Tuesday, August 28, 2018

“Insightful Internship Interview Information”

During my undergraduate tenure at the University of Kentucky there were a handful of internship opportunities that the University offered. Job searching can be competitive for fresh college graduates so securing in an internship before you graduate would be my best advice.

Also, you don’t have to wait until your senior year to start interviewing for internships. Yes, you will have a better chance of getting one if you are an upperclassman or if you are available to start working for the company sooner than the other applicants but getting interview experience is very important. I would suggest starting to apply for internships your junior year through a university program. I can only speak for UK but I am sure that Louisville, IU, and others have great programs that help students find jobs.

At the beginning stages of applying I think that it would be a great idea to apply for as many interviews as you can. Because again the more interviewing experience you have the more comfortable you will be and the better chance you will have a landing a job. If you fit the GPA and Degree requirements you most likely will get a first round interview. Another plus about applying for a job at a University is that the first round of interviews are on campus and for me that was a comfortable environment.   I also think that it is a good idea to apply for as many interviews as you can because you want to be able to choose what company fits you the best or if you do not make it past the first interview of your preferred place of work then you will have other options to explore.

Usually the firm will have an HR representative and a newly hired staff member interviewing you on campus, (like Mallary and Blake) to see how well you blend with the company. I would highly suggest wearing a suit to the interviews even though the dress code only requires a jacket, it can only help you by looking Professional. If you make it past the first stage of interviews the second round of interviews will usually take place at the firms location. The second interview can be lengthier and usually entails an office tour as well. You most likely will speak with at least one partner during this visit and a more experienced staff accountant. I want to reiterate again that experience with both stages of interviews will immensely increase your chances of landing a job before you graduate.

Lastly I think it is important to stay ahead of the game when applying for these positions. I would suggest applying for the spots early and setting up an interview time right when you get a notification. Usually you can apply for these jobs before your major class assignments or tests are scheduled because it’s still early in the year when the slots open. So don’t be lazy, get a jump on the process while there isn’t much school work going on because anyone that has gone through college knows that projects and tests can unpleasantly all hit you at once!  

-Nick Taylor (A 2018 Spring & Summer Monroe Shine Intern)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"The Power of Positive Thinking." by Staff Accountant, Rachael Creger

When I was a student at UofL I was gifted a copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. It collected dust on my shelf like most non-school books, and then got thrown in a box when I graduated and moved out of my apartment by campus. This past week, over a year since boxing up all my possessions after purchasing my house, I finally started to unpack my boxes of books. I stumbled upon this gift and flipped right to that day’s page. I’ve continued the habit of checking my book nightly before bed and something about last night’s quote, "Always maintain hopefulness, especially when the going is hard," really spoke to me.

College is a tough time, recruiting season is a tough time, and tax season is a tough time – if I’ve learned anything through college and the beginning of my career, it is that a little bit of positivity goes a very long way when the going gets hard. One bit of positivity that gets me through the most stressful of days is knowing that when I get home, I won’t have to do more work, unlike college and the seemingly never ending reading to do or projects to complete.

One of the hardest parts of my second tax season was leaving work, sitting through a 3 hour night class, going home and studying into the wee hours of the morning and attempting to pull myself together and do it all again the next day. One of the highlights of my third tax season (third?! That’s weird to say!) is that when I finally shut down my computer at the end of the night and went home, I didn’t have to worry about cramming for my finance exam, or squeezing in an online quiz before midnight.

So many people through my life have told me that college prepares you for the real world, but after a mere 15 months in the “real world”, I’d like to dispel that myth. Yes, college does prepare you for some of the knowledge you’ll need in your career, but the two are so different. My little nugget of positivity for you is that eventually, at the end of all the late nights and coffee-fueled study sessions you can trade all of that in for an amazing career at a company you love where you will still be consuming large amounts of coffee but where it will all finally be worth it!

Every all-nighter, every tear shed over the regret of procrastinating, every $300 textbook will be worth it someday! I rest easy knowing that I worked my butt off for 4 long years to get my dream job at an amazing firm. So hold on tight, because these next few semesters will be hard and busy and overwhelming at times, but I promise that someday you will look back on your college experience and be so glad that you filled your time with late night study sessions and tax season internships. Good luck this recruiting season and good luck with the rest of your career – college & otherwise.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Life After 22 - The Non-traditional Student's Guide to Recruiting Season." by Staff Accountant, Jackie Bach

Greetings Students! My name is Jackie Bach, I’m a first year Staff Accountant here at Monroe Shine, and I’m excited to have the chance to dole out some nuggets of wisdom acquired from my time spent making the transition from (constantly struggling) non-traditional student to (only sometimes struggling) new staff member. My hope is that by the end of this post you’ll feel a little less panicked, a little more confident, and a lot more excited about tackling the upcoming challenges the next few months have to offer. Buckle up you guys, recruiting season is officially upon us!

For those who don’t know, recruiting season is comprised of resumes, socials, interviews, and more accounting-themed swag than you ever thought possible. It’s stress, excitement, and anticipation all balled up into a mad scramble for the perfect internship. It’s like the Hunger Games but for accounting nerds and the prize is a coveted spot on a prestigious team where you can finally see some of the things you’ve learned put into action. Simply put: It’s kind of a big deal.
As arguably one of the most important times in a new accountant’s career it’s easy to imagine that the typical college student dedicates a substantial portion of their time to preparing for, attending, and following up on a myriad of events. This, of course, is in addition to the time spent worrying, revising a resume 843 times, and trying to iron every pair of dress pants you own at the last minute because you didn’t take them to the drycleaners like your mom told you. Regular students must contend with these standard recruiting season hurdles on a nearly daily basis; however, there is an ever growing and often under-represented demographic of students that are met with additional obstacles despite making up a large portion of the eligible recruiting base. These students are non-traditional students.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, non-traditional students are defined by one of seven characteristics: delayed enrollment into post-secondary education; attends college part-time; works full time; is financially independent (for financial aid purposes); has dependents other than a spouse; is a single parent; or does not have a high school diploma. This can also include students returning to college for career changes or enhancements. I was a traditional student when I got my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and I was a non-traditional student when I went back two years later to get my certificate in accounting and ultimately my Master’s degree. The difference between the two experiences was like day and night - no, literally, I took night classes all through the certificate and Master’s programs.
It’s easy to feel alienated when going back to or starting college at a different stage in your life. You’re probably older than everyone (except your fellow nontraditional students), your expectations are different, even the way you learn has evolved and that’s just the changes in the CLASSROOM. Additionally you have to face the constant everyday conflict between your life obligations and your educational obligations! Kids, a spouse, bills, work, a water pipe that decides to bust as you sit down to take a quiz, or a neighbor’s dog that has the uncanny ability to sense when you sit down write a paper and proceeds to bark for FOUR. HOURS. STRAIGHT.

So now, amongst all the difficulties that come with being a non-traditional student, it’s recruiting season. You’re officially in competition with your peers and other candidates from other schools. It’s go time, and the pressure to perform tends to come with it’s own arsenal of ways to tear apart your confidence and commitment. But you’ve got this! If you can survive all of the things listed above then you can most certainly come out on the other side of recruiting season unscathed and hopefully even employed!

If this is your first recruiting season (or second, or third…) here are just a few common misconceptions, things you can expect, and (hopefully helpful) tips and tricks to help get you through:
  • You will NOT be able to attend every single event every single time. And that’s okay!
    • My first recruiting season was filled with absolute dread when I looked at the schedule of events. I was working full-time and most, if not ALL, events were always during work hours or would be over by the time I got out of work. I never felt like I could ask to leave early either - I mean really, how do you justify asking, “Hey, mind if I leave early to go to an accounting social in an attempt to pursue other potential employers?” Doesn’t quite sit right, does it? If you have the ability to go to an event or if you have an employer that understands then absolutely go for it! If not then don’t sweat it! I promise that there will be events that you can attend and most firms even hold their own events after hours that are open to students.

  • You WILL get selected for an on-campus interview and inevitably the only times left will be times when you are at work.
    • This one can be a bit tricky. While schools have made huge strides in making a lot of programs more accessible to non-traditional students this is generally one area that continues to fall short. The simple solution is to take a personal day or some personal time out of work but realistically that’s not always an option for a lot of non-traditional students. If you find yourself struggling to find a way to make the interview times work reach out to the contact provided by the firm. Many firms will be understanding of your specific needs and are willing to make some special accommodations.

  •  “Why would I waste my time with recruiting season? I don’t need an internship, I need a JOB.”
    • I hear you loud and clear, my friend. Once you get to a certain age or a certain point in your life you’re used to being gainfully employed and having life obligations that have to be met (Netflix ain’t gonna pay for itself, am I right?). The thought of downgrading to something that isn’t set in stone just to possibly further your career can be terrifying. Here’s the good news: recruiting season isn’t just about interns! Because of the comprehensive career placement offered by most schools now, a lot of firms also recruit for full-time staff positions during recruiting season. Don’t worry about knowing everything as a first year staff either, you’ll be just as clueless as the interns and that’s to be expected.

  • “It’s taken me forever just to get to this point, why would a firm even want me?”
    • Chances are, if you’re like me, accounting wasn’t necessarily your first choice (Marine Biology - don’t judge me). Maybe you got your bachelor’s degree in something else, didn’t like it (or use it) and wanted a change. Maybe instead of going to college right away you went into the workforce instead. Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to go to college or the time wasn’t right. Whatever the reason may be, you’re here now. The thing that really sets you apart from your peers is the level of commitment you have to being here right now despite all of the difficulties you have faced and will continue to face. You went out into the world, saw all the things it had to offer, and you chose this. What firm wouldn’t want that kind of passion and dedication?

I’d love to tell you that it gets easier but at the end of the day we’re all passengers on the same old struggle-bus. What I will tell you is that you shouldn’t give up because you are on track to have an amazing career. If you stick with this you will get to work with some of the most amazingly talented and informed professionals ever (shout out to my Monroe Shine work family!). You’ll find a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your work. You’ll be driven to learn more and achieve more than you ever thought possible. You’ve already worked so hard and made it this far - take it all the way! I’ll tell you what I always tell myself: if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.

~ Jackie

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"It's the Most Wonderful Time, of the Year..." by Staff Accountant, Rachael Creger

I bet you sang the title, didn’t you? No… I’m not talking about Christmas (116 days away – but who’s counting?) I’m talking about the real “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – internship recruiting season! And it is finally upon us!

Today kicks off Recruiting Season, and all of us at Monroe Shine could not be more excited! This is one of my favorite times of the year; I love getting to visit schools (especially UofL) and helping Mallary with recruiting. I can’t believe that is was 3 years ago that I met Mallary & Butch at the UofL Accounting Social, and this afternoon I’ll be attending that same event alongside them!

A close second to Recruiting Season, is Tax Season… A lot of people outside of our field think that public accountants are just so busy during Tax Season, and then sit around doing nothing the rest of the year… And I’ll be honest, up until a few years ago – that was kind of my impression too. It wasn’t until I started talking to more accountants and learning more about their careers that I really began to see the bigger picture.

When we’re not running around like chickens with our heads cut off on April 14th, we’re still really busy! The rest of the year is filled with audits, internal control assessments, and returns that were on extension; as well as fun little things like bookkeeping, and payroll or sales tax returns. Although no matter what the rest of the year holds – I still love tax season… :)

Something about the longer to-do lists, and the extra hustle in everything really makes me thrive. Knowing that after I finish my current task, I’ve got a bunch more to do, makes me work a bit harder. I think everyone in the firm thrives off the organized chaos – there is so much going on, and everyone is working on such a variety of things, but somehow at the end of the day (or end of tax season) we all make it work.

My two tax seasons with Monroe Shine have been two completely different experiences; neither one was better than the other. I think both really helped me grow as an accountant and as a person. During my first tax season, I was working a nice 40 hour week (we don’t like to overload our interns), and I wasn’t taking any classes. I was a junior at UofL, and quit my old part-time job so I could really focus on my internship. This first tax season internship was for school credit through UofL – which is something that you should definitely explore taking advantage of when you’re getting ready to do your internship! I remember feeling super clueless at first, but eventually figuring a lot out and gaining so much knowledge along the way.

My second tax season was a completely different beast. I was taking 15 credit hours, spread between online classes, an 8 a.m. and some night classes. In the beginning of the semester I was working about 35 hours around my school schedule. But after the March 15th deadline rolled around and we all started to focus on our big April 18th deadline, (it was a Monday this year – so weird), then my schedule ramped up to about 45 hours a week. Juggling school and a full-time internship was very difficult at times, there were many mornings when making it to my 8 am class was difficult because I was up late studying after my night class. And there were so many afternoons where I would’ve rather stayed at the office then gone back to campus for class… But somehow I survived, tax season was conquered – and my LAST SEMESTER of school was complete!

However you decide to juggle school and interning, is up to you… But my best advice would be that for your first internship, keep your course load as light as possible. Take as few classes as possible and maybe try an online class so you have some more flexibility in your schedule. We have had part-time interns before, so if you really want to intern but can’t take a semester off (like I did) or take a lighter course schedule, a lot of firms are willing to work around that! And then maybe if you do a second tax season internship like I did, you’ll better be able to assess whether or not you can handle a schedule like that. Every student/intern is unique, and at the end of the day – your future employer wants what’s best for their interns!

Monday, August 22, 2016

"If i knew then what i know now." by Staff Accountant, Rachael Creger

Thanks for tuning back in for my second post of this year’s series. Sadly, I haven’t been able to think of a witty title like last year’s Declassified Internship Recruiting Guide...  but then again, I don’t think anything could top last year’s posts.

This year I’ve decided to take a bit more of a focus on the post-recruiting life. I’ve been with Monroe Shine now for about 20 months. I started in January 2015 as a tax season intern, continued through the summer and fall as a part-time intern, and then a second tax season as an intern. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue my career with Monroe Shine as a Staff Accountant. It has been a bit of a change but all great ones!

One thing that has been so different from one tax season to the next is developing confidence in my knowledge and skills. This is something that I know will just continue to grow with time, and is something I know you all will attain one day. I remember my first tax season feeling so clueless and asking so many questions. Even by the end of tax season, I felt like I had learned a lot, but I didn’t really grasp just how much information I had actually learned.

It wasn’t until my second tax season rolled around that I realized I actually knew some stuff... In January we got two new tax season interns in the Louisville office, and just like I was a year earlier, they had many questions. Most days, I would answer a question and think to myself “how did I know that?” or “where did that come from?”

This has been one of my favorite things about gaining so much knowledge and experience in my short time with Monroe Shine. I think that interning can be so beneficial not only as a learning experience, but as a great way to get your foot into the door with a company you see yourself having a potential future with.  Even months after tax season has ended, I still continue to surprise myself with the knowledge I have gained.  What I know now, has barely scratched the surface of what I will learn in a lifetime in this profession; I’ve probably learned a tenth of a percent in the last 15 months, of what I’ll learn in the next 40 years – and I’m so excited for this journey.

Monday, August 15, 2016

"Is it really recruiting season, again?" by Staff Accountant, Rachael Creger

Wow! Time really does fly when you’re having fun. I cannot believe that another recruiting season is upon us, and in a just few short months it will be another tax season with more new faces! This fall will be my fourth recruitment season, but only my second on this side of the fence. I had so much fun writing last year’s Declassified Internship Recruiting Survival Guide, and was so excited to be asked to write another series of blog posts again this year.

 A year ago, I was just starting my senior year at the University of Louisville and was so excited to be continuing to intern with Monroe Shine. Way back in the fall of 2013, I met Butch and Mallary at UofL’s Accounting Social, and now – for the second year – I get to attend this amazing event alongside them.

A lot has changed in the last year, for both myself and for Monroe Shine. This past tax season was my second, and it was a completely different experience (more on that in a later post)... In May, I graduated from UofL with my Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration, and began my career as a Staff Accountant with Monroe Shine. And just a few short weeks later, we moved to our new beautiful office located at 500 N. Hurstbourne Parkway. It was a stressful few days leading up to the move, but we all love this new space so much. And our cubicle area for staff and interns has more than doubled in size!

As I mentioned earlier, I am so excited to get to write more blog posts. Be sure to check out last year’s series by clicking on 2015 over on the right-hand side. Last year my focus was on giving the inside scoop and good advice based on my experience, this year’s focus is leaning more towards my personal experience at Monroe Shine and the wonderful transition from intern to full-time staff that I know each and every one of you will get to make someday soon! Stay tuned, and I can’t wait to meet all of y’all at various recruiting events this year!


Friday, September 4, 2015

A Declassified Internship Recruiting Survival Guide by 2015 Intern, Rachael Creger: Part #5

"The Thank You Card"

The handwritten thank you card is a lost art. We have become so dependent on technology that a quick email feels like it is good enough. I’m not a recruiter, or an interviewer making hiring decisions, but I truly believe that my handwritten thank you notes have made a difference. Like I mentioned in my second post, I left last year’s recruiting event with 3 companies in mind. And each person from those three companies got a handwritten note. After my on campus interviews, each of my interviewers also got a thank you card. There’s a lot of good templates on various websites of basic patterns to follow. Because there are so many other resources out there, I’m not going to tell you what to put in your thank you card, but I will share how to master the lost art of the handwritten thank you.

  • First and foremost get some nice stationary. Blank cards, with a very basic design or ones that simply say "thank you" on the outside in a nice font. I found my favorite set of cards at Target last year. Of course office supply stores have some basic stuff as well. If you’re design savvy and have a nice printer, consider making up some nice custom cards on thick paper instead!
  • Practice, practice, practice! You just spent money on nice cards, and you should be writing them in black or blue ink. Write out your entire thank you card on some loose-leaf. Then very slowly, copy your message over. If you mess up, don’t cross through it or white it out. Start over.
  • Make sure you are properly addressing them. If the firm has multiple offices, make sure it is going to the one that your interviewer is actually at. Clear handwriting is key! The outside of this envelope is the first thing they’ll see. Again, if you’re design savvy or have a nice printer, make some nice labels!
  • Now this part, might just be my own personal belief. But the stamp you use matters! Go to the nearest post office and buy a sheet of nice stamps. Don’t use stamps with cartoons or celebrities on it. Avoid ones with political connotations. Last year I used a nice set of stamps with bonsai trees because it matches the color scheme of most of my cards. Simple stamps with a nature image or a simplistic design are the best.

P.S. Now I said that those notes from the interview would come in handy… use that info here. Reference your previous conversations.

~ Rachael (2015 Spring & Summer Intern)