After 10 weeks of waking up at 5:30 a.m., driving for an hour in rush-hour traffic, and staring at spreadsheets in a conference room with no windows for eight hours or more everyday, my internship has come to a close. And I would have to say that I will miss it!
The internship definitely gave me a good overview of what tax accountants do on a daily basis. Surely, most days were repetitive, some were a bit dry, but there was always a new tax law to analyze or a new type of expense to capitalize. My biggest takeaways from this experience were:
1) There was always something to learn.
Having had no prior knowledge in international tax made my tasks a little challenging. There were several things that I was trying to grasp all at once: teaching myself international tax accounting, understanding how prior years’ transactions affect this year’s tax liability, and navigating the tax accounting software. Passing my accounting classes was no guarantee that I was fully prepared for work. Getting my feet wet in the real world was like going to pre-school for the first time. Be ready to learn, and by that I meant be very ready to learn – A LOT!
2) Technology could be disappointing sometimes.
I had three different laptops issued to me during the internship. The first two did not cooperate long enough with me. I realized that having the e-mail application, instant messaging software, and seven workbooks open at the same time would take a toll on one’s computer. I had to drive back and forth from the client site to the office to resolve my technology issues. Although I like visiting the office from time to time, having technology problems close to your deadline and not being able to accomplish anything could be a little frustrating.
3) There was always something to work on or help with.
My team engagement seniors from India mostly reviewed the returns I prepared. Due to time differences, I did not receive reviews from them until the next day. Instead of sitting in the room, doing nothing after finishing my assigned entities, I would constantly ask my team members if they have anything I can help them with. Also, after my managers have reviewed the workbooks and returns my seniors and I have prepared, instead of waiting for my seniors to tell me what to do, I took the initiative to clear the review comments my managers had.
In case you are not familiar with how the review process works in public accounting, the staff prepares the workbooks and the returns, which will then be reviewed by the senior. The senior will determine if revisions are necessary. After the senior’s reviews have been cleared, the workbooks and the returns will be submitted to the manager, who will either finalize them or make further review comments, which will then be cleared by the staff and the senior. After everything has been finalized, the workbooks and returns will be submitted to the engagement partner and to the client.
4) A positive attitude makes a difference.
Let’s keep it real. The life of a tax accountant is not extremely exciting every single day. There were days when I would just be staring at Excel spreadsheets or preparing returns for eight or more hours. And things could be a little frustrating when my balance sheet would not balance or when there were variances in the accounts. But being enthusiastic about what I do made a whole lot of difference. I don’t think any word could ever describe how ecstatic I was when after hours of figuring out which adjustment was wrong or which account was incorrectly recognized, everything finally balanced. This, my friends, is the beauty of accounting.
I am very excited to come back to work with the firm for full time. I could not be any more grateful that the MPA program gave me the opportunity to experience the life of a tax accountant even just for ten weeks.