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Thursday, March 5, 2009

The McGladrey Intern Experience - Rachel: Part 3

As my internship draws to a close, I find myself in a reflective mood. Looking back over the past 9 weeks, I have had some very interesting opportunities, experiences and encounters! During this time, one of the most common questions I have been asked as an intern has been: "So Rachel, have there been any unexpected surprises? If so, were they pleasant or unpleasant?" I thought I would take this opportunity to answer this question for everyone.

I guess I’ll start with the not-so-good surprise. With much chagrin, I found I really didn’t know anything about public accounting. What do I mean by that? Well, give me a test on financial accounting, introduction to audit or individual income tax and I would probably ace it. Academically, accounting is my strong suit. However, I quickly realized that theory does not always translate or correlate to practice. Accounting in the "real world" is significantly different from what I studied in the classrooms and textbooks. I was vexed and humbled to discover that I had no idea how to do a real tax return. This disconnect between theory and application would become somewhat of a pattern during my internship. With each new assignment, I realized just how little I knew and just how much there was to know and learn about accounting. In the beginning, my reaction was to question my preparedness, my knowledge, my understanding and sometimes even my education. My self-doubt soon dissipated with the awareness that the accounting profession is a complex, living, growing, ever-evolving discipline.You’d think this revelation would be terrifying but for me, it was affirmation.

And this is the unexpected good surprise. At first, I wasn't sure that accounting was truly for me; I now know, without a doubt, that it’s the career for me. I need to be constantly challenged and mentally stimulated so this mercurial field is a great fit. I am also a very social creature which has confounded many of my friends who were concerned that I would wither in a world of numbers. I am very pleased to report to them that the accounting world is brimming with wonderful people who are happy, outgoing, energetic, and interesting. And to my good fortune, people who are genuinely concerned about my happiness and my success – which, in a 9-week span of unexpected surprises, is truly a great delight.

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