Student Spotlight: Xuan Li, MSA Candidate 2014



            Xuan Li 

                     Full-Time MSA Candidate

                Undergraduate Degree: Accounting
                Undergraduate School: Renmin University of China
                Career Goal: Financial statement auditing/Tax








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

A master’s degree in accounting is more career-oriented, which in my opinion not only offers me the academic skills that I would need in the future career but gives me a sense of what a real accounting job would be like. I knew that I would pursue a master’s degree from the first day of college, because a person who works right after finishing college is far less competitive than one who works with a higher relevant degree in hand. Additionally, a CPA license is always what I tell myself to get before I am too old to take any exams. Studying in school helps me prepare for the CPA exams, because I know that once I get out of school and start to work, I will lose the passion to take any exams.


What were the factors you considered in choosing a master’s program?

I considered three factors while thinking about what program to choose. First and the most important was that “is this major going to make it easier for me to find a job?” I can’t always be a student at school. There will come a day when I need to work to support myself. I figured obtaining an MSA would be helpful, because no matter what the company does, it has to have an accounting or tax department. Therefore, I believed there would always be companies who are looking for accountants or auditors. Secondly, I considered whether accounting was a field I would be successful in. Since my college major was accounting, I at least had a general understanding of what I would be doing in an MSA program. Finally, I thought that I would want to do something that I would like both at school and in future work. When I started to think about choosing a master’s program, I had already been studying accounting for almost four years. But I have to admit that I was not very into accounting. But now as I have taken more courses in UIC Liutaud in accounting, I became very interested in this major and I am very happy that one year ago I did not make a wrong decision!


Why did you choose UIC Liautaud for your graduate study?

A CPA license is of great help in my future career. The MSA program in UIC Liautaud has always had a reputation of a high CPA exam passing rate, which you can tell by our professors’ way of giving lectures, because they always focus on the CPA exams.


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?

Networking skills! Chinese students have a reputation of not having strong social skills. People know that we have excellent grades, we study really hard, but we never actually network with others. This comes from the overwhelming workload that we had while we were in China. Since we did not even have enough time to finish the homework, who cared about social network! But things changed when I came to UIC. I meet with different people every day. Whether you want to obtain networking skills or not, group work and school events help facilitate stronger networking skills.


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

So far one of my favorite classes would be Accounting 516 Financial Statement Analysis by Professor Ramakrishnan. It is this class that makes me so interested in reading financial reports. Even though I have taken so many accounting courses so far, I had never learned how to read financial reports. In all the other courses I just learned how to make financial reports, which now companies do not usually do by hand. However, I think reading financial reports is more important. In this class I learned what to analyze when I get a financial report. Now when people hand me a company’s annual report I can tell them this is what can be done, instead of saying “oh I don’t know how to read it, I just know how to make it”.


Professor Popowits’ Fraud Examination is my other favorite class. It was a hard class for me because of all the new fraud related words that I had never seen before. But I really appreciate the way Professor Popowits teaches. Instead of just giving lectures on the content in the textbook, he used his former experiences to make the concepts easier to understand. He also included lots of videos to bring the class closer to reality. What made the class better was that he always invited guest speakers to his class to share their stories about their forensic auditing jobs.


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

I love the location of UIC! It is close to everything. Isn’t it awesome to look at the beautiful scene of Chicago’s skyline while waiting for class to start in Douglas Hall?


What advice would you provide to incoming UIC Liautaud students?

Take advantage of the people, events and all the opportunities out there! Because they are awesome. If you hesitate, you lose. UIC Liautaud has offered so many fascinating events. For example, it has offered everyone a free opportunity to take the Bloomberg Aptitude Test. Besides letting students take the test, they also invited people to come and show us how to use the Bloomberg Terminal, which has so much information that we can take advantage of. Another piece of advice is to make good use of the Innerloop News. All the job fairs and important events are shown in the Innerloop News.