From January through April 2017, I took off a semester of school and interned at KPMG in Chicago, Illinois. KPMG is a public accounting firm that consists of three different practices: audit, tax, and consulting. I had the opportunity to experience both the audit and tax practices during accounting busy season. Throughout the internship, I completed various accounting tasks such as inputting data, reconciling account balances, and testing controls for Chicago clients such as large financial institutions and asset management companies. I had no idea what any of that meant when I first started, but by the end of the internship, I was completing tasks that a first-year associate might have also been given. It was overall a very difficult yet rewarding experience, and I am so glad that I did it.
Prior to my internship, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my accounting degree when I graduated from Ohio State. I was not even sure if I wanted to be an accountant, and I felt very confused and directionless. This was starting to show in my performance and overall attitude in school. Over the course of my internship, however, my feelings changed. I could suddenly see myself working in public accounting, at least for a few years after graduation, and I absolutely loved Chicago. I became excited to start my career, and I had a renewed sense of motivation for when I returned to school for the summer session.
Since my internship was located in Chicago, I needed to leave OSU and Columbus behind for the semester. My parents had moved from a Cleveland suburb to a neighborhood very close to downtown Chicago when I first started college, but having spent my summers in Columbus since starting at OSU, I had not had a chance to really explore the city. This internship, as well as STEP, gave me the chance to move home with my parents, and to fully immerse myself in city life. I was immediately thrown into its culture by taking public transportation to work and working in a high-rise building, which was both startling and exciting. I had always thought that there were a lot of people at OSU and around Columbus, but it was nothing compared to the crowded sidewalks of downtown Chicago during rush hour before work in the morning and in the evening after work. It was an environment that I wasn’t used to, but the hordes of career-driven, motivated people around me made me realize that Chicago was exactly where I wanted to be. I mentioned previously that I had become to feel slightly stagnant in my coursework at OSU, and Chicago gave me the change of pace that I needed.
KPMG did a great job of acclimating my intern class to living and working for such a big firm in such a large city. Some of the first few things we did were an orientation and a week of training. Training took place in Orlando, Florida, and all the winter interns from every single KPMG office in the country attended. Not only was it great to be in sunny Florida during the first week of January, but it was so cool to meet and become friends with interns from all over the country. Training was difficult because it included things like client interaction, firm technology, and general accounting skills that I hadn’t learned in school yet, but I learned so much and became so close with many other interns and our instructors,who were experienced KPMG professionals from around the country. I think that this was one of the highlights of my internship, because I was able to build relationships and learn a ton about KPMG, which made me feel so connected to the firm before I had even officially started working.
Once I was back in Chicago after training, I began working with teams for different clients. I worked for each client for a few weeks at a time, which gave me the opportunity to experience a few different industries, such as financial services and asset management. Each team had me performing different types of tasks, which was really rewarding because it gave me a well-rounded knowledge of the work that goes into audit and tax work. Everyone that I worked with was so helpful and willing to put in the time to work with me, and I built great relationships with the associates on each of my teams by the end of my rotations with them. Overall, I proved not only to the firm, but to myself, that I was capable of a career in public accounting through the work I was performing, which was something I wasn’t sure about prior to the internship. By the end of the internship, I was looking forward to beginning my career, and I knew that public accounting was where I wanted to start.
My time in Chicago taught me so much about myself, both personally and professionally. Living and working in such a motivated and fast-paced city was one of the best things I have ever done, because I learned that this is an environment in which I thrive. Not only was I able to apply knowledge that I learned in school to the tasks I worked on at my internship, I gained so many skills that I never would have even picked up through my coursework. At the end of my internship, KPMG offered me a full-time position following graduation, and I accepted it with complete confidence that it was the right decision for me. I am now so excited and motivated to finish my degree and to begin my career at KPMG Chicago. Completing this STEP signature project has had such an important impact on my life, and I am so grateful for the experience.