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From High School Accounting to Tax Associate with an MST

Alumni_Brian CameranoBrian Camerano (MST ’16) began his path to tax associate at PwC while still in high school. There, in addition to the typical English, history and math classes, Camerano elected to take two years of financial accounting. The subject fascinated him, and he decided to apply to Bentley University for a Bacholor of Science in Accountancy.

At Bentley, he soon found himself taking a plethora of accounting classes, including a tax course that was mandatory for his major.

This class, Federal Taxation with Professor Arthur Reed, helped Camerano narrow his focus. He found himself spending hours deep in the pages of the Internal Revenue Code, not realizing that half the day had gone by while he was researching.

“There is something about tax that when you are reading and studying it, you know whether or not it's something for you,” he says. “I knew I could make a career out of doing something I like.”

As an undergraduate, Camerano ended up completing two internships in corporate tax and a third doing personal tax returns. By graduation, he was a self-professed “tax nerd” and decided to remain at Bentley for an additional year to complete his Master of Science in Taxation (MST).

From Intern to Tax Associate

Camerano wanted to go straight into his graduate studies so he could focus solely on work after graduation. He also realized that a master’s degree would help differentiate him from his peers in job applications — something that certainly helped him land a gig at PwC.

Now, having some experience in the real world of tax, Camerano is learning to appreciate the challenges his chosen field poses. “The facts never perfectly align with the law,” he explains.

Congress often leaves specifics of laws open to interpretation, as every case is unique. It’s up to tax professionals like Camerano to think both analytically and creatively to apply the law to specific cases.

In addition, these laws are constantly changing, forcing those in tax to stay up-to-date and be expert researchers. “With the amount of information out there, nobody can know everything,” he says, “but what sets some apart from others is the ability to find the answer.”

Camerano learned how to do this research and find the answer to each case in his graduate studies at Bentley.

The MST Program at Bentley

The most important aspect of the MST program for Camerano was the expertise his professors brought to the classroom. They were practicing lawyers, former partners at tax firms, and more, able to incorporate real examples into classroom discussions.

This practical approach made a big difference for Camerano once on the job.

“It sounds simple, but the Internal Revenue Code is extremely complex and navigating and understanding it can be a daunting task,” he says, who learned the code’s ins and outs in Professor David Missirian’s Transactions course. “From showing us some specific words and phrases in the code that should be noted, to looking further for exceptions in the law, this class was invaluable.”

He also greatly enjoyed Professor Scott Thomas’s class on International Tax Practice. Most businesses have operations in multiple countries, he explains, and having a hands-on experience with these types of companies in the classroom was important. “He had us putting the numbers on the actual forms to see how it would be done in a real-world setting.”

All of his classes taught Camerano something he uses daily at work, and he still stays in touch with many of the professors who shaped his education.

Looking Forward

Today, Camerano works in the Boston PwC office as a tax associate. He began in October 2016 and aims to continue “climbing the ladder” there. With his master’s degree already conferred, he is able to focus on his career completely.

As the landscape of his field changes, Camerano’s business background prepares him to continue to succeed in tax.

“Technology is constantly evolving and only time will tell how much of the tax process becomes automated,” he says. “I think we will see tax professionals become more of business advisers rather than just providing tax advice.”