Being an intern is undoubtedly challenging. The challenges go beyond first day jitters and wondering if you will fit in. Being an intern also touches a sensitive nerve and creates a question inside. We ask ourselves – “Is all my hard work going to pay off?”
Each of us has had this thought during our internship here at Weinstein Spira. We would like to share here our insider perspective on how these concerns were addressed by Weinstein Spira and our overall intern experience.
Firm Culture and Structure
As the tagline states, Weinstein Spira is all about making “relationships count,” both inside and outside the firm. From our very first day, it was clear that everyone was committed to our success and was dedicated to helping us learn everything we could during our limited time here. The firm assigned each of us buddies, mentors and coaches, all of which came with a smile and a helping hand. Their primary focus was to ensure we had multiple avenues to ask any questions, whether it was about how to enter numbers into software programs or if our newly bought outfit was office appropriate. We were also placed in teams with those who are at our level and higher, all working together to achieve one goal. Being able to work alongside coworkers who have been in our shoes and want to see us grow in our career made us feel comfortable attempting to do new things.
There is also schedule flexibility that is crucial for students transitioning into the corporate world. Core hours from 9 AM – 3 PM ensured access to supervisors, mentors and coaches during those times. The option to work from home three days a week demonstrated trust in our work ethic. For each of us, adjusting to an eight-hour workday was rough at first, but the ability to customize our schedule, whether starting early, working later, or taking breaks midday, proved invaluable. Working remotely allowed us to recharge easily at home and have no commute time, contributing to desired work-life balance.
Experience Versus Education
The realization that hits every public accounting intern, when faced with a challenging tax return or audit, is that what we learned in school only scratches the surface. It’s like attending a kindergarten English class, where you grasp the basics, but it’s not until writing a ten-page research paper your senior year, that you truly understand the subject. When we began our internship, we felt like kindergarteners, but after just two months, we progressed to a much higher level. The program here at Weinstein Spira is built to swiftly elevate our skills, taking us from learning how to spell to cranking out a college-level paper in no time.
In school, they teach us accounting principles and rules, covering items such as debits, credits, expenses and equity accounts. They dock points for being 2 digits off and give us a 5-hour homework assignment per chapter, per class. However, when working, we encountered a whirlwind of unfamiliar software and complex challenges like figuring out why a tax return didn’t balance, or if a client was supposed to give Jane Doe a $30,000 loan from her 401(k) account. The principles and rules that we learn are relevant and important, but they aren’t enough. Cultivating problem-solving skills and thinking like an accountant are essential to fitting the puzzle pieces together. Fortunately, there are plenty of helping hands to guide and foster these skills, something that school alone couldn’t provide. Real-life work experience is the ultimate learning tool. It requires time and patience, but colleagues, working both in the office and remotely, were always ready and willing to offer support and guidance.
Exposure to Life of an Accountant
With everything this rotational intern program offered, we firmly believe that the most valuable experience has been seeing the day-to-day activities of professionals in our field. Being in the office, and not only observing first-hand what other accountants are doing, but replicating their tasks, has been instrumental in both our career and personal growth. We have had the opportunity to witness the buzz around the office on days when it is filled with people laughing and talking, as well as the quiet typing and clicking after lunch when everyone is focused on their work, fighting post-food drowsiness. There have even been moments where we were spinning our wheels so hard on a task that we all decided to take a group walk outside to recharge our minds in the sunshine.
The exposure we gained during this internship extends far beyond these surface-level experiences. Over the past two months, we were able to observe, practice and immerse ourselves into the accounting field just like the full-time employees, from the moment we entered the office until the moment we left. Through this first-hand experience, it is safe to say there were a lot of aspects of the accounting profession that we didn’t expect.
For starters, the flexibility that Weinstein Spira offers was a complete but welcome surprise. It greatly aided our transition from college to the workforce, which is something we know others also value in their careers. Additionally, the openness of our coaches and supervisors in seeking feedback on their performance and techniques was unexpected but highly appreciated. We felt our opinions mattered, and there was no retribution for speaking up. The supportive atmosphere during such a pivotal phase of our education left a lasting impression. Lastly, none of us expected such an intertwined connection between work and relationships with those around us and above us. Despite the hierarchy, titles weren’t used as threats, and we felt genuinely supported by everyone around us. We even formed meaningful friendships along the way. Because of the opportunity of this internship, we are now confident that our hard work will undoubtedly pay off.