked hard and maintained my GPA,” he said. “I actually applied myself and did well.”
He became more deeply involved with campus life, too. (At Plattsburgh, his extracurricular activities largely consisted of skiing with friends in the state’s majestic Adirondack mountains.) At SUNY Broome, he joined the Business Club and Alpha Beta Gamma, the international business honor society, where he helped raised funds for Toys for Tots, among other initiatives.
“I still go to the Business Club every week, even though I’m not a student,” he said.
You also will see him in the Business Lab, where he tutors students in accounting, a gig he plans to keep until he enters graduate school. As a tutor, he uses his real-life experience from his bookkeeping job to illustrate concepts to students, a measure they appreciate.
Looking ahead, Reardon plans to attend Binghamton University for graduate school and become a certified public accountant (CPA). In the meantime, he is preparing for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which he needs for graduate school.
Eventually, he’s interested in doing accounting work for the State of New York, and already took the civil service test for the Department of Taxation and Finance.
But there’s another path that calls him, too: teaching. In addition to his tutoring experience, he coaches girls’ softball and soccer and enjoys helping others reach their potential.
While he’s looking forward to future possibilities, he is currently enjoying a job in the field he trained for – a plus one on any balance sheet.
“I do exactly what I wanted to do,” he said.