In high school, I took two accounting courses and had an accounting teacher who went to Illinois many years ago who encouraged me to do accounting because she felt that I would be great at it. So, I already knew coming into U of I that I wanted to focus on Accounting.
Being involved with the InBound Orientation group was very meaningful to me. I joined an InBound session when I was an incoming freshman here at Illinois in the summer of 2019, which I really enjoyed, so I decided to apply to be an orientation leader after that. For two and a half years I was part of that until I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Accountancy. I really enjoyed it because it helped me to interact with other people, including the freshman, because I was also in their spot once. I knew I could make an impact on other people’s lives by sharing my experience and helping them grow as well, just as I have grown here at Illinois.
I finished my undergrad in 3 years, so, when I was a junior, I talked to a lot of seniors in my major who were applying for the Master of Accounting Science (M.A.S). program. I got to learn from them about the application process, and as a junior in my Fall semester, I applied for the M.A.S. along with the seniors. When applying for the M.A.S. program, I met Amira Al-Mutairi, an M.A.S. advisor in Gies College of Business, who encouraged me to take it a step further by applying for a Cohort Leader position in the M.A.S. program, which I got. It helped me get out of my comfort zone, because I’m really shy in front of other people, especially strangers. At first, I questioned whether I could step up in that position, but it has really helped me to be more open and given me the opportunity to share my experience with other people, and I really enjoy it.
I’m also able to share my experience from my undergraduate years, including how I applied for the M.A.S. program. Now I help out other students still in the application process. I think talking with students helps them to relieve their stress, because if they know what the application process entails it makes it easier for them.
I enjoy the fact that my graduate program is not as hectic compared to my undergraduate program. I feel like I have more time to be social with other people, especially the other M.A.S. students. We have a set class schedule, and I’m currently taking only 4 classes. This schedule will allow me to take one less class next semester in order to study for the CPA exam.
I did an 8-week internship at PwC this past summer, where I worked with two or three engagement teams, to help them with auditing, which allowed me to and learn more about auditing process. Since I’m a first-generation student and no one in my family knows the details of these accounting processes, this 8-week internship taught me a lot. And next year I will be starting my full-time role with PwC, most likely in the fall, which I’m pretty excited about!
I would say don’t be too hard on yourself and stress over small things, like joining certain RSOs. There are some Business RSOs that people stress about getting into because they think that it will help them to land a good job after graduation, but you can also explore yourself and find jobs in other ways as well. For example, networking with a lot of different companies, or looking at many of the other RSOs on campus, like Accounting Club and Student Business Associations. I learned it’s important to enjoy your time here and to interact with as many companies as you can. There are lots of companies who come to campus, and I actually started applying to a lot of firms via Handshake as a sophomore. I also found it’s important to follow up with recruiters, because that’s a great way to get to know a company. In general, it really helps to stay involved and network.