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Kira Miles works as a senior tax associate for Dixon Hughes Goodman in the firm’s Charlotte office. She recently spoke with Vault about how she got a job with DHG, what led her to choose DHG over other opportunities, and the advice she has for students looking to pursue a career in accounting. Below is an excerpt from that conversation.
VAULT: Where did you grow up and go to school? And how did you find your way to Dixon Hughes Goodman?
MILES: I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. However, most of my family is from South Carolina so I consider that home as well. For undergrad, I went to the University of South Carolina, where I double majored in international business and accounting. I later went to Wake Forest University to obtain my Masters of Science in Accountancy.
At USC, I was an active member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), and it was through NABA that I was first introduced to the Big 4. During my first NABA Southern Region student conference, I was fortunate enough to secure an internship with a Big 4 firm in its internal firm services group. This internship would eventually lead to an internship in its private client services tax group the winter following graduation.
However, during my senior year on campus, Courtney Thomas, the USC recruiter for Dixon Hughes Goodman, had a conversation with me about my interest in DHG. At that time I was very familiar with DHG, its values, and several of its team members through my NABA involvement. However, through my Big 4 internships, I had decided that I wanted to pursue a career in international tax, and I was unaware that this was a possibility at a regional firm. Luckily for me, Courtney communicated that the firm was currently expanding its international tax practice under its tax advisory umbrella and would love to have me as an intern. This was very interesting to me since the Big 4 firm I interned with wasn’t offering that experience. So that’s what initially brought me to DHG—an opportunity to get immediate exposure to international tax.
Upon the completion of my internship, I accepted a full-time offer in DHG’s Charlotte tax advisory practice, a few days before classes began at Wake Forest.
VAULT: Can you talk a little about your career development at DHG?
MILES: From the beginning, I was given opportunities in my area of interest. During my internship, the ITS team frequently encouraged me to get involved wherever possible. Additionally, the ITS manager would frequently schedule meetings to teach me about different ITS topics. It really stood out to me that the team wanted to make sure that I learned something during my short summer with them.
Starting full time, there were opportunities to work in many areas, private client services, provision, ITS, etc. I have had phenomenal managers and partners that have allowed me to tailor my career to my interests. As a result, I discovered the areas that were most interesting to me, and by my second year, 95 percent of what I work on is in those areas.
VAULT: What has surprised you most about your job and working for DHG?
MILES: What’s surprised me most is how much I’m capable of, which is all thanks to the people here. My partners, managers, and coworkers have helped me reach levels and complete work I didn’t think I was capable of. They have confidence that I can reach higher levels, and they push me to get there. I think this is important to consider when you’re choosing which firm to join. You want to make sure you’re rewarded wherever you go—not just with money but with opportunities in which you’re going to become a better professional. That’s really important to keep in mind when you think about where you’re going to fit in best.
VAULT: What else has stood out about working for DHG?
MILES: You can really tailor your career here. I have friends at larger firms and they’re not able to tailor their career as much; certain roles are set at larger firms. The size of DHG gives you the flexibility to do more than you might be able to at a large firm, but it is still large enough to provide great opportunities. I’m also given a lot of responsibility here. I’m often working with one client and given the opportunity to provide great client service without constantly checking back with my manager. My clients and partners trust my work, and it’s a great feeling.
VAULT: This is going to sound like an interview question, but where do you see yourself in five years?
MILES: I hope to be an expert in my topic of choice. I want to continue learning and being a better professional. Most important, I hope that I’m growing and encouraging the professionals on my team. I want to make sure they get the same help and encouragement that I’ve been afforded. That’s what drove me to the firm and what has kept me here.
VAULT: What advice do you have for students looking to pursue a career in accounting?
MILES: In terms of choosing which firm to work for, you always hear that the people are important. It’s true. The people make your experience. In addition, you have to do what feels right for you; you have to choose a firm that fits with what you want—whether that means choosing a firm that offers the type of work you want to do or the ability to move around to other areas. Don’t feel pressure to do something just because someone else thinks you should do it.
As for how to get an offer, building meaningful connections is key. One way to do that is to get involved. Joining any organization that interests you is a good way to network. Alumni associations are a great way to make connections while giving back to the school with your time and resources. I’m not an animal person, but if you are, donate your time at the local shelter. For me, I stay involved in NABA. The key is to find something that interests you so networking doesn’t become another item on the to-do list.
This post was sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman.
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