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By Taryn Hoffmann-Torres, CSU Fullerton CalCPA Campus Ambassador
I woke up with jet lag and butterflies in my stomach from the excitement of having embarked on an exciting trip. I had recently arrived in Fortaleza, Brazil, and would be picked up by my Deloitte buddy to enjoy breakfast with my new colleagues.
My travel guidebook suggests that Brazilians never arrive earlier than 30 minutes late, so I decide to thumb through my Rosetta Stone language book. Before I can speak the Portuguese phrase, “The pleasure is all mine,” a WhatsApp message announces that my buddy Rebeka has arrived … 10 minutes early. I exit the hotel lobby onto a beachfront promenade that resembles South Beach, Florida, with a showcase of beach bodies taking their morning jog.
Rebeka and I arrive at the Deloitte Fortaleza office 15 minutes later where a breakfast buffet of local cuisine is spread across a table and my picture and name are printed on a wall banner. Following a short speech in broken Portuguese, my 45 colleagues greet me individually with great enthusiasm and my first day of work in Brazil begins.
I’m a CalCPA Campus Ambassador (CSU Fullerton) who had the opportunity to participate in Deloitte’s Global Internship Program wherein summer interns can apply to work four of eight weeks in one of 11 international cities, as well as various U.S. cities. I had never been to Brazil, but was always intrigued by its melting pot of cultures, music (samba, bossa nova, etc.) and well-known cuisine (churrascaria). It was one of my top choices. I also liked the challenge of working abroad, and wanted to have a memorable internship experience.
Deloitte offers all of its Global Interns free access to Rosetta Stone. Thus, with three months to prepare and armed with a proven language-learning software, I was able to communicate on a basic level by the day I arrived. I needed the first few days to begin to understand the regional dialect of Ceará. The most challenging task, however, was learning all of the Portuguese-language accounting terms. Such technical words are not readily available via online translation software (eg. Google Translate).
As not all of my seniors spoke English, the ability to comprehend, at least at a minimal level, was a must. I was treated as a full member of the staff and much of my workload was completed in Portuguese. For instance, I regularly updated and proofread financial statements, notes and opinions (both in Portuguese and English). Hence, I was assigned meaningful work, which I can list on my résumé and utilize as a future auditor.
My favorite part about the internship was getting to know my Brazilian colleagues. They were warm and friendly people who loved to laugh and sing while working. We were served cafezinhos (small coffee shots) and cookies twice a day on client sites. In addition, my water glass was refilled throughout the day without asking. After work, we would frequent restaurants with live music—sweet Brazilian voices thumbing the strings of cavaquinhos (small samba guitars)—and end every meal with dessert.
As I had hoped, my experience was challenging and memorable. With new friendships established, a language learned and a career “tried on for size,” I returned to California certain that auditing is the right profession for me and Deloitte is the right company to pursue it.
CSU Fullerton CalCPA Campus Ambassador Taryn Hoffmann-Torres (second from left, on stairs)
is pictured here with her Deloitte colleagues on their internship adventure in Fortaleza, Spain.