Balancing Today with Tomorrow:
Chicago Convenience, Urbana Excellence

Jennifer Wyatt.Jennifer Wyatt is a senior associate in the tax group at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Chicago. Her business work schedule, already hectic, got even busier this year when she enrolled in the graduate program in taxation offered by the College of Business in its convenient Loop location in downtown Chicago.
For Wyatt, earning an MSA in taxation means "gaining as much technical knowledge as possible to supplement my work experience and to better serve my clients." She also hopes to be on the fast-track for promotion to manager once she completes the program.

Wyatt started working in PricewaterhouseCoopers right after she graduated with a degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Saint Mary's College at Notre Dame. She says that she doesn't think "just having a degree under your belt will get you very far. My managers and partners care more about what I know." Still, her graduate degree is a necessary credential for advancement in a large accounting firm.

"The hardest thing about going back to school is balancing full-time work with full-time classes. Sometimes I have a week where I am at work late every night and then I need to prepare for class on Friday morning and evening. It makes for a very long week."

Wyatt selected the Illinois program because it lets her attend classes while continuing to work full time. The most appealing feature, she says, is that she can complete her degree in a year. A bonus -- and a sign of her employer's investment in her career -- is that PwC is paying her tuition.

Students in the MS Tax program in Chicago take classes on Fridays and Saturdays in the Illini Center at 200 South Wacker Drive in the heart of Chicago's financial district, an ideal location for people working downtown. A block from Union Station, the Illini Center is also convenient for Chicago-area residents with easy access to commuter trains.

Even though her weeks are full and often stressful, Wyatt is enjoying her graduate program. "The course work is challenging, and overall, I really enjoy the faculty. The professors who are working professionals add a lot of value to the classes."

Wyatt advises accounting students to get a couple of years of experience in the field before pursuing a graduate degree. "By building on work experiences, I am able to comprehend the more complex issues and instantly apply what I learn in class. For example, the partnerships course has covered complicated topics over the past few weeks that I am currently addressing for a couple of my clients. This is just one of the ways the Illinois program is helping me become a stronger professional and better serve my clients."

--Maria Zamudio

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