Student Spotlight: Julianne Sherer, MBA Candidate 2015


Julianne Sherer

Full-time MBA Candidate 2015

Concentration(s):  Self-Directed, a combination of Accounting, Finance, and Management

Field of Work:  Nonprofit/Public Sector Financial Management

Undergraduate Degree:  BA in Government/International Affairs and Sociology

Undergraduate School: Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD)

Career Goal: Public Administrator with a budgeting/finance focus

Organizations Involved With:  Net Impact (VP of Membership), InKIND, MBAA


Interests/Hobbies: I’m an avid sports fan - love both playing and watching, live music, wine tasting, and traveling

Favorite Chicago Activities: Beach volleyball, street festivals, and movies in the park

Favorite Chicago Restaurants: Girl & the Goat, and Tavernita

Favorite Part of the Day: Dinner with my husband

Hometown: Bismarck, ND


Tell us about your personal and professional background.

I grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota and attended college at a small liberal arts school in South Dakota to study Government/International Affairs and Sociology.  Upon graduating in 2007, I moved to Washington, DC, where I obtained a position at the League of Women Voters, a national voter education and advocacy nonprofit organization.  After about two and a half years, I left the League to take a position as Legislative Correspondent for now retired U.S. Senator Kent Conrad. This was a unique and enriching experience that allowed me to work on a variety of federal policy issues.     

In June 2011, my husband and I relocated to Chicago. I served as a student financial aid advisor for Rush University until starting the MBA program full-time last fall.

What prompted you to return to school to pursue your master’s degree?

I’ve put a great deal of thought and effort into designing a career that is a good fit with my natural talents and interests. Although I enjoyed working in the nonprofit and federal lawmaking fields, my recent work in administering financial aid has confirmed that I am more naturally inclined to work with data - putting principles into action - than with abstract policy and ideas. Upon completion of my MBA, I’m hoping to obtain a position in public sector financial management. In order to make this transition in my career, I knew I needed to build my knowledge of the business world and bolster my quantitative skills.

What factor(s) did you consider when choosing a master’s program, and why did you choose UIC Liautaud for your graduate study?

Knowing that the majority of the business classes would be new to me, I wanted a program that was flexible and offered a variety of concentrations. I appreciated that UIC Liautaud allows students to tailor their concentrations to specific career goals. And given my background and interest in the nonprofit sector, I was very attracted to UIC Liautaud’s courses that focus on social value creation. Finally, cost was a major factor. UIC Liautaud was the best value of any of the schools I considered.

Which class/professor has been your favorite thus far and why?

I really enjoyed the Improv and Leadership course with Professor Michael Popowits.  The course title is a bit misleading as it is really focused on building an executive presence, and it helped me become more mindful of my own communication style. I left the class feeling more confident in my networking and interviewing skills. It is a unique course in that you get to know all of your classmates very well, and Professor Popowits does a great job of establishing a supportive environment. The skills that students build in the course are not limited to professional development, but are helpful in other areas of life as well.

What is your favorite aspect of the UIC campus and why?

The people. UIC’s campus is incredibly diverse with students from all over the world. It has been enlightening to study with students from very different cultures and backgrounds. It's not only geographically diverse, but also the diversity of professional backgrounds adds to the educational experience. Starting business school with a limited business background was somewhat intimidating, but I’ve found that a lot of students come from outside of the business world, and I’ve never felt out of place.

What advice would you provide to incoming UIC Liautaud students?

Really make an effort to build relationships with your classmates, alumni, professors, etc. There is a lot that you can learn from those surrounding you in business school.

Tell us your elevator speech? 

“Hi, I’m Julianne. I’m pursuing my MBA to further my career in public service, which began when I spent two years working for a U.S. Senator from my home state in DC.  Most people are confused about why I’d want my MBA to work in the public sector, but I’ve always prided myself on being well-rounded, and I think that a lot of business principles will be useful in the public sector as well.”

What is the best part about your UIC Liautaud experience?

I am very grateful for the relationships I’ve developed and am pleasantly surprised by the strong sense of community at UIC Liautaud.  Everyone is really supportive and wants to see each other succeed. I don’t think that is the case at all business schools.