Friday 27 June 2014

Putting her degree to work

One semester of tax was enough to give Michelle Goodhew a taste of her career options after university, but it wasn't quite enough to teach her all she needed to know about the industry. Fortunately a vacationer role, and now a supportive environment as a graduate at Grant Thornton, has given her a great start in the tax sector.

What did you study?

I studied a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting at the University of Wollongong.
When did you start thinking about a job in the tax sector?

I started to think about a career in tax while I was applying for vacationer positions in 2012. I was leaning towards the tax sector as I felt that it was something I could take everywhere. It seems that everyone has to deal with tax, even if they don’t want to.
What were your expectations of working in the tax sector?
As I commenced my career in tax, I really wanted to put into practice what I had learnt at university, broaden my skills and knowledge, and kick-start my career within an area that would provide a solid foundation for wherever my career takes me in the future.
How would you describe your current role?
My current role involves helping our clients meet their requirements in areas including tax compliance and consulting work. What I most enjoy about tax is that it’s a challenging job and you’re always faced with something new. There is a great culture at Grant Thornton, which has enabled me to broaden my networks on both a global and national scale because I work with colleagues across our network of firms in a collaborative environment to reach the best outcomes for our clients. It’s a great experience to be able to learn from colleagues outside my office and also share my experiences with them.
What are the main differences between what you learnt at university and what you do at work?
I think the biggest difference from university and work is that you’re actually dealing with real-life examples where there are no written-down solutions and are constantly gaining exposure to new tax issues. University offers a brief snippet on what the tax service line is about, but there is no way you can learn everything about tax in one semester at university.
Which skills or knowledge from university have been most helpful for work?
The skills that I have found the most helpful from university, which I now use in my day-to-day work, would have to be time management, working in a team environment and a base of tax knowledge. It is important to utilise all these skills on a daily basis as we are constantly working with different team members and required to manage our jobs independently.
What advice would you give to students looking at a career in tax?
Get as much work experience or as many vacationer roles as you can while studying at university. It’s the best opportunity for you to not only get your foot in the door, but also ensure you enjoy the service line that you choose.
I found my way into the Grant Thornton graduate program during my vacationer role there the year before. This meant there was no stress trying to find a graduate job while sitting my final exams. My advice is to get your applications in early!
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I own a horse that I train in the early mornings and compete with at various competitions on weekends.
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