Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business


Taking advantage of all that a Jesuit education has to offer


Olivia Dydyna reflects on her time as a marketing major and discusses the importance of asking for help, talking to professors, and following your passions. She offers these insights on her academic and student organization experiences:

What inspired your success?

Taking advantage of all that a Jesuit education has to offer made my experience at LUC exceptional. Joining Phi Sigma Sigma my freshman year, studying abroad my sophomore year in Roma, becoming a brand ambassador for the Illinois Lottery, and landing a tech-savvy (unpaid) internship my junior year at Vibes Media pushed me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I switched my major from Psychology to Marketing junior year so I had to play catch up by taking 6 classes, interning and working on the weekends. Senior year was the hardest year of my collegiate career-- but I wouldn't change it for the world. That unpaid internship turned into a full time job offer on graduation day and post-grad life has been pretty awesome so far. 

Were there any faculty or staff members that were particularly helpful during your time at Loyola?

Special shout out to these rad Profs: Kevin Lee, Geroulis, Kielb, Michael Murphy, Giachetti, Schwarten, Bucholz

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?

Don't get bogged down by the question of "What are you doing with your life?" If you asked me freshman year what my dream career was, I wouldn't have known. I'm not really sure I even know now, but what I do know is who I am and who I aspire to be.

Put yourself out there and you will find your passions. Surround yourself with people who have personality and who are different from you. Be weird. Be positive. Ask for help. Ask for advice. And most importantly, talk to your Professors. They're all here to help YOU. 

Olivia Dydyna

Employer: Vibes  

Title: Customer Success Associate 

Grad Date: May 2015

Majors: BBA Marketing

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Undergraduate success paves the way for a bright future


Quinlan undergrad, Michael Palarz, will graduate with a full time position at KPMG L.L.P. He offers these reflections on his internships and work with Loyola's faculty and staff:

What inspired your success?

Upon arriving at Loyola University Chicago freshman year, I was pumped to join the concert and pep bands my first semester.  I was also looking forward to my business classes. Determined to do well, I got to know the professors and some upperclassman students within the accounting department. A few professors and senior students began to mentor me as I progressed through the program, and then I joined Beta Alpha Psi (BAP). This professional organization helped me refine my interviewing and resume writing skills.  BAP gave me the opportunity to network with several of Chicago’s best companies where I gained an understanding of different aspects of the accounting profession. Leveraging Loyola’s resources: BAP, professor office hours, and the career center, I gained the knowledge to set myself up for success as a student.

I also held four different internships to gain valuable experience in the accounting profession.  I have worked at small companies with only 5 people to major global firms like KPMG L.L.P. and Sidley Austin, L.L.P. These experiences in the workplace complimented my studies in the classroom. Loyola has prepared me to succeed in the classroom and in the workplace. 

Were there any faculty or staff members that were particularly helpful during your time at Loyola?

Brian Stanko, Chair of the Accounting and Business Law Dept at Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business has been a great guide throughout my undergraduate experience. Professor Stanko truly cares about the success of his students and has been a critical mentor for my success at Loyola and beyond. Dr. Leonard McKendrick and Lisa Gillespie have also become great career mentors during my undergraduate experience. I owe my success to my mentors and family, however this is just the beginning.

What are your plans after graduation?

After earning my Bachelor in Business Administration degree with a focus in Accounting, I will attend Quinlan’s Graduate School of Business to pursue a Masters of Science in Accountancy and prepare for the CPA exam in early spring of 2017.  In the fall of 2017, I will start full time at KPMG L.L.P. in the audit practice. 

Michael Palarz

Employer: KPMG  

Grad Date:  May 2016

Majors:MSA, BBA Accounting

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Putting Chicago on the map


Ben Berlin works to fund economic development projects that will improve the city. He offers these reflections on his internship and student organization experiences:

Ben Berlin is working to put Chicago on the map of the most innovative cities, and his charisma is contagious. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Ben understands firsthand how important a strong and diversified economic foundation is for a city. As the Corporate Engagement Manager at World Business Chicago (WBC), Ben works with private corporations, foundations, city officials, and individuals to help fund economic development projects that will improve the city and its inhabitants.

In his two years at WBC, Ben has helped raised more than $10 million for the organization. More importantly, he is breaking down barriers between the public and private communities by creating partnerships between WBC and Chicago’s top businesses. In addition, Ben is a critical player in building and executing the innovative Fellowship Program that employs talent from local businesses to use their expertise towards important projects within the Mayor’s Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs.

Ben graduated from Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business in 2015, where he was President of the Entrepreneurship Club. Prior to that, he spent a year in Israel learning its unique history and culture. Ben continues to work with budding entrepreneurs, advising them as a Mentor and Coach through JCC Chicago’s PresenTense Fellowship Program. Ben is also a decorated competitive BBQ champion. He lives with his wife Elana and their dog Stevie Nicks in Lakeview. 

Ben Berlin

Employer: World Business Chicago  

Title: Corporate Engagement Manager 

Grad Date: May 2015

Majors: MBA

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Gaining real-world experience


After completing her internship, Stefanski was offered a full-time position. She offers these reflections on her internship and academic experiences.

As a student in the Quinlan School of Business, I completed my degree in Accounting. Over the course of my five years in the undergraduate program, I truly received a well-rounded education that included challenging courses and a number of opportunities for campus involvement. The accounting department as a whole was instrumental in my career choice. In particular, I worked extensively with Professor Lisa Gillespie and Dr. Brian Stanko, the current chair of the department. In conjunction with my coursework, I completed four internships at firms in the Chicagoland area to further develop myself as a professional. The variety of internships provided me with a better understanding of the different ways in which I could use my degree after graduation. 

A key part of my undergraduate experience included my involvement in student organizations on campus. As President of Beta Alpha Psi, I worked closely with Business Career Services and the Accounting department to maintain the relationship that Quinlan has with firms in the Chicagoland area. This provided me with the unique opportunity to develop myself as both a professional and as a leader. As President of Delta Sigma Pi, I expanded my network and recruited new members to sustain and grow the chapter. My time on the executive board enhanced my leadership and communication skills which are vital to success in the workplace. In the Spring semester of my fourth year, I completed a full-time winter internship at Deloitte working in the audit practice. The ten-week internship provided me with an unparalleled experience that ultimately led to a full-time job offer with the firm. My time as an intern allowed me to see first-hand what auditing entails and thus solidified my decision to enter the field. I am truly grateful to everyone in Quinlan that helped me navigate my undergraduate and career paths.  

Julie Stefanski

Employer: Deloitte 

Title: Audit Associate

Grad Date: May 2015

Majors: BBA Accounting

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Transfer student finds his path

After transferring to Loyola, Ryan Alm found his future in accounting. He offers these reflections on his internship and academic experiences:

My name is Ryan Alm and I am an accounting major in the Quinlan School of Business. I plan on graduating May 2016 and sitting for the CPA exam soon after. I currently have completed three internships during my time at Loyola and I am almost finished with my fourth. However, I didn’t get where I am without help. In January 2013, I transferred to Loyola University Chicago from Oakton Community College, excited for the opportunities that awaited me. There was a chance to meet new friends, get involved in new activities and learn a world of new ideas through my classes. Unfortunately, there were a few bumps in the road. I didn’t think my major was a good choice for me at the time and I decided to change. In fact, I changed twice.

Accounting as a major really became a reality when I talked to Professor Stanko for the first time. He introduced me to the idea of my major being an avenue to gain credentials and to market myself to potential employers. I later changed my major to accounting because it allowed me to blend my interest in math, business, and organization with a multitude of career opportunities. I want to thank Professor Stanko for the role he played in help shaping my professional and career path. He has always been helpful in answering any career or accounting questions I had. I am also grateful for the opportunities for career development that Business Career Services (BCS) has offered. I would not be where I am today had it not been for the numerous career fairs, on campus interview opportunities, and networking events BCS has provided. These events allowed me to connect to employers and hone my interview skills needed for a prosperous post-college life. Due to the resources available in BCS as well as numerous professors who have helped me along the way, I am now able to graduate with marketable credentials, professional skills, and a world of opportunities that await me.

Ryan Alm

Employer: Grant Thornton

Title: Audit Intern

Grad Date: May 2016

Majors: Accounting

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A student CFO

Ziying ‘Katrina’ Yao says her work with Loyola Limited helped develop her skills and made her stand out in the crowd. She offers these reflections on her academic and student organization experiences:

Ziying ‘Katrina’ Yao says her work with Loyola Limited helped develop her skills and made her stand out in the crowd. She offers these reflections on her academic and student organization experiences:

I am a 2015 alumni with a bachelor’s accounting degree. Currently, I am working as an Assurance Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). My first accounting class was with professor Kevin Lee, who helped me realize how fascinating accounting can be. Professor Lee helped me to develop a passion for accounting, which I eventually chose for my major. After declaring my major, I started to look into all of the various opportunities in the field. During my career search, I dedicated a great deal of time and energy to the search, but I also made good use of the many resources Loyola offers, such as Business Career Services, professors, and alumni.

I was eventually accepted into the Honor Program in PwC, a special program for accounting students, which helped me to make connections and get clearer picture of public accounting firms. Later, I became the Chief Financial Officer of Loyola Limited, which is a student-run business on campus. I would absolutely recommend this program to more students, it provides a very interesting and hands on experience for accounting students. It developed my professional, communication, and public speaking skills. I think my experience of being a CFO especially helped my resume stand out after graduation. All in all, my career path was a very challenging process, but I truly believe that diligence and commitment pay off, so don’t give up!

Ziying ‘Katrina’ Yao 

Employer: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 

Title: Assurance Associate 

Grad Date: May 2015

Majors: Accounting 

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Combining one's passions

Through campus involvement and professional experience, Jessica Chitkuer discovered her true passion. She offers these reflections on her internship and student organization experiences

My internships throughout college have been instrumental to my personal and professional development. My first internship was in the office of State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, in preparation for a possible career in federal financial management. My involvement with the State Treasurer’s Office eventually led me to become acquainted with now-Governor Bruce Rauner. Last year, when French Ambassador Gerard Araud visited, I spoke with him about the importance of not only engaging young people in building France’s startup industry, but also the importance of having tax incentives for budding entrepreneurs. Maintaining relationships that I had cultivated from freshman year allowed me to network with government officials and startup leaders, as well as the opportunity to both voice my perspective and learn from up-and-coming startup leaders.

During my sophomore year, I was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer of Student Government Loyola Chicago (SGLC). My involvement with SGLC allowed me to connect with diverse students across campus, meet administrators, and affect policy through leading different initiatives. I also worked for technology startup Charlie during this time, where I led different growth initiatives and business development strategies. At Charlie, I was exposed to the wonders of startup culture – where personal growth and mentorship are prioritized above all else.

Following my internship at Charlie, I joined the technology team at Aon, an $11 billion company looking to modernize its information technology. At Aon, I automated IT processes, revamped the company’s project management methodology, and trained heads of technology in North America and EMEA on new systems and processes that I pitched.

Out of the 200 interns in Aon’s Chicago office, I was the only Asian American in the group. Following that internship, I was determined to explore diversity-related issues in the technology industry. This past summer, I combined my passion for technology and community by working with Google Chicago to explore the value that a diverse workforce can offer. In collaboration with my Google teammates, I created a sustainable web ecosystem and improved the digital literacy of startups and incubators in underserved communities.

These past few years at Loyola and Quinlan have been both intellectually and professionally stimulating, and have better prepared me for tackling that next big thing I am always chasing after. Looking forward, I am excited for new learning opportunities and the chance to grow both personally and professionally.

Jessica Chitkuer

Employer: Google

Title: Google Community Leader

Grad Date: May 2017

Majors: Finance and Marketing

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Utilizing Quinlan connections

After years in the industry, Rakesh Kesliker knew he could still depend on Quinlan's Career Services when he needed to make his next move. He offers these reflections on his work experience:

 Since earning my undergraduate degree, I have worked exclusively in retail and commercial banking. In 2007, I decided to pursue my MBA from Loyola University based on the school’s reputation and curriculum. By the time I graduated in June of 2008, the country was in the midst of the greatest recession in generations. Not many firms were hiring, however based on my banking experience and recent MBA from Loyola, I was able to land a consulting job advising the FDIC on bank failures. After the economy started to improve, I became an Asset Manager for a lender that financed multifamily properties across the country.

In July 2014, I was in transition when my employer moved operations to Dallas, Texas. I had been looking for jobs on my own, however prospects were difficult to come by. I contacted Loyola’s career services department and was introduced to Hassan Akmal. Hassan spent the next week introducing me to various alumni spanning multiple industries to help assist me with my search.

Within a few weeks of meeting Hassan, I received a call from William Blair regarding a newly created marketing position within the Investment Banking group. Hassan had forwarded my resume to the Managing Director who immediately called me for a phone screening. An interview was set up the next week with several Directors and Managing Directors within the group. Within two weeks of the initial phone screening, I was given an offer to join the William Blair family. I have been with William Blair since September 2014 and have sincerely enjoyed working here. I have worked on a number of new marketing initiatives that have been transformative not only for my group but also for the firm.

I would not have been able to find this position without the help of Hassan Akmal and the Career Services Department. I highly recommend that both current students and alumni utilize the wonderful partners in the Career Services department. They helped me land a dream job and I am forever grateful for their efforts. 

Rakesh Kesliker

Employer: William Blair 

Title: Markets Analyst 

Graduation Date: June 2008 

Major: MBA 

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Determining his own success

Jared Boot has known his career path since high school and uses the resources at Quinlan to achieve his professional goals. He offers these reflections on his work experience:

I am a Financial Representative with Prudential and a second year MBA student concentrating in Operations Management. I was most inspired by Professor Caltagirone in the Operations Management Department to begin my recent career search. Although my career as a financial representative does not directly relate to what Professor Caltagirone taught, the skills of self-discipline, leadership and teamwork I learned in his supply chain capstone course definitely helped me get to where I belong today at Prudential.

I have had a burning desire to become a financial representative since I was young. In high school I interned for a financial advisor and it inspired me to want to be a part of the community, make it a better place and ultimately it was an appealing career path because I saw it as a career path that allowed me to determine my own success. I knew a career in the community where I could put my financial skills to good use was what I was meant to do. Without the advisor who guided me into this field and the excellent faculty at Loyola such as Professor Caltagirone, I would not have been able to obtain my dream job. I am so thankful for the experiences those individuals afforded me and I am definitely thankful for all the time and effort Sara and Julie at Business Career Services put into my career search! 

Jared Boot

Employer: Prudential

Title: Financial Representative

Graduation Date: May 2016

Major: MBA 

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Closing the digital literacy gap

Daniel Yara strives to dedicate time to his studies, community, and professional career. He offers these reflections on his work and volunteer experience:

My name is Dan Yara and I am junior Finance major with a minor in Economics. I was chosen by Google to be a Chicago Google Community Leader for the 2015-2016 school year. The Google Community Leaders Program (GCLP) is a program that is very new to Chicago but has a national presence. GCLP aims to eliminate the digital literacy divide among communities and individuals by leveraging Google tools and resources.

As a community leader, I am trained on different Google tools and applications to then teach those skills to the community. Right now, I am a part of the start-up business team and we are working with a Chicago-grown tech incubation firm to help them run their advertisements more efficiently through Google AdWords.

Outside of the GCLP program I am involved in the Rambler Investment Fund (RIF), Club Golf, and I am a proud brother of Sigma Chi. I also work part-time during the school year as an accounting intern at Citadel LLC, which is a Chicago based hedge fund. In my free time I enjoy golfing and volunteering at different Chicago sporting events such as the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament each spring. The people who influence my career the most are the individuals who I get to interact with on a daily basis, including my family and friends, my Sigma Chi brothers, and my fellow team members at Google and Citadel. 

Daniel Yara

Employer: Google

Title: Google Community Leader

Graduation Date: May 2017

Major: Finance 

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Pursuing a passion for the arts

Alexandra Modica used the skills she gained from Quinlan to land her first internship at a prestigious Chicago ballet company. She offers these reflections on her internship experience:

Dance has always been a significant part of my life and an important part of who I am. I knew in high school that pursuing dance professionally wouldn’t be an option for me, but my love and passion for the art form would never subside. When I came to orientation the summer before my freshman year, I was given a packet that highlighted impressive places that Loyola students had interned at. The Joffrey Ballet was on the list and I remember thinking how amazing it would be to gain professional experience from a world-renowned ballet company.  Throughout my first two years at Loyola I was given the tools and assistance to figure out how to achieve my goals. I had older friends to look up to that had landed their dream internships and jobs and I had an array of professors and advisors to help me fine tune my skills.

I ended up applying for a development internship at The Joffrey Ballet the summer before my junior year. It was totally a shot in the dark. I had no previous development experience, I really didn’t know what development was, and I never had an internship. However, I did have a lot of transferable skills and the passion for the industry to sell to this potential employer to get me the position.  In my interview, I came prepared with a portfolio of relevant projects done through my classes such as Retail Marketing and New Media. My interviewer was impressed with the caliber of work Loyola students were creating. I began my internship there a month later. 

Dr. Stacy Neier Beran has been a huge influencer in my career path and time at Loyola. She is a marketing all-star and is so passionate about the field. Her passions for marketing and her students have shown me how much it pays off to love what you do. She’s been an irreplaceable mentor in my Loyola experience. 

I’ve been an intern at The Joffrey Ballet since August 2014. I’ve helped execute three large fundraiser events, learned how to use the donor database, and worked with the prestigious Women’s Board. I’ve gone to many performances and am constantly reminded of the magic and importance of dance. I’ve developed professional relationships and connections that I know will help me in finding future internships and jobs. It’s weird to think about how I jumped into such a small and specific industry so early in my education; however, I know that through my projected degree from the Quinlan School of Business that there are many opportunities for me.

Alexandra Modica

Employer: Joffrey Ballet 

Title: Development Intern

Graduation Date: May 2016

Major: Marketing 

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Working old connections for new opportunities

George Slater used existing connections to land an internship with a bank in his native Indiana. He offers these reflections on his internship experience:

My name is George Slater, and I am currently an MBA student at the Quinlan School of Business. I recently received an internship at my local community bank close to my house in Merrillville Indiana. Centier Bank, where I am interning, has been a family owned community bank for the past 125 years, they are currently valued at $3 billion and growing about 10 percent a year.

My current position is with a new department that the bank has titled Corporate Services; in this department I am working with the VP to grow the corporate benefit plan portfolio for the bank. This internship intrigued me the most because the department is growing and the job functions would be very entrepreneurial. The internship for the last 3 weeks has required a lot of planning, collaboration, and strategy. I am very excited to see where this opportunity leads me since the position is requiring me to push my creativity and strategic thinking to grow a new product line in an established bank.

For anyone looking for jobs, or internships my recommendation is to pursue connections that you know through family, past business, or friends. I received this opportunity from reaching out to a connection I made a couple years ago in my old job. Looking for jobs and the right opportunities is not always easy and once I reached out to the connection I remembered, I had an internship a couple weeks later. 

George Slater

Employer: Centier Bank

Title: Corporate Services Intern

Graduation Date: May 2016

Major: MBA 

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On a mission for a more socially responsible corporate world

‌Jessica Firlej is the definition of a go-getter. She is the daughter of two Polish immigrants and a first generation graduate of one of Chicago’s top universities. She held countless part-time jobs to fund her own education and took as many as 21 credit hours a semester to graduate on time, in the face of three Major concentration changes.

She received countless merit-based scholarships, and is a proud alumni scholar of Chicago’s George M. Pullman Foundation. Her path to the world of information technology and role in business-to-business sales was not one of luck but persevered through a heavy local presence in the Quinlan Business School community, unyielding dedication of graduating with a full-time job offer, and innate skill of networking. Jessica has always envisioned herself standing before Corporate America, working hard to climb the ladder of success and ultimately leveraging her success to be the face of a more socially responsible corporate world.

Loyola has inspired Jessica to impact the Technology and Startup Scene in Chicago, as well as continuing to volunteer her time with an organization she is most proud to be a member of Global Brigades. Throughout her undergraduate career, Jessica fundraised over $4,000 alone and travelled to Ghana and Honduras over ten day brigades to provide impoverished communities with educational, financial, medical, and organizational resources necessary for sustainable development.

Jessica would like to give a special thanks to Wren Donofrio, the Assistant Director of Business Career Services, for mentoring her throughout her career development. Wren helped prepare Jessica for a number of interviews and job shadows, providing the support, guidance, and confidence in Jessica’s success, which very well led her to her first official job offer with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, just days leading up to graduation in May 2015.

Today, nearly a month into her new job, Jessica’s pipeline is filled with a number of promising and impressively large opportunities, and her ability to establish strong client rapport speaks volumes. “Standing among hundreds of exemplary Loyola business student graduates is one of my biggest accomplishments up to date. My colleagues have made remarkable impressions on me through victories in the Quinlan Case Competition, leading initiatives for social justice and striving to make a better community for Loyola University on a daily basis. I am proud to be where I am today because of the people who helped me get here. As a young businesswoman, I am proud to look back at my undergraduate career, and thank LUC for shaping me to go forth and set this world on fire!”

Jessica Firlej

Employer: New Horizon Learning Centers 

Title: Account Exectuive 

Graduation Year: 2015

Major: Marketing 

Be bold and take initiatives

Graduate student Huining (Helena) Zhang was hired recently at Deloitte Tax LLP's Chicago office. She offers these reflections on building her résumé and taking advantage of resources available at Loyola:

"I am currently in Loyola MSA/MBA dual program and expected to graduate this winter. From the last Fall campus recruiting season, I was invited to interview with and received offers from PwC, Deloitte and eventually choose to start at Deloitte Tax LLP this summer.

"During the past two years, I received the most transformative education in my life from Loyola, it is the first place that brings me up. Besides the classes, I have been actively involved and taking leadership roles in professional organizations such as Beta Alpha Phi and ALPFA, Ascend and finished 3 major-related internships.

"The opportunities came out from my commitment to network and continuously improving my soft skills. As an international student, acing the classes and getting a degree is not the hardest part and neither should be the only goal of Loyola experience. The ability to adapt to new environment and embrace the challenges with an open mind will benefit us for lifelong time. Along the way, it’s very critical to find mentors and get advices to impel our growth.

"Loyola has provided tremendous resources like alumnus network, career center and professional events. You will succeed and finally achieve your goals which seem unreachable today for you with fully leveraging the resource Loyola has provided us. If I could summarize what brings me here today and give some advices, that would be:

  1. Be bold and take initiatives: Don’t let what you can’t today stop you from doing what you can now or in near future.
  2. Be an observer and keep an open mind, be generally interested in people or surroundings even it is new or different for you.
  3. Be honest and ethical, that is what takes you far no matter where you go.
  4. Network, network and network. Stay active and step out of comfort zone, meet new people and consistently improve your professionalism and confidence.
  5. Enjoy and have fun at Loyola!"

Huining (Helena) Zhang

Employer: Deloitte

Title: Tax Intern

Graduation Year: 2015

Major: MBA/MSA