Accounting and Finance MajorsAlison Rykaczewski-2016 Student Gallery Winner

"Choosing to attend IUP and the Eberly College of Business was the best decision I could have made for myself. Attending IUP helped me to build relationships with my professors that have benefited me in many ways. My main goals for college were to get involved, network with business professionals, and ultimately graduate with a great job. I can honestly say I have met all of these goals in my short time here at IUP. I owe so much of my success to Eberly, the professors, and the classmates I have met along the way."

I am from Butler, Pennsylvania, where I attended Knoch High School. Coming from a relatively small school, it was very daunting to have to choose where I would be for the next four years of my life. After my first campus tour at IUP, I fell in love. Not only did IUP have the location I was looking for, it also had a very reputable business college where I could see myself attending.

When I first came to IUP I was a finance major. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life quite yet, but finance seemed like a pretty good start. It wasn't until I attended my first accounting class that I realized I might have potential as an accounting major. With a great amount of help from my first accounting professor, I added the accounting major and became much more involved in Eberly, specifically the Student Accounting Association (SAA).

I attended my first SAA meeting during the spring semester of my sophomore year. I loved what SAA did for accounting students, so I knew right away I wanted to get involved. The fall semester of my junior year, I became a member of SAA. It was this semester during a meeting where I talked to a campus recruiter for a large public accounting firm. This led me to a phone interview for one of their prestigious Summer Leadership Programs. After getting accepted into the program, I received an early interview and shortly after accepted a summer internship for 2015. Following my internship, I was offered a full-time position even before my senior year of college began.

I believe my extracurricular activity that should be featured in the Student Gallery is how I was president of the Student Accounting Association for the year of 2015. I have been an official member of the SAA for two years. Before becoming president, I held numerous chair positions such as the resume review chair and the tutoring chair. I was also part of the annual Recognition Dinner Committee. After those great experiences, I decided to become the president of the organization for the 2015 school year in order to push myself even further.

Being the president of the SAA taught me great leadership, communication, and professional business skills. Some of my duties as president included organizing meetings and overseeing fellow officers and chairs. During my presidency, I was able to hold five meetings per semester, with a different guest speaker from the accounting profession at each meeting. These guest speakers typically would discuss information about their firm along with their various experiences, which students found beneficial in many ways. These meetings became a great way for students to network and find potential jobs and internships. Being able to bring such valuable experiences to my fellow students was the most rewarding part of my position.

If it were not for the opportunities Eberly and this particular professor gave me, I would not be where I am at today. Together, they both gave me the push I needed to reach my maximum potential as a student here at IUP.

Alison is currently a staff member in the Assurance service line for Ernst & Young in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (as of May 2016).