Blog Archive

Friday, February 27, 2009

The McGladrey Intern Experience - Rachel: Part 2

If you read my last blog post, you know it was a pretty intense week. Well, apparently that was just a warm-up for this week. I now have a thorough and more accurate appreciation of this profession. Accompanying this vocational understanding is a deep and profound respect for the professionals, the people who work and live this business. I have never seen (or imagined) a group of such hard-working, dedicated and committed individuals. I now know and understand the full measure and meaning of the term, "busy-season."

The longer hours began with a new client. I must begin by saying that my manager on this project should get an award for how patient she has been with me throughout this process. She gave me the opportunity to work on a completely new client – while exciting, honestly scared me to death. With no prior year as a reference or guide, I felt like a tightrope walker without a net. I would be completely responsible and there would be no whipping boy, no one to blame for mistakes. An intern’s best friend of an excuse “I just copied what they did last year” would not work here. So, I took a deep breath and dove into my work papers – which surprisingly, weren’t too bad. I even linked my return from case ware (the software that the auditors use).

I was feeling pretty good. Then, I learned my first lesson with caseware - always make sure your caseware file is accurate before you link it. Otherwise, you end up in my situation - a return that makes absolutely no sense. Luckily, my manager caught the mistake. Well, this is where it gets interesting. My version of the caseware file was not syncing with anyone else's. Although I did not know much about caseware, I did understand the number one rule: the auditors will kill you if you mess up their book balance. I was apprehensive that I had made a mistake and was going to feel the wrath of an auditor who had spent weeks on a jobsite. Thankfully, my anxiety was short lived as my manager contacted the audit team. Once again, luck was on my side. I had not messed up anything per se; there was actually an incorrect copy floating around.

After my manager relayed the importance of this caseware file being fixed, we moved on. So far, I have attempted the federal return and work papers about two or three times. This is where I have seen, felt and appreciated the patience of my manager. Either she hasn’t reached a point of utter frustration with me or she keeps it well-hidden. In either regard, she allows me to try and try again. I’m hoping her patience and tolerance extends to the partner who is reviewing my return today. Although this partner is considered very intimidating, he kind of reminds me of my dad. So, his critique can't be too bad, right? After all, I grew up in a household run by a marine. I played spy and espionage games with my older brother who later became a soldier who regaled me with stories (and horrors) of basic training. Um, now that I think about it, there are definitely some parallels. Perhaps, an accounting internship is a boot camp for the accounting profession. Sound off – one, two. Sound off – three, four….….

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Tax Season Fun Starts Here

*** Today's post comes to us from Sharon Burton, Recruiting Manager based in our Kansas City, MO office ***

The tax partners in our Kansas City office know that it takes more than just crunching numbers and staying abreast of tax laws to survive the busy season. Fully aware and experienced with the demands of the season, tax leadership goes the extra mile to help prepare the team for the schedules (no pun intended) that lie ahead.

Members of the group generally kick off the season with a team building event. Two years ago, teams competed against each other in a bake off contest . . . the most creative cake winning. Last year they beefed it up a bit with a bumper car bash; while this year they vied for merit at a shuffle board tournament held at a local pub and restaurant.

The fun continues throughout the busy season with Tax Season Olympics. Medal winning activities include rubber band shooting, throwing washers in a hole (technically a styrofoam cup), a bean bag toss, egg races, knee hockey and hula hoop contests, to name a few. In between events, some folks compete in a friendly game of Family Feud while still others strive for recognition of the most weight gained/lost or maintained (a real feat considering the snacks that are in ample supply). By chance if these stress busters aren’t enough, members of the Tax Department are treated with 30 minute chair messages and meals each week night.

With all of these indulgences and team commitment, surprisingly, April 15th comes more quickly than you think. Interestingly enough, it is a rather quiet day . . . until the season finale party! And on the 16th you ask? Ask most tax associates what they will be doing on that day . . . sleeping in, of course!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The McGladrey Intern Experience - Rachel, Part 1

My internship so far has been going rather well. I’ve learned so much about preparation for a tax return. My managers have given me projects that have helped and enhanced my overall understanding. So, this past week I knew what to expect:– I would get a project, dive into it, flounder a bit and then straighten everything out. Or so I thought.

I must say that I have never been as completely and utterly confused as when I received my assignment of an amended return. Initially I thought I would simply enter my changes and Prosystems would automatically recalculate. If only Prosystems worked that way! This certainly wasn't like my tax textbook which told me which boxes to check. No, it wasn’t that easy. I had a moment of near panic when I realized that for this particular amended return, we did not want Prosystems to automatically accrue taxes –something that had been done previously for this client. Great, I thought. I have to change something that everyone will know if I mess up. Once again, panic began to rise inside me – until I thought - wait a minute, do I actually need to understand where these numbers are coming from? After suffering from sweaty palms and anxious feelings, I decided to ask one of my co-workers - who seems to be able to answer all of my questions. Once again, he knew exactly what to do. I felt a great sense of relief and a dawning of understanding as he explained to me why the taxes were accrued, where all of the numbers came from and the appropriate fix.

This good feeling lasted until I printed the return – all 500 pages. But then I thought, alright this isn't a problem. I can certainly sort and collate. So, I went page by page with the original return (ignoring my co-workers who joked about my sorting abilities) and organized the amended return. Once I was done, I submitted to my manager for review. Feeling gratified and rather pleased with myself, I was ready for the weekend. I gave the grueling return little thought until Monday morning when my manager asked to go over her review comments with me. I figured no big deal - how many comments can there be, right? Well, I quickly found out that you can get a return with about 110 review comments. I had a flashback to my first graded college paper when I humbly realized that I really wasn't a great writer. However, instead of crying, calling my mom and wanting to quit like I did in my freshman year, I calmed my nerves and focused on the task before me.

I turned to my knowledgeable and helpful resources. My manager answered every single question I had. My co-worker (the one with all the answers) showed me a few more changes. So, I spent about 8 more hours correcting mistakes. While it still may not be perfect, I feel very confident that I will not get 110 edits this time. I’m shooting for less than 50. Looking back, this was my first moment of having absolutely no idea of what I was doing. I knew that this moment would come; I just had no idea how I would handle it. Not only did I handle it fairly well, but more importantly, I learned a lot – not just about amended returns but also about the value of teamwork, I also learned that I am not expected to have all the answers and that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn and grow from those errors. So, as I await my second review comments, I anticipate more growth on the immediate horizon.…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ask BJ - A job that is better for a friend?

It can happen quite often... you are conducting your own job search, but you stumble across a position that is perfect for that friend, former co-worker, or family member of yours. I wanted to make sure you were aware of a feature our career center has that will enable you to quickly notify your friends and colleagues in the event you find a McGladrey job that might be right up their alley. I know now more than ever, with the current economic conditions it's important to help those we care about who may need new employment. It seems that each one of us in some way knows somebody who has been impacted by the current economy and job market. Here's how to pass those job opportunities on to them in an email from our career center. (We of course hope you are able to find one just perfect for your experience, too!)

After you have searched and viewed the job on our Career Site, simply click the "Email A Friend" button which is located just to the right of the job title.

Enter your friend's email address, name, and your name and email address along with an optional message and hit send. That is it!

Follow McGladrey on Twitter

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I've been an avid experimenter and user of social media and social networking tools for some time now, but until very recently, wasn't quite sure what to do with Twitter. I've regularly updated my Facebook status for months, not wasn't sure if anyone really noticed or cared. Although I was hearing more and more about the wonders of Twitter, I continued to struggle to see how Twitter would fit into our social media strategy.
In the spirit of experimenting however, I recently decided to take the deep plunge into Twitter, and I have to say it's been quite an experience and education so far! In addition to connecting to a number of interesting and relevant people on Twitter, I have also found it to be a highly effective tool to share information about McGladrey.
Why should you follow McGladrey on Twitter?
  • You will be notified whenever there are new posts here on Success starts here
  • You will be exposed to additional McGladrey-related information and news
  • You can comment on or re-tweet McGladrey-related information
  • You can connect with other @lifeatmcgladrey followers who may share similar interests and backgrounds
  • Just like that old Genesis song, "I will follow you if you follow me"
So I invite you today to Follow McGladrey on Twitter. Not on Twitter yet? It's free and easy to sign up, and I think you will find as I have that it's a truly wonderful source of information and networking opportunities. And if you really get hooked (i.e. become a Twitterholic), I personally recommend you download TweetDeck to get the full Twitter experience.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meet an Intern- Rachel Pope

Hello, my name is Rachel Pope, I am a tax intern with McGladrey and student at Appalachian State University. I must first begin by saying that I originally had no interest in being an accountant whatsoever. Basically, when I was a little girl I wanted to be Ariel from the Little Mermaid. When I realized it wasn’t possible for me to breathe longer than 60 seconds under water, I turned my eyes to something else very important. Money. So, at the age of 10, I started my very own lemonade stand, complete with a detailed list of supplies (lemons, sugar, cups, and pitcher) and their cost. Yeah, I will say it, I had a ledger. Eventually, I gave up the lemonade stand and around the age of 15 I started working various jobs throughout high school. From answering the phones at a local pizza place to lifeguarding, I knew my main interest was in how a business worked.

In high school I decided I wanted to have a successful business career. I just wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to attain that goal. At this crossroads, I decided to incorporate my other passion, Chinese. After traveling to China with a small group of classmates during my junior year of high school, I felt like I had found my path: International Business with a concentration in Chinese.

This choice brought me to Appalachian State University and the Walker College of Business. However, during my sophomore year I took my first accounting class and discovered the world of debits and credits. It made sense. Finally, something I truly understood. I decided that day I was going to be an accounting major. So my new focus at Appalachian became a major in Accounting with a minor in Chinese.

Appalachian has an excellent group of professors who have worked with me through the accounting program. From my classes I realized that tax was the department was absolutely for me and I wanted my internship to concentration in tax. At Appalachian, the recruiting process for internships begins in the early fall semester and continues for about 8 weeks. So like most things I had quickly made up my mind and knew after the first orientation meeting that I wanted to do an internship in international tax with a big four firm.

Well, once again things changed. After meeting what seemed like endless accounting firms, I honestly began to question if I had made the right decision with changing my major to accounting. Then, I came to the McGladrey room during the recruiting process. I immediately "clicked" with the group of people I met. We shared similar values, views and goals in both our personal and work lives. After on-campus interviews I visited the McGladrey office in Charlotte. The visit went incredibly well, I genuinely liked each person I met. So, after a day of interviews I once again made up my mind that I wanted McGladrey.

I could not have been happier that I stuck with that decision. I am currently in the 6th week of my internship in the Charlotte Office of the Carolina Economic Unit. I must say that I originally wanted to do an internship because it was what I was "supposed" to do. I simply thought I would be sitting at a desk answering the phones, printing off copies and maybe by the end of it I would do a return. Wow, I have never been proven more wrong in my life. This opportunity has by far exceeded my expectations. I have been introduced to a group of people who truly care about my success and happiness, and I have already learned so much from my co-workers, managers and partners.

I am looking forward to sharing my different experiences in the Charlotte Office over the next few weeks here at Success starts here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From College to Career

*** Today's post comes from a new member of the Upper Midwest Economic Unit's audit team, Guy ***

The major concept to understand and utilize when transitioning between living the collegiate dream to the 'nine-to-five' routine is patience. College gave me the opportunity to learn and practice core accounting concepts, but it wasn’t until my first day, and real business world application of accounting, that my education began. As a result, I’ve been taking my career one day at a time by focusing on the task at hand and trying to fully comprehend what I’ve been taught. This technique has been quite helpful. Thinking big picture is something to be aware of, but as a new hire when trying to learn the methodology and interacting with clients, it may bog you down and lead to confusion rather than comprehension. Therefore, by being patient in the learning process and not being afraid to ask questions or make little mistakes, the transition is a lot smoother.

The work experience I’ve had so far in the first thirty days can be described as diverse. I’ve done everything from standard office tasks, such as making copies, scanning documents, and mailing confirmation letters to working offsite at the client testing accounts and interviewing employees. Working at the client has been great. I’ve been quite fortunate to have been assigned to great audit teams and great clients. Everyone has been very helpful and understanding. By working with clients, it's allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my work. Overall, with consistent patience and practice, a full and successful transition from college to career can be achieved.

Friday, February 6, 2009

McGladrey Intern Honored by MACPA

On January 9, 2009, Tracy F., a tax intern in our Gaithersburg, MD office, was invited by the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) to speak at their Annual Educators Conference. At the conference, Tracy, along with two other college students, spoke on the topic “Why did you major in accounting?” in front of college professors from all over Maryland.

Tracy was selected to speak at the conference because of an award she received from the MACPA in April of 2008. Tracy received the MACPA 2008 Outstanding Achievement in Accounting Award, which recognizes students in Maryland colleges and universities for their academic excellence and leadership in the study of accounting. Tracy was nominated by several of her accounting professors who are members of the MACPA.

Tracy, who has been with the firm since January 2008, has been an outstanding intern since day one. “Tracy has been an incredible asset to this organization,” said Daniel O’Brien, HR Manager. “She always presents herself with a ‘can do’ positive attitude, which is contagious. She has proven to be a staunch ambassador of the McGladrey brand and has played a key role in our success recruiting top talent at her school, Mount St. Mary’s University.”

“We are very fortunate to have Tracy as a second-year intern,” said Mike M., managing director in the Gaithersburg office. “We knew quickly that Tracy was special during her first internship with us, she demonstrated the ability to quickly grasp client matters and complete tax projects.” Tracy, a senior at Mount St. Mary’s, an Honors Student, and the school’s Accounting Club President, will graduate in May and will start with us full-time in September.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Third Annual McGladrey Team Championship Coming Soon

Yes, it's February, and for many of us it's been a very cold, if not very snowy winter. When it's cold and snowy, golf is probably one of the last things on people's minds. Or is it? The PGA season is underway, and I have found myself the past couple weekends switching on a golf tournament or two, if nothing else but to soak in the warmth and sunshine of Hawaii, Arizona or California.

One golf tournament that is never too early to think about is the McGladrey Team Championship. This year's tournament will be similar to previous tournament with its best-ball format, local and regional qualifiers, and it's national championship at Pinehurst. One big difference this year will be an increase in the allowed course handicap. Another new feature in 2009 will be the tournament's partnership with the Special Olympics, which was announced at the 2008 national championship.

Local qualifiers in some locations begin this month! So if you and two golfing buddies want to compete in the most unique amateur golf tournament around and make a run at Pinehurst, visit today for more details.