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Name: Mark Clements

Company: Grant Thornton

Position: Senior Analyst

Length of employment: 3 years and 3 months

Degree: Honours Bachelor of Commerce

Where did you go to school? What program did you attend?
I attended the Business program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

What drew you to your current field?
Working in the tax department, I find that each client engagement is unique. We tend to work on smaller engagement teams here, which has allowed me to gain a great deal of exposure to many different aspects of accountancy very quickly. The work is constantly challenging and it keeps me interested on a daily basis.

How did you find your current position?
Lakehead University has a job bank for its students and I saw a summer position advertised at Grant Thornton. At the end of the summer, the partners in our office offered me a full-time position.

Tell us a bit about your responsibilities.
I'm involved in a lot of cross-border US tax work. I prepare income tax returns for both individuals and corporations both in the US and here in Canada. My responsibilities also include doing research on in-depth technical issues in order to allow us to complete these returns, and providing mentoring for some of the junior members of the team.

What is the most challenging aspect of your position?
I would say it is the vast amount of technical knowledge required to be good at this job. I remember when I first started, my manager saying to me that I should expect it to take five years before I could consider myself highly proficient! Fortunately, the firm has provided me with the opportunity to take the In-Depth Tax course, which has really helped increase my level of knowledge.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Sometimes when you're dealing with taxation issues, you encounter clients who are facing real problems. These clients are often very stressed, and being able to help them resolve some of these serious issues is really gratifying.

What skills have you learned through your work experience?
Being in this role has definitely allowed me to increase my client service skills, as well as providing me with opportunities to use my analytical skills. It has also helped improve my presentation skills, and taught me how to manage upwards with senior members of the team.

What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?
Definitely hard work and determination. I also believe it takes a real willingness to learn.  You discover very quickly that the road to true proficiency is a long one, so having a commitment to continuous, lifelong learning is very important.

What are you future career aspirations?
Of course it would be fantastic to be a partner one day, but ultimately I would love to be considered highly technically competent and knowledgeable in the tax field, and feel like I was a trusted source of information for others.

What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job?
It was a real challenge to land my first job. I think it's important to persevere and keep putting your best foot forward. Also, the people interviewing you understand that your education will continue long past university, and they won't expect you to know everything. What they're really looking to see is if you're a good fit for the organization, so make sure you're always yourself in an interview.
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