Alumna Spotlight: Allie Aoanan-Talavera ’12TCB, ’12MS, a Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Leader
Q: What led you to St. John’s?
A: I transferred to St. John’s from a public university in New Jersey. I had always attended Catholic schools, and I missed having a Catholic-based education and a smaller learning environment. I learned very quickly that being at a big school was not a great fit for me.
I knew about St. John’s because they recruited at my high school. My then-boyfriend, now husband, was already at St. John’s. He was doing very well, happy, and succeeding in his education; I realized it would also be a good fit for me, so I applied.
Q: Can you talk about where you are now, and how St. John’s helped you get there?
A: Currently I am an Associate in the tax department at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. My work is a split between tax work and investor relations. I have an accounting background and earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Peter J. Tobin College of Business in 2012.
I was recruited directly into a Big Four accounting firm through my participation in Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor organization for financial information students and professionals. Through that organization, I was able to network with various account firms and secure an internship—and then eventually receive a full-time offer with a Big Four accounting firm. I stayed there for about five years. During that time, I interacted with various types of clients and I transitioned to a client, Goldman Sachs.
I began my current role mainly focusing on compliance work, which is essentially doing tax returns. I worked with clients one-on-one in my previous role, and was able to network with different client departments. Many people I worked with were St. John’s alumni, and I used our St. John’s connection to my benefit.
Many people who spoke about St. John’s at recruiting events were alumni. A majority of people I interviewed with at both ends of my career have also been St. John’s alumni. It definitely has been impactful.
Q: What advice do you offer to current students?
A: Every step is going to be its own different journey. People often think the first step begins the journey. Although that may be true sometimes, there are different paths that you can take. Be open-minded. Also remember that your school and education are the foundation that will lead you there.
Everything that I learned in the classroom helps me at work, but it’s just the foundation. Many of the things I have learned by talking to other people and at my job. Doing well in school is important because that sets the basis for how you pivot or channel your career later down the road.
Q: As a GOLD alumni volunteer leader, why do you feel it’s important to stay involved?
A: It’s something I am very passionate about. The more you give back to your school, whether it be through your time, talent, or treasure, the more value it actually adds to your degree and the more value it adds to you as a person.
For a young alumnus especially, you may not be in a position right out of college to be giving large monetary donations. There are other ways to give back. That’s the message that GOLD tries to emphasize to potential volunteers. This is a great way to give back to the University. It’s a good stepping-stone. You are giving back and also enriching yourself. It’s a volunteer position, which looks good on a résumé. You are able to network with other alumni and employees at the University.
The more you give back, the more you strengthen St. John’s University’s name—and your degree. All around, it’s a win-win situation. It is a great way to keep in touch with the University.
Q: What would you say to an alumnus interested in getting involved?
A: First and foremost, think of what you’re passionate about. There are so many different areas of the University that you can give back to depending on your interests. Many people get nervous and think it involves a much larger time commitment. Particularly for young alumni, you can prioritize giving back and getting involved.
Q: What advice do you have for the current student body?
A: Make the most of your experience. The University environment lends itself to greatness, whether it’s in person or virtual. I would still go back to St. John’s and do it again. I miss it a lot—I really do!
Favorite St. John’s Memory: The Spring Fling Carnival and sitting in the student sections at Men’s Basketball games
Favorite Place on Campus: The fountain at the top of the stairs of the Residence Village where you can see the Manhattan skyline
Favorite Professor: Nina T. Dorata, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Accountancy, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. She let us have class outside!
Favorite GOLD Event: We have hosted some great rooftop mixers. I think most people would say the boat cruise, but I have always been away whenever it was scheduled.