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Student Spotlight: Scott Polczynski

July 09, 2015, Christie Mitchell

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“Been there, done that” advice from a guy who did it all: An interview with recent SIU College of Business graduate Scott Polczynski.

Scott Polczynski, from DuBois, Illinois, graduated in 2014 with his accounting degree and earned his Masters of Accountancy degree in 2015. As a third-generation Saluki, Polczynski knew what SIU had to offer and decided early to take advantage of every minute he was on campus. Polczynski shared the steps he took to land his prestigious job at a “Big 4” accounting firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

Q. How did you adjust to life on campus?

A. My mom pushed me into the College of Business (CoB) Freshman Interest Group (FIG). I ended up loving it. I made a lot of friendships that lasted all the way through college. It was great to be able to walk down the hall to study with the people I went to class with. I would stress to new students that, even if they don’t live in the FIG, they should start building relationships with their classmates early and organize a study group.

Q. What was the most beneficial advice someone gave you about college life at SIU?

A. Marcus Odom, professor of accountancy and Deloitte & Touche Faculty Fellow, told me to “get involved, get involved, get involved.” I really took that to heart. There are so many opportunities to get involved that it can be overwhelming. I recommend new students start with one professional registered student organization (RSO) and one hobby-based RSO. I love sports, so I participated in intramural sports through my residence hall. Sports offered me the opportunity to stay active and relieve stress. I also volunteered as the Accounting Challenge coordinator; was a member of Phi Beta Lambda, the Accounting Society, and Beta Alpha Psi; and participated in a Leadership Development Program.

Q. Why is getting involved so important?

A. Getting involved made all of the difference in my college experience. The professional RSOs allowed me to network with professionals on a weekly basis and helped me build my résumé. Employers don’t just look for a strong GPA; they also look for people who are involved and have demonstrated organizational leadership skills that are necessary to succeed in the workplace. Just as important: Being involved helped me learn more about my chosen field and build relationships with students with similar goals.

Q. What other steps did you take to build your résumé and prepare for your career search?

A. I had the opportunity to work as a student in the CoB, and I was fortunate enough to work in the college’s Career Services and Placement Center all four years. Working on campus was a great way to make connections. The Career Services and Placement Center offers students interview training; résumé review and assistance; networking opportunities with employers and alumni; help with internship and externship placement; career search assistance; and much more. I took advantage of all of their services. Of course, you don’t have to work there to get the same treatment I did. I recommend students visit the Career Services and Placement Center their first semester on campus. Visit early and often.

Q. What helped you land your dream job at PwC?

A. I met employers through the Career Services and Placement Center, and through the job fairs. Those connections led to invitations to two-day leadership programs with four large public accounting firms. At the leadership program, we participated in team-building activities, networked with employees and had our internship interviews. The leadership program led to my offer upon graduation.

I also had several internships and externships that I feel gave me an edge during the interview process. I had internships with Delta Companies Inc. in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Advanced Technology Service in Peoria, Illinois. I also had externships during spring breaks with the St. Louis Rams and Boeing. Each experience not only helped strengthened my résumé, but also helped me decide what I wanted to do after graduation. They let me “try on” different accounting careers in different industries. The first step in getting your dream job is figuring out what your dream job is.

Q. What advice would you give to yourself as an incoming freshman?

A. Start building relationships early, and learn how to manage your time. The more you get to know your professors and department chairs, the more comfortable you will be going to them during office hours for help. Don’t hesitate to ask for help understanding concepts when you need it. Everyone at the CoB is supportive and willing to help, but don’t wait until it is too late. Don’t lose sight of why you are here. Go to class, get your work done, study hard and then go have fun.

I would also tell myself to use all of the CoB services, such as Rehn 10 (the Academic Success Center) and the Career Services and Placement Center.