The most frequent question that I am asked at PwC recruiting events is; “What made you choose tax?” The answer to this question is not very simple. In fact, my answer has and is continuously changing as I learn more about what we do in our tax practice and the different opportunities that are available.
When I was first faced with the difficult decision of whether to choose tax or audit – I had no clue which one I should pick. To be honest, at that time, I had very little knowledge about tax and had not even taken my tax course at SFU. With the time crunch of the CACEE deadline looming a few hours away (Yes – I waited that long to choose - and would encourage you to avoid this) I was able to talk to some very influential and successful family and friends who advised me to try tax.
In 2009, I was hired as a summer student with PwC and worked with our Private Company Services (“PCS”) tax team. I had zero knowledge of tax and was quite intimidated after our first few weeks of training when I was given my own tax return to complete. However, this experience could not have been more positive. I was coached the entire way through the project, given the flexibility to set my schedule and complete the project on my own time, and was able to learn a significant amount about the client and the industry.
After this project, I built up confidence and realized that tax was a safe learning environment where I was able to ask questions, challenge myself to understand why we were making a certain adjustments and I started to leverage my knowledge from one file to the next. I was given the opportunity to learn independently at my own pace, while having the team element and support to learn from. Not to mention, I had great colleagues who I was sitting beside, who were more than willing to help me out! The teams I was working on were smaller (2 or 3 people), but that provided for a very cohesive learning environment. Towards the middle of the summer, I was also encouraged to go out and take on the type of work that I was interested in, rather than just being assigned files to work on. All of these characteristics made me feel valued and helped me understand why PwC’s Tax CA program was the best possible fit for me.
I was extremely fortunate that I ticked the “right” box for me (this is the only difference when applying to tax as oppose to audit on the CACEE form), but it truly wasn’t until I went through the program as a summer student that I realized what a great opportunity I have been given. Since I have continued my employment full time in the tax group, other reasons why I am fortunate and pleased to have chosen tax: secondment opportunities, tax planning engagements, expanded learning opportunities, rotations through industry groups, and most importantly, I will earn the same CA designation as my audit colleagues.
Please stay tuned and read future posts, where I will expand on what each of these opportunities mean. Next week, I plan to talk about my rotation in audit during their busy season, and will provide some insight into the differences between audit and tax.