Intern Blog

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Apr 01, 2022

               Cohen & Co. was the first internship that I’ve had at a public accounting firm. Last September during the round robin, I was oddly comfortable at Cohen, and I kept being told that everyone is like a work family.  Being a third year student in college, I had taken no tax or auditing classes, so when asked which area do I want to work in, I had in my mind thought auditing was what I wanted, but I was open to either because I had no experience with either.  When I was offered the internship to be on the tax team, I was anxious because all I knew at that time about taxes was that I file them once a year. That’s it.  But, I decided to try it out.
               I was so excited for this opportunity but was also super nervous about it.  Going into the internship, I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve heard stories where interns in public accounting firms don’t actual work and are treated as just a number within the firm.  Cohen really does treat you like their work family and you’re not just a number within the company.  During the first week of training, I was so overwhelmed.  It was a lot of information overload and I felt like I really wasn’t able to retain much.  When I was given my first return, I just stared at my computer and thought to myself, “okay, so what am I supposed to do with this?”  A very simple thing that I eventually figured out is this; if you ask questions, people will help you.  Shocking, right?  After I started asking questions, I felt like I was learning so much more.  The work still wasn’t easy, but eventually I started to understand what I was doing rather than just plugging numbers into the software. 
               Something that really helped me out was the women’s event in March on confidence.  One of the concepts was that we go through periods of growth, that most of the time, are painful and stressful.  Often, we expect that once we’re done growing, we’re done right?  Wrong.  We have to look at it as an S-curve.  At the bottom there’s awareness, then going up the curve is growth, and last is maturity.  But in reality, it’s multiple overlapping S-curves to demonstrate that we are always growing and maturing, but it’s an ongoing process.  It helped me put into perspective that I am an intern, I didn’t have knowledge of tax coming into this internship, and the other staff members know this and don’t expect me to know everything.  It really helped to decrease my anxiety when I logged on to my computer and to not let myself get stressed out over the work.
               I can honestly say that this experience hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.  There are so many things that I’m able to take away from this internship from networking with other staff, seniors, and partners, to the knowledge of tax that I gained.  Mostly, I learned that I need to not be so hard on myself and remember what being an intern means.  I think that this internship grew me as a person, professionally and personally, in several ways that I wouldn’t change for anything. 

Lauren Serafini
Duquesne University