By Sarah Small
Work experience was not all Kyle Giglio, a Masters of Accounting Science student, gained from his summer internship in the New York office of KPMG. Through philanthropy opportunities offered by the internship program, Giglio said he developed an appreciation for volunteering and community service.
Each office of KPMG organizes a community service project for its interns, Giglio said, but because the New York office where he worked was so large, the project was made into a competition where 18 teams of 10 interns each competed for the top prize: a week-long trip to New Orleans to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.
“I was fortunate enough to be on one of the two teams that won the challenge,” Giglio said.
For their service project Giglio and his team focused on First Book, one of the philanthropic organizations KPMG partnered with.
“First Book is an organization that intends to get brand new books in the hands of less fortunate children,” Giglio said. “The illiteracy rates in jails and prisons are alarmingly high and First Book hopes that getting books into children's hands will help them get a start on a lifelong passion for reading.”
His team took a group of children from a charter school in Harlem to Central Park for a day of reading and activities. A publishing company called Sleeping Bear Press, which publishes children’s books, donated over 100 brand new books for the interns to give the children, Giglio said.
“We held individual reading sessions with each of the children and made some amazing connections that helped the children with problems they faced in school,” Giglio said.
Giglio said, for him, one of the most memorable experiences of the day came from working with a young boy named Lucas who did not like school because he had problems with bullying. Together, Giglio and Lucas spent time reading, and one specific book had a message about overcoming the challenges of bullying. Giglio said Lucas noticed and understood the broader message the book was trying to convey, and he hoped Lucas would remember what he learned from the book when he encountered problems with bullying.
“Our overarching goal was to create a positive, memorable event for these children to associate with reading for the rest of their lives,” Giglio said.
Spurred by the team’s success, KPMG asked Giglio’s team to go on the Today Show in order to promote the company’s Family for Literacy campaign, and the First Book organization. The interns woke at 3:30 a.m. on July 16 to secure a prime spot at the filming site of the “Today Show”, Giglio said. They wore T-shirts and held posters and a large banner, which promoted KPMG’s philanthropic initiatives. Giglio said they received significant air time and appearing on the “Today Show” was a success.
For winning the philanthropic intern competition, Giglio and his team spent a week in August building houses with the organization Habitat for Humanity. He had never been the New Orleans to see the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city, and said the experience was overwhelming.
While building the houses, Giglio had the opportunity to work and talk with people who were receiving houses from the organization. He said hearing their stories and hearing how thankful they were to the volunteers had a significant impact on him.
After what he learned from volunteering and engaging in community service over the summer, Giglio said he looks forward to the opportunity to participate in more service opportunities. He was recently offered a job in the Chicago office of KPMG for after he finishes his Master’s studies, and said he plans to take advantage of the service opportunities the company provides.
“Overall, I was never as involved in volunteering as I have been this summer,” Giglio said. “I really felt touched by doing these things.”