MPAC members with Catherine Cook

Last Wednesday, April 4th, the MPA Council invited Catherine Cook (founder of MyYearbook.com) to speak as part of their Esteemed Speaker Series.

Ms. Cook started off describing what MyYearbook was all about. When I hear about social media sites, I assume they are destined to fail since they are competing with the powerful network effects of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But Catherine Cook explained how these three social media giants don’t cover the entire span of the social media market. Facebook is for people you already know, Twitter is primarily used for news and entertainment feed, and LinkedIn is for the professional sphere of social media.

None of these sites are for meeting new people. That is the goal of MyYearbook. Cat Cook told us she got the idea at 15 when she moved to a new high school and didn’t know anybody. One of the purposes of the site is to help people who move to a new city engage with new people within a certain mile radius of them.

For me, the most interesting part of her speech was her personal account of the development of MyYearbook.com from inception to what it is today. What started as a modest website created by Cat and her brother has evolved into one of the fastest growing social media sites. Impressively, she continued to play an active role in managing and developing her website while she attended Georgetown University where she graduated with a double major.  MyYearbook was recently bought out for $100 million, which is not the typical salary most people see upon recently graduating college.

I really enjoy hearing entrepreneurial stories. It’s important to have speakers like Cat Cook talk to MPA students, because most accountants don’t consider entrepreneurship as a possible career option.

It is so easy as an accountant to follow a traditional career path. However, both the MPA Council and the MPA program make an effort to open student’s eyes to all the possible career options open to us. As an integrated student, all 3rd year MPAs are required to take a class during their first semester in the program called Accounting Career Awareness (ACE). One of the main things I personally took out of ACE was all possibilities that lay outside of public accounting, such as industry, financial services, and consulting opportunities.