Accounting Internship Spotlights
By Julia Greenland
During their winter break a group of six students from Lock Haven University (LHU) spent a week of intensive class training learning about tax preparation, followed by two weeks of computer training. They did this so they could gain real-world experience in completing tax returns. These students are all completing internships with the Tax Counseling for Elderly program.
The group of students, under the faculty supervision of assistant professor William Lloyd, is now nearing the end of the tax season. The intensive training has paid off. “I really have gained a great amount of real world tax experience,” said Matt Martz, a student
Every Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. – 12 noon, the Mill Hall Fire Company hums with activity as volunteers assist the elderly in completing their tax forms at the Mill Hall Fire Company.
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program is a program sanctioned by AARP and run in cooperation with the IRS. “The IRS supplies the program materials and instruction,” stated Virgina Crosby who is a certified volunteer and the district coordinator for Centre and Clinton counties.
Crosby, who was the Director of Office of Aging for Lycoming and Clinton counties, got involved with the program when she retired in 1988, and she has been involved ever since then.
Crosby stated, “All the volunteers do it because they are able to help others do things they cannot do for themselves.”
Ten years ago Nancy Galgoci, who was then an associate professor of accounting at LHU, began volunteering for the program. She brought the idea back to the students in her classroom, and they were excited.
Golgoci stated, “That led to the beginning of the internship program in Spring 2003. Since then LHU has always had several students volunteer their time to work filing the tax returns.”
“In 2003 all returns were done by hand. In 2007 they started using computer software to file the returns,” stated Golgoci.
She has since retired but continues to volunteer her time to train students and as a tax counselor.
Golgoci and Crosby agreed that the program met a need in the county. “I think it’s been a very successful program and good outreach into the community,” stated Crosby.
“Students are trained in how to handle all aspects of filing tax returns, including, death of a spouse, property tax rent rebate, and amended returns. In addition, they learn how to deal confidentially with people and how to work with senior citizens.”
By Amanda Alexander
Most students try to fit in their one mandatory (or strongly suggested) internship before graduation, and that’s it. LHU senior Amanda Oechler is now on her fourth internship and is enjoying every minute of it.
“I love going to work,” she said, despite her almost daily commute from Jersey Shore to State College.
Oechler is an accounting and business student, and since she has already taken all of the courses related to her major, she now spends more time interning than she does on campus. Her current internship is with SF & Company; Oechler is one of three interns at the company’s three locations.
As a paid intern, Oechler works as a staff accountant and puts in 10 ½ hour days, four days a week. Because this is tax season, she spends more time in the office than she would at other times of the year. On top of that, she is taking 12 credits on campus. Oechler said it can be difficult at times to balance her classes and her internship.
“Group projects make it hard,” she said.
However, she feels that it’s worth it for the experience she is gaining in the field.
“It’s like I’m an actual employee,” she said, adding that she never has to get coffee.
She also loves her internship with SF & Company because “they’re a very ethical company.”
While she spends the typical day working on “odds and ends” that need done around the office, Oechler has also been able to help on audits with clients and look at financial statements.
“Lately I’ve been doing a lot of tax returns,” she added.
She works often with Peachtree Accounting Software, which she learned how to use in her classes. She said that her classes prepared her for everything she dealt with on the job and gave her the basics to build upon, while the job goes more in-depth.
“[The most valuable part was] being able to take what you learn in class and apply it in a real world situation,” Oechler said.
Her favorite part of the job is leaving the office to work with clients, which she didn’t think she’d be able to do for a few years.
“To go out in the field, to go and actually do an audit with a client is pretty exciting,” she said.
Because of the experience she’s gained in her internship, Oechler has refined her career goals.
“I thought I wanted to do just taxes, but now I’m really interested in auditing,” she said. “And now I really know what kind of company I want to work for.”
She has also learned more about the economy, especially “how the economy affects financial statements and how it affects people.”
Oechler found her internship through her advisor, but said that students who are looking for an accounting internship should visit Career Services or find companies that interest them and visit their websites to find out about job and internship openings.
Oechler said she thinks everyone should have an internship because the experience sets you apart from others who are applying for jobs.
“Take advantage of everything you can, even small things,” she said. “It’s all going to give you experience, and in today’s world you need experience to get a job.”
By Julia Greenland
Many people dread the approach of tax time and find filing their taxes frustrating. One Lock Haven senior, however, cannot seem to stay away from taxes. Megan Youells, an Accounting and Business Administration major, has completed three accounting related internships and has recently accepted a position at Stanton, Echard, and Ronan LLC in State College, PA as a Staff Accountant.
In the summer of 2009 Youells embarked on her first internship as an accounting intern at Tobias J. Jacobs, CPA in Plains, PA. The accounting firm provides payroll tax services, bookkeeping for personal and corporate income taxes, and bookkeeping for quarterly and sales taxes. Each day the office manager gave Youells a list of tasks to perform, which included bookkeeping and bank reconciliations.
The following spring of 2010 Youells interned in Mill Hall, PA for the AARP Tax Aid Program, which provides tax services for low to middle income citizens. As a certified Tax Aid Counselor, Youells worked with five other interns and twenty volunteers to file personal incomes taxes. Each day began by setting up the computers, taking in clients, looking through their documents, and filing their tax returns.
Youells’ final internship was also local. She spent one month in the summer of 2010 working as an accounting intern in Lock Haven Hospital’s accounting department. The department manages the accounting, invoicing, and payroll, as well as, the accounts receivable and payable for the entire hospital. Youells was responsible for invoicing, carrying out the accounts payable check process, and inputting data into an excel spreadsheet. On a regular basis, Youells opened the mail, marked it as “received” and filed copies of checks.
When asked to recall her most memorable moment, Youells said, “The first time I did a tax return from start to finish without making a mistake. I felt like I was learning and accomplished something on my own.”
In retrospect Youells believes her internship experiences were positive. She liked all the volunteers and interns at the AARP Tax Aid Program and enjoyed working in such a pleasant atmosphere.
Youells learned that two sides to accounting exist: the private side, dealing with corporations, and the public side, dealing with taxes and bookkeeping for different people. She is glad to have experienced the private side of accounting with the Lock Haven Hospital and the public side with Tobias J. Jacobs, CPA and the AARP Tax Aid Program.
Youells’ internships fulfilled her expectations. “I expected to learn more about myself, learn from my internships, and learn what I wanted to do for my future career,” she said. Youells now realizes she enjoys both the private and public sides of accounting. For her immediate future, Youells would like to work in the public side and then transition into private accounting later.
Through her internships Youells learned to apply her common sense and the knowledge from what she has learned in class to complete her tasks. Her tax classes, accounting classes, and management classes at Lock Haven University all equipped Youells with the basic knowledge of accounting. However, she believes internships are important opportunities for students to learn, not only about themselves, but about other valuable skills and information that can only be gained outside the classroom.
Megan Youells believes internships can be found in a variety of ways. She sent her resume and cover letter to the Tobias J. Jacobs, CPA accounting firm and waited for them to respond to her. For the AARP Tazx Aid Program, Youells was recommended for the internship by a professor. Anita Casper, Internship Coordinator at the university, helped Youells attain her third internship at the Lock Haven Hospital.