Sarah Krom started at a PKF firm in Germany while studying for an international degree and was always interested in gaining international experience. In early January, Sarah headed to Chicago as part of the Global Employee Exchange/Secondment program to PKF Mueller. After two months at PKF Mueller, she shares her experiences.
When I was on the plane to Chicago, I had no expectations. I didn’t know a single person in Illinois, and I didn’t know what the office looked like. The first hurdle I had to overcome was, finding out my cellphone was useless in the United States unless I was willing to pay $30 for two days of internet. To be honest with you, it wasn’t until I arrived that I decided to let my guard down and become 100% open to this new and exciting experience. And it turned out that doing so was the best thing I could’ve done.
My first day at PKF Mueller was intimidating. Not only did I have some trouble finding the correct entrance to the office but also, when I made it inside and into the training room (Mueller University), I was told my seat would be right in the front – fantastic! But once I seemed to get settled in, I quickly adjusted to my new environment (not the temperature).
So far, through the internship program, I have learned a lot of new things professionally. I have prepared my first 1040 tax return, worked on 1099s, got insights into accounting procedures, learned to navigate QuickBooks® Online, and audited cash and accounts receivables. Additionally, Dave Nissen, PKF Mueller’s CEO, has taught me a lot about doing business “the American way.” Maybe I can return the favor as Brian Sullivan, PKF Mueller Partner, has already signed up for a German crash course.
Outside The Office
About three and a half years ago, I lived in the United States and quickly found out my experience would come in handy when navigating the Chicago area. What also helped was the PKF Mueller team did an outstanding job at welcoming me and making me feel like a member of the team. I am still amazed by how many colleagues have invited me over to their house or offered to hang out with me on the weekends. And most of the people here are part German, and even PKF Mueller CEO Dave Nissen is “¾ Deutsch.” I couldn’t wish for a better firm to work at – besides, I don’t think any other firms have snack carts! And now I can say that I have already made some great friends thanks to PKF Mueller’s unique internship program and countless happy hours and girl’s nights.
As mentioned above, everyone at PKF Mueller has made great efforts to show me around and make my stay here as pleasant as possible, which has led to more memorable experiences in the past two months than in the last two years combined. Just to name a few of my first experiences:
- Attended an NHL Chicago Blackhawks game(s)
- Attended an NBA G League Windy City Bulls game
- Had my first Italian beef sandwich and Chicago style hot dog
- Bought my first box of Girl Scout Cookies
- Had a drink at an American bar (cheers to being 21!)
- Watched the Superbowl for the first time
- Tried fried Mac and Cheese (still confused)
- Had my first glass of red wine, which I actually enjoyed
- Experienced my first snowstorm
What I Have Learned About Myself
It is safe to say it definitely pays off to be open-minded, bold, and curious.
I am thankful for the chance to gain international experience, and even more grateful I chose PKF Mueller. These will truly be some of the best months of my life, and I would recommend to anyone considering participating in a Global Exchange Program to do so. I don’t think many situations personally challenge you more than living abroad by yourself. And if you happen to have the chance and end up living in Chicago – you can call yourself lucky, this is hands down one of the best cities in the United States.