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Academically, I did well in my undergrad years and am on to higher-level work in grad school. But it wasn’t until my internship at Grant Thornton that I discovered what tax accounting and the people who practice it are really like.
In school, you learn the basics. In an internship, you apply the basics, and then you go so much further. Though I had chosen tax accounting as my major, I wasn’t certain it was what I’d want as my career. Now, because of my internship, I can say without a doubt that it is. Tax accounting is complex, challenging and never boring. The work itself is the same at any firm, but a realization for me was that the people make all the difference.
At Grant Thornton, the people are amazing. They’ve helped me grow along the way, and we’ve have a good time together.
I used to believe in the stereotype of tax accountants, as people who stay away from everyone else, quietly crunching numbers. But we’re not off to ourselves, and we do like to talk with others. Many of us are extroverts, and we actually love to laugh. It was good to find that my preconception wasn’t true. We’re normal, fun-loving people.
Another notion that I got to dispel was about firm partners. In college I thought nobody ever talked to partners unless you were close to them. I thought they’d be reserved. But I interact with partners about work and in regular conversations. They’re really approachable. Everybody’s approachable. When I ask questions, no one says they’re too busy to answer.
I interact with partners about work and in regular conversations. They’re really approachable. Everybody’s approachable. When I ask questions, no one says they’re too busy to answer.
Formal wear for a special event
You can tell Grant Thornton is serious about its culture. That came through when I was first introduced to people from Grant Thornton, on campus. They presented every semester to my student organization, NABA, the National Association of Black Accountants. They’d describe their culture, and you could tell they were really serious about making it real. Everything I heard in recruitment was about the culture. And that’s what I’ve seen in the Dallas office during my internship. Grant Thornton cares about you as a person. They care about your development. So during your internship you get a buddy (a senior associate), a coach (a manager) and a mentor (a partner or senior manager). My assignments have a review progression, so you learn from corrections and pointers at every level. You can ask about projects or tax accounting as a whole and discuss possibilities in your career progression. It’s been a huge help throughout my internship.
The hours can be long, but people are happy and are definitely bringing their A game. We take breaks together, during or after work. On Wednesday evenings, some of us play kickball. (Our team is about to make the playoffs!) And with busy season coming to an end, everyone — including the interns — is invited to a barbecue at one of the partners’ house.
When I started my internship, one of my goals was to learn everything I could. I’ve learned to be detail oriented and to always have a positive mind-set. And I’ve learned something else that’s very important — after finishing grad school, I’ll be starting a full-time job at Grant Thornton.
Making my impact at Grant Thornton
A getaway during graduate school
It’s a huge learning curve — you come from school thinking you know accounting, but you really don’t. You’re starting at the very bottom. You have to learn the software and other things that go into it. That’s probably the biggest thing. It’s a constant learning process every single day. Even the managers, seniors and partners are learning every day. It’s cool to see it’s not a stagnant industry.
My focus has been PWS, which is private wealth services for individuals and their companies. I’ve worked on projects for big clients — the biggest PWS client in our office — and small ones. It’s been a really amazing experience for all the things you get to learn about tax.
Scavenger hunting across Dallas
I’ve also done tax extensions. It’s an interesting experience. At first I had no clue what I was doing. I felt lost. I think that’s how everyone feels when they start out as an intern. But the people at Grant Thornton have always been helpful and friendly.
I prep for tax returns by gathering all the information. The senior associate reviews my work. After that it’s sent to the manager and eventually up to the partner. Each one signs off on it, and it flows into the tax return.
My second week in, one of the partners asked me to create a UNICAP Excel file for him. With one or two small adjustments, the file I made was sent directly to the client.
I feel my work is contributing to something important. The work I do flows directly to the tax return, which is probably the most important thing we do. I’m not copying papers, doing nothing useful. My work has impact.
During busy season, there are long hours at every firm. But some of my friends who interned at other firms worked 75+ hours per week and felt like cogs in a big wheel. It isn’t that way for me. As an intern, my engagement team trusts me to work on things that are vital to the client. The people at Grant Thornton care about how I’m doing; they always encourage and support me. What I do matters, and I matter.
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