I just finished a Master of Taxation with The School of Business. This winter, I had an amazing opportunity to complete an internship for the US Business Tax Group (USBT) at Deloitte UK-London. They’ve never had someone from Portland State University come to their internship, so it was really cool to represent PSU students. Here are some tips and tricks from my experience if you are interested in applying for this internship.
What was your group like?
My group was really diverse! There are about 100 people, split between London and India. Most of the London group is American, but we have people from all over the world, including Brazil, Belgium, France and South Africa. The diversity of cultures and traditions meant I was always learning and trying new things.
But you were an intern, right? So you made copies and got coffee?
Not at all! Interns with the USBT are treated as first year analysts, so you are responsible for tax preparing. We attended loads of trainings taking us step-by-step through workpapers, how to use software, etc.
Later on, we attended trainings about different code sections and rules surrounding various business situations that we commonly run across (e.g., is the gain or loss from exchanging currency taxable to corporations? Why or why not?). These were really informative and attracted professionals from all levels because the rules of taxation are ever-changing.
As for the work I personally did, I spent the first month doing workpapers for corporations, partnerships and disregarded entities. The second month, I did Passive Foreign Investment Company testing (a different kind of workpaper), and the third month, did a mix of the first two months as well as helping to develop new software for my group. It was really rewarding to see that we were given work and treated like full-time employees.
What is it like working abroad?
I’ve worked abroad before, teaching English in Japan, so comparatively, this was a much easier experience based on the lack of language barrier alone. That being said, the actual work experience with my group similar to moving offices in the US, only with a different keyboard (US keyboard forever, please) and questioning your spelling always (realise, favourite, colour). I think the similarities are in large part because the majority of my group was American and doing US tax work.
How about living abroad? Did you get homesick?
Living in London was amazing, but the first week or two was genuinely difficult. I think this is due to things being just different enough to make me uncomfortable. For example, I was walking down the street like I do all of the time in the US, checking my phone whilst walking (because #Multitasking), when all of a sudden fell flat on my face. I’d forgotten that the sidewalks are cobblestones instead of poured cement and in case you don’t know,cobblestones = uneven surfaces. I wish I could say I learned my lesson that first time.
No, but really. I didn’t get terribly homesick once I got used to the discomfort of the things being different. Something new or different gave me a lot of anxiety the first time I did it, but then it quickly became second nature when I could do it correctly. Looking the correct way before crossing the street was a big accomplishment for me.
Learning to embrace the discomfort and appreciate the new culture for what it was — and to stop wishing that it would be more like my culture — helped me a lot. That being said, I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing the first time I walked into Target when I came back. I’ll never stop missing the availability of a one-stop shop.
What was it like to work for one of The Big Four accounting firms?
The Deloitte UK-London campus is comprised of four buildings in Central London, where the other three Big Four companies are in the financial district at Canary Wharf. I absolutely adore the hustle and bustle of big city life, so the centralized location made me pretty happy.
Working at such a big campus was really cool because there were a lot of ways to specialize and further my career. Do you want to work on hedge funds? Real estate? CRS/FATCA reporting? Corporations? Partnerships? High Net Worth Individuals? Done. We have a place for you. There’s always work and always something more to be done if you want to take the time to do it, and it was nice to be able to feel like I contributed to important clients.
Did you have to work 80 hours a week?
The average work week in the UK is 35 hours and the UK firm doesn’t mandate 55 hours per week minimum for busy season like the US firms do. I generally worked between 40-50 hours per week during the peak busy season. Outside of busy season, I stayed under 40 hours per week.
I want to do this! What do I need to do?
Applications open December/January for the following January, and the group interviews on a rolling basis from January–May each year. In case all of those January’s confused you — I applied December 2017, interviewed January 2018 and started my internship January 2019. It was a long year of waiting, but very exciting!
If you’re interested, talk to an accounting faculty member about it, and start working on your resume and cover letter! There are two internships available annually: January–April (Spring) and May–August (Summer). If you’re interested, send me an email, and we’ll have a chat and I’ll turn in your resume for you.
Most interns were either in their senior year of their undergrad or in between their undergrad and graduate programs; only 3 of the 15 this year had already started their master’s degrees, so plan accordingly for that kind of timeline. That being said, if you’ve already graduated, there are people that work there currently that did an internship after graduation, or that just applied for full time work straight away without doing the internship at all!
Do I need a scholarship to do this? It sounds expensive!
Nope! Deloitte pays for your round trip plane ticket, your car ride to and from the airport, your housing, and you receive a monthly salary (you aren’t paid hourly unfortunately).
Additionally, you get paid time off as well to travel around Europe or just relax from the busy season. I visited five countries as well as several parts of the UK, and I only used half of my paid time off, the rest was paid out to me at the end.
I’m not sure if I want to do audit or tax. . . is that a problem for this opportunity?
Not at all! A lot of people don’t know if they want to do tax or audit when they come; it’s all about experiencing it. In the end, everyone wants you to do what’s best for you and your career. Make the choice that makes you happy!
What if I don’t know about Deloitte. . . or London. . . Are there other international opportunities with The Big Four?
My advice for those of you that want to live abroad is pretty simple: reach out. LinkedIn is a great tool to find people in major cities around the world that work in US Tax. Reach out and see if they have an internship opportunity or if you can do an informational interview with them. A lot of these locations are almost always hiring and would love to hear from people that are passionate about living abroad.
Morgan Healey graduated from PSU’s Master of Taxation program in 2019. She now lives in London and works for Deloitte UK in the US Business Tax Group.