Accounting firms across the country are deep in the trenches of tax season right now, and all of them have at least one tax season intern to help lift the heavy load. Russell Thompson Butler & Houston, LLP, a Mobile, Alabama CPA firm, offers internships each year to local and regional college students who are working to fulfill their college requirements. “Our interns have always been tremendous team players and assist us greatly in meeting those tax deadlines,” said founding partner Robert Houston, CPA, CFP. This year, however, RTBH had a different sort of internship applicant who peeked their attention, a Chinese foreign exchange student.
Freda Sun is a graduate of Chongquing University with a degree in Management as well as a graduate from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Applied Accounting. Freda came to the U.S. from Chengdu, China on October 8, 2016 as part of an exchange program to work in her chosen field of accounting and landed an internship at RTBH.
With a spirit of adventure and a love of learning about different cultures, Freda came to the United States not knowing what to expect or how she would adapt to her new home and job. Her co-workers at RTBH think Freda has adapted to her new environment just fine!
“Freda has been a delightful addition to the office,” Houston said. “We are making an effort to advance her job skills to help further her career, but just as importantly, we are trying to give her a taste of our culture. Her adventurous personality makes both of those goals a joy to accomplish.”
Freda has been happily surprised by the welcoming work environment that she has found here in the United States. “I find the work environment here is very, very friendly. They are very helpful to me, and I really appreciate that ” she said noting that in China there is less interaction between management and staff and it is harder to get to know co-workers. “In China, it is very different, and there is more distance between the levels of workers which makes it harder to get to know them. Here, regardless of who you are or what position you hold, everyone is very helpful.”
When asked what she wants to accomplish while here in the U.S., Freda said, “I love to learn and to experience new things. And I really wanted to improve my English. Working in different volunteer programs at the university we mostly spoke English, and I found myself wanting to express myself more and not being able to.”
If things go as planned, Freda could be in the States for several more years. She has been offered a scholarship to the University of Mississippi. She wants to pursue a masters degree that will enhance her Applied Accounting undergraduate degree for she loves the way accounting relates to real life problem-solving.
“Accounting, for me, is like a language. It is a way you speak in the business world and is so interesting,” she said noting how she often uses the principles in making her own decisions. “In management accounting, you make decisions using a decision tree. It starts with two branches and adds more, and it leads you to a final point. It is a logical way to make difficult decisions.”
Freda believes getting her masters degree in the U.S. would be a great continuation of her experience at RTBH.
“I am hoping to find out what I need to learn in accounting then learn it,” she said. “Mr. Houston always answers my questions and gives me the chance to do some interesting tasks. He also makes sure I have what I need in order to learn.”
Her co-workers at RTBH have fallen in love with Freda and her sunny disposition.
“She has been a breath of fresh air around the office. She is so friendly and willing to tackle any and every project,” Shelby Johnson, CPA. “Everyone has enjoyed getting to know Freda. We are amazed at her courage and her abilities. Her language and accounting skills alone are impressive but to also have grace and poise while being so far from home at her age is a true testament of her personal drive.”