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Master’s in Accounting: Kelsey Evenson, University of Washington (Foster)

Student Name: Kelsey Evenson

Graduate Business School: University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Young tax professional energized by new learning opportunities focused on growth and connection. 

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Washington. Accounting, Operations & Supply Chain Management.

Current Employer and Job Title: Deloitte, Tax Consultant I. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I started my first full-time position in tax this January. Beginning my career in the middle of a pandemic brought a unique set of challenges. I consider my biggest accomplishment to be navigating my first tax busy season in a completely virtual environment. I don’t think it’s possible to know what to expect out of a tax busy season until you’ve gone through one, and the idea of doing it virtually was intimidating. However, I adjusted my expectations and was able to adapt. With the support of my teams and the resources provided by my firm, I was able to have a successful first tax busy season. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: Life as a graduate student can be overwhelming because there are so many things you are juggling. Between prepping for class, reviewing material, working, and making time for family and friends, it can seem like there’s just not enough time in the day. My biggest accomplishment as a graduate student was finding balance and learning how to prioritize and make time for the many different facets of my life. Once I was able to do that, I felt like I truly began to thrive in the program. This is something that has also helped me as I began my career, and I’m glad I was able to improve my time management skills before becoming a working professional.  

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? My passion for tax began at the Michael G. Foster School of Business as an undergraduate student. I had the opportunity to take classes with both Crystal Finkelstein and Izzy Weber, the current and former faculty director of the program, respectively. I knew I wanted to continue to learn from both of them and that I would excel in a program developed and led by them. When the time came to decide on my graduate program, there was no other place I wanted to be. 

What led you to choose a Master’s in Accounting over an MBA? The program’s focus on tax was the driving factor for me. Especially in the Seattle market, having a master’s degree specific to tax is valued by many of the accounting firms. I knew this program would build the foundation of knowledge I would use for the rest of my career. 

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? I loved all of the courses that were offered during the program. However, if I had to pick, my favorite course would be ACCTG 548: Speaker Forum – Tax. During this course, new speakers came to each class session to discuss a special topic in tax such as principles of sound tax policy and asset management. It helped introduce us to a wider breadth of tax concepts that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to cover. We also got to connect with tax professionals both at a variety of accounting firms as well as individuals within industry and government positions. I believe this exposure made me a more well-rounded professional. 

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? I secured my full-time position as an undergraduate student, but I used many of the same resources that were available to students in our program. This included attending events set up by the career center to connect with recruiters and utilizing resources to help with resume and interview preparation. Our professors also offered flexibility to students recruiting and students in our cohort acted as additional support offering guidance and advice.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? My classmates were my favorite part of the program. It was incredible to be surrounded by so many people who shared the same passion for tax. We leaned into what we were learning together, and it was during late-night study sessions and case discussions when the material came to life for us. Every person brought different perspectives, life and technical experience, and joy into the classroom. Even when we turned to remote learning in the spring, we continued to connect and push each other. I wouldn’t have been able to do this program without the support of my peers, and I’m grateful for every single person in our class.

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? All the professors and faculty members helped make this experience special. Each was different and left a lasting impression on me. I also appreciated how many are practicing tax professionals who brought their real-world experience into the classroom. However, if I were to choose one favorite faculty member, it would be Crystal Finkelstein. She is both a professor and the program’s faculty director, and she chooses to teach and lead with heart. She understands that she is not only developing our technical skills but also who we are as professionals and people. Faculty like Crystal are rare, and it was an honor to learn from her. I am a better tax professional and a better person because of her. 

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? As you complete your application, try to be true to your authentic self. I think it’s easy to pressure yourself into writing about what you think people want to hear. Instead, try to focus on writing about things you want to say. The application process is a chance for the admissions staff to get to know you, so let them. 

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? I don’t think it’s possible to pick just one. My best memories from the program were made in the small moments of every single day. These are also the moments I miss the most. My best memories were chatting between classes, hanging out together at happy hours, and spending lunch with my study group prepping for a class. It was those small moments that brought me true happiness.