What makes international students, including more than 300 from China in 2014-2015, travel half way around the globe to attend the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago?

Students and alumni often cite three key reasons they chose DePaul University: the opportunity to attend school in a world-class city for business and culture; the practical business knowledge they gain from DePaul’s faculty, students and alumni; and the DePaul career connections that lead to rewarding internships and jobs.

Below, graduate student Fangfang Li and alumna Joey Jiang talk about their experiences at Kellstadt.

DePaul professors and mentors prepare student for internship

When Fangfang Li started thinking about graduate business school, the first thing she considered was the location. “I knew I was going to study accounting and I was thinking that it would be better to study in an economic center like New York or Chicago,” says the MS in Accountancy Class of 2016 candidate. She chose Chicago after talking with friends about the excellence of city’s universities, and then narrowed her choice to DePaul after she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

Once she saw the city and experienced DePaul, she says knew she had chosen wisely. “I can still remember the first time I arrived in Chicago,” she recalls. “One of my friends was driving in the summer night on Lakeshore Drive, and, as you can imagine, the downtown Loop was so beautiful. I’d never seen anything like this before, so I loved this city immediately.”

At DePaul, Li credits her “outstanding, amazing accounting professors ” for not only for giving her a solid foundation of knowledge in accounting, audit and tax, but also for helping her develop self-confidence. “They helped me to understand that I need to make myself stand out during the class and get involved. They pushed us to attend a lot of social and networking events.”  Li says her professors also are generous with sharing career advice. “They are so patient and willing to help me. I really appreciate their time because I know that a lot of them have real-life business experience. Their knowledge has been really helpful to me.”

Li leads an active student life, serving as president of the Graduate Students for Accounting, and as a member of the Accounting Club and Beta Alpha Psi. She has built a wide network of friends among her classmates. “We study together; we go to networking events together. It makes you feel like you’re never alone. You always have students who are in the same situation like you. Students who came a year or so before me, they’ve told me a lot about their personal experience in the United States—how you deal with your assignments, how to apply for a job, how to go to interviews.”

Li’s accounting knowledge, student and faculty advice, and newly acquired self-confidence paid off when she applied for internships this summer. She successfully landed an internship with PWC, one of the Big Four accounting firms. “I have some friends at other schools in Chicago and they are having a really hard time finding a job or internship after graduating because they do not have the networking opportunities with the accounting firms and they do not have the recruiting events like us,” she says.

In preparing for her internship, Li says she especially values meeting DePaul alumni through Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK),), a DePaul program that connects alumni mentors and students. “I have four mentors,” she says. “They helped me through my internship search process. I practiced mock interviews with them and I asked them questions about how to start a successful internship. I asked them why they chose audit or tax. They gave me a lot of really helpful suggestions in the process. ASK is a really, really great resource for students, especially business students.”

DePaul: A place to connect with top-performing companies

Like Li, alumna Joey Jiang (MS ’13) also was interested in studying at a business school in the heart of a large, diverse city that offers ample career and cultural opportunities.

“Living in Chicago is the best. Amazing buildings and architecture make the skyline breathtaking and there is a good public transportation system that takes you to everywhere,” she says. She was attracted to DePaul because it emphasizes its role as “a place to connect students with business professionals and top-performing companies in various industries.” 

DePaul’s diversity also made her feel comfortable. “DePaul is open to students with different backgrounds, so you can always find a fit at school,” she says.  “All of the people at DePaul are so nice. Some students, especially international students, are a little shy of talking to Americans when we first arrived. But from my experience, don’t be afraid. It’s always good for you to learn and grow.”

While a student, Jiang says she grew professionally by learning not only the technical skills necessary to become an accountant, but also the soft skills, like teamwork and communication, needed to succeed in any profession. “Teamwork is good because I work with a lot of people now. When I was interviewing, they were trying to find someone who is easy to deal with and can work with different people and complicated tasks. Communication and teamwork are the most important things I learned during my studies at DePaul.”

While a student, Jiang took advantage of the ASK alumni mentor program, as well as career advice offered by the Kellstadt Career Management Center. These resources helped her to successfully complete an internship at Careforde, a Chicago-based healthcare supplier, during her second year at DePaul.

“I learned from my working experience and applied it to my studies and my job hunt after graduation. Because I had the internship, I had more to tell when I was interviewing with other companies after graduation.” Today, Jiang works as a fund accounting specialist at J.P Morgan in Chicago.

Looking back on her student days, Jiang says she appreciates the many ways DePaul helped her grow, both professionally and personally. “I developed self-understanding, self-discipline, maturity and confidence during my two years in DePaul.”