University of Southern Indiana

Accounting Prepares Graduate for a Career as FBI Special Agent

2016-02 THill profileTravis Hill ’07 expected to pursue a career in law enforcement. He originally considered a degree in criminal justice; however, following the advice of his father, a former Evansville Chief of Police, he chose a business degree “as something to fall back on.” He enrolled at USI as an accounting major and found that the concepts and course material really clicked with him. A guest speaker in one of his classes, an FBI agent, opened the door to a new way of thinking for Travis: the FBI hires a wide range of talent from attorneys to prior military personnel to accountants. Travis saw how his dreams of working in law enforcement could mesh with the accounting degree he was earning.

While earning his degree, Travis interned with Vectren Corporation’s tax department. There were times when he was the only staff member available to assist with internal audits conducted by professionals from Deloitte, a provider of industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500. That working relationship and networking opportunity netted him a letter of recommendation. He received a job offer from Deloitte’s Indianapolis office where he worked in external audit after graduation and went on to earn his CPA designation.

Still, Travis never lost sight of his goal to work in law enforcement, keeping in mind the FBI agent who influenced his career goals. After more than two years of long hours and a hectic travel schedule, he took a job at a small consulting company that had a contract with the United States Department of Defense. Travis began focusing on the requirements of working with the FBI. While his accounting degree and work experience qualified Travis for either a position as a forensic accountant or special agent, he found himself more drawn to the special agent position. He applied online and began the many phases to attain employment. Once accepted, he began at the rigorous FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where for six months students receive training on crime investigations, legal issues, shooting, fighting, and arresting suspects. Graduates of the academy are sent to one of the FBI’s 56 field offices across the country.

Travis began as a special agent with the financial institution fraud squad in Washington, D.C., where he investigated a multitude of financial crimes including bank fraud, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. He recently moved to the public corruption squad, where he investigates crimes such as bribery, election crimes, and government fraud. Each special agent brings a particular skillset to the table, and Travis’s accounting degree enables him to understand and interpret financials. His financial background allows him to trace complex transactions. “Sometimes criminals have hundreds of bank accounts set up to disguise their activities,” he explains.  

Looking back at his time at USI he recalls how important the smaller class sizes were to him. “I received one-on-one attention in my classes and even developed friendships with the instructors. I felt like the faculty at USI wanted everyone to succeed.” He points out that that type of accessibility to faculty seem to be missing when he talks to friends and colleagues who attended larger universities. Travis advises students to take college seriously because of the influence it has on their career path. “A lot of people view college as just a place to hang out and party,” he laughs. “But what you do in college and the knowledge and relationships you are building really do stick with you and influence the opportunities you have later on in life.” 

Published February 4, 2016

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