Moving out of my comfort zone – a post-lockdown accountancy internship experience

My name is Jan Harrison. I am seventeen years old, and I was born in London but moved to California when I was four. I currently go to a tiny public school next to Lake Tahoe and enjoy skiing during the winter, water sports by the lake in summer, and traveling back to the UK whenever I can.

When my dad mentioned to me the possibility of doing an internship at an accountancy firm in Scotland, I was a little apprehensive. Prior to my internship at Chiene + Tait, I was not only completely unaware of anything to do with accounting, but also scared to work in an office with such accomplished, wise people. However, my dad reassured me that I would be in good hands, so I set off to Edinburgh. On my first day of work, I showed up in heels and my nicest trousers – expecting suits and ties and dress shoes. It was something of a relief to see everyone wearing jeans and converse! I was welcomed with open arms and invited to a group lunch where a monstrous portion of penne arrabiata was placed in front of me – I knew it would be a good few weeks.

During the first week of my internship, I was working in Personal Tax. I had vaguely heard about the tasks I’d be doing from my brothers, Scott and Ben (who had also done internships at C+T), but I didn’t truly know what to expect. I was first put to work filling out tax packs (thankfully Aga was patient with me and my slow typing), and I had extensive conversations about what Personal Tax is and what jobs the team is expected to do. It was so exciting to be working on something that felt so important. I had no idea I would be trusted to work with real client Information! Within an hour of being in personal tax I had seen pictures of everyone’s pets and felt utterly at home. I found my first week incredibly insightful and exciting. I was learning so much!

I had heard so many good things about the Marketing Department at C+T, so when it was finally time to venture to the second floor, I was thrilled. I first joined a zoom call where I met all the members of the Marketing Team. I was amazed at how efficient they all were at communicating and how well everyone worked together. I really enjoyed learning about internal and external communications at C+T. I got to work on the internal newsletter, and I even got to look at blogs that were being posted onto their website for all of C+T’s clients to see. I learned that marketing is more than just posting on social media – in fact, it is the glue that helps everything and everyone at C+T stay together. I am so thankful to experience what a real marketing department is like!

At the end of my second week, I went to the Royal Highland Show. I had been told to expect cows and food but beyond that I really didn’t know much else about the event. I met our group and we started exploring. Our day was packed with delicious food, funny looking animals, enormous cows and lots of laughs. We eventually stumbled upon a carnival tent and set our sights on a large stuffed duck. After shooting (and missing) about thirty throws of a softball, we began to lose hope. We left the tent, but luckily ended up back there mere moments later. I don’t think any of us are proud of how much time we spent trying to throw a ball in a jug for our prize, but Alistair Grant became a hero when he made the shot on our last go. We collected our duck and proudly strutted away. I was gifted the duck and went on to name him Lennox. Lennox travelled back to London with me on the train, and although we got some funny looks, I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. . (My dad, however, informed me that Lennox is in fact a goose, not a duck. I guess I learned less about wildlife from the Highland Show than one would have hoped!)  Going to the Highland Show was one of the more memorable days of my life thus far and I cannot thank Chiene + Tait enough for letting me tag along.

I spent my last week working with the VAT Team. Before this week, I confess I had absolutely no idea what VAT was (I live in America, so I suppose it’s like the sales tax added to our purchases). Every time I mentioned to someone at C+T that I would be working in VAT, I got the same resounding comment: “20%!” I was itching to figure out why 20% was the only thing anyone ever mentioned about VAT, and that I did. I filled out VAT return information for a quirky client and found the work quite interesting. I am excited to extend my knowledge about this topic in the future.

Before I spent time at Chiene + Tait, I never really thought about accounting as a profession. Now that I have seen many of the different aspects of it, I would be interested in learning more about it in the future, and potentially studying accounting when I go to university. I am beyond thankful to Chiene + Tait for taking me under their wing and teaching me about their individual work. I have never felt so welcome and included in any environment before. This has been a life-changing experience and I am so sad it is coming to an end.