When serendipity and opportunity collide: GSW accounting grad lands M&J internship in Chick-fil-A drive-through

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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By Rebekah McLeod


“Kaitlyn, are you sitting down?”

This was the question posed to GSW accounting major Kaitlyn Evans of Leesburg in late fall of 2021 when Professor Carol Bishop called to give her some unusually good news.

Doug Moses, partner at Mauldin & Jenkins (M&J) and Georgia Southwestern alumnus from the class of 1997, had written to the Dean requesting that Kaitlyn do an internship at his accounting firm.

Kaitlyn was stunned, as she thought back to that chance meeting about a month earlier in the drive-through at a Leesburg Chick-fil-A. She was going about her usual work routine, standing outside in the Georgia heat taking orders on her iPad. Kaitlyn thought she recognized Mr. Moses from the mural on the wall of the M&J-sponsored classroom at GSW. When she asked the name for the order and he replied, “Moses,” she struck up a conversation with him.

“I asked if he was a partner at M&J, and he seemed impressed that I recognized him,” recalls Kaitlyn. “He asked where I was in my schooling, and when I told him I was about to be a senior, he suggested it was the right time to begin applying for internships. I knew he was right, but I hadn’t taken a tax or audit class yet…I wanted to make sure I was prepared to get the most out of any internship experience.”

Unbeknownst to Kaitlyn, Moses immediately called the GSW Foundation’s Executive Director Stephen Snyder to find out more about Kaitlyn. The next day Snyder called back, confirming Kaitlyn was a great student with a high GPA.

“I was sold,” says Moses. “Here she was, a full-time student with great customer service skills, working her way through college at a Chick-fil-A that wasn’t even in the same city where she went to school. At our company, we see some staff who are not used to working; they want to work 9-5, have all this time off; they’re not really interested in developing their career. I could tell Kaitlyn was someone who would be successful, so I sent an email to the Dean and told her I wanted to extend an internship to her.”

Kaitlyn ended up interviewing with M&J a full year before she began the internship, which allowed her to complete the tax and audit classes, as well as another internship with a financial reporting group, F&W Forestry. Kaitlyn had been working part-time at Chick-fil-A since her sophomore year and was promoted to staff trainer, yet she decided to leave it behind to give all her attention to the internship at M&J. Kaitlyn’s work at the accounting firm began in January of this year and ended with the close of tax season in mid-April.

Moses admits this is the first time he had ever requested a specific college student do an internship, but he does make it a practice to help others advance their education and career, just as his long-time friend and mentor Rudolph Patterson did for him.

“Rudolph Patterson was a lawyer and President of the GSW Alumni Association who represented my mom in her social security benefits case. I think he saw similarities in our stories—we were both athletes with single moms, and we had to delay going to college to work and look after our moms. While Rudolph’s friends went off to college, he stayed back and worked several part-time jobs to make ends meet, and one of those jobs was driving the bus for the GSW baseball team. One day when Rudolph was out hitting baseballs with his college friends, a GSW coach approached him, asking him why he wasn’t playing on the team. Rudolph answered, ‘I can’t afford to go to college, it’s just me and my mom.’”

The coach arranged for Rudolph to get a full scholarship, and Rudolph went on to become a successful attorney who made it a practice to give back to young aspiring college students, such as Doug Moses.

“Once my mom began receiving her disability checks, I enrolled at GSW in accounting,” says Moses, “and I found out by accident that Rudolph Patterson was anonymously giving me scholarship money. I was at the Financial Aid office trying to figure out where the extra money was coming from…my file was open, and I saw his name listed as one of my contributors. After his death a couple years back, I learned from his colleagues that he gave to so many college students, many of whom he never met. He’s the reason I got involved in the Alumni Association and then the Foundation Board of Trustees. He’s the reason why I give back to GSW.”

The cycle of giving continued last month, when Kaitlyn awarded Doug Moses her Silver Presidential Challenge Coin. This coin is first given to freshmen by GSW President Neal Weaver when he challenges students to make the most of their college experience and to give away the coin before graduation to someone who has made an impact on their college journey.

When asked how he felt about receiving the coin from Kaitlyn, Moses responds, “I was shocked. She could have given the coin to many other people who were deserving, like her professors…I was very appreciative of that.”

Kaitlyn was named the Outstanding On-Campus Undergraduate in the College of Business and Computing at the 2023 Student Awards Ceremony this spring. She will receive her B.S. in Accounting in May 2023, after which she will begin a one-year master’s program in accounting at Kennesaw State University.

Kaitlyn describes her time at the M&J internship with enthusiasm and gratitude: “Everyone I met at the company was so kind. They let me choose whatever branch office I wanted to work at, so I chose the one closest to my family in Albany. I love the values of the company, and to me their brand is associated with excellence and integrity. GSW and M&J work well together…I know I’m not the only student who has done an internship there, but the circumstances that got me there are rare.”

When asked if Kaitlyn would consider employment at M&J in the future, she says with her typical straight-forward approach, “I would absolutely consider it. I made sure they had my contact information when I left.”