With most Americans spending the majority of their waking hours at work, colleagues can start to become like family. There are work wives and work husbands, brothers and sisters, and even second moms and dads in the workplace.
For some Saint Leo alumni, the definition of a work family takes on added meaning. At PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), many alumni continue to experience Saint Leo’s family-like culture by working together at the Tampa location of the multinational professional services firm, which focuses on audit and assurance, tax, and consulting services. The relationship started with one student about 10 years ago.
Dr. Passard Dean, professor of accounting and finance at Saint Leo, was looking for a way to provide more internship and job opportunities for students. When one student was able to secure a full-time position at PwC after graduation, he asked if she would be willing to help recommend other qualified graduates for jobs.
“All it took was one student who was willing to help make Saint Leo a better place,” Dean said. “Because of her willingness to help, countless students have benefited.”
Today Saint Leo participates in a unique internship program with PwC. Dean and Dr. Daniel Tschopp, professor of accounting, work with recruiters from PwC to identify students for its internship program, which often leads to full-time employment after graduation. Each year about eight to 10 seniors participate, receiving exposure to accounting work in a variety of sectors.
Kara Ennis ’18, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting this spring, is one of them. After graduation, her internship led to a full-time position working with several other Saint Leo alumni.
“It is nice because we were able to come into the organization and already know some familiar faces,” Ennis said. “I didn’t feel out of place. We have each others’ backs, and everyone is so willing to help.”
Ashley Dudney ’18, who also graduated with Ennis and received a bachelor’s degree in accounting, works next to Ennis in the office. She has a Saint Leo alumna as her supervisor, Johana Beltran-Cantu ’15.
“Having a supervisor who went to the same school as you is helpful,” Dudney said. “She knows the curriculum we learned and understands what it was like to go through the program. It’s also inspiring. I look at her and think, ‘That could be me in two years.’”
Beltran-Cantu, who has been with PwC for three years, agrees with Dudney about the value of working with other alumni. She says there’s something special about Saint Leo graduates when it comes to work ethic. They stand out in a crowd.
“If you earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Saint Leo, then I know you had to work hard to be where you are today,” Beltran-Cantu said.
While they may all have different job responsibilities at PwC, Ennis, Dudney, and Beltran-Cantu all agree that working with other alumni adds a special touch to their daily work.
“It’s very much like a community, which is a Saint Leo value,” Dudney said. “We’re all used to living the Saint Leo values and that translates to how we work together here.”