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KSM Apprenticeship Provides High School Student Head Start on Accounting Career

August 18, 2023


When Daniel Camacho, then a high school junior, joined Katz, Sapper & Miller as its very first accounting apprentice in 2021, no one was sure what to expect. But Daniel hit the ground running with KSM’s Real Estate Services Group and quickly became a valued member of the team.

“If you think back to when you were a high school student, how overwhelmed or even scared would you be to walk into a business with no experience, be assigned a desk and computer, and then thrown into a high stress, detailed-oriented profession that people spend four or more years preparing for? It would be terrifying, right? Well, Daniel made that exact scenario look easy,” says Jake Sciaudone, one of Daniel’s supervisors.

Members of the Real Estate Services Group celebrated Daniel’s graduation.

After two years of apprenticing at KSM and graduating from high school, Daniel is on the brink of entering Marian University as a freshman, where he’ll study accounting. Daniel’s experience as a member of the first cohort of EmployIndy’s Modern Apprenticeship Program (MAP), a workforce development program that’s helping high schoolers prepare for rewarding careers in some of central Indiana’s fastest-growing industries, helped him gain valuable experience and insight into the accounting profession. He also got a head start on earning his degree – along with a paycheck and on-the-job training, student apprentices also earn college credit.

Now, as Daniel begins college, it’s clear that MAP can deliver on all its promises and more.

A Multi-Layered Educational Experience

Throughout his apprenticeship Daniel’s colleagues on the cost segregation team made sure he received broad exposure to the accounting field, and his role gradually evolved as his skillset expanded. Daniel developed cost segregation reports and prepared tax returns for both individuals and businesses, among other duties, learning about tax treatments of various assets and gaining experience in engineering and accounting along the way.

“I received practical experience in a great accounting firm,” Daniel says. “This has helped me identify the pros and cons of accounting and understand the work that the occupation entails, giving me a well-rounded experience.”

In addition to the wide range of technical skills he acquired, Daniel recognizes how much more he’s learned through his apprenticeship experience. He explains, “I began to learn things that I had not realized I lacked, such as communication skills, prioritization, and time management” – critical soft skills that will benefit him throughout his career.

KSM has given me a head start in my college planning and in life itself, so I’m sure the opportunities are limitless.

– Daniel Camacho, accounting apprentice

Meanwhile, Daniel’s KSM teammates found not only a high schooler ready to learn but a highly capable and personable young colleague. “Beyond being an amazing worker, Daniel is friendly, charming, professional, and easy to connect with,” says James Pillischafske, who served as another of Daniel’s supervisors. Jake agrees, adding, “We are all very proud of his hard work and determination and we have no doubt that he will be successful in whatever he puts his mind towards—which we hope is becoming a CPA!”

To help support Daniel throughout his college career, KSM recently awarded him a four-year academic scholarship. “I had the happy task of calling Daniel to inform him of the scholarship. It was an awesome feeling – I thought he would jump through the phone!” says Karen Hill, KSM’s director of talent acquisition & staffing. “We’ll be keeping in touch with Daniel throughout college, and we hope he’ll come back as an intern and eventually join us full time. He’s truly an amazing young man.”

Benefits for the Entire Community

John Estridge, a tax partner who worked with Daniel during his time at KSM, expects to see great things from the former apprentice. “Whatever his ultimate path, we feel confident that his exposure to public accounting and all the skills he has gained at KSM will serve Daniel well,” John says. And though seeing Daniel move on is bittersweet, John is looking forward to replicating the firm’s successful experience with MAP; KSM expects to bring on more apprentices through the program in the future.

Karen is equally enthusiastic about the impact MAP can make. Besides increasing awareness of the accounting field and expanding the pipeline of talent, the program has a direct impact on the central Indiana community. “Offering apprenticeships benefits students at the high school level by helping them build skills and gain professional experience,” she says. “It’s something we do to invest in our local community, which is one of KSM’s deeply held values.”

As for Daniel, he’s excited about his future. “KSM has given me a head start in my college planning and in life itself, so I’m sure the opportunities are limitless.”

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