Student Spotlight: Rebecca Vanek

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Self-proclaimed “Dog Mom” and certified go-getter Rebecca Vanek is a senior Accounting major from Pittsburgh, PA. On the weekends, one can find Rebecca either volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, or seeking out new restaurants to satisfy her inner “foodie.” She’s Co-President of the Accounting Club and certainly one of the most motivated students on campus. 

Hey, Rebecca! Tell us a fun fact about yourself that many people may not know.

I have two dogs, Zeus and Gus. I’m totally obsessed with them. Zeus is a 200-pound Great Dane and Gus is a yellow lab—my family likes to call him the “yellow terror.”

Why did you choose to major in Accounting? What first made you interested in the field?

I’m really passionate about integrating my personal and professional life, in the sense that I want to be proud of where I work and what I do. With accounting, I was able to witness firsthand that facet of the industry from my parents. My parents were accountants and I was immersed in the field from an early age—we even had two family dogs named Debit and Digit! I grew to love the career through my mom and dad instilling the importance of education, learning, and taking pride in your career within our home. My parents were able to mesh their careers and personal lives effortlessly and I believe Accounting provides the perfect avenue to do so.

Wow! It’s rare to meet someone that has such a personal investment in a certain field at such a young age. What did you do last summer to help establish yourself professionally?

I was a Retail Finance Summer Analyst for PNC Bank. Specifically, my position concentrated on retail analysis, or the “customer” side of banking. Whether someone was walking into the bank or using the PNC app, my job was calculate the numbers or figures on a geographical plane in order to gauge where most of PNC’s business was currently, and projecting its growth in other areas. It is essential for the betterment of banking in general, especially in a world that is so technologically driven. Right now is a really interesting time to be involved in banking, with currencies like BitCoin and others. I was fortunate enough to intern during such a pivotal time in the banking industry, as it is evident that a transition in the monetary world is beginning to occur. The work I did was a huge learning experience and I was able to meet hundreds of people from many diverse backgrounds that each had his or her own job that made PNC operate so efficiently. They also made it a point to set aside days that were dedicated to learning about the banking industry, and I was able to talk to amazing speakers that emphasized fulfillment in the workplace.

What an amazing experience! Did your previous internship open up potential job or career opportunities in the future?

Yes! PNC officially offered me a position at the end of my internship. They definitely invest in their interns, especially those who worked hard and were willing to learn. The interns who were engaged and asking questions were the ones who were receiving offers. It is crucial in any internship that your professional betterment is at the forefront of your experience—come from a place of humility and think, “I’m here to learn and I want to grow in knowledge of my future career.” I am thankful that my hard work and dedication was noticed by my potential future employer.

Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment. Do you have any advice to those planning on pursuing an internship?

Use your network! My family, especially my parents, were pivotal in my internship search. I also called family friends in different areas asking if they knew of anyone seeking interns so that I can gain as much experience as I can throughout my college career. Even asking those who are in your field of interest for advice on where to look or what they did before getting in the position he or she is in will help you on your search for opportunities. Using my network and reaching out to people that were in the Accounting field ultimately helped me land the three internships I have held.

Three internships! That’s so cool. Where did you intern, besides PNC Bank?

I interned at Hill, Barth, & King CPA and Consultants. It is an amazing accouting firm in Naples. I interned for them last year and am continuing to do this year. I also interned for NexTec Group, a business technology consultancy.

What are your plans after graduation?

I definitely want to receive my CPA as quickly as possible, since it is the field I am most interested in. It isn't so much of where I work or who I work for that is my biggest concern right now, but where I will fit in the industry and my ability to perform my best in my future career.

What is the best compliment you have ever received?

At one of my internships, I overheard two of my bosses discussing my work. The head of my team was talking about how I provided a detailed record of the work I did with their software, so that if I had made any mistakes they were to be easily fixed. I did so for efficiency and thoroughness, because I certainly did not want any inconveniences to take place on my account! My other boss remarked, "You know, that's just outstanding work. She really has good character." I'll never forget that compliment because it meant that my hard work was a reflection of who I am and what I stand for, so it reaffirmed that I was able to translate that into my career.