Making the Most of a Virtual Experience
Mar 19, 2021
My internship experience at Cohen and Company has allowed me to gain a lot of insight into the public accounting profession as well as the challenges that come along with it. This post summarizes the challenges as well as the tools that helped me adapt and learn through the internship with some of the takeaways I plan on implementing in my career going forward.
Challenge: First the biggest challenge is of course the virtual workspace. This was my first time working in a virtual environment and the feeling of being alone and lost in the virtual workplace can come up a lot. As an intern, this was challenging, these emotions can take a toll on your mental health, affecting your overall focus and productivity. However, with all these mental barriers, Cohen did a fantastic job at lifting these virtual challenges through their ongoing support which enabled us to stay engaged and feel closer to our teammates. It felt distant initially introducing yourself to a team without ever meeting them in person and made me miss the in-person connection. But that didn’t get in the way with the Cohen staff making sure they got to know us on a personal level. Cohen provided us with a lot of great resources throughout the internship that allowed us to connect with our peers, to grow and learn how to become the next leaders, and have fun while doing it!
Tools: The first tool that we were given were called learning buddies. My learning buddy was helpful in lending advice and answering any of the questions I had ranging from the technical work to the more personal questions about work-life balance. This allowed me to get more perspective and insight into auditing specifically in hedge funds as well as getting a sense of how it is like being a full-time staff at Cohen. My second tool was our weekly meetings with our managers. These meetings ensured that we are on the same page with our manager and that we were learning from our experience. On top of that every week we had a chance to hear and talk to our geographic leaders. This gave us insight into the different projects and industries that the different regional offices were working alongside with. Cohen was not lying when I first heard them say that the firm is like one office even with many different offices in different regions spread out. This allowed me to meet and network with many people outside of my region that I didn’t think was possible. We also had the chance to partake in a fun and engaging activities like weekly healthy challenges allowing us to work in teams giving us the chance to meet more people outside of our office and vertical. Also, we got the chance to partake in a virtual busy season gift exchange which gave us some time to take a break from busy season work and just relax and have fun with the staff.
Takeaways: A few takeaways that I learned after reflecting on my experiences that helped me throughout this internship that I can take with me into my future career. The first is to take advantage of opportunities to get to meet people through events. Especially now where the chances are more limited than ever it is crucial to take the opportunities to do so. This will help in the long run in building relationships and networking so that you can expand your possibilities not knowing what’s out there. The second is to learn as much as you can. Internships are a great opportunity to learn from the specific practice of how an industry operates, and, in my case, I was able to learn a lot about alternative investments specifically cryptocurrencies and hedge funds. Lastly the importance of taking care of yourself. It is easy to overload yourself with certain tasks and projects relating to work. And often we try to push through and get done as much as possible without even thinking about how our bodies feel. Our bodies aren’t designed to be sitting and looking at multiple screens for 8 to 10 hours a day. So, it is vital to step away. Do something for 5 to 10 minutes and not even think about work. Stress is the last thing you want interfering with work and taking breaks is a good tool to use.