This is the fifth story in a series in which students set to graduate in December reflect on how their final semester at Illinois State University has been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Joseph Berg is earning bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance from the College of Business.
Joseph Berg is not a traditional college student, but that did not discourage him from making the most of his experience at Illinois State. After a few years of feeling unfulfilled in the workforce, he decided to commit to his education by joining the Redbird family. He was eager to polish his professional skills and set himself up for a career he could be passionate about.
A few years later, it is clear that Berg made good on his intention. He is set to graduate summa cum laude this December.
“What I’ll remember most from my time at Illinois State is my experience with the College of Business,” said Berg. “It’s an exceptional place to learn, and it’s an exceptional place to grow.”
Berg credits his accounting advisor, Brent Kane, as well as the Department of Accounting’s Associate Professor Dr. Jomo Sankara and Associate Professor Dr. Rachel Birkey, as just a few of the individuals who have been responsible for his success within the College of Business. “They were very instrumental in making me feel like I belonged here,” said Berg. “They were very kind and very professional people.”
At Illinois State, Berg has become involved with Business Week as a transition seminar coordinator. “The Business Week transition seminars have a multitude of seminars on topics that have interest to graduating students,” said Berg. “I was a part of the team in charge of coordinating those speakers, events, and topics.”
Berg’s Business Week experience was invaluable. “Interacting in a professional setting is always good practice. Gaining the confidence to reach out to professionals was beneficial for me.”
The pandemic presented a new set of hurdles for Berg during his final two semesters. Berg worked at a restaurant at the start of the pandemic, and he was furloughed once restaurants initially closed. Being unable to work meant that Berg was unable to make rent payments, so he had to move back in with his family in Lake in the Hills in Chicagoland, where he has been learning remotely ever since.
“The struggle of transitioning to online learning has been real for all of us, but I’ve been impressed by some of the faculty who have really taken it upon themselves to keep experiences intact,” said Berg. “I’ve been impressed by some of my classmates, as well. Some people have really shown initiative in these tough times.”
Through all the ups and downs, Berg has relied on a solid support system from his family. “I’ve got to thank my mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law for everything; I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” said Berg. “My family’s very proud of me, and we will definitely be taking some time to celebrate my accomplishments. I’m very lucky to have people who support me like that.”
After graduation, Berg is looking to work in finance. In his free time, Berg is also an amateur musician who hopes to release a couple of his songs within the next year. But no matter where he ends up, he knows his Illinois State education will take him far.
“I just can’t wait to get back into the workforce and contribute what I’ve learned,” said Berg. “The whole reason I went back to school was to not serve tables on weekends and holidays; I can’t wait to spend holidays with my family instead. I can’t wait to have a successful career.”
For information about commencement, visit the Graduation Services website.