On Accounting Internships, Choosing Majors, and the Importance of Relationships
Staff Writer: Niki Non || Photo Credits: Commerce Community Breakfast
Intern (noun): A student looking to earn job experience. Also known as a part-time coffee fetcher and sub-management assistant.
Meet Sabryna Ko and Jasmine Chan, otherwise known as not your-commonly-stereotyped interns. With a penchant for exploring Vancouver and enjoying the outdoors, these two have given The Cavalier (and yours truly) an opportunity to interview with them about their internship at Big 4 firm KPMG!
Question 1: What does an average day in the life of a KPMG Intern look like?
Sabryna: I’ll talk about the audit, and Jasmine will talk about the recruitment rotation! As summer interns, we get to do 2 rotations in the summer, and each of them are 5 weeks long. We both started in audit in for first rotation. In the first week we had training so we’d come in and eat breakfast, and all the interns would come in to KCampus, and we would learn, all day from senior staff. We’d have lunch together, and essentially spend all day together!
Right after that we’re thrown into audit. So we have the weekly training, and then you go right into your rotations I started on my audit client right away. Most people think you’re in the office, but the entire time I was at the client site. Out of my audit rotation, I was only at the KPMG audit for maybe 3 days.
So you meet up with your team beforehand or at the client site, and then usually the interns are in charge of bringing all the supplies to assist the audit which are basically in a luggage… like you actually roll up in one with monitors, scanner, extension cords etc.
Jasmine: Because it’s hard to work off just your laptop especially since you need at least two screens as it makes the audit easier. And yeah, you just… audit!
Sabryna: Would you like to speak to the Recruitment rotation?
Jasmine: Yeah for sure, two things, just to keep it brief, for recruitment we’re in the office constantly. There’s an HR department within the Vancouver office and three of the main jobs would be to attend networking sessions and different events the company hosts for recruits. For example, on Monday we had KPMG’s Day in a Firm event, where students would come in and get office tours, and get information about full-time starts and internships so they get to know what we’re all about and meet some people as well. Other parts of our job as interns include planning those events. There’s a lot of planning that goes on in the backend especially with the recruitment team.
Question 2: What steps did you take to get where you are today?
Jasmine: With recruitment there’s a very formal process especially with the Big 4 accounting firms or just with any accounting firm in Vancouver. You’ll also go to networking events in the summer, get to know as many reps as you can and get exposed to many firms and their culture, and through that you would go to National Firms day, where all the firms have their own ballroom in the Vancouver Convention Centre to network with all the different firms. Then you put a formal application through to whichever firm you want to apply to, which includes transcript, cover letter, resume etc. and you would go through rounds of interviews. After those rounds, you would be notified after about a month after that.
Sabryna: The whole process is very people-based, it really has nothing to do with numbers! Firms like KPMG place great emphasis on having a very strong understanding of building relationships. As an intern, they want to see how you all work in teams or with customers or clients. Being well-rounded is essential because we are the face of the firm in situations where we meet with clients and what-not.
Question 3: In what ways do you think your field of occupation is changing?
Jasmine: We listened to a partner talk to us about a week back, and he was talking about the presence of data analytics and IT within audit, or a professional services firm like KPMG. I can’t really speak to it because I haven’t had much exposure to it, but management and executives are definitely working hard to see how data analytics work within the audit, and how it can streamline processes and make it faster and efficient. This also plays a role in our jobs as junior accountants where they can take out more mundane groundwork that you would need to do on a day to day basis. In that way, we can do more challenging or rather, more stimulating work that needs more brainpower as opposed to just formatting or crunching numbers.
Question 4: What got you interested in accounting and why did you pursue it?
Sabryna: For me, I was always interested in marketing and accounting. In high school I took a few accounting courses, so it was always something that came naturally to me. When deciding between accounting and marketing, I really wanted something that was more of a tangible skill such as analyzing and understanding financial statements. A CPA is highly valued in the industry and in business in general. Getting my CPA opens a lot of doors, and should I want to explore other fields in the future, it would allow me to move across easier.
Question 5: Now, on a lighter note, what is your favourite way to relax after work?
Jasmine: Definitely hiking and exploring Vancouver! There’s so many cool spots here that we’ve hadn’t had the chance to explore.
Sabryna: One weekend, Jasmine and I drove up to Whistler with a couple friends and lake-hopped! It was so much fun!
Thank you to Jasmine and Sabryna for taking the time to do this interview. We wish them the best as they embark on their next adventure on exchange in Australia!