Laurel Schuster '11 Uses What She Learned Rowing at SCU in the Professional World

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - There are almost 50,000 college student-athletes each year and the overwhelming majority go on to jobs outside of playing professionally. Laurel Schuster '11 (LS) was on the women's rowing team during her time at Santa Clara University and is one of those who has gone on to the working world after competition. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with Schuster to talk about how her experience in collegiate athletics helped her transition into the next phase of her life as an Assurance Associate at Ernst & Young in Chicago, Ill.

SCB: Where are you living now?
LS: I'm originally from the suburbs of Chicago, so I decided to move closer to home after college. I now live and work in Chicago.

SCB: What is your job?
LS:
I am an Assurance Associate at Ernst & Young (a public accounting firm).

SCB: What are some of the main responsibilities of your job?
LS: The main responsibility of my job is to verify the company's records to make sure all the information is accurate. I work at various clients that are hired by Ernst & Young, checking their financial statements and internal controls to make sure the company is operating functionally and no fraud is being committed. We work in "audit teams", so as a Staff 1, my responsibility is to report to those with more seniority than I have.

SCB: How did you learn about the job?
LS: I was an Accounting and Information Systems major at Santa Clara, and Ernst & Young heavily recruits at Santa Clara. I interviewed for the job for the San Jose office, but was able to transfer my job offer to the Chicago office after I decided I wanted to move back to the Midwest. Ernst & Young is one of the four largest public accounting firms in the world, and it is required to have public accounting experience in order to be a CPA (certified public accountant). As I am in the process of becoming a CPA, working at a public accounting firm was the most logical career step, and Ernst & Young was the most appealing to me of all the firms after going through the recruiting process.

SCB: What was the interview process like?
LS: The interview process was pretty stressful. Before the actual interviews, there were a lot of networking opportunities and other events to prepare for the interviews (resume critiques, mock interviews, etc). Then when actual interviews started, it was a challenge to balance classes, schoolwork, practices, and interviews. The second round of interviews were over 2.5 days, so I had to miss some classes and practices for them. Luckily, my coach, John Wojtkiewicz and my professors were understanding and did not have a problem with me making up the work. At first the interviews were a little nerve racking, but after a while I came to understand that the interviewer was really looking for someone that they could see themselves working with everyday, so I just treated the interviews like a conversation and they went much smoother.

SCB: How many years did you row at SCU? Did you ever row before that?
LS: I rowed for all four years at SCU, although my senior year I had knee surgery so I was out for the Fall season. Before coming to SCU I did a learn to row program for two summers in high school, which really got me interested in the sport and made me want to do it in college. I specifically looked only at colleges that I would be able to row at because of that.

SCB: How do you think rowing helped you get your job? Whether in terms of a
connection made or the skills that apply both fields.
LS: Rowing definitely helped me get my job. One reason is that I believe rowing helped me get better grades. For me, I function better when I have a full schedule, so the time commitment of rowing helped me stay on top of everything and not procrastinate. Also, in interviews and on my resume, rowing was always something that would catch the interviewer's eye, and they would usually be impressed by it because it is challenging to be successful at both athletics and academics. Being an auditor is all about teamwork, so being a rower proved that I can work as a member of a team, because in rowing collaboration with others is incredibly essential.

SCB: What is your best rowing memory from SCU?
LS: My best rowing memory was the Lightweight 4 race my senior year at WIRAs (my last race ever). We worked so hard and put in a lot of effort to be able to compete in the race, so there was a strong sense of team bonding between the four of us (Adrienne Lohe, Vanessa Delgado, Blair Mitchell, coxswain Caitlin Cutting). We were super-pumped about the race, and ended up just missing first place by .03 seconds. We were bummed about that, but we still got medals and got to be a part of the awards ceremony, so it was a very good end to my rowing career at SCU. 

Check back next month for another story on a Bronco rowing alum.