Tracy S. Clark

U.S. Department of Labor

“I’ve wanted to get hired by a federal agency for the longest time, and even though I have two bachelor’s degrees, they wanted a minimum 24 credit hours of accounting — and between the two degrees I just had 20. I took two accounting courses so that I’d be marketable.

“Almost as soon as I finished my accounting classes, I received conditional job offers from both the FBI and DEA. For the FBI, I would be a forensic accountant — looking into money laundering and tracing the financial assets for criminals. For the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), it would be the compliance side, investigating pharmaceutical inventories for fraud and diversionary investments.

“I actually live very close to the college, and I was always thinking as I drove by, ‘I’m just going to go see what classes are available.’ One day I was so frustrated thinking about the government accounting requirements that I just drove into the parking lot and went in to register for the classes I needed. I picked two online courses that I could do on my own time, and got in and out of registration really quickly. The tuition was reasonable, and the whole process was as easy as it could be.

“Since I had been out of college for a while, I had to get acclimated to being in school all over again. Both of my accounting professors, Clarice McCoy and Becky Knickel, were very helpful as I went through that whole process. Some days I’d think I’d completely forgotten how to learn or do anything, and they would help me to figure it out. The best part of my whole experience was being able to contact them whenever I needed — they were always so receptive and helpful. If I had questions, they were readily available, and that’s what I appreciated the most.

“My advice on going back to college if you’ve been out for a while? You can do it. It may seem like a time constraint, fitting in classes and homework, but having an online option makes college available whenever you want. You can take classes on your own time, whenever you’re able to. Just do it — don’t worry about the other stuff. Go for it.”

Tracy S. Clark took two online accounting classes to beef up her résumé before applying for federal agency jobs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northeastern Illinois University as well as in economic crime investigation from Uttica College in Syracuse, N.Y.

She works for a federal agency, the Department of Labor.