Student Profile: Xinzhu Hu, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois

Student Profile: Xinzhu Hu, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois main image

Xinzhu Hu, Gies College of BusinessXinzhu Hu is currently studying for her MSA at Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She held an associate role at one of the “big four” accounting firms in China. With 15-months work experience under his belt, Hu chose to undertake an MSA to improve her account skills to hopefully become an international professional in the future.

What were you doing before starting your Masters?

I got my bachelor’s degree of management in accounting and was hired by one of the “big four” accounting firms in China after graduation. I worked there as an associate for 15-months before starting my masters.

What factors led to you pursuing your graduate degree?

My career goal is to become an international professional, and to be a qualified professional, I must learn more about accounting and the whole industry. Students who only have bachelor’s degree in accounting are no more competitive in the Chinese job market. Companies are looking for people with solid techniques and deeper accounting understanding.

What tools did you use to research programs and universities?

I used official university websites for information such as class profile, main courses and application requirements. I also used US News and other rankings as references, and I liked to talk with people to see their ideas about different programs and universities.

What factored in to your final choice of where to study?

After working in an accounting firm for 15-months, I found it interesting learning about a company by analyzing its financial statements and financial information. But I needed to know more about accounting standards and techniques, and I wanted to study in a program that provided strong academic and career support. As I want to be an international professional in accounting, it’s beneficial to study in the US which is the world economic center.

What do you most love about the program?

The strong support from our Business Career Service (BCS). They provide workshops that focus on different topics such as resumes, cover letters and interviews; they also provide review sessions, so we can get one-on-one coaching about those topics covered in the workshops. Afterwards students always feel better about upcoming career fairs and perform better.

What is your favorite thing about the city?

One thing I love about Champaign is there are lots of activities throughout the year, and I don’t need to worry about what to do on the weekends.

During my first month in Champaign, I went to a Friday Night Lives show downtown where people played live music in the street. I really enjoyed it. As an international student, this gave me the chance to experience American culture and learn more about the city.

What is your best experience on the program to date?

The best experience so far was in my accounting course during the summer semester. The instructor was passionate about accounting and his energy positively influenced his students. He told us the logic behind accounting rules, so I understood what he taught in class even though the topics were hard.

Were there any specific classes, concentrations, faculty or areas of focus that attracted you to the program?

Students on my program could choose a data analytics concentration. I think data analysis skills are becoming more important in the accounting industry. Students who take courses related to data analysis will be more competitive in the job market.

What do you plan to do once you graduate?

As I aim to become an international professional, and I have work experience from China, I hope I’m given the chance to work here in an accounting firm after graduation, get my CPA certification and gain more experience.

Would you do anything differently if you could research and apply all over again?

For research, I’d do it earlier and collect more information, so I could make my decision based on solid support. But I’m pretty satisfied with my decision to come to Gies College of Business and I’d still make the same decision if I had the chance again. What the MSA program provides is far more than I expected, and I really appreciate that.

What is the one piece of advice you’d have for incoming students?

Make good use of everything available to you, because there are lots of resources available for students on the program. Take advantage of those and improve yourself.

Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Assistant Editor of, creating and editing content for an international MBA student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of the business world.  

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