In a competitive environment such as the tax and accounting industry, it’s never too soon to start laying the groundwork for your future career. Here are five things you should aim to get sorted during the first year of your university tax course.
Develop a good grasp of the tax system
You can't build a house without a firm foundation, and gaining a solid understanding of the Australian tax system as soon as possible is the first step to a great tax career. You can – and probably will – spend a lifetime learning all its intricacies, but you'll want to nail the basics early on. (You may find enrolling in The Tax Institute’s CTA1 Foundations taxation course an effective way to achieve this.)
In particular, get your head around GST
It's the aspect of the tax system you’ll encounter more often than any other and, as you’ll soon come to learn, there’s a lot more to it than just whacking 10 per cent on top of the cost of many (but not all) goods and services.
Set up an internship
There's no better way to acquire practical experience and make some useful connections than through an internship. Australia's Big Four firms – Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst & Young – are the prestige destinations. All four have student programs, so bookmark these pages and visit them as often as you can:
But don't limit your search to major (or even minor) accounting firms – companies in almost every industry have finance departments where you can pick up practical experience.
Attend at least one industry event
Getting your name out there at networking events is a perfect way to make contacts that will help you down the road. The Tax Institute has a calendar of key industry events that are listed by state so you can find one close to home.
Join The Tax Institute
This one should be a no-brainer. Aside from free access to the Taxation in Australia journal – which can make all those assignments much easier – discounted rates on tickets to seminars and events, and a quarterly student newsletter, there's the price: zero. Zip. Nada. Join up right now.
Your first year at uni will be a remarkable period of personal and intellectual growth. By all means enjoy your new environment, but don’t forget to do the legwork that will set you up for a great career when you graduate.