Tips for Acclimating to Office Life
Jul 12, 2019
Category: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Upon receiving my offer at Cohen & Company, I had many emotions. Excitement, relief, determination, and a resonating feeling of, “I am a junior in college, how am I really going to audit financial statements?!” After a week of training in Cleveland (which was a blast), I still didn’t really know what to expect. The professionals that were teaching us were super helpful, but it was so much information I still felt like I knew nothing. The good news for all new interns, or any other staff beginning a career at Cohen & Company is that everyone in your home office will be very sympathetic to your situation. It speaks to the culture of the company that everyone involved is willing to lend a hand. You feel like a part of a team from day one.
It’s currently the halfway point of my experience in this internship. I just had my first performance evaluation, and I have 5 tips for getting the most you can out of this internship, and acclimating to your (potentially) first professional job.
1. Ask a lot of questions: When a staff takes the time to walk through something with you, don’t waste their time. The key to asking good questions is active listening. This means following the conversation, digesting what is going on, and maintaining conversational etiquette (i.e. eye contact, not interrupting). They will be dropping a lot of information on your lap, if you don’t understand what they are saying, ask clarifying questions. The key is to not ask the same question over and over again.
2. Take Notes: There is no way you will remember every step to every work paper you complete. By taking notes, you won’t need to repeat questions. Take these notes during group trainings, individual instructions, and in meetings. Being able to refresh is very helpful if it’s been days or weeks since you looked at a work paper last.
3. Be Proactive: This applies to many areas of the job. The key to being proactive is to remain organized. By maintaining an accurate calendar, to-do list, or agenda, you will be able to communicate with you supervisors and managers more effectively. This is key in asking for any time off, whether it’s a day, week, half day, etc. If you communicate ahead of time, your superiors will be accommodating. In the office this is important in managing work load. If you ask how long work papers should take you, and map out when you are going to do them, you can give the staff, senior, or manager you are working with a heads up in advance when you are going to finish your work. Even giving them 30 minutes warning as to when you need more work will make their lives easier too.
4. Network: Essentially what I mean is make friends! Your fellow interns are phenomenal resources to help with work papers, and great people to do things with after work. Not only interns but all staff, seniors, managers, etc. would like to get to meet you. By having lunch with someone in the office, having a conversation in the break room, or going to after work activities you are doing yourself a favor. You can learn so much from the people you work with, and working a 40 hour week doesn’t feel like work when you like the people you’re with!
5. Set Goals: At the beginning of the internship I didn’t have any concrete goals. When discussing with my manager I believe I said something along the lines of “Gain a better understanding of the audit process”. Though this is a goal, I have much more concrete goals halfway through the internship. These include sharpening my excel skills, applying my current experience to the next audit I am on, and gaining a better understanding of the investment industry. At the end of my internship I hope to look back at these goals and quantify my improvement.
Through these tools, you will find yourself quickly assimilating to office norms. You will be exercising professional courtesy and learning the most you possibly can. I have had a great experience here at Cohen & Company. There is an awesome team here in Milwaukee, and I’m excited to apply these concepts to the second half of my summer here.