Jacob Bergman

Jacob Bergman
Major/Job Title:
Class Year:

Jacob Bergman

Why did you choose to attend UNI? What factors influenced your reason for studying your major? 

I ultimately chose UNI because it felt like home, as I became a third-generation Panther. Also, in terms of location, Cedar Falls was a few hours away from my hometown and fifteen minutes away from my grandparents. I spent many weekends having dinner and doing laundry with my grandparents. While creating family memories, I was able to access a mid-sized public university with beautiful facilities, excellent resources, and a strong reputation. This combination assisted me in getting the most out of my undergraduate education. Lastly, I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships making an otherwise affordable university a fantastic investment for my future. 

Due to a vast array of interests, I explored six or seven majors over my four years. Ultimately, I landed on Philosophy and minored in Actuarial Science, General Business Studies, and Ethics. Initially, the professors drew me to Philosophy. I vividly remember Professor Holland challenging me and pushing back on what I believed to be an excellent contribution to philosophy, only to realize how wrong I was and just how much I could learn in this area. Philosophy captured my interest in varying academic subjects while being applicable in nearly every classroom or extracurricular discussion. It allowed me to apply my thinking to every area of learning in life and developed me beyond my educational pursuits. Thus, I chose Philosophy, as I felt it was fully shaping me as a person throughout my UNI experience.

What factors influenced your decision to go to law school?

Truth be told, I had little interest in going to law school while I was at UNI. I stumbled into taking the LSAT, hoping to keep my options open after graduation. I had also taken the GRE and was admitted into a Master of Healthcare Administration program; however, I eventually declined my admission and took a gap year to read, write, travel, focus on myself, and determine if law school was the right step for me. 

UNI had prepared me to go anywhere I wanted after graduation, and my time spent in the Philosophy program, particularly taking Elementary Logic and being a TA for the course my senior year under Professor Boedeker, had prepared me well for law school. I knew I loved going to school and a law degree is incredibly versatile, so even if I never worked as a lawyer, it would be worthwhile. 

It was during my gap year that I decided to attend law school. My professors at UNI wrote my letters of recommendation, and I applied to Iowa Law. Receiving acceptance and scholarships to attend Iowa Law is still one of the most joyful moments of my life. I was looking for another challenge, loved academia, and was aptly prepared by UNI to succeed at Iowa Law. 

What do you do in your current position? What do you enjoy about it?

Currently, I am a State and Local Tax (SALT) Consultant at Wipfli LLP, a nationwide accounting firm. An accounting firm is one of the last places I thought I would work. However, while at Iowa Law, I was introduced to the intricacies of tax law, and it played surprisingly nicely off the conglomerate of courses I had taken at UNI. Tax is incredibly dull on its surface, but at its core, it is deeply rooted in political philosophy on how to fund a society. Each day at Wipfli, I get to assist clients in solving intricate puzzles, and it is satisfying to help guide people through such a complex system. Additionally, Wipfli worked closely with me to continue my education as I am an Executive LLM in Taxation student at New York University. 

How did UNI’s pre-law program help you prepare for and apply to law school?

Since law school was not on my mind at UNI, I did not seek out the pre-law program and utilize its resources as much as possible. Regardless, UNI is known for professors going out of their way to help students (at least, that was my experience). Professor Sari, from the Department of Philosophy and World Religion, heard I was applying to law school, sought me out, and provided excellent guidance. I had Professor Sari during my senior year, and she actively assisted me in directing me toward applying to law school. 

How did your major help prepare you for your current role? What skills are you still using today?

Philosophy prepared me to read and write at a high level assisting me greatly throughout law school. Philosophy sharpened my critical thinking and analysis skills, consistently reminded me of how little I knew while stoking a passion for seeking answers, and prepared me for treacherous cold calls from the Socratic Method in law school. While in my current role, Philosophy still plays a vital role in approaching problems. The ability to dive into a challenging text and actively think and express my views through writing have been the two most essential skills in my education, early career, and involvement as a citizen. Philosophy forged my ability to read and write, and I am thankful for UNI’s Philosophy Program. 

What is a memorable part of your studies or participation within your major?

The most memorable part of my studies was the people. It was great to find a group of students eager to continue the classroom discussion for hours after the class concluded. I also have fond memories of presenting my thesis on Free Will with my friends, family, and academic advisors present. 

What advice would you give to students currently interested in the same major and/or thinking about going to law school?

My advice for majoring in Philosophy is that it is the best possible major you can have. It is profoundly stimulating and provides lifelong guidance through some of our history’s most well-known and deepest thinkers. More practically, I believe Philosophy is the greatest major to double major a student can have. Learning to think is one of the fundamental reasons to attend college, and reading and writing are two of the foremost champions in this realm. Philosophy will assist in shaping you as a person, while a second major may assist you in furthering your interests elsewhere or garnering a career. 

If law school is on your horizon, a degree in Philosophy will prepare you for the difficulties of reading caselaw, conquering the LSAT, and writing argumentative briefs. During 1L year, professors constantly remind you that the goal is to teach you to think like a lawyer. Philosophy prepares you for this steep learning curve. I believe it is one of the best majors you can select for having a fulfilling life and that the tools of the law provide one of the most influential careers in shaping your community. 

My last bit of advice is to do the reading, write your thoughts about the reading, ask as many questions as possible, and surround yourself with people smarter than you–four things I wish I would have implemented better while at UNI. 

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I am not known to be concise, so the last thing I will say is that UNI prepared me for the world. Even in my ups and downs in Cedar Falls, I was still too young and naive to understand what an outstanding education I was receiving and how competitive my degree would make me. UNI provides focused attention to all its students, and those seeking out more are sure to find it.