MEET OUR GRADUATES: After 120 Applications, Mateo Found His Dream Job

Headshot of Mateo Efstathoulos

RIC supports its students from the day they enroll to the day they land that first job.

The dictionary definition of “determined” might as well have been Mateo Efstathopulos, an accounting major. This graduating senior applied to no less than 120 companies before he landed his dream job.

“I interviewed every single day for three months,” he says. “Out of the 120 places I applied to, only four accepted me. One of them was the corporate office of CVS. I will never forget the day they told me I had the job. I was so happy.”

In truth, Efstathopulos had been preparing for that day from the moment he enrolled at RIC as a transfer student.

After earning his associate degree in accounting at CCRI, Efstathopulos came to RIC to earn his B.S. in accounting. He also made it his number-one priority to apply for an internship, which could launch him into a full-time corporate career.

First, he went to RIC’s Career Development Center, where he polished off his résumé. Next, he attended the School of Business internship fair.

Mateo Efstathoulos at the Accounting & Internship Fair
Efstathopulos (left) shares his résumé with a company rep.

“At that event, I was fortunate enough to get multiple internship offers,” he says, “but I went with PKF O’Conner Davies accounting firm. It was a good experience. I learned that I didn’t want to be a tax accountant.”

By the time that internship ended, Efstathopulos was already looking for a summer internship.

He returned to the Career Development Center, polished off his résumé some more and attended a workshop on becoming skilled at job interviews.

“I honestly believe that if it weren’t for that interview workshop and my on-the-job experience at PKF I wouldn’t have landed an internship at CVS,” he says. His position was internal audit analyst. It would prove to be the launch he was looking for.

At that point, he started the hardest part of his climb – applying for a full-time position, not only at CVS but at 120 companies in all.

That Sisyphus-like determination was fueled, he says, by the struggles of his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia.

“I’m a first-generation college graduate. I wanted to do better. I needed to do better. That’s why I tried so hard,” he says.

Even with a corporate position in his pocket, he couldn’t allow himself to rest on his laurels. He had one semester left at RIC and his position at CVS didn't start until the end of the semester.

Using Career Development’s Handshake software, he searched for and found another internship at Norad, Inc. in Kingston, Rhode Island.

“I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of experiences with different branches of accounting – tax accounting at PKF, internal auditing at CVS and public accounting at Norad. I learned a great deal. I also learned that internal auditing is what I love most,” he says.

“Internal auditing is different from other types of accounting because every time I do an audit, I can never rely on what I did before,” he explains. “With public accounting, it’s always the same. You book an entry, you debit, you credit – that’s it. With tax accounting, you play by the book. You look at the tax rules, you do what they say and you apply it to the person or business. Internal auditing is always changing.”

With a mind toward career advancement, Efstathopulos is currently completing his M.B.A. online at Strayer University. After earning his M.B.A., he plans to sit for the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam.

“Being a certified internal auditor would bump me up in salary by $25,000,” he says. “My goal is to work really hard and move up to senior analyst and then manager and then senior manager.”

(Accountants in the United States earn nearly double the median wage of all occupations nationwide and can expect above-average job growth projections.)

Looking back on his climb, this extremely grateful graduate says, “I made the right decision in coming to RIC. I felt so much support from every single professor I had, particularly Dr. Weiss who guided me throughout my entire career at RIC. I would always go to her if I had any issues or questions. In fact, it was Dr. Weiss who referred me to the Career Development Center in my first year.

“And I love Dr. Cote, my first accounting professor. I loved how he taught. I learned so much so quickly from him. All of my classes were small and all of my professors helped me whenever I had questions. They were always there. I don’t think a single professor didn’t know my name by the end of the class. I also took advantage of their office hours.”

His advice to fellow graduates setting out to build their careers:

“Don’t give up. When you apply for jobs, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. Just keep trying. It only takes one job to say yes.”