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August 22, 2022

He had a background in business and a head for numbers, but what Robert Caicedo lacked was a true professional purpose.

It wasn’t until he arrived at Irvine Valley College that it all started to add up.

Prior to enrolling at IVC, Caicedo worked in business development and sales for about two years before hitting a wall. Struggling to find passion in his profession, the determined student knew he would have to take initiative to make a change.  

“I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing,” says Caicedo. “It’s never what I wanted to do.”

The Southern Californian earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego, already knowing he wanted to take his career in a different direction. As Caicedo calculated his next career steps, he says all signs pointed towards accounting.

“Public accounting seems like a very good structure,” Caicedo explains. “It’s very clear, the goals that you have to meet to get promoted, to grow within a firm or company.”

It didn’t hurt that he already had a few accounting courses under his belt from his undergrad experience at UCSD. With a solid foundation, the eager learner was preparing to qualify for his CPA exam. To test the waters, he enrolled in a few different accounting courses at Saddleback College, Orange Coast College, and Irvine Valley College.

One school stood out from the rest, and among all his educational experiences, Caicedo says the level of value at IVC was just “higher.”

“The classes I would take at UCSD were like night and day … You would have classes with 300 students,” Caicedo reflects on his time at the university. “There was no one-on-one interaction with the professors."

“Whereas, you would have some professors [at IVC] like Donald Bradshaw, who would have office hours … That’s where I was able to just make a connection with him.”

According to the late-arriving Laser, Professor Bradshaw’s dedication to his students is one of the many factors that accounted for the difference in his education at IVC. Says Caideco: “Professor Bradshaw just brought in a level of experience that I didn’t get from many other teachers.”

The experience proved invaluable. The professor’s comprehensive courses and teaching style helped give Caicedo and his fellow accounting students a transparent look at the industry, and what it means to be a professional in the field.

“He was super knowledgeable … he was a controller in the past, so he has all of this experience that he would bring into the classroom,” explains Caicedo. “He wouldn’t just teach you; he would also talk about his experience in the professional world.”

Bradshaw serves as acting treasurer of the Orange County Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants and Financial Professionals (IMA). IMA regularly hosts events for members and guests to network and connect professionals in the accounting field. The professor brought Caicedo along with other students to different professional events to immerse them in the accounting industry so they could rub elbows with experts in the field.

The experience is something Caicedo says he’ll always carry with him as he continues his career. “We actually got to talk to professionals, partners, CFO’s, controllers of companies,” says the grateful student. “It was really fun.”

Not only did Bradshaw’s courses help Caicedo pick up practical hard skills, they also gave him the opportunity to develop valuable soft skills. The professor says these interpersonal skills, along with Caicedo’s professional demeanor, always made him a top pick among students to attend IMA events.

“Rob seems like a really professional personality … and not everybody comes across that way,” says Bradshaw. “That’s what CPA firms look for … It’s not just the technical skills, but also the interpersonal interactions that they have with that person in the recruiting process.”

Today, Caicedo is thriving in his career as a senior audit accountant at a CPA firm in Orange County.  As his career continues to unfold, he is continuously drawing from the well of knowledge he attained at Irvine Valley College. He’s finding that Bradshaw’s training still holds water, particularly when it comes to his “extremely rigorous” cost accounting course.

“You have to persevere in that class … [You don’t] get out of there without a few scars,” Bradshaw jokes. “He did tell me that in his job at the CPA firm, cost accounting is something that he draws from almost on a daily basis.”

Caicedo’s experience at Irvine Valley College helped him thrive as a student and continue to go above and beyond in his field. And as he climbs the corporate ladder, he recognizes that his professional horizons would be far less clear without his experience at Irvine Valley College.  

“IVC is a great college. It’s affordable, great campus, great teachers,” Caicedo reflects. “It’s probably the highest quality of education you could get in Southern California when it comes to community college.”

Learn more about IVC's Accounting Program.