It's an Intern's Life: What to Expect from Someone Who's Been There....

By Sweeney Conrad | Feb 13, 2017

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Unhappy office worker on the phone, isolated on whiteby Katie Knutson

So, you’ve been hired as intern for busy season.

First thing’s first- start memorizing coffee orders and kiss your life goodbye, right?  You’ve probably heard the horror stories, but as someone who has survived life as an intern and successfully transitioned into full-time staff- I’m here to set the record straight. Whether you are interning at a private or public accounting firm, these points should give you a general idea of how your internship might look:

  1. You WILL work long hours. Yes, it’s true. You will likely be working long hours, as any good intern should. Everyone is busy during busy season (hence, the name) and you are there to help! But, purely from a selfish point-of-view- the more hours you work, the more of an idea you will get of what busy season will really be like as a full-time staff member.  It’s a great way to figure out if you’re on the right career path for YOU (it’s funny how working just a few Saturdays, and a little bit of overtime will do that for you!)
  2.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The only way to learn, is to ask! As an intern, you will ask a ton of questions (no kidding, right?). There is a tendency to feel like you are asking  too many questions- rest easy, you won’t.  It is better to ask and do things right, than to try to guess and make mistakes.  Some ways I recommend to quell  the fear of asking too many questions are:
    • Make sure you keep a list of questions, in order to avoid constantly stopping by for “a quick question”- it’s easier to tackle them all at once
    • Take good notes whenever you have a question answered so that you can refer back
    • Ask a variety of people, not just your buddy.
  3. You will learn a lot. As cliché as it sounds, you will learn more than you thought was possible. A lot of lessons will come early on (there is a steep learning curve out in the real world versus in school), but I guarantee you will be learning up until and through the last day of your internship. Embrace it – that is (mostly) why you wanted to become an intern, right?
  4. You will learn to feel confident in preparing 1040s. At Sweeney Conrad, we have interns focus on preparing 1040s only; this ensures that they become pros! That being said, we don’t shy away from having interns prepare more complex 1040s, so they will not just be doing the “easy” stuff (as if there is such a thing). Focusing on this aspect of tax return preparation will help you build a solid foundation for the rest of your career.
  5. If you picked the right firm, you will have a good time & laugh a lot.  All members of Sweeney Conrad work hard- but we also know how to have a good time! There’s a raffle for movie tickets every Friday, busy season trivia (complete with prizes), and lots of snacks! Interns are a immediately a part of our work  family, and all of our events- including the always epic April 15 18th party! I promise that by the end of it, you will have lots of fun moments to look back, eaten well and maybe have won a thing or two!
  6. You’ll be impressed when you see how far you’ve come! No matter how long your internship is, it will surely go by very quickly, I promise! After all is said and done, hopefully you’ll have a chance to reflect and see how much knowledge you’ve gained. Most interns come in with only one tax class under their belt (or audit, if that’s your fancy), but you will undoubtedly leave with a lot more.

Surviving busy season is no small feat, so you should feel very proud of yourself - seriously. And, hey, at least preparing your own taxes won’t seem so hard anymore… If you’re considering an internship, e-mail to receive information on our upcoming SC Summer Summit Leadership Conference coming this summer.