How to get 4 internships before you graduate

Internships before graduating

Tanya Ellis CPA hasn’t followed the typical path of an accounting professional.

The 34-year-old began her career working as a teacher in France after completing an Arts Degree. She was supposed to stay for six months but ended up living in Europe for seven years.

“I travelled to France to finish my Honours Degree. I then fell into a teaching positon and did that for about five years. But there came a point when I realised that this type of work wasn’t going to be my long term career,” Tanya says.  

Opportunities close to home

In 2007 Tanya returned home to Perth to try and figure out what to do next. She eventually decided that she wanted to work in accounting.

“I spoke with a lot of people who started with accounting and then moved onto something different. I thought accounting seemed to be the place to start, so that was why I wanted to follow this career path.”

A master of accounting 

Tanya then enrolled at Curtin University in Perth, where she completed a Masters in Accounting.

Throughout her studies, she was fortunate enough to do four internships – three at accounting firms and one at oil and gas company, Woodside. She says she knew straight away where she wanted to work.

“While most people who do accounting only think about working at a big four accounting firm, I was drawn to the corporate environment. So I accepted a Graduate Program position at Woodside and have been here ever since," Tanya says.

Get your foot in the door

For the final rotation of the Program, Tanya was placed in Woodside’s Treasury Department. She enjoyed the work so much, Tanya requested to stay and now works as a Funding Analyst.  

“Working in Treasury is something that I really enjoy. We look at external trends and changes to the world economy and find out how Woodside fits into that space.”

Leadership through the CPA Program

Since working in the corporate environment, Tanya has found that if you want to be successful, you need to be a good leader. She says the CPA Program has been a big part of her learning.

“To me there didn’t appear to be a lot of pure accounting in the CPA Program, instead there is a lot of business practice that I felt like I needed. It has certainly helped my career so far.”

Taking on a leadership role

Tanya has aspirations to one day become a leader at Woodside and she knows she will get the support from her colleagues.

“The next step is to take on a leadership role within the company. Woodside promotes leadership within its workforce and everyone is happy to provide guidance whenever you need it.” 

As for any future plans to work overseas, Tanya says at this stage she is happy to be working in her home city of Perth. However she still reflects on the time she spent in France, which continues to help her career today.

“Having lived and worked in a foreign non-English speaking country, you get a real appreciation of how difficult it can be sometimes. I have a lot more empathy towards other people and an even greater appreciation of diversity within the corporate space.”

The top three qualities Tanya Ellis CPA believes you need to be a good leader:

  • Be self-aware and know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Have the ability to motivate people and get others to perform at their best
  • Have a clear vision for each project you work in


CPA Career Mentor


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