I started my internship with Schneider Downs at the tail end of my college career in a very different world from the one in which it began. About four years ago (what now feels like only four days ago), I was starting school at Robert Morris University (RMU). I wasn’t sure if accounting, or even college for that matter, was for me. I started to develop a motivation problem. I wasn’t branching out of my comfort zone and my grades were not at the level they should have been. Fast-forward to the fall of my junior year; I decided I would push myself and work hard for my grades and my career and see how I felt at the end of the semester. I finished off my semester with a good GPA and my first internship. This made me realize that the only thing holding me back from having a successful college career was myself. My real challenge would be the spring semester where I would have to balance a full-time class schedule and an internship that required 30 hours a week. I finished off that year with another improved GPA and finally some work experience that consisted of more than being a cook at a local pizza place.
Since RMU is a premiere accounting school in the Pittsburgh area, I had obviously heard of Schneider Downs—through the many recruitment events that the firm held on campus. One thing I’ve always appreciated about RMU is their extremely helpful networking events for accounting majors. Whether it’s a resume workshop, mock interviews on campus or the Accounting Career Day, students have endless opportunities to meet and connect with a wide range of potential employers. Additionally, I had interned that summer in the internal tax department of one of Schneider Downs’ clients. I was able to work on some of the client-prepared documents that would be sent to and used by the firm. In the following fall semester, I had a mock interview scheduled with a recruiter from Schneider Downs. The interview went well, and she suggested I apply for a spring or summer internship position. I scheduled an on-campus interview that would be preceded by a dinner event the night before at a restaurant nearby, something that immediately made the firm stick out. One thing that caught my attention immediately was the genuine enthusiasm with which people talked about their work. They had a representative presence of people there from tax analyst to shareholder, and everyone had a positive relationship with one another. My interview the following day went well, and I was invited to the office for another interview.
At the office interview, I noticed the same positive energy and passion that I had previously experienced at the dinner. The shareholders who I interviewed with were more than willing to answer all of my questions and discuss some of the ways they had planned on expanding and growing the firm. The next week, I received the call offering me the internship. I was excited, relieved and very much looking forward to my summer. When Governor Wolf implemented work-from-home requirements, there was a lot of uncertainty, among other things, about how this internship would look. I was kind of nervous about being able to make an impression and gain experience at the firm with a shortened time frame. I can now confidently say that my internship was successful. I was able to (virtually) meet with many different people from all areas of tax. I was able to gain actual work experience even though the extended federal deadline had just passed (which generally marks a slow period for tax work). Was it the experience I would have preferred? No. Of course, I would rather have interacted with Schneider Downs professionals and clients in person. Even so, given the uncertain circumstances, it exceeded all of my expectations!
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