• Name: Emma Houlden
  • Job Title: Tax Summer Intern
  • Location: London
  • University: York
  • Degree: History
  • Areas of Specialism: Audit and Assurance
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Why did you choose to do an internship?

I wanted to gain an insight into a potential professional career before making any decisions in my final year of university. A six-week summer internship meant gaining a good idea of what a career in tax would involve, what the firm was like and the type of colleagues I might end up working with.

How did it tie in with your career plans?

My plan had always been to undertake a summer internship with the hope of securing a job in the process. It also meant attempting the application and assessment process without the added pressure of final-year university examinations.

What attracted you to the tax profession?

Whilst looking for a summer internship, I looked for areas which played to my strengths (being analytical and numerate) which led me to tax. I had always considered accountancy as a career, but I was more attracted to tax because of its legal side, which offered me the best of both worlds, coming from a history degree background.

What was the application process like?

I found it very transparent and less intimidating than expected. I heard back about my application from Mazars quicker than from many other places, and each subsequent stage was made clear well in advance. I secured my summer internship in January 2013, prior to starting in July 2013.

The application process for the internship is the same as if you are applying for a permanent graduate position. So, as well as attending a first stage interview and completing online reasoning tests, I also had to attend an assessment day which included a partner interview. In particular I remember enjoying my partner interview the most; it really showed me the type of open and friendly people I would be working alongside.

What were your main duties and what did you learn?

I managed to work within three different tax departments during my time at Mazars, so I was fortunate enough to try a variety of tasks. I took minutes in meetings, worked on a number of engagement packs and also attended some client meetings, and as a result I built up a good understanding of the various types of project that Mazars works on.

I learnt the processes undertaken by Mazars from firstly winning the work, the subsequent engagement, working with the client and finally through to the billing. Getting an overview of the various stages involved in tax, and taking on the perspectives of different teams, meant that I could discover the are asI find most interesting, and which best suited my skills. I also gained insight into the role of a graduate at Mazars.

What skills did you acquire or improve?

I certainly improved my communication skills, particularly in presentations (coming from someone who had little confidence in public speaking prior to the internship). The teams I worked in were very accommodating, encouraging me to deliver small presentations so that by the time I gave my final presentation during my intern project, I had a lot more confidence in my own ability. Additionally, I gained technical skills within tax and transferable practical skills such as professional letter writing.

What made you want to re-join Mazars as a graduate?

The greatest thing I took away from my summer internship was the relationships I made. Once I knew my skills were suitable for a career in tax, my time at Mazars showed me who I would be working alongside in a graduate position.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Mazars, and the people were friendly, down to earth and approachable. Having had a six-week opportunity to find my feet in the profession made the graduate scheme hugely appealing, and I look forward to joining Mazars as a full-time member of staff in September 2014.

Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?

I would definitely advise putting in the time in the summer before your second year of university towards getting an internship. Aside from the valuable application and interview practice, the internship is such a beneficial way to spend the summer before final year, and success in the programme could mean going into finals without the panic and added pressure of searching for a graduate job.
Mostly, it offers a great insight into a potential job before jumping into a graduate scheme. You get to test your compatibility with the skill sets, work and firm in your preferred career.

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