Jasmine Reliford – PwC Washington Federal Practice Intern

Project Belize_JRelifordPricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is one of the Big 4 Accounting Firms. With offices all over the world, the firm is full of endless opportunities. The reason I chose PwC is because of its dedication to sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community service. Among many opportunities the firm presents to interns, Project Belize is a program that contributes to the firm’s CSR initiatives.

Since 2008, Project Belize has sent PwC interns, partners, and staff to Belize City, Belize to teach financial literacy to elementary school, middle school, and high school students as well as to teachers and members of the Belizean Ministry of Education. The program focuses on integrating topics such as budgeting, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and goal setting into the public school curriculum.

As an intern, I was given the opportunity to participate in Project Belize and it was truly a humbling experience. My students’ ages ranged from 8 to 13 (middle school) and they came from extremely modest backgrounds. As we taught them about the power of teamwork, the power of dreaming big and the impact that they can have on their tiny country, they taught me and the rest of my PwC teaching team, words in Creole, their culture, and humility. I will never forget what a little girl named Zoe told me before I left. She said: “I am a girl, and you are a girl. You told me that I could be the first female Prime Minister of Belize if I wanted to be. And I believe you because you work next to Obama”. The passion that the children had, and PwC’s continued commitment to helping this country and other organizations, added to the wonderful experience I had in Belize, and motivated me to sign full time with the firm.

As mentioned before, I “worked next to Obama”. I interned with the firm in Washington, DC, working with government clients in the firm’s advisory (consulting) practice.  My client was located a block away from the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The amazing part of working in government consulting is that current events directly affect your client, and the work PwC does directly influences current events. The Obama Administration’s sustainability initiatives directly affected my client, Congresses’ budgeting issues (sequestration) directly affected my client, the Snowden NSA scandal directly affected the firm and how the firm positioned itself in the public sector. Even as an intern, my work impacted our Federal Government; the projects I was given had line items titled after famous monuments and landmarks. I was given the opportunity to create solutions and present my ideas to the client. The ideas I generated are still used in the General Services Administration (GSA) today. The autonomy that my Senior Associate gave me, and the firm gives its interns, was incredible!

Government consulting, especially consulting in DC, is extremely different than commercial consulting. The clients hold intel that is expected to be kept even at the intern level. The fast moving pace of East Coast, the caliber of talent, and the size of the market (the DC Market is second only to New York) were all hard to adjust to at first, but I can say my Foster education prepared me to succeed in this market. The opportunities to succeed nationwide as a Husky are infinite!