Intern Blog

Adjustments and Tips!

Feb 08, 2018

Category: Kent State University

After graduating college a semester early in December of 2017, I was ready to take on any challenge that life was ready to present me with.  When I accepted my internship with Cohen & Company, I knew that it would not be easy, but I also knew that it would be possible if I put the work and effort in that was required. 

When I first started, I remember being extremely overwhelmed and flustered from training.  You are given a plethora of information, and most likely, you will not remember all of it.  However, do not let this discourage you, because things will start to stick once you start doing the work consistently on different returns.  The best thing you can do during the training is to pay attention, take notes, and follow along with the instructors.

I will be honest, initially, the adjustment from being in school to working 40+ hours a week was challenging for me.  When you are in school, you get breaks between classes, sometimes you do not have to wake up until noon, and even some days, you do not have class.  When it comes to working, it is pretty different, if you are like me and have a decent commute to work, you get up at 7 A.M. and do not get home until 6 P.M.  The thing that I think is the craziest about this is that when I would leave for work it was dark outside, and when I got home from work, it was also dark outside.  It is almost a completely different lifestyle, and it does take some time getting used to.

Another big adjustment that you will make is the ability to make your own decisions.  Most of my previous jobs were in the retail environment, and if you ever had a job in retail, you know how the routine works.  You are told when to come in, when to leave, when to take your lunch, etc.  At Cohen & Company, they allow you more freedom when it comes to that aspect.  Firm hours are best for interns, since you want to be sure you have staff in the office who can help you when you need it, but it is nice to see that there is flexibilty and accomodation at the firm! 

It was not just the lifestyle that was changed for me, but the work that I had to complete.  When I first started doing returns on my own, I started having doubts about myself, and if I had it in me to be successful in tax.  When it comes to everything, I usually have as much confidence as I can because I believe in myself almost as much as anyone possibly can.  But for the first few weeks, I just did not have that same belief.  I quickly learned that it is all part of the adjustment. When it comes to school, everything you learn is conceptual and you rarely get an opportunity to apply what you learned to a real world setting.  So if I had to give my number one piece of advice, it would be:

Just keep doing your best, it will all come together and you will adjust to the change. 

Now I am excited when I get work assigned to me, because I feel like I can complete any task assigned to me without an issue.  So if you start to have doubts or get frustrated, it is completely normal, and it is all part of the process.  Do not let it discourage you.

For the internship experience, there are a few other tips I would recommend in order to be successful and make your experience more enjoyable and rewarding.

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions, everyone in the office is willing to help you and wants you to succeed.
  • Take notes, there is a lot of information, no one can remember it all.
  • I like to use post it notes on my computer reminding me of what things I need to do so I do not forget (If you look at the picture, you can see about 5 or 6 post it notes between my monitors and laptop). 
  • Another thing you can do is to use a calendar.  You will have an Outlook account and setting reminders and important dates on your calendar is very helpful.
  • Be willing to make mistakes. No matter how smart you are, how much you know about tax, or anything else, you will make mistakes. It is okay to make mistakes, the key is learning from those mistakes and correcting them down the road.
  • Set Goals.  For myself, this encourages me to meet an expectation that I set for myself. If I set a goal to complete a return with no mistakes, it makes me diligently check over my work and make sure I am not missing anything.
  • Do not overwork yourself.  When I say this, I mean go return by return.  Do not try to multi task and complete 2 or 3 at the same.  Focus on one at a time, because this will help you purely focus on the return you are completing and you will be less likely to make mistakes.