News from the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy

Doubling Down on Internships

An internship with Senator Roger Wicker, which preceded Geoffrey Taylor’s accounting internships, gave him the opportunity to meet those who write laws governing accounting.

Internships immerse students in the practice of professional accounting. The benefits are clear:  real work experience, preparation for the professional environment, networking opportunities, a competitive edge when seeking employment and, frequently, offers of employment.

Many students at the Adkerson School of Accountancy participate in internships, and they find the experience to be an invaluable component of their education. A handful, however, seek out multiple opportunities. Why do they do so? Is there really that much more to be gained from a second or third internship?

“Usually a big decision for accounting students is between tax and audit,” observes Geoffrey Taylor. “This will help me know what kind of work I enjoy – and give me more to work with when I start graduate school.”

Taylor is a senior graduating in December 2016.  Before starting grad school next fall, he will have completed two accounting internships. At Southwest Airlines’ Dallas headquarters in the spring, he will work in tax, helping prepare returns and performing research.  Next summer, he will be in one of Georgia-Pacific’s mills, in what is titled an “Accounting, Audit, Tax, Treasury and Finance Internship.” Besides exposure to various areas of accounting, the two experiences will enable him to compare the corporate and industrial arenas.

He adds, “I’ll also get to experience living in different parts of the U.S. The Georgia-Pacific mill is likely to be in a small town, and Southwest is in a big city.”

Hannah Skurzewski has interned with Georgia-Pacific at its Hosford, FL, building products mill and with FedEx at its Memphis base.

Hannah Skurzewski (second from left) with other interns at Georgia-Pacific headquarters in Atlanta

“After taking my two Principles classes, I wanted to get out there and experience accounting in the real world and be sure it’s what I want to do,” says the junior, who interned earlier than most students.  “In my coursework, it’s helped me visualize how the information is useful.  At the mill, when I analyzed the equipment, I could see why you depreciate it.”

At Georgia-Pacific, she would collect data and analyze trends for a piece of equipment to determine how productive it was and if it was being used in the most cost effective way.  She also had tasks in inventory and other areas.  At FedEx, she worked in the tax department, gaining experience with income tax, tax planning and analysis and international, transportation and sales and use tax.

“They were two very different environments. One was more corporate, and at the other I sometimes put on a hard hat to go check the equipment,” she remarks.

The ASAC Career Fair opened the door for Skurzewski to these two companies. Taylor likewise connected with Georgia-Pacific at the annual event.  The MSU Career Center’s Kelly Atwood advised him when he began pursuing a corporate internship and Southwest in particular.

Taylor also credits his professors for their support.  He realized many – particularly Dr. Noel Addy – are well acquainted with what various internships entail and because they also know their students’ strengths, could offer counsel on what might be the best fit.  Dr. Alan Stancill helped him prepare for his Southwest interview, reviewing financials and identifying questions to ask. Preparation was vital – the company had some 25,000 applicants in 2016 and the previous year had hired 311 interns.

Both of these ambitious students will ultimately have three internships under their belts. Skurzewski has accepted another internship with Georgia-Pacific for next summer in Lexington, KY. Taylor interned with Senator Roger Wicker during his sophomore year. His tasks ranged from giving Capitol tours to constituents to gathering the Senator’s briefing materials, but he was also able to sit in on meetings that interested him and gained new perspective on laws that govern accounting.

“One of the senior advisors on staff had helped draft the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The semester before, I had been reading about it in class, and now I was talking to the people who had written it!” he shares, noting that all his internships will give him insight in determining a career path and the type of location and atmosphere he prefers.

Skurzewski’s internships have affirmed her choice of the accounting profession and redoubled her commitment to her studies.

“They were very different types of work, but both have helped me to know it’s all worth it!”