Nguyen is currently a junior at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, majoring in international business and minoring in management. She is also enrolled in a co-op program, which enables students to work while pursuing their studies and to complete three internships by the end of their tenure at the university.
Nguyen has completed her first and second internships as a tax analyst intern at Nestlé Health Science. She explains how this work-study program works at John Molson: “The school has a platform where firms can post the different positions they have to offer during that semester. I applied for a co-op position with Nestlé, and that is where I initially met Josie [Josephine Scalia], who is the head of tax at Nestlé Health Science. I was presented with the opportunity to work in tax, and I said yes.”
So, how does all this fit in with TEI? “Since I first started working with Josie,” she explains, “I had the opportunity to learn about TEI. Josie is currently TEI [senior vice president] and in line to become international president of TEI. As Josie is heavily involved with many TEI-related activities, I was able to be exposed to different projects, but the main initiative that I focused on was a student tax case competition. I essentially tried to include a student’s perspective. At first, the project only involved a few people, but we now have a handful of student members working on it, and that’s how I was introduced to TEI. Then I eventually became a student member myself. Because of all the volunteer work that I was doing, TEI’s executive director Pilar Mata suggested that I be appointed as the first chair of the Student Committee.
“Our first event,” she continues, “will be [September 14], which is before this article comes out, but there are going to be monthly events. These will take place [virtually], but we are also thinking of organizing an in-person event soon in Montreal, as a pilot.”
She notes that there’s a US$25 annual membership fee, “but all of our events will be open to any students. Any student is welcome, even if they’re not a student member. I think one of the goals of the Student Committee is to create awareness about the tax field. [Their] becoming student members would simply be a consequence of holding successful events which would really incentivize them into joining.”
First Chair of Student Committee
What would she like to do as the first chair of TEI’s Student Committee? “I would love to create a platform for student members,” Nguyen says. “We currently have an Instagram account [lnkd.in/eeuTw5ER], so if we can create traction and consistent engagement from students on there, it would be the best way to reach this specific audience. Consequently, that would increase the number of student members. I think our primary goal is to create events and a calendar that would allow students to have the opportunity to meet different people, whether it’s TEI members and staff, ambassadors from accounting or law firms, people with different academic paths, or other students that have similar interests. It’s about having the chance to create a network early on. I remember that as a first-year student I struggled to find people who not only had similar interests but a similar mindset, because people have different priorities in university. So, creating a community would allow people to keep in touch and learn from each other, share knowledge, etc.”
TEI Case Competition
Nguyen has been working on the TEI International Tax Student Case Competition even before she became a student member. What’s the goal of the competition? There are many angles, according to Nguyen: “I think one of them is to give an opportunity for international students to meet, collaborate with TEI mentors, and build their network early on in their career. But I believe that the premise of the case competition is to allow students to build on soft skills, leadership skills, before they even really start their careers. Obviously, there’s a technical component to the case competition, but we also want to emphasize leadership skills such as communication, negotiation, and other qualities like that. It’s about the student perspective.”
None of this should be a surprise to anyone when you find out more about Nguyen. “In Quebec, students need to go to CEGEP, which is two years of education between high school and university,” she says. “I was part of many clubs, such as the Young Executives Business Club, where I managed a few students in organizing marketing plans and student events. However, one of the most recent and important projects that I’ve worked on took place in May, where I organized a Mother’s Day breast cancer fundraiser. My original goal was to raise $10,000, but with the use of social media, we were able to successfully raise over $18,000 for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation. This was a huge initiative, so it involved many colleagues at Nestlé and then a lot of peers from my university’s co-op program as well. With lots of help, I was able to organize the event and bring everyone together to create something really positive.”
Her advice to fellow students: “I think that my best tip to give students, especially those who are early in their career, is to keep an open mind to saying yes to absolutely every opportunity. There are some opportunities that came up this year that made me doubt myself and my abilities. But if I hadn’t said yes, then I wouldn’t have been presented with even more opportunities as a consequence, just like this one. Being featured in the magazine is a great opportunity, and if I hadn’t said yes to Pilar’s offer, then this would have never happened. At first, I didn’t think that I was qualified for this position, but I think everyone feels that way at one point in their life, so I’m making it work. That being said, I think my best tip is to just say yes. You learn the most from things that are out of your comfort zone anyway.”