Internships: A Chance to Do More than Simply Work

“Interns are useless,” was what one of my professors told me when I went to him for some advice and guidance prior to our Fall Career Fair last year. He spoke from experience, with a considerable background in public accounting, but that was not the confidence boost that I was hoping to hear. He claimed that it was difficult to get any substantial work out of interns because of their overtime restrictions, school obligations, and inability to work on long-term projects. He believed that internships came down to the basic purpose of allowing “the firm to play with you, and you to play with the firm.” Although I may not agree with how eloquently he stated this thought, I could certainly appreciate his point. If nothing else, internships are a chance for an intern to get acquainted with the culture of a firm and to get a general impression of what it’s like to be a professional. It is also a chance to make an impression. The firm may not truly “value” the work of interns because it could probably be done more quickly and effectively by current staff. The impression made to the firm is more about the attitude displayed while completing tasks as well as the ability to comfortably communicate with coworkers and clients in a business environment. It is a chance to display what you could be capable of in the future and to test the fit of the firm for you.

With all of this in mind, I went to the Career Fair and began the process of applying for a summer internship. It was a stressful time, not made any easier when I considered how only two years earlier I had anticipated becoming a teacher for secondary English education. A lot of things had changed since then, and I was truly eager to break out of the classroom and into the business world to get a taste of what I would be doing in the not-so-distant future. I applied for several internships through my Career Services office and found that all of the interviews would be occurring in the same week. Not only that, each interview would be preceded by a dinner the evening before. All of a sudden my week became very busy, and I still had that pesky class thing to worry about with tests and all. I did survive this gauntlet! I felt that my comfort level during interviews had grown considerably. I had taken my first step and had done all I could, so it was time to wait and see if all that stress had paid off.

To my great relief, these efforts were rewarded, and I accepted the offer to intern with Schneider Downs. I anxiously awaited my start date with the firm throughout the spring, and now I am nearly finished with the internship itself. With my undergrad and graduation behind me and one year remaining for my Master’s at Duquesne University ahead, I have received some great experience this summer at Schneider Downs. Equally as important, I have met numerous new people who have helped me get my feet wet in the world of public accounting. What my professor said about interns being useless may or may not be true (I won’t be the judge of that), but there is no denying the potential value that an internship can contain, and I am excited to say that I have learned much and enjoyed being a part of Schneider Downs this summer. 

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