Illinois MBA Program Exceeds Expectations

Penny Lin, an Illinois MBA student."Sometimes I feel like I'm in a dream," says Chia-Huei Lin, a second-year student in the Illinois MBA program focusing on finance and marketing.

Lin, a 25-year-old native of Taiwan, had planned on getting her master's degree since studying as an undergraduate at the National Taiwan University, even before she took two years to gain real-world experience in the banking industry.
"I learned how to communicate and deal with people, and those from different backgrounds," she says of her work as a personal banker at Bank Sinopac in Taiwan. After that time, however, she decided to move on to the rest of her dream - graduate school.
Choosing to attend a university in the US because of its many global companies, she narrowed her choices to the universities of Washington, Pittsburg, and Illinois. She believes that she made the right choice.
"I'm glad I made this decision," she says, adding that her time here has "exceeded expectations." Lin says she chose Illinois mainly for three reasons, the first being its strong finance curriculum and good faculty reputations.
"Professors here are encouraging and patient with students when (they are) asking questions or giving opinions. That is very different from my country."
She also found the student organization opportunities at the Illinois MBA appealing. She was particularly interested when the MBA website cited opportunities to join Illinois Business Consulting, a student consulting group. She is currently working on project teams consulting for Allstate and BearingPoint.
Lin was also excited to learn about the nine student clubs specific to the MBA program. She explains that the clubs and events give students more professional and social opportunities outside of the classroom. She has more than taken advantage of such opportunities, as a member of Academic Council her first year and as the vice president of the MBA Association this year.
The final deciding factor for Lin was the University's strong ties to international students and cultures. She said there is a larger population of international and Taiwanese students here than at the other schools she looked at, with about 16 coming from Taiwan out of a class of more than 90 students.
"I'm really lucky to be in this program because of the international student numbers," she says. "We understand each other's difficulties and support each other. We have a good sense of community."
When she leaves the University, Lin hopes to spend more time in the US to internalize its culture and business. She would like to focus on corporate finance in a company where she will be able to travel.
"I think it's important to have a global view of the world in your personal and professional life," she notes, adding that having a US education will help her compete for jobs. She is particularly excited about the opportunities her University of Illinois education will open for her when returning to Taiwan and is looking forward to the strong alumni connections she will find there. Even Taiwan's current vice president is an Illinois graduate, she said. Such connections could be important to her future.
"I know these people will become my lifetime friends and we will support and help each other."

--Caitlin O'Connor

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