One of the lessons I’m learning as a Business Scholar is that it’s never too early to make introductions at Chicago’s big firms. In the last month and a half, I’ve been introduced around two of the Big Four at their offices on Wacker Drive, and I’ve met people who have given me a much clearer picture of my career path.
In late April, just a few weeks before the end of my freshman year, a small group of accounting students visited Deloitte at their downtown office, and a few weeks before that, a slightly larger group of us did the same thing just down Wacker Drive at PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Business Scholars program regularly organizes these field trips for us Scholars, to Big Four firms for accounting majors like myself, and for other Scholars studying management, marketing, IDS—whatever their major, they get introduced to places like Caterpillar, PepsiCo, United States Gypsum, and a lot of other big names in the area.
At PwC, we were escorted to the upper floors of the office, where we met with a group of UIC alumni who work at the firm. We connect with UIC alumni at most of these places, so we get to hear personal stories from people who have been where we’ve been. They generously make themselves available, both during our visit and afterwards, to students who have questions about their careers. I could hardly ask for better advisers.
Rachel Marten, who manages many of the Scholars activities, sees these relationships develop every term. “We maintain great relationships with these companies,” she says. “After going on the field trips, Scholars stay connected to the staff and executives from these companies, and reconnect with them on the job market.”
At both PwC and Deloitte, I got to ask UIC alumni questions that I couldn’t answer on my own. The big one was, is the MSA worth it? What I heard from everyone was that yes, the MSA was essential, it’s how they got their 150 hours for the CPA exam. They encouraged me to continue my accounting studies in the UIC Liautaud department.
But they also emphasized the importance of interning early. When you’re working in a firm, they said, you learn firsthand what kind of work you prefer, and this can determine a lot for a young accountant’s future.
Having made the connection with these firms already, I feel good about my prospects. I know they’ll have some internship openings in the next schoolyear, and I’ll be in a good position to apply. And what I heard from the alumni working at these firms is that they want younger students to apply, they want to be a part of your education, and to teach you as you go.
Maybe the most comforting thing is that I know at either firm I’ll end up on real projects. I was assured by the UIC alumni there that I won’t be making coffee runs; my work will be shown to clients, and by the time I'm an upperclassman I’ll already have real accounting work under my belt.