How Fisher Prepared me for Success: Part I

This is part of a series of blog entries that will be detailing how the Fisher College of Business prepared me for my internship with KPMG.  Fisher prepared me very well and I want to make sure that the programs and people that have helped me get all the credit that they deserve.

Interviews can be intimidating.  If you have already been in an interview situation before, I am sure you can remember the stress and anxiety that built up before that first interview.  You’re faced with many different thoughts and concerns including:

“What is a typical interview like?”

“What if my interviewer asks a question I don’t know the answer to?”

“Should I wear my lucky Mickey Mouse/Scooby Doo/Pokemon tie to the interview?”

“What if the interviewer is a Michigan fan?”

Fortunately, as a student of the Fisher College of Business, you will have the opportunity to participate in the QUIC Program and have all of the questions above, as well as your interview related questions answered.   After completing web-based modules that include information on how to best prepare for an interview and how to use FisherConnect, Fisher’s online job and internship listing database, you will sit down with a member of Career Services and take part in a mock interview.  This is a great time to get those interview jitters out of the way and get feedback on what you do well and what you could improve in terms of your interviewing skills.  Career Services will also give you guidance on the dress code (You’ll want to leave the Pokemon ties at home, sorry) as well as the general logistics of an interview process.

I definitely feel that the QUIC Program enabled me to get an internship with KPMG as I was able to improve my interview skills with help from Career Services and was much more confident during my interviews knowing I had completed the program.

Here are a couple tips for interviewing that I have found helpful:

  • Try to meet with the company’s recruiter or interviewer before your interview, as this will cut down on your stress level. This can be done very easily at the career fairs held on campus.  Also, I know from experience that the accounting firms I interviewed with had “Pre-Nights”, which are events held the evening before interviews to give students a chance to interact with the recruiting team and other employees.  Also, many recruiters will have office hours on campus.  Career Services can help you out to determine if the company you are interested in working for has office hours on campus.
  • Find out as much as you can about the company you are interviewing with. This should include going beyond the company’s website and looking for current news about the company.  Another great resource to find out information about the company is to seek out current or former employees.  Ask your friends and members of student organizations that you belong to about the company.  You just may find out that someone you know, or a friend of a friend knows the recruiter or HR contact and you can make a personal connection that way.

“We Go to the Canteen at Half Twelve”

When I found out that I would be participating in KPMG’s Global Internship Program in Ireland, I was happy because I knew it was an English speaking country (I took Latin in high school…very interesting, but not exactly practical).  However, I wasn’t completely expecting to encounter all of the different phrases and words I hear on a daily basis in Dublin and around the office.  The above phrase, translated into non-UK English is, “’We go to the cafeteria at 12:30 pm”.   When I first heard that phrase, I thought they were referring to the bathroom and meant 11:30 am.  I thought, “Why are they telling me this? Is there an assigned bathroom break time? What have I gotten myself into?”  I think the look of complete confusion on my face was enough of a sign that I needed a translation.

Outside the Harbourmaster Place office.

There are two KPMG offices in Dublin: Stokes Place and Harbourmaster Place.  The Stokes Place office is located across the street from St. Stephen’s Green and the Harbourmaster Place office is located at the IFSC.  I work in the Stokes Place office in an area of the office that is nicknamed “The Bullpen”.  The area gets its name from the fast paced nature of the various mergers and acquisitions that are facilitated by the KPMG associates, directors, and partners working nearby.  The entire Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) department is made up of 14 people, including myself.  This is a lot smaller than the M&A department in Chicago, which I’m sure is much closer to 100 people, and that is only one office in the US.  The Stokes Place office in Dublin is the main office for KPMG Ireland’s M&A activity and is their largest.

Shortly after I arrived at the office for my first day of work, I met with my assigned Performance Manager and Mentor in the Stokes Place office and was introduced to everyone on our floor.  Everyone was very nice and welcoming and some asked me, “How are you getting on?”  The translation for that phrase is simply, “How are you doing?”  One of the benefits of working with a smaller team is that I am able to get to know everyone on my team fairly well.  On larger teams, this is simply not possible, as 80 people cannot go out to lunch together every day.  While out at lunch or during slower times in the office, I have learned a lot about the schooling in Ireland, the steps necessary to become a Charted Accountant, and that even the Irish follow Lindsay Lohan’s latest courtroom drama.

I remember during my first week of freshman year at OSU when one of my roommates pointed out that I have a “Cleveland accent”.  In case you are not familiar, (or you are from the Cleveland area and don’t pick up on it because it’s the norm) those from Northeast Ohio tend to accent their a’s.   I was well aware that in Ireland, my American accent would not be the norm and my team members realize that too and really enjoy having me say different phrases to highlight my accent.  I get to share in the fun too when they practice their American accents that sound like a mix between a stereotypical Chicago and NYC accent.

My next blog will focus on how Ohio State has prepared me for both my internship in the US as well as my internship abroad.

First Days in Dublin, Ireland

I may never leave Dublin.

My ideal type of weather is a football Saturday in the middle of October and the weather in Dublin is very comparable, even in July.  While the weather in the United States was approaching 95+ degrees, Dublin was at a very comfortable 65 degrees (18 degrees Celsius) every day last week and around 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) at night.  Now that you know the weather situation and how comfortable I was last week (sorry for rubbing it in, I know how unbearable it was in the US), here is a recap of my first week in Dublin.

My apartment building in Ballsbridge

After settling into my Dublin 4 apartment in the Ballsbridge area on the 3rd, KPMG took the other Global Interns and myself out on a tour of Dublin on the 4th of July.  We climbed aboard a vintage black double decker bus and saw Merrion Square, Trinity College, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and my favorite, The Guinness Storehouse.  The process for brewing Guinness is very interesting and I highly recommend the tour of the Storehouse to anyone who happens to visit Dublin.  I am very happy to report that I after visiting the Storehouse, I am a certified pourer of Guinness and would be happy to share the process with anyone when I get back to Columbus.

Outside by the gates of the Guinness Storehouse

My first day of work was on the 5th of July and all of the Global Interns met for training at KPMG’s office at the International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) on the bank of the River Liffey.  During training, I met the three Irish interns that KPMG is sending to Chicago and NYC and we exchanged recommendations for places to visit.  We also discussed the differences between school and working in Ireland and the United States.

One of the most interesting differences was that getting an internship in Ireland is not as heavily recommended as it is in the United States.  In Ireland, most of the recruiting is done around graduation time and an offer leads to a three-year contract to work for KPMG and pursue certification as an accountant.  During this three year period of time, the trainees are given paid time off of work to study for their yearly exams.  Upon passing all parts of the certification process, most people take up to a year off to travel before beginning to work full time for KPMG.  I’m definitely going to recommend this system to KPMG in the United States!

In Dublin, I have been working within the Corporate Finance group on the Mergers & Acquisitions team in KPMG’s Advisory practice.  Working in another country has been very exciting and interesting and I will devote a full posting to that experience next time.

Gates to the US Embassy in Dublin on the 4th of July

Exclusive Sneak Peek: One of the most amusing differences is when Word or Outlook auto-corrects certain words to the UK English spelling.  You can definitely say it’s one of my “favourite” differences!

Springfield, Illinois: Lincoln, Horseshoe Sandwiches, and Auditing

Springfield, Illinois is known for being the city where Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest Presidents, got his start in politics.  It is also said to be the place where corn dogs were created (although that claim is disputed), and is the home to the famous Horseshoe Sandwich.

I had the great privilege of sampling one of these culinary masterpieces during my stay in Springfield and let me tell you, it was…interesting.  A Horseshoe Sandwich is made with two slices of bread laid next to each other on a plate, with a hamburger patty on each slice of bread, and is then covered with Horseshoe Sauce.  Horseshoe Sauce tends to vary from restaurant to restaurant but is basically a cheese-based sauce with some other additions like mustard or mayonnaise.  I bet right now you’re thinking: OK, so basically a Horseshoe Sandwich is a non-traditional cheeseburger without fries?  If that actually is what you’re thinking, you’re wrong! On a Horseshoe Sandwich, the fries are included…on top of the sandwich!  (I’m sure what you’re actually thinking right now is: Did he really just talk about a sandwich for a paragraph and half?  Yes.  Yes I did.)

When I wasn’t sampling the local cuisine, I was working with my engagement team members on an audit of an insurance company.  Being on an out of town client was great because I spent a lot of time with the team and really got to know everyone, including the partner and senior managers.  Everyone I worked with was very helpful and answered any questions that I had, even if they were a bit basic.  The people at KPMG understand where you are coming from because most of them were interns at one point and were definitely first year associates back in the day with many of the same questions.   I was fortunate enough to be on the same client for two weeks and gained a lot of knowledge about the processes associated with an audit.  I also formed some great relationships with the people on my team and look forward to working with them when I return from Dublin.

Speaking of Dublin, I arrived on Saturday, July 3rd and I began work on Monday July 5th with KPMG Ireland in their Dublin Corporate Finance office.  Although I was not in the United States for the 4th of July, I still had a great day.   I’m in the process of adjusting to the time difference (Dublin is five hours ahead of Eastern Time) and am headed to bed to continue that process.  Next topic: My 4th of July in Dublin.

KPMG Chicago: The First Days

The accounting industry is driven by deadlines.  Clients require work to be completed by a certain deadline in order to file reports with various regulatory agencies.  I was aware of the importance of deadlines before starting at KPMG and even had first hand experience meeting deadlines before I started!  With my last final ending at 9:18 pm on June 7th and my internship beginning at 8 am on June 9th, I had very limited time to pack for Chicago (as well as Dublin) and move into my apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.  Fortunately, with the assistance of my girlfriend and one of my good friends (thank you Caroline and Alex!), I was able to bring everything I needed and made it to Chicago in time for my first day.

As a Cleveland native, I unfortunately have never had the privilege of experiencing the excitement of having a professional sports team win a national championship.  However, that all changed after only a day in Chicago as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers and won the Stanley Cup.  It was a great experience to celebrate with the people of Chicago and attend the ticker tape parade on the following Friday.  Thank you Chicago for giving me something that Cleveland has been unable to provide for quite some time now.

Clark Street shortly after victory by the Blackhawks

One of the highlights of the first week of training at KPMG was meeting all of the other interns that are participating in the Global Internship Program (GIP).  We had spoken during a couple conference calls, but during training we were able to meet face to face while learning more about what to expect from the GIP.  KPMG did an excellent job of informing us of the firm’s expectations for the program as well as providing us with all the resources we need to succeed.   One of my future posts will be focused on the GIP and I will go more into detail about the process of being accepted into the program, as well as the training and other resources provided to the participants.

National Intern Training focused on the basic processes and principles of an audit as well as technical training on KPMG’s new paperless audit system, eAudit.  This system is not only much more efficient than previous paper-based systems, but is also more environmentally friendly as it eliminates the need for binders filled with hardcopies.  On the last night of the training program, KPMG rented out 10 Pin, an upscale bowling alley, and we spent the night bowling and getting to know each other better.  Fortunately for me, KPMG does not take bowling into account during performance reviews.

As I write this blog now, I am actually on a train headed to Springfield, Illinois to work on my first audit engagement.  This is exciting for many reasons, one of those reasons being that this is my first time on a train.  I am also excited to apply the knowledge I gained during training to my first client and work with my engagement team to learn more about KPMG and its audit practices.

I’ve been told by interns native to Illinois from the Chicago office to try a Horseshoe sandwich, as it apparently is something central Illinois is known for.  I’ll be sure to update you on the quality of that sandwich, as well as the rest of my experience.  Keep it classy Columbus! (I know that’s a very unoriginal sign off…help me think of a more creative one! Make suggestions in the comments!)

– Josh