Kailun (Kelly) Dong, Tax Staff at Ernst & Young, LLP, shares his experiences in the UW Foster School’s tax program. He graduated from the program in 2017.
How did the tax program prepare you for your current role?
First, tax is technical. The curriculum in the tax program gives me basic knowledge of many aspects of the tax world. I realize the value of the nine-month intensive technical training as I am able to get my job done at the firm in a more timely manner and I know what I’m doing.
Second, through the communication courses and my interaction with peers in the tax program, I understand that importance of the communication in the tax industry. For a non-native speaker like me, being immersed in a professional English environment before starting my job is definitely a bless.
Last, with all the connections I built with my cohort and alumni during the program, I see great value in my career advancement, especially considering the comparatively small size of Seattle tax industry.
Tell us about your study group. How did your study group affected your experience in the tax program?
Study group is the greatest part of my experience during the tax program. The fact that I was the only male in the nine-person squad didn’t impede my bonding with the group at all. We studied hard together for sure, and had a lot of fun. We hung out frequently after exams, threw a bridal shower for a girl in the group, and went to her wedding. Our friendship extends beyond graduation. We just had a super fun Christmas potluck party with white elephant and spicy ramen challenge last week!
What are your impressions of the faculty?
The faculty are great. All of them have many years of experience practicing tax in their fields. Therefore they bring in the priceless real-world experience and keep us updated of the industry changes. They are very approachable and more than willing to share their stories with me.
What strategies did you use to balance work, life, and the tax program?
I didn’t work during the tax program. However, I need to find a balance among job-hunting, CPA tests and tax classes. I was mentally prepared for a crazy year at the very beginning so I managed my schedule carefully. After landing a job in fall quarter, I started to take CPA tests in winter quarter and passed three out of four before graduation. I leveraged the study group a lot to and went to office hours pretty often. In the rear view mirror, it was a very meaningful year that I got so many things done while didn’t miss the fun part of it.