How a Liberal Arts Degree Primed Non-Traditional Student for Success

by Caesari Avent

100_1478I am a non-traditional student at UIS with a plan to graduate with a BA in Liberal Studies in May 2015. Choosing Liberal Studies as a major gave me the option to be more flexible with what courses I could choose from and which internships I could work and get credit for, as the degree is self-designed and tailored to meet certain career goals for some majors.  A Liberal Studies education provides interdisciplinary learning, self – directed learning, and a reflection of your academic collegiate history. This program will improve a student’s written communication skills, critical thinking skills, give a student exposure to the arts community, and provide the option of choosing courses from several subjects. Avent

After I decided Liberal Studies would be a good choice of a degree plan for me in my undergraduate studies I enrolled in many Business, Accounting, and Economics courses. I have just completed an internship at Illinois Department of Revenue through UIS in 2014. Working at Illinois Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Assistance Division inside the call center was a challenging and rewarding experience, allowing me to focus on my strengths and weaknesses. This was my first position in a call center and my first position working in taxation. A Call Center Tax Specialist answers questions in respect to refund status, letters tax payers received, tax laws, forms, and tax preparation; I was trained on tax laws, tax procedures and forms, phone operation, and work policies for the first month of the six-month program. Because of this internship, my knowledge of Illinois individual income taxes and federal taxes (to some degree) has increased immensely. The job required good verbal communication skills, good phone etiquette, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment.

Having  six months experience in Illinois Individual Income Taxation as an intern, I was qualified to apply for another internship at Fiducial – Federated Funeral Directors in Springfield, IL. Fiducial does accounting and payroll for small to mid-sized businesses, and taxes for individuals. I applied for the position at Fiducial and was offered the position in less than a week.

My Fiducial internship will be starting in February of 2015 and will be for credit.   This position’s job description includes the preparation of federal and state individual income taxes from tax payers from all over the country. This will be a good learning experience, especially since I will be taking Federal Income Taxation along with the internship. I was approved for EXL 300 (experiential learning), which means the job is a college course, receiving college credit and completing assignments with due dates just like any other course.

A student with a BA in Liberal Studies is able to choose from several careers. After graduation I plan to work in taxation or a field of accounting while furthering my education as an MBA student with a focus in Entrepreneurship or an MSA student in the Accounting Master’s degree program.  I will leave my options open as to exactly where I will work or what specific title I will hold after I graduate.

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