Jessica Chung, CPA and senior tax consultant at PwC Seattle, shares her experiences in the UW Foster School’s Master of Science in Taxation. She graduated from the program in 2012.
Tell us about your study group. How did your study group affect your experience in the MS Taxation program?
One of the most valuable things I gained during my MS Taxation program was the friendships I formed during the year, especially with my study group. One great aspect of this program is that, unlike many other programs, you have the freedom to choose your group versus being placed in one by the faculty. This not only empowered everyone to choose their team based on whom they worked best with, but also enabled us to mix it up once in a while and work with other colleagues in the program outside of our main group. My team, in particular, not only brought different perspectives to each project, but also supported one another when, for example, a team member had to take a day off to sit for the CPA exam.
Overall, there will be many ups and downs during the MS Taxation program, but everything is manageable when you have a strong support system. My group had such a great team rapport because everything we did was a team effort; no one was left behind. We all held each other accountable and made sure everyone understood the problems and the rationale used to arrive at our solutions. To this day, our study group still remains great friends and colleagues. The best part is that we can always share a laugh or a fond memory together about our time during the program.
Is there a particular faculty member who stands out in your mind as being really exceptional? If so, what makes them so great?
Co-founder Steve Rice is a faculty member who stands out in my mind as being really exceptional. In fact, he was the main reason why I chose to continue my studies in taxation at the Foster School. I had the pleasure of taking Steve’s undergraduate taxation courses and remember them being the most challenging but rewarding courses during my undergraduate career. Steve has this amazing ability to break down complex tax law/concepts and explain them in a way that could be easily understood by a person with a non-tax background, a skill that is not easily obtained but was something he always tried to develop and build within his students. In addition to reading, understanding, and applying tax law and regulations, Steve’s focus on communication, tax research, and business writing was extremely valuable and something I apply in practice in the accounting industry.
Is there anything else you want to tell prospective students about this program?
The advice I always got from previous graduates before I took the program and that I can now also attest to is, “You get what you put into the program.” This is by no means an easy program, but only you can hold yourself accountable for what you learn and get out of it. You might be able to get by doing the bare minimum, but I highly recommend putting in your best effort and being present. The amount of knowledge and experience the faculty members have and will share will help you tremendously as you prepare to enter the accounting/tax industries. And last, but not least, don’t forget to have fun! The accounting industry is small and the relationships you form will last a lifetime, personally and professionally!