By: Ana Byers & Lori Gordon
When you think about doing an internship, you often assume you will be making coffee and fetching lunches for partners or managers. However, if you intern at Howe, Riley & Howe this will not be the case. HRH made us each feel welcome from day one by having an office lunch for us the day we started. The interns are treated just like first year associates in terms of the work they are given. In fact, within our first week, we were out in the field on an audit. The great thing about interning at HRH is that you will get exposure to both audit and tax. You do not have to choose one area to do your internship – which can often lead to being stuck in that area regardless of preference. HRH allows you to gain valuable experience in both avenues, so you are able to decide what you like most. This also prevents you from being bored during the summer because you are constantly doing something new and different.
Another aspect of the firm that we really enjoyed is that the firm has an open door policy in terms of interns and new hires interacting with managers and partners. It was a common occurrence for both managers and partners to sit with us and explain various subjects throughout the summer or for us to walk in their offices and ask for an explanation on a subject. This is not something you will find at many firms, so we tried to take full advantage of the senior leadership while we could. The important thing to remember when doing an accounting internship is that no one expects you to know everything, in fact, they expect you not to know anything, and at HRH they encourage you to ask as many questions as you can to learn as much as you can while you are here.
A common misconception of accountants is that they sit in their cubicles all day with their adding machines and do not talk to anyone. This is very wrong. We were out of the office for several weeks during the summer on various audit jobs. This allowed us to interact with other employees on our audit teams, as well as many clients. Additionally, the firm hosts employee morale events each month for the staff to socialize and relax for a bit. While we were here, we were able to participate in a pizza and bingo lunch, as well as, an office cookout, complete with ping-pong and corn hole. The staff at HRH are very hard working but they also know how to have fun, which was nice to experience.
When we were out in the field assisting with various audits, we were able to gain valuable audit experience testing in the following areas: cash receipts, cash disbursements, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, inventory, and even A-133. We also learned the logistics of work papers, signing off on work papers, and the review process that the managers and partners perform during the audit work. This is a job where you learn by doing, so we were constantly receiving training and instruction throughout the summer, while we were in the field and in the office.
In addition to our audit work, we were given the opportunity to work on various tax returns. We assisted in the following: individual, S-corporation, C-corporation, partnership, gift tax, and estate. The exposure to such a variety of returns was invaluable as interns because it gave us a broad picture of tax accounting. This responsibility can be very overwhelming at first when you sit down with a return and you have no idea what you are doing. Nevertheless, it provided more opportunities to learn and to receive training from various staff members at all levels. It was very common for one of us to send a message to a co-worker and say, “do you have a minute to help me with a return?” We always received a positive response and the co-worker would sit with us for as long as it took to understand what we were doing.
From our internship experience this summer, we have learned that it is very important to find the right fit with a firm. You need to feel comfortable with your co-workers and be in an environment that is conducive to training and answering the million questions you will have as a new hire or intern. We found HRH to be a wonderful opportunity this summer both in the culture of the firm and the wide range of responsibilities that we were given.