If Alex Huang could dispel one myth about business students, he would tell his peers throughout UC that a business major gains more than just theoretical knowledge. “Understanding how to work with your peers is essential in the business world, and the classroom is a great place to polish those skills,” he explains.
Alex joined the College of Business in 2004 as a participant in the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program. “I had received full scholarship offers to several other schools, but the program solidified my choice due to its diverse experience and unique curriculum,” Alex recalls. He soon took full advantage of all the opportunities that Lindner Honors-PLUS and the College of Business had to offer.
It started with a prestigious co-op opportunity with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), a leader among the “Big 4” accounting firms, after only one year of coursework. Alex attended a day of intensive training in Dallas, Texas before beginning work in Cincinnati the very next day. In his first co-op quarter with the company, he worked in the Internal Firm Services department, which exposed him to a wide range of departments and helped him build communication skills by requiring that he collaborate with several colleagues across PwC.
The real-world experience Alex gained during his first co-op quarter reinforced what he was learning in his classes, and helped expose him to professional accounting early in his education. “I was able to gain an extremely diverse and hands-on experience in various accounting matters, which helped me reaffirm my choice as an accounting major,” he says. He soon narrowed his focus to tax, returning to PwC as a part of their Tax Group for seven more co-op quarters.
When he wasn't on the job at PwC, Alex was gaining critical thinking and collaboration experience through courses in the College of Business. “Our communication and networking skills were intensely challenged by all of our professors with group projects and team assignments,” he says. “These projects resulted in great skill in public speaking and starting conversations, a true asset in the modern-day business world.” Alex quickly learned that the business world required a wide range of competencies, including those he had developed by presenting cases, networking with business professionals through First Year Experience and participating in case competitions.
Still, Alex saw further opportunity to get the most out of his education. He supplemented his classroom and professional experiences with other opportunities, like study abroad. In summer 2007, he spent five weeks visiting South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Thailand with the Lindner Honors-PLUS program. “The combination of tourist attractions, exposure to the cultures and company visits were both eye-opening and life-changing,” Alex recalls.
Despite all of these experiences, what he loves most about UC are the people he has encountered along the way. “There is an unbelievably passionate and dedicated group of professors at the university who devote themselves to their subjects and really reach out to their students and prepare them for the real world,” he says. And while he turned to his professors for inspiration, he found motivation in his fellow students as well: “Besides high-performing in the classroom, my peers excelled in so many other arenas from music and sports to student government. Their accomplishments motivated me to continue to be involved and broaden my skills.”
Alex built his leadership skills by participating in a wide variety of activities across campus, including chorus, dance, piano and athletics. He served as fundraising chair of Cabaret, a co-ed show choir, working with local businesses and organizations to fund the group's spring tour. He also attended LeaderShape, a five-day leadership development camp sponsored by Procter & Gamble.
In June 2009, Alex received his BBA in Accounting and graduated with enough credits to immediately sit for the Uniformed Certified Public Accountant Exam (CPA). His degree represents the culmination of the time he spent in the classroom, but it also implies so much more: leadership and networking skills, seven quarters of professional experience, cultural exposure and more. Taking advantage of all those opportunities has certainly paid off for this new graduate: his co-op position with PwC turned into a full-time job upon graduation. Alex knows that the real-world education he received at the UC College of Business has a lot to do with his success. “College was an incredible experience,” he says. “Through my last five years, I have had unbelievable opportunities that I never imagined would be available for me.”