Internship at KPMG Chicago

From January through April 2017, I took off a semester of school and interned at KPMG in Chicago, Illinois. KPMG is a public accounting firm that consists of three different practices: audit, tax, and consulting. I had the opportunity to experience both the audit and tax practices during accounting busy season. Throughout the internship, I completed various accounting tasks such as inputting data, reconciling account balances, and testing controls for Chicago clients such as large financial institutions and asset management companies. I had no idea what any of that meant when I first started, but by the end of the internship, I was completing tasks that a first-year associate might have also been given. It was overall a very difficult yet rewarding experience, and I am so glad that I did it.

Prior to my internship, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my accounting degree when I graduated from Ohio State. I was not even sure if I wanted to be an accountant, and I felt very confused and directionless. This was starting to show in my performance and overall attitude in school. Over the course of my internship, however, my feelings changed. I could suddenly see myself working in public accounting, at least for a few years after graduation, and I absolutely loved Chicago. I became excited to start my career, and I had a renewed sense of motivation for when I returned to school for the summer session.

Since my internship was located in Chicago, I needed to leave OSU and Columbus behind for the semester. My parents had moved from a Cleveland suburb to a neighborhood very close to downtown Chicago when I first started college, but having spent my summers in Columbus since starting at OSU, I had not had a chance to really explore the city. This internship, as well as STEP, gave me the chance to move home with my parents, and to fully immerse myself in city life. I was immediately thrown into its culture by taking public transportation to work and working in a high-rise building, which was both startling and exciting. I had always thought that there were a lot of people at OSU and around Columbus, but it was nothing compared to the crowded sidewalks of downtown Chicago during rush hour before work in the morning and in the evening after work. It was an environment that I wasn’t used to, but the hordes of career-driven, motivated people around me made me realize that Chicago was exactly where I wanted to be. I mentioned previously that I had become to feel slightly stagnant in my coursework at OSU, and Chicago gave me the change of pace that I needed.

KPMG did a great job of acclimating my intern class to living and working for such a big firm in such a large city. Some of the first few things we did were an orientation and a week of training. Training took place in Orlando, Florida, and all the winter interns from every single KPMG office in the country attended. Not only was it great to be in sunny Florida during the first week of January, but it was so cool to meet and become friends with interns from all over the country. Training was difficult because it included things like client interaction, firm technology, and general accounting skills that I hadn’t learned in school yet, but I learned so much and became so close with many other interns and our instructors,who were experienced KPMG professionals from around the country. I think that this was one of the highlights of my internship, because I was able to build relationships and learn a ton about KPMG, which made me feel so connected to the firm before I had even officially started working.

Once I was back in Chicago after training, I began working with teams for different clients. I worked for each client for a few weeks at a time, which gave me the opportunity to experience a few   different industries, such as financial services and asset management. Each team had me performing different types of tasks, which was really rewarding because it gave me a well-rounded knowledge of the work that goes into audit and tax work. Everyone that I worked with was so helpful and willing to put in the time to work with me, and I built great relationships with the associates on each of my teams by the end of my rotations with them. Overall, I proved not only to the firm, but to myself, that I was capable of a career in public accounting through the work I was performing, which was something I wasn’t sure about prior to the internship. By the end of the internship, I was looking forward to beginning my career, and I knew that public accounting was where I wanted to start.

My time in Chicago taught me so much about myself, both personally and professionally. Living and working in such a motivated and fast-paced city was one of the best things I have ever done, because I learned that this is an environment in which I thrive. Not only was I able to apply knowledge that I learned in school to the tasks I worked on at my internship, I gained so many skills that I never would have even picked up through my coursework. At the end of my internship, KPMG offered me a full-time position following graduation, and I accepted it with complete confidence that it was the right decision for me. I am now so excited and motivated to finish my degree and to begin my career at KPMG Chicago. Completing this STEP signature project has had such an important impact on my life, and I am so grateful for the experience.

 

Internship at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

For my STEP signature project, I had the opportunity to intern for a genetic counselor, Ms. Jennifer Roggenbuck, at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  I worked with patients and their families of research studies collecting data necessary for various research purposes. I oversaw many aspects of data analysis into publishable materials and editing of manuscripts for publication purposes.

I have always thought of myself as an understanding and empathic person, that I could relate to the various aspects of another person’s life. I assumed I would be able to effectively communicate with patients dealing with life-altering illnesses. However, I was sadly mistaken while I did want to empathize with the patients and their families my understanding of their pain and suffering was greatly lacking. I was naïve to think that I could begin to grasp their grief by just reading about their situation from case reports. I realized that in order to truly understand a person’s happiness or sadness I had to look beyond the paper and see the person dealing with these struggles.

At the beginning of my internship, I had the opportunity to work with patients and their families enrolled in our identification of genetic modifiers of the SMA phenotype. My initial readings on SMA or Spinal Muscular Atrophy gave me the general understanding that this disease is a genetic condition that affected the nervous system and had a wide age range of onset. The patients I was worked with ranged from infants to 70 years old, however, for the purposes of our study we needed the patient’s developmental information. Therefore, leading me to reach out and contact the mothers of these patients during their developmental years.

As I would ask the mothers to describe their child’s physical development; I could feel the heartache in their quivering voices, see through their eyes exhaustion from the emotional turmoil of seeing their child so weak and vulnerable. As the children continued to suffer from their physical ailments, so did their families from the emotional and mental stress they had borne. Interacting with the patients and their relatives, I lost the many assumptions about the simple nature of pain and suffering.

As I continued to work with the SMA patients I was given the opportunity to work on other projects as well expanding my understanding of patient concerns and needs. I was put onto a second project involving patients afflicted by ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, this disease can be sporadic or familial. Familial meaning there is a genetic component to the disease which can be passed on to the child of a patient. The patients we worked with were very concerned about the possibility of their condition being passed onto their children. I realized that through everything these patients were going through a major concern for them was how this might affect their children, the concern was heartwarming as well as saddening.

Through my STEP experience, I have a gained a better insight into the sorrow patients and their families go through when dealing with life-altering illnesses. I have developed a deeper understanding of healthcare and research practices aimed towards providing people with the best care and finding innovative solutions to health concerns. I am currently pursuing a career in medicine and hope to become a pediatrician one day. In order for me to deliver the best possible care to my patients as a future pediatrician, I needed to develop the skill set necessary to effectively communicate with adolescences and their parents. I believe through my STEP experience I have gained the initial skills for effective communication and will keep working on my skills as I continue on my journey to becoming a physician.