Zachary Riola

BBA in Accounting, Class of 2017
Participated in KPMG’s Summer 2016 Global Internship Program

Why did you choose to major in Accounting?

Accounting is a focus that is relevant to every aspect of business. It enables you to learn all the moving parts of an organization, so you really get an in-depth understanding of the business/industry you are working in. Most importantly, accounting provides job stability and a dynamic career path, whether it is audit, consulting and advisory, or management accounting.

My chosen path, audit, is a profession that requires collaboration, not only with team members but also with client staff of all levels on a daily basis. It is a tremendous way to network and gain experience in multiple industries at a time. In effect, it opens up a lot of opportunities down the road for employment because of the network you build. Clients you serve may very well be your future employer someday.

What do you enjoy about your coursework?

Accounting coursework is not flattering by any means, but I enjoy it because it challenges me to think with an analytical, detail-oriented mind. The part I enjoyed most about my coursework was that the classroom was always very collaborative and interactive, so that it minimized some of the monotony typically associated with accounting coursework.

What are some lessons you learned from professors or mentors in the business school?

In regards to internship placement and leadership roles, one thing that my mentors always stress is how crucial networking is, especially in a business environment. Attending formal networking events builds an endless number of connections that can serve you well down the road. In addition, my professors have always encouraged me to network with classmates, too. They just might be the people to help you land an internship or job in the future.

Have you participated in any extracurricular activities during your time at SEU?

I have been fortunate enough to participate in several internships during my academic career at St. Edward’s University, including a special projects coordinator role with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles’ state headquarters, an accounting role with DaVincian Healthcare Inc., and most recently, an audit role with Big 4 accounting firm KPMG.

For my KPMG internship this past summer, I applied and was selected to participate in a four-week work rotation in Christchurch, New Zealand as part of their award-winning Global Internship Program. The program is very intensive in that the first four weeks are spent in a U.S. KPMG office location working on public and private clients. Following that, participants are immersed in a KPMG office abroad for another four weeks to work with international teams on major client accounts. My experience was tremendous, and the internship far surpassed my expectations. Not only was I able to gain real international work experience, but I was able to expand my professional network to global professionals and build international contacts and relationships with people that I will continue to stay in touch with. My roommate in Christchurch (also participating in the program) and I took full advantage of being abroad and traveled on the weekends to take in the immense beauty and scenery New Zealand had to offer.

How did this experience help you clarify what you want to do after graduation?

This experience clarified that I am ready and capable of accepting a job that requires global collaboration, such as audit. I feel that these types of experiences are becoming paramount in the business world as capital markets continue to expand internationally. International work experience provides you the opportunity to enhance your understanding of different cultures, making you a stronger business professional from day one. 

What advice do you have for current SEU business students?

My advice to current business students is to start building professional relationships with professors and classmates as soon as possible. These are the very people that will connect you with internship and employment opportunities. In my experience, they have always been more than happy to help out students in pursuit of opportunities outside the classroom.

In addition, seek out unique experiences like studying abroad, participating in a service experience abroad, or working abroad. These types of opportunities make you a much more favorable and well-rounded candidate when it comes to job placement and gives you an edge to bring to the workplace as businesses become more and more concerned with global markets.