Out of 4,500 students from more than 88 different colleges across the country, five Penn State students had the opportunity to compete in PwC’s xTAX finals as a part of the xTREME competition held in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 24 and 25.
Since 2002, PwC’s xTREME competition has been an outlet for undergraduate accounting students to engage in critical thinking, gain leadership skills and network with other people in the profession, according to the PwC website.
Teams from Baylor University, Binghamton University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Wisconsin and Penn State were awarded $10,000 each and were chosen to compete at the national level in the xTAX finals.
Each team gave an accounting-related presentation using skills acquired in their studies.
Juniors Ryan Bitomske, Jim Cramer, Chris Hoffman, Brad Jones and Frank Mancuso formed the group of accounting students that were chosen out of 50 other teams within the university to represent Penn State at the xTREME Games.
Mancuso said the five members of the team made the decision to participate after receiving an email from their adviser regarding the competition.
“We are all friends in the same fraternity with the same major, so we decided to sign up together,” Mancuso said.
For Mancuso, hearing that his team had made it into the xTAX finals provided a sense of accomplishment.
“I think we are the first team from Penn State to ever qualify for the nationals,” Mancuso said. “It was definitely one of the most important things we have done in our professional lives thus far.”
The team prepared for their presentation by meeting two to three times a week to go over materials gathered from what they learned in classes, as well as research obtained from the Internet, Mancuso said.
Hoffman said the presentation focused on the team’s proposal for how to help an imaginary company.
Though Oklahoma State was named the Hamilton Award winner out of the five teams, Hoffman said he is proud of the team’s accomplishment of competing in the finals.
“We had an opportunity no one else really got to have, and we gained a much deeper insight into how the firm works in the real world,” Hoffman said.
Mancuso said he is grateful for the experience of getting insight into how the professional world works, adding that he would compete again if he could.