Falling markets give way to an accounting career on the rise
This story is the third in a series about Fairleigh Dickinson University students and the summer opportunities they're taking advantage of.
By Kenna Caprio
After a taxing summer internship, Renee Reitmeyer, 38, may just have a new full-time job waiting for her at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Working in the mortgage industry in 2008 when everything kind of fell apart, I found myself out of work,” recalls Reitmeyer, a first-year accounting graduate student.
“If I was ever going to go back to school, it was the perfect time because of the economy,” says the former loan processing manager. Picking Fairleigh Dickinson University was “kind of an easy choice,” she admits. After two years at Bergen Community College, Reitmeyer wanted a “150-hour program that was close to home, at accredited school.” FDU fit her criteria.
Committed to staying in a related field and to finding a “stable industry,” Reitmeyer settled on accounting.
Last summer, Reitmeyer applied for various accounting internships and scored a spot at Evonik Industries, a specialty chemical engineering company in Parsippany, N.J. The position introduced her to tax — and piqued her interest in the discipline.
Reitmeyer connected with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), “the world’s largest professional services firm,” for the first time through a scholarship. The company contributed to the $1,500 scholarship Reitmeyer received through the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants.
“That kind of got me on their radar,” explains the Cliffside Park, N.J. resident.
So, when PricewaterhouseCoopers recruited on-campus for a tax internship last fall, Reitmeyer was definitely interested. With the help of Lynn Lechner, assistant director of Career Development on the Metropolitan Campus, she sent over her resume and applied for a position.
The eight-week, paid internship started last week for Reitmeyer. On day two of the internship, she flew out to Chicago for three days of training on tax research. There she trained with all of the other PricewaterhouseCoopers interns.
“The tax code is enormous,” she says, laughing. “If you look at the tax code book, it’s like an encyclopedia.”
Interns study tax law to help keep associates, senior associates and firm partners informed and up-to-date on any changes in the code. While working for PwC, Reitmeyer will specialize in “private client services,” focusing on privately held companies and wealthy individual clients.
“In tax, the law changes all the time. Certain codes stay pretty much standard no matter who’s in office, but every time there’s a different president, the tax code gets changed a little bit,” she continues.
An interesting factor in current tax law is the possible expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, she says. “Right now, if you own stock in a company and they pay you a dividend, or income, you only pay 15% of that in taxes,” explains Reitmeyer, who wrote a research paper for her applied business law class on the legislation.
That could all change if President Barack Obama wins reelection. “He’s said he’s going to let that expire,” she says. “The beautiful part is that for the people in our industry, whether it (the law) expires or not, we still have to advise our clients,” she continues thoughtfully.
The 38-year-old knows that her thoughtfulness and experience — life, career and academic — will help impress at the internship. Through developing a rapport coworkers, finishing assignments early and staying proactive, Reitmeyer plans to secure her future with PwC.
“One of the best perks of this internship is it would likely come with a job offer at the end of it if they like me,” she says. Reitmeyer would complete her FDU education and then return to the company in 2013 if offered a position. “At a lot of the ‘Big Four’ companies, they do things in cycles so that they’re not overwhelmed with the amount of people that they have to train and integrate in.”
Whether she’s presented with an offer at the end of the summer or not, Reitmeyer expects to gain a lot from the internship. She notes that all internships pump up the resume, making “you more appealing to people who will eventually offer you a job.”
“I’m an old intern, but I hope it turns into something permanent,” she concludes. “People a lot older than me would like to be in my position.”