Apr 24 Accountancy Alumni

Lifelong learner earns Gies iMSA to further stand out

This story was original published on Coursera.

For over two decades, Eric Albrecht has been an integral part of AT&T, a company that’s experienced staggering growth and transitions over the years. He’s contributed to its evolution at many job levels, starting as an intern and paving a unique career path in multiple roles on several teams, eventually landing in finance.

Yet, there came a point when Eric decided he needed more control over his trajectory within the company. He already held a master’s in economics and finance and a law degree, but he was looking for something to set him apart. “I wanted to distinguish myself from everybody,” he reveals.

Eric planned his next career move with a strategic mindset and started searching for a degree to not only bolster his academic accolades but also gain practical skills for his current role. He chose to pursue the online Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA) from Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Spotting the iMSA on LinkedIn was the start of Eric’s journey. “You know what? I should check this out,” he thought. Intrigued by the affordability of the program, the prestige of the university, and particularly the high rank of the College's Department of Accountancy, he saw it as a distinctive opportunity. For him, the online environment was a great fit, as he was eliminating the need for an hour-long commute to the nearest university. He even says, “I feel like I get more interaction with the professor than I would with a traditional setting.”

Upon enrolling, Eric built a comprehensive understanding of top-notch analytical techniques through the iMSA program. The coursework includes live lectures and other video materials on Coursera, which Eric used to dive deeper into subjects. Eric was particularly impressed by a data analytics course in the program, valuing how he could apply the lessons to his job.

Beyond the virtual classrooms, working with other iMSA learners from around the world was an enriching cultural experience for Eric. Through the numerous team projects, he connected with peers across different time zones from Sydney to Ghana, and even some at AT&T. Engaging with such diverse groups, he realized, was a special learning experience, making his studies rewarding in unique ways.

Between the rigorous curriculum and evolving work responsibilities, Eric was able to find a balance. “I dedicate time on Saturdays and Sundays to focus on my schoolwork,” he shared.

With the iMSA program, Eric did more than just strengthen his accounting knowledge. “This degree really reinvigorated my career,” he beams. He credits earning the degree for his return to finance work at AT&T, and for a new role that heavily involves accounting.

Eric’s story is a testament to the iMSA’s value, as his enhanced skills and knowledge have directly impacted his career path. However, his journey isn’t over. By the end of the year, he’ll undertake even more accounting-based responsibilities at AT&T, and his professional future is full of potential.

In Eric’s words, “Don’t hesitate around an online program,” as you can enjoy top-tier learning from anywhere. Benefitting from a flexible academic environment and esteemed faculty, learners like Eric continue to stand out in their careers as they pursue their professional ambitions with the Gies iMSA.

Learn more about the iMSA program from Gies College of Business.