Tyler Crutchfield Graduates with a Future Set in Accounting; It Didn’t Start Out that Way
By Alyssa England
TAMPA (August 10, 2020) -- First-generation college student Tyler Crutchfield graduated this weekend from the USF Muma College of Business, earning a master’s degree in accounting. It did not start out that way. When he entered USF, he wanted to be an engineer and at one point quit going to classes because of his discouragement.
Now, he is on the verge of a new chapter in his life, already landing a job with Deloitte, one of the biggest accounting firms on the planet.
A native of Pace, a small town of 35,000 near the western edge of the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola, Crutchfield applied to two schools for his undergraduate studies: the University of Florida, which was closer to his home, and USF, which could provide him more opportunities.
“I’m very happy in my decision to attend USF,” Crutchfield said, recognizing that USF is in a metropolitan area and job opportunities are more plentiful than in Gainesville or Pensacola. “I didn’t see much opportunity in Pensacola, it’s very small and there aren’t any major companies or anything like that.
“There just isn’t a lot of opportunity for growth and expansion,” he said. “The network space is very limited, whereas USF, with 40,000 to 60,000 students, the massive alumni base down here and the job growth, Tampa looked like a prime place to go and start a career.
“I was willing to go out and take that risk financially, emotionally and physically, because you’re young, you’re 18, you’re finally out on your own and you have almost nobody here,” he said. “I was building my own connections and I had to start at ground level, knowing absolutely nobody, and work up from there.”
The Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy graduate did not start his undergraduate career in accounting.
“I started as an engineering student,” Crutchfield said. “I realized how much I didn’t like chemistry; I didn’t like physics or anything like that. I was a lot more logic-based and liked the mathematics foundational aspects, so naturally, I moved into those more logic-intensive degree fields. I started with finance, but my grandfather told me to go more towards an accounting route. I took financial accounting and fell absolutely in love with it, and I’ve been focusing on that now for the last four years.”
Engineering could not keep his interest. As a first-year engineering student, Crutchfield stopped going to class because of his disinterest in the subject.
“Looking back, I wish I would have gone to class during freshman year,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t have that parental figure waking me up every morning and saying ‘Hey, you have to go to school’ anymore. Class became a second thought – I would rather sleep in, procrastinate, all the things a college student does.”
After realizing he was skipping class because he was not passionate about engineering, he was proactive in his shift into the Muma College of Business.
“If I could change that, I think I would have switched sooner out of engineering and tell my younger self, ‘Hey, this isn’t for me and this really isn’t something I’m interested in. That’s why I’m not going to class, that’s why I’m not doing any of this, because I don’t care about what I’m learning. If it’s really hard to get up in the morning to go do it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.’”
After his switch from engineering to business, Crutchfield faced another fork in the road: deciding between finance and accounting.
“My grandfather is a financial investor, he has his own firm. When I told him I wanted to go into finance, he steered me away from it,” Crutchfield said. “I never really dove into what his reasons were, but I am glad I heeded his advice, just based on what I’ve seen in the markets and the differences between accounting and finance.”
Crutchfield is grateful for the opportunities he found through the Muma College of Business, including working for a top accounting firm in the world and discovering his true work ethic.
“If you told me four or five years ago that I’d work for any top company, I’d say you were crazy. My freshman year, I didn’t really do that much; sophomore year is when I transitioned to accounting and after I finished sophomore year, I really started taking it seriously.”
However, to Crutchfield, “taking it seriously” did not only mean excelling in the classroom.
“I went to the Career Fair four or five times before I even thought of being offered an internship. Putting in that front work and realizing the amount of work I put into it from the back end now, is beyond words. The dopamine rush I get from it is unfathomable, and it is worth more than anything – the college debt, the salaries, everything – just to know that your hard work is finally paying off, and I’m just starting my career.”
Throughout his late time majoring in accounting, Crutchfield came back to the tenets that lead his original shift from engineering to business: passion, drive and dedication.
“There are 168 hours in a week. If I get up at 5 a.m., go do an hour workout and then have breakfast, being able to break that down on an hourly basis allowed me to be involved in a lot more things. It allowed me to set aside time to things that are important to me – my relationships with friends and family, my health, my finances, everything. I can visually see it, interpret it and say ‘Hey, this is dragging me down, or I can replace this with this.’
“I will have a hundred, if not a thousand, or hundreds of thousands of failures along the way, but those are just temporary setbacks,” Crutchfield said. “I applied for a teaching assistant position twice and got rejected both times. Those rejections taught me more than getting the position itself.
“It’s very cliché to say, but I will say it to every single person I meet: do something you’re passionate about,” he said. “It changes everything drastically, and it makes everything so much easier on you, and it makes it a lot less stressful when those things go hand in hand.”
He continues with his tutoring responsibilities, pursuing his interests and studying for his CPA exam. So far, he has passed three out of four exams, and he will take the fourth section of the exam on Aug. 25.
In December, Crutchfield will begin his full-time role with Deloitte in the Tampa office and he is preparing for his new role.
“I’m as excited as I can be. I’ve been taking on additional Excel courses and other things in my free time to help me prepare for that busy season coming up.”
Crutchfield’s fondest recollection of his USF experience is his undergraduate commencement.
“I’m a first-generation college student, so my mother and father don’t have college degrees,” he said. “Just to see how proud they were of me was an awesome, amazing feeling that I would not trade for anything in the world. It was also the day I proposed to my wife, making it even more special. To have all your friends and family there, all the people you’ve created bonds with for the last couple years, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day to bring the four years to a close.”
He is currently moving into a new home with his wife, their first home together without roommates.