Student Spotlight: Dustin Heestand, 2015 MSA Candidate


MSA Candidate 2015
Full-time student

Undergraduate degree in: Linguistics

Undergraduate School: Harvard University

Career Goal: Currently exploring many possibilities

LinkedIn Profile

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

When I graduated with a degree in linguistics, I was considering a career in academia. I spent a year as a researcher in Berlin, Germany, and that experience, while rewarding, dissuaded me from continuing on the academic track. Job prospects for liberal arts PhD’s were (and remain) too uncertain. I moved to Chicago, and started my post-academic life. In the asset column: the skills I honed in the study of linguistics--critical reasoning, clear communication, and inter-cultural competencies; and in the liability column: my obscure college major, limited work experience, and a lack of clear career goals.

After a short job search, I landed a very pleasant position in customer service. I enjoyed my time there, but I didn’t feel challenged. I didn’t see any opportunities for meaningful advancement, much less a career. I was stuck. After talking with people from several fields and doing extensive research, I found myself drawn to accounting. Accounting requires careful thought and  rewards continuous learning.  This is what I missed about academia. But in order to enter the profession, I needed a tangible asset on my balance sheet: the MSA degree. I applied for the program in March and was enrolled in classes by June.

Why did you choose UIC Liautaud for your graduate study?

I plan to continue to live and work in Chicago, so I value UIC Liautaud’s connections that with the business community here. Tuition is also an exceptionally good value. Since I have no business background at all, I need a program which can get me up to speed quickly. I need to be prepared for the CPA exam at graduation. In this area, Liautaud gets results.

We all know that people pursue graduate school to increase their business knowledge, but since you have started the program, what has been the most unexpected gain the program has given you?

Even though I only started the MSA earlier this summer, I’ve received a lot of attention directed at making sure I’m on the right track. The program is only two years, so time is of the essence.  I’ve got a team helping me to make the most of every minute.  I knew I’d be learning a lot in my courses, but I just wasn’t expecting to accumulate so quickly knowledge of the world of business outside the classroom.


For more about the UIC Liautaud Master of Science in Accounting program, click here