Be Better Every Day

Editor’s Note:  We’re delighted yet again to share words about life after graduation from yet another recent NIU Business alumnus:  2013 & 2014 accountancy alumnus Daihee Cho. Thank you, Daihee, for sharing your insights and journey so far with all of us!  We know how busy life is…not only in college but afterwards when your careers begin.  So truly thank you again for taking the time to share where you’ve landed and what you’re doing on the other side of your NIU Business experience!

Quick Career Bio

Upon my graduation from NIU’s College of Business in December 2014, I quickly dove into the public accounting profession, starting in January 2015.

It was my first busy season experience in the public accounting profession, and it was quite an adjustment after being a college student.  It felt like a boot camp!  I was involved with different clients in different industries — it was all a great learning experience.  At the same time that I went through my first busy season experience, I finished the CPA exam.  I passed all parts on my first attempt with the great education that I gained from NIU.

I am an Assurance Experienced Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers and currently, I am participating in a rotation program between the Core Assurance – Financial Services and Risk Assurance practice.

What does success look like to you?

For me, success is when I can help the next generation by encouraging, motivating, and assisting with any resources that I have to further individual dreams – especially those that improve society.  I believe I will be able to accomplish this by doing things that I have a passion for and by becoming a role model to the next generation of talented individuals.  Life is full of fun and excitement.  I would like to do anything that I can to help by sharing the same generosity of spirit with others, much like other people did for me.

What do you want to do with your NIU education?

I want to show and encourage everyone to further seek out their education and face challenges that they may or may not be afraid of.  I came from a different country and received my degrees (undergraduate and master degrees in accountancy) from NIU, where I gained excellent education and faced challenges that were scary to me at first.  NIU’s business education has provided me opportunities to learn, to grow up as a professional, and to expand my horizons in my life, and I want to show others that this is what NIU has to offer for them.

Why did you leave South Korea to come here? 

My dad graduated with an NIU degree but not with a business degree.  When I applied for colleges in high school, NIU was the best option with a highly respected business program and the best return on investment.

Tell us your “Why?”

Each morning when I wake up, I wonder what will happen today.  I always want to see what kind of opportunities are out there for me and what I will learn from them.  There are times when I get overwhelmed and frustrated, but, at the end, I find the challenges interesting and I enjoy them.  I am thankful for being given this amazing life.  This motivates me to keep pushing myself to be a better individual and professional.


Editor’s note:   If you’d like to share your story about your life after graduation — or life in school! — send an email to with the subject line “Life!” and together we’ll figure out the next steps!  Thanks!

Set Ambitious Goals

Editor’s Note:  We’re delighted to share words about life after graduation from yet another recent NIU Business alumnus:  2013 finance grad Jordan Near.  What…we’re just at the threshold of the fall 2015 semester you say?  True, true but remember that even if your graduation is a few or more weeks away, it can still be enlightening to see how life is shaping up for those who graduated before you.  So before the rush of the Fall 2015 semester begins, check out Jordan’s path after graduation so far.  And *thank you, Jordan* for sharing your story with us!

Quick Career Bio

I am a Consultant at Ryan, a tax consulting firm. I’ve been with Ryan since June 2013, and I was actually an intern for Ryan in the Chicago office during the summers while I was at NIU. With Ryan, I work on a team with other consultants and our manager on issues related to sales and use tax audits for large corporations. Our team specializes in the healthcare industry, specifically healthcare providers in Texas and Georgia. We work on behalf of our clients during the audit process to try to limit their tax assessments and maximize their refunds to get them to a net refund position. It’s allowed me to learn about the healthcare system, and also helped me to get to know about all the different medical items and crazy technological advances that are being used to treat patients. I also work on a few manufacturing projects for clients with operations in Arkansas. Our team is considered the subject matter expert on sales and use tax regulations in that state. I’ve been lucky enough to work for a manager who shared his knowledge and that has allowed us to work on numerous Arkansas audits. We usually get the first offer on these projects, which is nice because you always want to be known for your work product and your ability to deliver.  I think our niche allows our team to stand out.

What are three things you want to do in your life?

This is a great question, because it makes you put pen to paper (or in this case keys on a laptop) and force you to be real with what you want out of life.  This list is in no particular order:

  1. Travel. I am lucky enough to travel for work, but it’s hardly to exotic locations.  I usually go to Arkansas, Georgia, or Texas. I’d like to go to a lot of different places and experience new cultures. It really can change your perspective on things and give you a new adventure. I would really love to see every Major League baseball stadium because baseball was one of my family’s biggest connections. We all loved baseball and loved going to games together.
  2. Own my own business. I am a big proponent of creating your own path and future. I think owning your own business allows you to provide jobs for others and value to society. I also think it’s the single best way to create wealth for you and your family, which for me is a huge part of my drive every day.
  3. Write a book. As long as I can remember, I have been a voracious reader. Novels, business books, biographies, you name it. I have no idea what I would write about, but it seems like a daunting challenge that is worth pursuing.

What makes NIU so special?

NIU is definitely a special place for my family due to the fact that my two older brothers also attended NIU.  I have been an NIU fan since I was 10, because in 2001, my oldest brother started at NIU. I also think it’s a great combination of return on investment and education. However, the thing that makes NIU the most special is the people. I met many lifelong friends in DeKalb and had so many great interactions with awesome people who have helped me personally and professionally.

How do you show up in the world every day?

I try to be known for my work ethic. One thing I learned growing up was that whatever you do, you better give 100% or you’re letting people down. I grew up wrestling and if you wanted to be successful in wrestling, you had to practice at home and put in extra effort day in and day out. I try to bring that mentality to my daily life even though I’m no longer an athlete. If you can show people that you will fight on even with a difficult task, you will earn their trust and respect. I want to be known for giving 100% and for being a person you can count on.

Tell us your “Why?”

My “Why” comes back to two things: making my family proud and trying to set lofty goals. My first “Why” — making my family proud — comes from the fact that I have a close family and I am extremely grateful for everything my parents provided for me. Not many things are more satisfying than hearing your family say they are proud.  My second “Why” keeps me motivated.  If you set ambitious targets, it’s likely you will not achieve 100% of them.  Which only means that each day you have a reason to go out and try to hit the target you haven’t hit yet. Once you define your own success and you realize some sort of failure is eminent, it kind of clears your thinking.  It allows you to strive for more.  And it helps you realize that when you do hit a target, you have done something worth celebrating. I heard this quote from the movie the Trouble with the Curve that sums it up pretty well for me.  Justin Timberlake’s character says “As you know, to hit the magical .300, you fail seven out of ten times.” A friend did point out to me that with advanced baseball metrics “.300” isn’t the best any more, but batting average still is important. The point is that if you continue to try to get a hit in every at-bat, you won’t see those seven outs as failure.  Because you will have persevered, learned and grown.


Life after Graduation

Editor’s note:  We’re a bit quiet on Student Voices during the summer semester.  Jacob graduated in May (congratulations again Jacob!) and so we’re currently in between Social Media and Marketing interns.  But have no fear!  A new Social Media and Marketing intern is lined up to take over the helm of this blog.  We won’t steal his thunder by introducing him now.  Just stay tuned for his introduction in the upcoming weeks.  Until then, we caught up with some freshly-minted NIU Business graduates to learn how they are showing up in the world…starting with Zach Fiegel  (2014 NIU marketing alumnus) who landed a job with the NBA organization (that’s right, the National Basketball Association’s management team in New York City).  (Thank you, Zach, for working with me on this and for sharing your story!)

Quick Career Bio

In my first year after graduation, I did four rotations in the NBA’s management associate program:  Global Media Distribution — International Business Operations; NBA Development League — Business Operations & Marketing; Global Marketing Partnerships — Business Development area, and; Global Merchandising Group — Licensing.  Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to work for and with some incredible people, make trips to some really cool places (Berlin, Santa Cruz), and show the Big Apple a little bit of that Huskie pride!

How do you define success?

I honestly think there are seven billion+ ways to define it.  It’s up to each individual to decide what success means in his or her mind, and that can change at different stages of life.  I like to set shorter term (1-3 month) goals that I measure myself against, but for me, it really comes down to evaluating myself daily on “the little things.”  Above all, I aim to bring a positive attitude and a work ethic to whatever I’m doing every day.  I know those are two things that I can control no matter what.  Those two items branch out to things like “Did I do things to make the days of the people around me better?”, “Did I give the groups I worked with my full attention and energy?”, “Did I add some smiles to the world?”, etc.  For the Bulls fans out there, I think a Stacey King (Bulls color analyst) mantra sums it up best:  Did I bring the “HeartHustleN’Muscle” today?

What’s your best memory of your years an an NIU Business student?

I had an incredible experience at NIU — one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  In reality, the answer to this question is a 600 way tie.  This answer embodies a lot of memories, but I’ll say everything we built in the NIU student group CAUSE (Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs).  Because of the efforts of a lot of great people, all of whom happen to be my friends, we pulled off some really cool stuff.  Through it all, we exposed a lot of people to a different way of thinking, raised a ton of money, and were able to make some significant contributions to some great organizations.

Tell us your “Why?”

Fantastic question.  If you happen to read this, head to YouTube and type in “What’s your Why?”   It’s one of my favorite videos.  I have alot of “Why’s,” but the most deep-rooted ones come back to my family.  I won’t dive deep into my story, but my mom and dad, despite their differences, made some pretty incredible sacrifices to give me opportunities that they never had.  Thinking about that gives me a kick in the rear to be better on a daily basis, but even more than that, I’d say my four younger siblings are my “Why?”  They inspire me and motivate me more than they’ll ever know.  I want to be a positive figure and a rock in their lives, while helping them surpass any level of “success” that I’m able to hit.

Editor’s note:   If you want to share your story about your life after graduation, send an email to with the subject line “Life after graduation” and together we’ll figure out the next steps!


Huzzah, Class of 2015!

Editor’s note:  Happy Graduation, Class of 2015!  You did it!!  We’re so happy for each and every one of you on what is a significant achievement.  Before you cross the stage during Commencement to receive your diploma, we wanted to share some words of wisdom with you.  These thoughts were shared from the heart by NIU Business alumni, guest speakers, and professors, all of whom have inspired so many of us.  Just as all of you have inspired all of us with your work ethic, commitment, heart, and focus.  Stay in touch.  Seriously…we mean that!.  We miss you already and are cheering you on!  From now until our paths cross yet again, and even beyond future meetings, keep seizing the day!


Some thoughts to the NIU Business Class of 2015

It’s cliché but be the good you wish to see in the world. Put your words into action and don’t be afraid to educate and inspire. All it takes is a little bit of courage to change the world.  ~ Jacob Ferguson, OM&IS alumnus, and NIU Business Marketing & Social Media Intern for the academic year FA ’14-SP ’15.  Connect with Jacob on twitter


Build your friends and keep them close.  You need people who you love, people who you trust.  Know that you have enough already to get started on your dream.  Don’t give up too much of yourself – remember that saying ‘no’ is often saying ‘yes’ to yourself.  See as many sides as possible:  collaborate, cooperate, self-protect, take risks.  See what is missing in a project and identify what you can bring to the project better than anyone else.  ~ Stacy Ratner, Founder of Open Books, Keynoter at the Spring 2015 NIU Social Impact Summit


Your life will be infinitely easier if you find what you are passionate about and work in an environment where your skills and motivations align.  If you deeply believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile, that what you’re selling is important, and you find intrinsic value in it, your output will be of a higher quality and you won’t have to worry about searching for meaning and happiness; you’ve already found it. ~ Nick Kochetta, Marketing alumnus and Adventurer.  Learn more about Nick’s journey after graduation in the guest post On Being Uncommon:  Your Art.  Your Flow.  Connect with Nick on Instagram


Do not be afraid to fail. What I’ve learned in the past year is that living with the fear of failing is miserable and holds you back from potential career advancement. Instead of living in fear, live fearlessly and strive to give everything your best shot. ~ Lexi Wozny, Marketing alumnus, Retail Leadership Development Program at Verizon Wireless.  Connect with Lexi on LinkedIn


Find your passion; set lofty goals; do a little bit each day to learn and grow ~ Amanda Ferguson, Assistant Professor of Management


There have been many things I have learned about playing in the NFL and owning my own multi level marketing company.  I have been fired four times and have had to fire one of my dearest friends who was my agent.  However, these experiences have helped mold me into the man I am today.  The key thing I have learned in the business world is you have to be relate-able to people.  There is more than one way to do this.  For example:  finding common ground on which you can communicate, being genuine and transparent in the way you communicate, treating those around you with the utmost respect (doesn’t matter what their level of income or status is), never burning a bridge, looking people in the eye, having a great smile and then finally, truly caring about those you come in contact with. If you can do a majority of those things, you will find success in whatever industry you are looking to get into. I am a believer that good things happen to good people.  I feel as if I am a walking example of this and wouldn’t know about these ideals if it hadn’t been for my time at NIU and the College of Business.  ~ All the best, Management alumnus Chandler Harnish, Independent Associate, USANA Health Sciences.  Connect with Chandler on LinkedIn


My advice is to work hard, enjoy what you do and remember if you don’t promote yourself no one else will!  ~ NIU Business alumnus Audrey Southard, Retired Vice President, Instructor


Don’t allow your career to overshadow your friends and family.  If you have a career setback, you will overcome it. Slighting those that care about you can do irreparable damage.  Do everything in life like you will never have the opportunity to do it again.  Take on challenges before you think you are ready, and you will stretch into them.  Be honest in all you do.  If you don’t know something, say so.  If you make promises and people rely on you, make sure you deliver.  Each day is a precious gift.  Treat it as such. Surround yourself with people who bring you up.  Avoid those that (intentionally or not) pull you down.  Remember those who have helped you get to where you are and go out of your way to thank them–it will cost you nothing and pay big (and non-taxable) dividends.  ~ James M. Johnson, Presidential Teaching Professor, NIU Department of Finance


Doing what you love doesn’t need to be complicated.  Challenging?  Yes.  Perfect?  No.  The key is to articulate YOUR purpose.  Find out what’s meaningful to you, what speaks to you.  Actively seek out character building situations.  In other words, learn about the world.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Make sure you Live a Life…not a resume.  ~ Elly Rohrer, Founder of Human Connections, closing presenter at NIU’s 2015 Social Impact Summit.

The Start of a New Beginning: My Journey to NIU

Editors Note: Hello everyone, I want to introduce myself before I start this article. My name is Louie Zmich, and I am a transfer student from Harper College, a community college in Palatine, before that I went to Elmhurst College. So this entry is going to be about my journey here to NIU and what it was like in the transition into a bigger school while transferring over credits from two different colleges. If you would like to know more about me you can follow me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH and check out my Beard and Mustache club that’s here at NIU on Facebook to find out what we’re all about, simply search “NIU Beard and Mustache Club.” Enjoy!

(I am the gent on the left.)

Transfer Student Experience - Louis Zmich

Transfer Student Experience - Louis Zmich

What was it like transferring to Northern Illinois University; honestly, I would describe the overall situation as being very smooth and welcoming for the most part. I am a firm believer in the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” That being said, NIU was always one of my top picks for schools, but when I graduated high school my number one priority was going to schools that offered me the opportunity to play golf, and was close to home in order to be close with my family. Elmhurst College fit the bill, as I was not only able to play golf, but I was also able to study Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at a school that was known for those majors, it was perfect, until everything came to a halt. Elmhurst College was a private school and tuition was a monster to pay for. Not only that, but since it was so expensive, I had to commute an hour round trip everyday just to get to classes. It just didn’t even feel like I was attending a university because at the end of the day I was back in my parent’s house. From Elmhurst College I saved some money at the community college, Harper College, but I quickly realized that even though I was passionate in Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy, my personality was much more suited for the world of Business. I just loved the concept of meeting new people while being professional, and working my way into the corporate world was something that really got the gears turning in my head. It also helped that the majors I listed above were great assets to have to put towards the Business world.

Even though I had decided on Business, my decision was still not set on NIU. My gut feeling kept telling me NIU, but all of my friends were going to schools in the city, and loving the city life, so naturally I was pulled to follow my friends. I felt that universities in the city just did not match the needs I wanted. NIU is a big college but professors here do not treat you as just another number, they actually want to sit down with you and help you succeed. Any college can say that, but I experienced it first hand when sitting in on classes and talking to students at universities in Chicago. That reason alone spoke wonders about the staff at NIU, and that goes a long way in my book, after all isn’t that what you’re paying for? Plus, NIU has a wonderful bus system that will honestly take you anywhere you’re looking to go, even to the train station to travel to the city, so it was a win, win. NIU even has an app that is constantly being updated and shows you where the bus is, in real time, you cannot get anymore convenient than that. Right off the bat, the fact that the people on the phone and in the classroom were so accommodating to all my questions, along with transportation to visit my friends, left me excited to find out more about the school. When I came to visit, I was pleasantly surprised.

The DeKalb area felt very welcoming to me, some people do not appreciate these little things but I sure do; the little mom and pop shops, the small farms down the road selling their farm made produce, and all the old homes that have been here for almost a century. That stuff really pulls me in, and I had not even gotten to the school yet, so overall it had a small town feel with a big school atmosphere, everywhere you went, people were supporting the NIU Huskies, I loved that.  After our tour of the school I realized something very important to me, besides the cool places around campus, like comic shops, places to eat, and the old nostalgia the buildings had, to the beautiful new buildings on campus, I realized that NIU really took the time to make sure you got involved and fit In wherever you were coming from. Sure other schools do that too, but everyone I met, professors, and TA’s all gave me their Business card and actually made me feel like I could contact them anytime and ask questions, little things like that really resonate with me, and trust me, I have made connections with professors from contacting them and meeting with them. On top of that, NIU has a wonderful program connected to all the community colleges and Universities in the area, where your credits easily transfer over. I honestly didn’t have any credits get misplaced when transferring in, and as you may know, that is quite stressful not knowing if something will transfer over, NIU made that very easy to achieve.

So, I got accepted and I’m ready to move out, what’s next. Well, I need a job to pay my bills, and more importantly I need a place to live. This was my only gripe through this process, was finding a place to live. Quite frankly the housing on campus is just inconvenient for me, the price tag is just not obtainable for me at all, but I do have to say that I would have met much more people a lot sooner if I had stayed in the dorms, so maybe you’re also paying for the convenience. So, dorm living and apartment living in Northern View, was just not an option for me personally, but I would have loved to stay in the dorms to meet all the cool people and participate in the floor activities. After looking around at the local housing situations, I decided that I was best suited with a private company with a small owner. To me, it fit my needs because I was able to have a relationship with the owner and have a landlord that I knew personally after a while. That is just my style, but it certainly was welcoming to see so many housing options, there is an option for everyone’s living wants and needs. So once I made that realization, I then looked at the private companies around campus, and I could not have made a better decision. I ended up going with D & J Properties, a small company owned by Dan and Joe Sears. Cheap, close to campus, and the brothers live in the neighborhood, so anything that goes wrong, they are around within the hour, it really was a perfect fit, I could walk to campus and still pay for myself to live on my own.

My next objective before even coming to this school was to get involved and find a job. This section right here is what I think NIU strives, there are so many clubs and organizations on campus, you honestly will not be getting the full experience if you do not join something. Seriously, professionalism aside, get off the couch and join a club, you will be happy you did. There are so many choices for jobs and activates, it’s a bit ridiculous, but in a good way. I applied to a lot of jobs on campus, and they were all responsive in a timely manner, but I ended up taking a job at the Police Department on campus being a student patroller. The Chief of Police here honestly has done so much work over the last two years he has been in office. As students, it really feels like the officers are understanding at the fact that you’re going to go out on the weekend, so there are no questioned asked services like walking escorts home, and buss services like Late Night Ride, as long as you’re being safe and getting home safe, you’ll have a way back to your bed at the end of the night. Just for your sake, and the officer’s sake, be respectful and they will respect you. That’s so comforting to me, and I’m sure it’s comforting for your parents to hear as well. Everything is so close to campus as it is, so the walks home aren’t that long anyway, but a warm buss on a DeKalb winter night cannot be passed up, trusts me. The Police Department fit my schedule needed, as the job is overnight work, and it gave me a chance to move up in the company as next year I will be a supervisor on the team for Huskie Patrol, what a great experience.

Lastly I wanted to talk about clubs and organizations, there are seriously too many to choose from. An entire gym full of tables has rows and rows of clubs and organizations to choose from. Sports to hobbies and Greek life, you name it they have it. Well, maybe not everything, so why not start your own? That’s what I did, I wanted to create a club that taught boys how to be functioning men of society, to teach how to dress, speak, and treat women the way our grandparents did. So, I had the idea and ran with it! You only need one other person to back you up and you can start your own club, and boom, the Beard and Mustache Club of NIU was born. Now, it’s more complicated than that to have your club recognized by the school, but you can find that out on your own, you just need faculty members to get involved and most are accommodating. But seriously, join something, no excuses, when you join a club you are going to make friends who instantly have the same interest as you, and that is so valuable, trust me, sometimes it’s about who you know in life and what hands you shook, and you can only do that when you get involved. I personally joined the Ultimate Frisbee club, Bowling Club, and started my own club in a matter of weeks being here. Unfortunately the Ultimate Frisbee and Bowling Team did not really fit my schedule for the semesters, but along with scheduling issues I also decided to try and join the Profession Business Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi, I currently am a pledge and I can say it honestly has been the best time I have had at NIU so far, seriously, again, join something, make friends and just get involved. So many people probably have told you the same thing, but its true, I cannot stress enough how enjoyable my time here has been because of these clubs and organizations. With a little hard work you really can go far here.

So besides the small things I said about the school, I really only scratched the surface, I glanced over the fact that there’s tutors all the time ready to help you, and most of the professors are ready to jump by your side.  The campus is full of tools and just like anything in life, you get out what you put into it, if you come in here just wanting to coast by, you’re going to get an experience that fits the bill. If you try new things, meet new people and really get involved, you never know whom you are going to meet. More importantly, you don’t want to look back on your college experience and realize that you didn’t take advantage of everything this school gives you, from the surrounding town, to finances and activities, I am glad I transferred and switched my major, because the three years I now have here, I know are going to be some of the best years of my life. Good luck on your journey, and hopefully your experience is going to be just like mine, amazing.

Deloitte & United Way Alternative Spring Break

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. While we were freezing in Illinois, sophomore Jinay Shah was giving back in the warm state of Florida through the Deloitte and United Way Alternative Spring Break Program. Read more about his awesome experience below…


by Jinay Shah

Hello everyone! It’s me Jinay again. This Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to be selected by Deloitte for the 2015 Alternative Spring Break Program along side United Way in the beach city of America, Miami, FL. Deloitte is the World’s largest consulting and accounting services firm. One of the goals Deloitte really focuses on is creating and developing a “Maximum Impact”. This is a term Deloitte uses to encourage community service. Maximum Impact is defined as taking financial and intellectual resources and giving back to the community.

Every Spring Deloitte partners with United Way, a large non-profit organization that provides financial, educational and human network support to those in need, and plans two Alternative Spring Break programs for students interested in Deloitte, one in Memphis, Tennessee (Next week for other schools breaks) and the other in Miami, FL. The program in Miami, FL is focused towards assisting students and adults residing in at-risk communities in the city. 48 students were selected out of over 678 applications Deloitte received from all over the country and were split into six groups that would assist various United Way agencies across the city. The programs were set up to assist students of ages 2-5, 6-10 & 11-18 who face financial, mental, and physical or health challenges.

I was placed in an agency called “Cramer EasterSeals Preschool” where I would be responsible for helping out 3-5 year old children in a low-income neighborhood. EasterSeals is a program funded by United Way organization that provides free preschool education to low-income families / Disabled Children in the Miami-Dade County. Our group, also known as “The Chickens” consisted of students from various universities such as University of Mississippi – Ole Miss, Arizona State University, Syracuse University and many others. Every team was assigned one main team leader and a Deloitte professional to stay with the team. Our team leader was Emily Coady (The NIU Deloitte Recruiter) and we also had a new Deloitte Professional on our team from Houston Deloitte office, Nicole. In the picture you can see all of our team!

The first day when we went to the school, I was just amazed by the school because they looked exactly like the private daycare centers, United Way had invested a lot into the preschool to provide excellent education to the underprivileged children at absolutely no cost. We spent 4 days with little kids and all of our group was emotionally touched at the end of the experience. We met the agency directors, teachers and many different support staff members who shared their experience with us. It was extremely difficult to hear the stories of some of the families that lived in the area. A lot of the children at the agency have been victims of domestic violence, parents in prison, and drug abuse. I was really touched emotionally to hear that some kids’ parents were in prison. However, we wanted to make this experience positive for us as well as the kids in the agency and thus we decided to cheer them up by dancing, playing outside and engaging them into learning activities throughout the four days of our service. We participated in activities that would sharpen kids learning skills with letters, numbers, word recognition such as rhyming words, action verbs and other core skills required for them to pass the state examination required by No Child Left Behind Act laws. It was so interesting to see kids pay attention and really enjoy the learning experience and it felt really good because we could experience us making a difference in action throughout the entire week. The Agency made our group a nice Thank You card to remember and always cherish these memories.

After volunteering for the entire day, Deloitte would organize many interesting and fun social and networking events where we had a chance to explore the city while learning more about Deloitte and the opportunities available at Deloitte in Accounting. We visited City of Miami Beach, a Miami Heat game, and much more.Deloitte is also the official “Consulting” sponsor for US Olympics and brings an Olympic athlete at each of their events. I had a chance to meet Cullen Jones from Team USA Swimming who won gold medals and set the world record in 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games along with Michael Phelps. He really inspired me by telling us his life struggles and his passion for swimming and his experiences during the Olympics. For those of you planning on applying to the program, I do not want to spoil it for you. It was literally the best thing I have ever done in my life. The interesting thing was that the dress code for the entire week was casual, which helped me open up and communicate effectively with everyone. I feel like I made 47 new friends from across the country. I would highly recommend everyone to apply to the Deloitte Alternative Spring Break 2016, it is all expense paid trip to Miami during our Spring Break! If you have questions or comments feel free to email or tweet me. Thank you very much for reading my blog, please check out my pictures and don’t forget to follow me on twitter and add me on LinkedIn. Have a great rest of the semester! Feel free to visit for more information about the program and to apply.

Twitter: @Jinay26Shah






On Being Uncommon: Your Art. Your Flow.

Editor’s Note: Hello, it’s Jacob Ferguson here and I’m glad to inform you that we have a treat for you. Former NIU student and one of the previous Marketing and Social Media Interns for the College of Business, Nick Kochetta otherwise known as 2.0, recently agreed to write a guest blog post. In the post that follows he discusses what his journey was like after graduating from NIU and most importantly he talks about finding your passion and what is meaningful to you. For some it may be the traditional path and for others the path less traveled. He had plans to enter the business world but chose the latter so far. This is 2.0 checking in.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hey Jacob!  Where do I start?  Well, my name is Nick Kochetta and I graduated from the NIU College of Business with the class of 2013.  I graduated with a degree in Marketing and I earned certificates in both the Interactive marketing and Professional selling disciplines.  Beyond my credentials, I am a man in a committed relationship with adventure.  I live for the thrill of stripping my life down to the bare essentials, putting those items into the frame of a backpack and going where ever the wind will blow me.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

 What was your path like after graduating from Northern Illinois University?

The day after graduating, I drove cross country to begin a contract in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.  I used my skills in sales to sell a wilderness experience to people from all over the world.  With the tools given to me by the sales program, I was consistently a top producer in our office, fetching top revenue honors in my very first week!  It didn’t hurt that I got three days off a week to explore the national park as well as nearby Yellowstone.  It was basically a dream.

The job was seasonal and at its end I took a road trip to my next opportunity; selling for a ski resort in Lake Tahoe.  A friend in my office had worked in Lake Tahoe and the picture she painted of it was akin to a Bob Ross painting.  I couldn’t wait to get started!  On my road trip to Tahoe, I drove from Wyoming to California, stopping to see the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the edenic  paradise in the desert that is Zion National Park.

Within a day of arriving to Lake Tahoe, my bike and other personal items were stolen from my car.  I was on the opposite side of the country with nothing but the contents of my car, and those were just violated.  I felt ill at the thought of being there for so much as another hour, so I threw a hail mary and called the HR department at Zion National Park (the beautiful park I fell in love with just a week prior).  The HR manager said he had a position and the job was mine on a single condition; I had to be to the park by the next morning.  As you could probably guess, I drove 10 hours overnight to claim the spot.  I had now become a resident of one of the world’s most beautiful and unique landscapes, home to hikes like Angel’s Landing and The world famous Narrows.

The season ended in November and I knew that an Appalachian Trail Thru Hike (6 month, 2,185 mile hike from Georgia to Maine) was in my sights for the Spring.  The problem was, I had a 4 month window that needed to be filled.  As luck would have it, I met a lovely girl in Vegas who told me how inexpensive and amazing a of a place Southeast Asia was.  Her stories captured my imagination and I bought a plane ticket to Bangkok that was set to depart in only 2 weeks.  I had no plans beyond a return flight 2 months down the road.  I spent months exploring the beautiful culture of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.  I saw everything from grand palaces to giant waterfalls, ate amazing local food, and found time to play with tigers and elephants in between.

Upon  my return, I packed a bag and left to begin hiking the Appalachian Trail.  When Mid October came, I stood atop Mt. Katahdin, the end of the 2,185 mile trail, and have since moved in with my hiking family in Nashville, Tennessee.

What made you decide to take the untraditional route?

Before graduation, my life was on a totally different path.  I was presented with a mountain of opportunities thanks to the college’s sales program but I wanted something more.  After studying abroad with the business program in Europe, my eyes were opened to the fact that the world is a huge, beautiful, and easily accessible place.  So while most students decided to work hard for financial comfort and advancement in a company, I decided to check the big ticket items off my bucket list by maintaining freedom from heavy obligations.  I knew that my wonder, curiosity, bad knees, and ability to sleep in tight quarters probably wouldn’t last much longer than my early 20′s so I applied for a job in the national parks and haven’t looked back since. 

Can you talk about following your dreams and finding your passion?

I think ultimately, the dream everyone should strive for is happiness and in my studies of happiness, I find a recurring theme of “finding flow.”  This guy didn’t come up with it up but he explains the concepts very well.  Check it out! A little drier but definitely worth the watch.

Your life will be infinitely easier if you find what you are passionate about and work in an environment that your skills and motivations align.  If you deeply believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile, that what you’re selling is important, and you find intrinsic value in it, your output will be of a higher quality and you won’t have to worry about searching for meaning and happiness; you’ve already found it.

Some of you will find your happiness in starting a business or creating an app.  Some of you strive to be at the top of your field in accounting, and some of you yearn to experience culture and inspire others.  Each person has that spark inside of them.  Take some honest time to find what that thing is; you might not find it in your upper level business courses.

Now more than ever, you have an amazing opportunity to explore yourself while you’re young.  Look inward and you may be surprised at what you find.

What are you up to now and what does the future have in store for you?

I literally just walked in the door from a road trip that took me show shoeing through the Rocky Mountains and Hiking in Arches and Canyon lands National Parks.  My roommates are now telling me to pack for a weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains, so I guess that’s a thing!  It’s shaping up to be an amazing week full of awesome places and friends new and old.

Beyond the immediate happenings, I’m saving for a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016 and may even land a job in Glacier National Park for summer, but that’s yet to be decided.  As you may have guessed, I’m pretty flexible.

If you had one piece of advice for students about to graduate what would it be?

There’s going to be a lot of temptation to grow deep roots in your life via car payments, long term leases, mortgages, significant others or job commitments.  Maintain some freedom from obligations and don’t restrict yourself from unique experiences in your young lives.  You don’t NEED the newest car that comes with a high payment.  You don’t NEED the high end apartment with the big lease.  By living simply and cutting out the fat, you have the ability to pivot quickly and take opportunities that appear when you least expect them.  I can pack all my belongings into the backseat of a car and be on the road at a moment’s notice.  To me, that’s a liberating feeling that allows me to say yes more than no.

Don’t be afraid to take time off.  So much of the industrialized world supports gap years among their students and travel amongst their working class.  I lost count of the Australians and Germans I’ve met who are more cultured, happy, and fulfilled for having done it.

Save money!  Pizza, taco bell, and beer were hard staples in my diet and looking back on it, I could’ve saved thousands had I avoided them.  I could’ve used it on another trip or on a musical instrument.  You could just as easily use it towards your business. Your art. Your flow.

Apply for Scholarships!!!  I don’t think I can add enough exclamation points to this…

Once again, your life will be infinitely easier if you do what you are passionate about.  If you believe in what you are doing, in what you’re selling, etc., it’s easier to get behind it and feel fulfillment and flow.

Finally, read the Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.  I read it on a beach in Cambodia and it changed my life.

Thanks for your time Jacob. :) Best of luck to you and the rest of the class of 2015!  Go Huskies!

To any and all that muscled through this blog…DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME.  I mean that sincerely.  If you have questions, email me at  Check out some of my pictures on Instagram @gopaddlefaster and read my old blog at

2.0 out

from India to NIU to the PwC Tax Challenge

Editor’s note:  Here’s a guest post from NIU sophomore accountancy major Jinay Shah. In this post, Jinay shares his experience with the PricewaterhouseCoopers Tax Challenge…which, we just learned from Jinay, turns out to be an overall business challenge.  Check it out!  

But first, we invited Jinay to share a bit more about himself along with his contact information.  (So if you’re on LinkedIn, add Jinay to your network!):

I am Jinay, a sophomore accountancy major in the NIU College of Business. I am originally from the Asian subcontinent of India where I was born, brought up and completed the peak years of my youth. I migrated to the United States in 2010 with my family to be closer to my extended family and to seek life-changing academic and professional opportunities. English was always treated as a second language when I was back in India which is why I lacked proper pronunciation, vocabulary and grammatical skills necessary to succeed in high school and University education. I have been involved a lot in the student affairs side of the University. I am currently the President of Grant Complex Hall Council, a residence hall here at NIU and I am also an active member of the Residence Hall Association. I often volunteer, put up interesting programs and develop leadership opportunities for students on campus. I am also part of the University Honors Program and live in the Business Careers House in Grant. I love photography, film and Technology. Over the summer, I like to go on video trips by myself in Downtown Chicago and make time lapses and just have fun with my camera and phone. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: & Twitter: Jinay26Shah. America is still new to me despite living here for 4 years and I look forward to meeting new people and learning alot about the culture and lifestyle.  Thanks!

The PwC Tax Challenge

by Jinay Shah

Hello Huskies! Greetings and Happy Holidays! I am Jinay, a sophomore accountancy major here in the College of Business. I wanted to share with you all my experience with the PricewaterhouseCoopers Tax Challenge that took place on our campus on November 4th 2014. To my surprise, there were very few participants in the PwC Tax Challenge. Perhaps, it was the busiest time of the semester. To everyone who is thinking about participating in the challenge, I would highly encourage everyone to participate in this Tax Challenge no matter what major you are. It has nothing to do with knowing the tax code or GAAP Accounting Knowledge. It is simply a test for professionalism and the ability to come up with a creative solution to a real-world business problem.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, commonly referred to as PwC, is a limited liability professional services firm that provides accounting and consulting support to their clients. It is one of the “Big Four” firms in the United States and a global brand. PwC hosts two challenges each year for students in business:  the tax challenge and the accounting challenge, respectively. The accounting challenge is a little more theoretical than the tax challenge. The tax challenge is more focused on the practical aspects of business issues. Our school proudly hosted the PwC Tax Challenge.

The first step in the process is to speak to NIU Accountancy Professor Julitta Gilbert who is the faculty sponsor for the Tax Challenge. She will be able to share with you her experience as she has been sponsoring the challenge for the last few years. Next, try to communicate with the NIU PwC recruiter, Amber Battin. She is on campus quite often especially during Internship and Career Fairs. She will be able to provide you with more in-depth detail about the challenge and how the entire process will work.

Secondly, find three to four other members who you can work with during the two week challenge and the presentation day. These members do not need to be your friends or acquaintances, they can be anyone in the NIU College of Business. Graduate Students, your T.A’s or even other members in different classes are some of the best examples of people to work with. Look at the challenge information page on PwC website which will tell you the limitations as to how many people at what level can you have in a group.

Finally, attend the challenge kickoff meeting where you will be able to meet other teams, NIU Accountancy Professor Gilbert and a few professionals from PwC. There you will be provided with complete challenge information, resources you may need…this meeting officially kicks off the challenge. You and your team will have two weeks from the meeting time to sit together, prepare a solution and your presentation for the final days.

I worked with two sophomore students, a junior student and a graduated teaching assistant. Our challenge was to find a solution for reporting Virtual Currency to a hypothetical government and a country. Our job was to come up with a solution for reporting virtual currency taxes and how they would be taxed. We all had different opinions as to solutions but we all worked together to come up with an enhanced opinion that was balanced and acceptable to all of us. One thing I was worried about was the team communication as to meeting times and agenda for meetings. Fortunately, we communicated well with each other utilizing social media and did not have any major issues. We were quite productive during our meetings as we split up responsibilities for research of various concepts.

The day before the presentation of our solution, we unfortunately lost a teammate due to a medical emergency. We had to re-practice our presentation and go over who was presenting what ideas. This gave us a real-life challenge itself because it does happen more often than we think in companies from my experience.

We then presented on the official Challenge day along with 3 other teams. We unfortunately did not win but had the opportunity to meet and interact with Senior Associates from PwC in Tax and Audit. It really gives you a fresh perspective on accountancy careers in PwC and in other companies. I really had a lot of fun as it was a really interesting learning experience for me and my team mates. I would encourage every single student in the College of Business at NIU to participate in the PwC Tax Challenge next year.

If you’d like more information about Jinay’s post, Jinay can be reached on Twitter at Jinay26Shah, on LinkedIn at  and also via email at !

Behind the Scenes with Bryn Gibson: The Door Guy

Editor’s Note: It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the Northern Illinois University College of Business here! This week we caught up with Bryn Gibson a senior majoring in Business Administration to see just why he holds the doors open for his peers every day.

Bryn Gibson - Business Administration student at NIU

Bryn Gibson - Business Administration student at NIU

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

“My name is Bryn Gibson. I am a 23 year old man pursuing a degree in business administration at NIU. I grew up as a home schooler where my mother was my teacher until my senior year in high school. She was a teacher and administrator for a school district and probably the biggest influence in my life. I am a rather simplistic man in that I pursue my version of what Aristotle referred to as “the good life”. What my good life entails is accumulating wisdom, knowledge, close ties and relationships to people, and being genuine to others by being honest and showing every person I meet a general degree of respect. I place respect of my fellow man in high regards. My hobbies include cooking (Eastern Japanese and Western Mediterranean cuisine specifically) , origami, reading, writing, and Japanese martial arts.”

Why do you hold the door open at Barsema Hall? Is Barsema Hall the only place?

“My philosophy for why I hold doors for people is very simple: I care about others. There is a practical and altruistic reason for why I do this. The practical reason is because I more often than not see people distracted through various means, such as talking to someone else, having their hands full, texting or making a call. Through these means of distraction, I see a decent number of people run into the door or can’t open it due to no available hands. So I took it upon myself to try to either ensure that they continue having a good day by removing one minor annoyance from their busy day, or I alleviate said minor annoyance from their bad day making it a little better for them. The altruistic reason is simply because I like to help others from big ways such as volunteer work and tutoring, to very small things like holding the door and smiling at others (I smile a lot because I love to do so and a single smile can be a powerful positive force for someone. More so than most realize). It is part of my never ending pursuit of the good life and becoming a decent person for others. I don’t know as to whether or not I am a good person because that depends on who you ask (as is such with many conversations in life), but I strive for excellence and decency for myself and others, which helps show others that there are decent people in the world and that it’s the right thing to do.

Barsema Hall is not the only place I have done this at. Pretty much at any building on and off campus that I have been to I have held the door for people. I did so at every place I went to since I was three years old.”

Where did this idea come from?

“This idea actually came to me when I was around three years old. I remember seeing other people hold doors for brief moments in the various places I went to, and I decided that I would adopt that philosophy and practice it during my life (I plan to keep going as long as I live). My mother taught me to seek the good that I can do for others and to manifest that good in subtle ways. It’s through this kind of mentality that I try and search for the good in everything I do and always criticize myself as to how I can become better with each thing I do.”

What kind of feedback have you received from students and faculty?

The feedback from the students and faculty at NIU has been very positive. I do not do this to receive praise from others, but if they want to thank me then that’s their choice and I really do appreciate it. There have been times where doing this has made certain people very uncomfortable, with a few incidents resulting in vulgar feedback and asking me to stop doing it because they took it as a signal that they cannot open the door themselves (which from reading what I wrote previously, that is not even a thought in my mind). But the overall feedback has been very positive. I expected such because the students and faculty at NIU from my experience are very ethical, intelligent, and kind populace. They are rational people who seek to be a positive force for change in the world.”

What other things are you passionate about?

“I am passionate, as many others, about justice and the fair treatment of all. It coincides with my personal philosophy to help manifest that every person has unique qualities and deserve a general level of compassion and respect (essentially, treat them like people who are ends in themselves, rather than a means to an end). Another thing I am passionate about is meritocracy. I believe firmly in working for what you want because it teaches self-discipline, personal growth, and innovation. These things are critical, in my opinion, to the future of reason, compassion, and progress of people. That a person’s value comes not from where they come from, who they are related to, or how much money they make. Rather it’s about one’s work, dedication, reason, and personality should be what determines their value. Essentially let them show you who they are before making conclusions.”

Can we plan to see you during the spring semester?

“I will return to NIU in the spring. I hope to meet more great people as I have since the time I arrived.”


Editor’s Note:  we’re interrupting the regularly scheduled content on this social channel to bring you breaking news: 


Catch the ride to the college’s scholarship webpages, see if you qualify, and get your applications in!  Last year, the college distributed well over $600,000 in scholarship funds to qualified students.  Go for it!

Okay, that’s more than one word…but we’re excited!  APPLY!  Here’s your ride: