Q&A with Peter Olsen, MS in Taxation alumnus

David PearcePeter Olsen, Tax Manager at Grant Thornton LLP, shares his experiences in the UW Foster School’s tax program. He graduated from the program in 2011.

Why did you choose UW’s tax program?

I chose the UW tax program because of its reputation as a well-respected program in the Seattle area. I came into the program without having completed an internship at a public accounting firm, and I was anxious about the recruiting process. The UW tax program allowed me to make great connections to public accounting firms, helping me get a foot in the door with networking. It felt good knowing that I had the program’s support to guide me through this process.

What advice would you give a student choosing between several tax programs?

The UW tax program has an outstanding reputation among companies in the greater Seattle area; its graduates are known to be some of the best and brightest in each recruiting class. I found that the UW tax program has developed a culture of excellence, those around you push you to find your full potential during the program. I also found there were certain activities and traditions carried down from each graduating class. These activities both inside and outside of the classroom during my year in the program are some of my fondest memories of school.

How did your study group affected your experience in the tax program?

My study group was made up of four people from different backgrounds who had never met before the first orientation day of the tax program, and these people became some of my closest friends during the program. They provided the support group that I needed to get through the challenging curriculum and kept me motivated on some of the longer days and nights.

What is your impression of the UW tax program’s alumni network?

The UW tax program is a strong network of people with common goals and values that stretches beyond just your graduating class. I’ve been able to make a deeper connections with other accounting professionals because we shared the same education background of attending the UW tax program. As careers progress, the program is a lifelong network of people in various industries to keep in touch with.

How has the tax program impacted your career?

The tax program allowed me to get a head-start on my career and come into professional life feeling confident and prepared. The program gave me the skills and knowledge base I needed to be successful and progress through the ranks in public accounting.

What were the advantages of getting a master’s degree in Seattle?

Seattle is a competitive market with lots of opportunities in the accounting profession. The UW tax program has a great reputation and is looked upon favorably with potential employers. The program can give you the competitive edge you need in your job search, whether that is right out of school or at a later time in your career.

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