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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.…

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