After several rounds of interviews, UIC Business Scholars Keenan Jeffrey Artis and Yaritza Velasquez have been awarded PricewaterhouseCoopers Start internships. The Start internship is a three year program; Artis’ and Velasquez’ work for PwC will begin in Summer 2016 and continue through the following two summers.
Artis and Velasquez, both freshman at UIC Business, and both double majors in Accounting and IDS, came to the Start internship from very different backgrounds. Velasquez, a graduate of Leyden High School in Northlake, IL, was introduced to accounting by a high school teacher, and learned about the UIC Business Scholars program from a recruiter, “though UIC was already on my radar,” she says. “UIC is the public university in the city, and the city is where I want to live and work.”
Artis came to UIC Business from the Philippines. “Two things drew me to UIC Business: affordability and opportunity. Chicago offers great opportunities to young accountants, and there’s a lot of diversity among the people who make up the field of accounting here.”
How did each of you find out about the PwC Start internship?
V: At a Meet the Firms event hosted by the UIC Accounting Club, I met a UIC student at the PwC booth who had interned there in the past. She’d had a great experience, and she introduced me to a PwC associate, who passed on my resume to Ken Dembeck, a PwC recruiter. Ken saw me through the interview process, and ultimately awarded me the internship.
A: I actually learned about the internship from Yaritza. She put me in touch with the recruiter, I got in touch with him, and got my first interview.
Was there anything in particular that attracted you to PwC?
A: PwC sits at the top of the Big Four, so already there's the experience of being at the top of the field. But PwC also invests a lot of resources in corporate responsibility and community engagement, which is important for me. I want to be a part of auditing services of the highest quality, but I want to be connected to a larger community as well.
V: I also had my eye on PwC simply because of their prominence, but after meeting people at the firm and getting a taste of the culture there, I knew it was where I wanted to be.
Both of you were interviewing with PwC for the first time. How did you prepare? What was the Start application process like?
V: The application has three main components: the paper application itself, the phone interview and three in-person interviews (in one day, no less) at PwC offices. Ken Dembeck was my contact at every point, and provided a lot of useful support. I was lucky enough to get a lot of support from my friends and family as well, whose enthusiasm helped propel me through the process. I’m indebted to some close friends for helping me rehearse interview questions.
A: Prior to the phone interview, I researched the company. I wanted to be able to ask detailed questions and show an informed interest in the company. Perhaps more importantly, I spent a lot of time getting to know more about myself - which experiences and achievements, and which personal traits make the internship at PwC an obvious next step? In working through these questions, I got a lot of help from my parents, as well as from Yaritza and from Rachel Marten, the Assistant Director of the UIC Business Scholars program, who was available throughout the application process. Rachel and Assistant Dean Angela Winters served as my main contacts, along with the PwC recruiters.
The Start internship runs through the next three summers, giving you both a connection to PwC throughout your undergraduate studies. Where do you see it going?
A: Between now and next summer I'll keep in touch with my contacts at PwC, both to learn more about the company and to build relationships. I’m already thinking ahead to full-time opportunities. Being inside a Big Four firm will introduce me to a lot of people and open a lot of doors for me later on. But I’m also thinking beyond the internship and my time at UIC Business. As an alumnus and accountant, I’ll want my experience to inspire others in the UIC community.
V: Because of the internship, I’ve reconfigured my coursework so that I can sit for the CPA exam upon graduating from UIC Business. In the meantime, I see the internship as an unlimited opportunity for personal growth, through joining the staff of a Big Four firm and learning from coworkers, and also through a deeper exploration of my professional interests as an accountant. I feel like I’ve gotten a head start on plotting the direction of my career.
Over the course of three summers, Keenan Artis and Yaritza Velasquez will work with teams within PwC’s Chicago office alongside PwC staff, principals and partners, with an emphasis on PwC’s Internal Firm Services Group. Start interns also participate in PwC community service projects, as well as PwC professional development and technical development programs. Check back in the coming weeks and months for updates about the work of Keenan, Yaritza and other UIC Business Scholars.