I’ve just completed a three month stint as an intern at BDO in Melbourne, Australia. BDO is the world’s fifth largest accounting and financial services firm, and has a very strong presence here in Australia. With offices in every capital city, the firm offers clients a wide range of tax, audit and advisory services. In addition, the firm also has private clients and risk advisory service lines, so it has just about all bases covered!

From January to April, I worked in the Melbourne office in the Clients & Markets division. As part of a team of about five (plus more in Sydney), I was able to work on many projects, assisting with material for tendering, sector research, design work for marketing content, making lists, assisting with event preparation, and a lot of correspondence. I thought I’d use this post to write a little more in depth about some of the things I learnt.

1. Improved InDesign skills

I will admit, I came to the job with some basic experience working with Adobe InDesign which I acquired working at CMS Victoria in 2015. I already knew the interface, how to insert text and photographs and place them in a layout. But BDO taught me that there is so much more to InDesign than formatting text.

On my second week, I was given the job of creating an initial layout for a tender proposal. The proposal was going to be at least forty pages long, and every page needed to meet the company’s design requirements. It was here that the creative designer introduced me to many new formatting tricks, such as utilizing margins, guides, setting up the page and snapping everything to grids. Within a few minutes, everything I was creating looked instantly better! Since then, I’ve gone on to master a lot of other InDesign features, created magazine covers and formatted articles to fit print standards. I can already see the fruit of my skills, and I’m so thankful that I learnt it all from BDO’s marketing team.

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I’ve been able to use my new InDesign skills to create content for my travel blog

2. The importance of spreadsheets

This one is crucial to PR as it is to just about any business or office job. Spreadsheets get things done! If you’re entering into the public relations or marketing field, let me say – you better start falling in love with spreadsheets.

At BDO, I wouldn’t say I learnt any new spreadsheet tricks. But I did try my best to fall in love with them. Because if you don’t love spreadsheets, you’ll most certainly hate them. One of the tasks I was given was to create a contact list of over 320 representatives from prospective clients, and trawl the web for their email addresses and phone numbers. This was a tedious, but crucial task. Without that spreadsheet, there’s no way we could communicate so specifically on such a large scale.

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See this little guy? He’s your new best friend

3. Communicating with offices in other cities

Another absolutely crucial skill, especially if you go on to work at big organisations with offices around the country. You’re going to be in contact with other offices, probably even on the daily. I’ve only ever worked at large-scale organisations. But if you’re from a local setting, be prepared to get on the phones.

BDO’s Sydney and Melbourne offices operate as one. They call this the ECP, or East Coast Partnership. Despite a large geographical distance, the two offices have to be constantly liasing, so that the best service possible can be offered to clients. To cater to this, BDO has some of the best telecommunications infrastructure I have come across.

On my first day, one of my initial tasks was to set up my login details on a variety of different research tools. One of my co-workers pointed me to a staff member named Eric in Sydney, and within thirty seconds he was video calling me. I remember being surprised, because I felt like I was speaking to Eric face-to-face. He could even see my PC display. As time went by, conference calls and constant correspondence with Sydney became a daily practice. And that’s a great thing. Any organisation this size needs all of its offices to be in sync to maintain consistency and momentum.

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4. Conducting useful research

A lot of work goes into the tendering and bidding process. This was one of the most important jobs Clients & Markets plays, because BDO acquire work from this. In order to deliver the best possible proposal to prospective clients, BDO’s tenders are handcrafted to an exceptional standard.

One of my jobs in this process was to assist the team by compiling sector research papers. As someone from a media & communication background, conducting this research was something that challenged me. As part of this, I processed and compiled lots of data comparing companies within the sector, recording revenue shifts, imports & exports and much more.

5. More knowledge of Accounting & Financial Services

This is the big one. I’m not even going to lie: I came into this sector knowing literally nothing about accounting. On my first day, I just sat there as HR gave me an introduction to the company. Many conversations, emails, Google searches, reports, meetings and events later, and I feel like I have a reasonable grasp on many aspects of accounting practice. I’m no accountant by any means, but this work experience has allowed me to understand the sector at its best: from within the world’s fifth largest firm.

Thanks so much BDO. It’s been a fantastic three months working in Melbourne as an intern.

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