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Ankita’s Internship at KPMG in the Tax Department

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Ankita Kapoor, a junior accounting and finance major at the Jindal School, recently interned with the tax department at KPMG, an international audit, tax and advisory company, to learn more about the work and see if it was right for her. In her interview, Ankita discusses the importance of an internship in ensuring your field is right for you before you graduate.

Q: What was your internship experience like?

My internship with KPMG was a really nice experience because I was able to learn the soft and technical skills I’ve been hearing about in classes. It was also great because I got to be in that environment and say, “Yes, accounting and finance is the right path for me.” I enjoyed that environment and the people I was around.

Q: How did you get your internship?

I was not even looking for an internship when I got this opportunity with KPMG. I was working in the Career Management Center at the time, and people there were motivating me and saying, “Yes, you’re just a sophomore, but you need that internship so you know you’ll be enjoying the work you’ll do in the future.” I thought, “OK, I should definitely apply for this through Comet Careers.”

Q: What was the office culture like at your internship?

It was really great. It was nice to be able to meet not just people from my section of the tax department, but to meet people from Advisory Services and Audit Services, and learn what might be the best fit for me down the road. During this internship, I was in the tax department. I did learn that tax may not be the best route for me because I enjoy talking to people and face-to-face interaction with clients. They loved that I was exploring these opportunities and actually motivated me to talk to individuals who were in that field so I would know what I want to do down the road.

Q: Did you have a mentor?

Yes, actually. It was nice having mentors during the internship process because they were working with and motivating me. Not only were they supervising me, they asked what I liked to do, what fields I was interested in, to really foster a relationship and help me later in life.

Q: Did they have any workshops for interns?

There were planned office-wide events that we went to. The workshops were really interesting and helpful because they taught you what the differences between audit, advisory and tax services were, and what your career path in each field would look like in the company. They also taught us about the career options if we decided to switch fields.

Q: What was the ratio of work and on-the-job networking?

Because of the type of internship I was in, it was about 85 percent work and 15 percent networking. However, I talked to other interns who were in the actual tax and audit and advisory sides, and they had more of a balance. In those fields, they held events specific to the interns in order to evaluate where they were in their career choice, as well as defining what they needed from the company.

Q: Did the internships have any perks?

There were actually many discounts and perks offered. I only worked there for six months, and I traveled at discount rates and received a discounted gym membership.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

I am enrolled in the Professional Program in Accounting. The program is currently recruiting other firms so I’m hoping to hear back from other firms soon. I would love to join KPMG again, but I would like the chance to work somewhere else as well.

Q: Do you have any advice for students looking for internships?

I would highly suggest visiting the Career Management Center and asking for their help and with finding an internship opportunity, as well as with résumés and cover letters. Before my internship with KPMG. I lacked confidence in my interviewing skills. I did a mock interview at the Career Management Center, which really helped calm my nerves. It helped me prepare for potential questions and refine my answers. There is a specific technique the Career Management Center teaches you to help prepare you for that.

Q: Do you have any embarrassing stories?

It was a year ago so I don’t really remember them, but I’m sure there were a few. It was great because the type of people who were there all had very similar outgoing personalities, so it was easy to brush embarrassing incidents off. It was a good environment to make mistakes and learn in. It was very open on all levels in respect to communication.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are about to start their internship?

I would suggest researching a lot about the company ahead of time. Honestly, just be calm. They are going to teach you a lot about the internship and how to do what you need to do. Just relax and realize that you are going to screw up in the beginning. It’s a learning curve, and they realize that. At times what we learn at school won’t translate, but you have that foundation, and that’s all you need.

Q: Why do you think internships are important?

Internships prepare you for the work that you will be doing in the future. In my case, I realized that I enjoyed tax but another internship or job was a better fit for me. It helps you realize these things early on to avoid going into them blind and unknowing. I’ve heard many stories where people decide to change their major after completing an internship, because they realize it isn’t right for them. It’s just a good learning curve to have, even if it takes you longer to get through school. You would rather know the first time than have to backtrack. If you have any questions or concerns, go to the Career Management Center. They are an enormously useful tool in helping you figure out where your future is. They offer all sorts of help through career advising and counseling. You can set up an appointment, get résumé help and help writing cover letters. That helped me because I wasn’t even considering an internship until they motivated me to get myself out there and go for it. They know what internships and job opportunities are available so they can really help you navigate how to apply, what kind of interview questions will be asked and get you through the whole process.

Q: What was your form of transportation?

Sometimes I would take the DART. However, because I was working pretty long hours and would have to come back to campus around 8 or 9, I decided taking a car was better because I didn’t want to be on the DART so late at night. It stopped running during the snow, so it was good I had a car and could navigate. If you ever need help finding cheap parking in downtown, I can help you. I would walk a block to KPMG because I was not going to pay $10 a day for parking.

Q: What was your dress code?

The office dress was business casual. On Fridays during busy season we were allowed to wear jeans, which was nice. At first it was difficult to figure out what to wear each day. After attending a number of Career Management Center workshops, I had a fairly good idea of what was expected. I went to the mall and bought essential items, such as nice dress tops and slacks.

Q: Do you have any advice for other women in the accounting workforce?

There are a lot of women’s initiatives in the firms I went to. I went to those meetings because it’s interesting to know about everyone else’s story and inspiring to see how far we can go despite wanting a family or not. There is always a way you can make things work with your career and family life. There are lots of motivators who are single moms that make you say, “OK. I can get there one day.”

Q: Were there any unexpected costs besides parking?

Since you were staying where you worked, parking was the only cost. During the busy season you will work up to 10 hours a day. Ten hours sounds like a lot, but they went by fairly quickly because the people around you were amazing. If you were bogged down with your work, you could take a quick five-minute coffee break with other interns to refresh and re-energize yourself. There’s a lot of volume during busy time, but it’s fun.

Q: Are you excited to start work?

I am, because I’ve been in school so long! In PPA we have lyceums where public accounting firms come do presentations on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I get so excited now because I know what they’re talking about. It’s very dorky. Who gets excited about accounting? But I’m sure people do; it’s a lot of fun.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway?

My biggest takeaway was learning to work with how things happen and to accommodate those changes. Although busy season is often an up and down, you have to keep going and not let it affect you or other areas of your life. I made sure to take breaks with friends and family often so that the stress of working long hours seven days a week wouldn’t get to me. It was a good experience because of the great people. What really opened my eyes to the company’s perspective was when we were in a room training and an advisory partner offered us chocolate. It opened my eyes because this was an advisory partner talking to interns in tax. It was totally unrelated, but ended up great because I am actually interested in advisory, so we made a lunch plan with all the interns. It was just great that it was so easy to get to know everyone there on different levels. 

Kelsi Edwards

Kelsi Edwards is a freshman marketing student in the Jindal School of Management. She's passionate about writing, the digital world and people. As a member of DECA, the Davidson Management Honors Program and a social media student worker in the JSOM Web Services Department, she loves keeping herself busy. She enjoys spending the free time she has traveling, walking her dog and practicing photography. Read more articles

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