My Spartan Success with Candace Rivera

#My Spartan Success Interview with Candace Rivera

Conducted by Laurie Child


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  1. When did you graduate and what was your major?

Candace: I graduated from STAC in 2012 with a B.A in Communications and a concentration in Journalism

  1. Did you have a plan after graduation, and did you know what career you wanted to peruse?

Candace: During my time at STAC, I knew exactly what direction I wanted to go. I loved writing and had a passion for journalism, specifically in the crime and politics field.  I split my time between school, friends, various freelance reporting jobs, assisting with events at a local radio station, and occasional voice over work.  I would often be in three different counties in the same day!

One of my most memorable experiences happened during the 2012 election.  I got to interview several politicians from New York on election night including Democratic Congressman Sean Maloney, just a few minutes after he heard the news. I was very passionate about this line of work, but being paid per article, it required a lot of time, travel, and sacrifice.  I knew that I had to find somewhere that offered a more stable income and included benefits.

  1. How did you hear about your current Job?

Candace:  A few months after graduation, I was looking for a full time job. Luckily, I received a phone call from Dr.  Durney.  He explained that KPMG were looking for a Public Relations Assistant, encouraged  me to apply, and contact Corporate Communications Executive Director, Tim Connolly. Honestly, I had never heard of KPMG and thought that they were a radio station, however after some research I realized that it was one of the big four accounting firms.

Before this, I had never thought about working in public relations before. But after a bit of research I thought why not, I’ll give it a go.   I reached out to Tim, and he set me up with an interview.

  1. Can you explain the Interview Process?

Candace: After nervously calling  Tim for the first time and introducing myself I sent in my resume and a few articles for him to review. Luckily, he was impressed and invited me to KPMG for an interview.  Over the next three weeks, I met with two additional department directors and two administrative professionals. What they all had in common was that they genuinely loved what they did. They also had the stability of having a 9-5 job, salary, benefits, and opportunities to travel. I could tell KPMG would be a great start for my career and decided to take a chance in the public relations field

  1. How did your time at STAC prepare you for the professional world?

Candace:  I don’t know where to begin, my time at STAC has truly shaped, and played a big role in where I am today.  One of the biggest benefits of the college, is the student-faculty relationship. With the intimate class size, the professors are truly invested in the students, and I can say from experience that the relationships I have formed with the professors have directly impacted my career path.

My professors, especially, Dr. Durney, Professor Prior, Dr. Matthews, and Professor Winship had a big influence on me and helped guide me both personally and professionally.  Although, a small school STAC offers an array of activities, clubs, and events. During my time at STAC, I was a content editor and writer for the Thoma, acted in many plays as a Laetare Player, and recited a few poems during open mic nights   These clubs and activities really built my confidence and presentation skills.

  1. Can you tell me about your time at KPMG, and some of the roles and responsibilities you have there?

Candace: Starting at KPMG as a Public Relations Assistant in 2012, I have since been promoted to a Corporate Communication Associate.  Some of my roles and responsibilities include co-managing the KPMG US intranet, social media campaigns, producing video content as an on-location correspondent, and writing numerous profiles on our young professionals.    I also  help pitch press releases to the media, gather good news stories about KPMG employees, and promote events across our internal and external platforms.

  1. Why KPMG? What is your favorite aspect of the position? Can you give an example of what has been your best moment so far?

Candace: I have been at the company for four years now, and I can truly say that the people and skill development opportunities keep me here. .  It really is a community, and I work with some fascinating people. I ask my colleagues about their previous jobs, all the time. Since, KPMG attracts great talent
my department has  an Emmy Award winner, experienced speechwriters, and many former journalists from top tier media (think NYT, AP, Chicago Tribune). I’m a sucker for a good story, and my colleagues have plenty.

Coming from a Catholic family, one of my best moments so far was attending Pope Francis’ World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia last year as a  KPMG volunteer. I was also able to bring my family.While we were there, I recorded an event recap that was included in KPMG US’ weekly newscast that later won an award for . It was a one in a lifetime opportunity, and would not have been possible without KPMG!

  1. Finally, what advice do you have for current STAC students looking for a job internship?

Candace: One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to current STAC students, is to keep an open mind.  Going into my senior year, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t give public relations much thought at the time. Fast forward to today and I can honestly tell you that KPMG is the perfect fit for me, and is where I want to be.

Lastly, I have to stress the value of networking and including your professors within that circle.  While I was freelancing as a student, my article quality spread from local editor to local editor offering me opportunities to cover events for their publications. At the same time, my professors took notice and also kept me mind. That eventually led to Dr. Durney’s call about a full-time job at KPMG. Hard work pays off. Don’t be afraid to tell people how awesome you are!

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