Coming into this internship, I knew there would be some growing pains and some misunderstandings. Interns make mistakes — it’s part of the process. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by how my mistakes are treated. Rather than annoyance and eyerolls, my questions and errors are met with an explanation and some advice. At Cohen & Company, even silly questions are an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to give grief.
I'd like to tell the tale of one of my not-so-bright moments, so we can all have a laugh.
With the nuances of this story, it comes off a little funnier when I say it out loud, but just humor me. Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to work through an entire audit binder for an ETF. It was my first project, and it was a great learning experience because of the opportunity to work through various workpapers and procedures that I knew nothing about.
I was working with a staff accountant who was recently promoted to senior accountant, and he did a fantastic job of showing me the ropes. Through a few phone calls, Webex meetings and in-person tutorials, we managed to get through the binder and fell into a good routine in which he would shoot me a message about what he wanted me to work on, and I would respond when I finished or had questions.
As we were wrapping up and working on the admin file, he told me to work on the OO section. By the time I had made it to workpaper OO-03, he sent me a message that said, “Hey, can you do 00-1, 00-2, OO-04?”
Being the diligent worker I am, I responded, “Sure thing!”
I signed off on OO-02 and noticed that he had done OO-01. I found it strange that he would ask me to do something he already did, but I brushed it off and figured he’d just forgotten. When I told him I was done, he asked if I had any questions, and I said no and got to work on the next thing.
The next day, I received a message from my favorite now-senior accountant asking me once again to sign off on -1 and -2. So, to jog his memory, I messaged him back that he had already signed off as prep on the former and I’d done the latter. He sent me a screenshot of the binder, and I stared at it for a good 10 seconds.
Local girl learns the difference between “O” and “0” at 21 years old.
At least they were easy workpapers to finish.
The moral of the story here is if you think you’ve made a silly mistake, made a fool of yourself in front of a coworker or asked a stupid question — you’re not alone. Thankfully, Cohen & Company is a place where people will laugh with you, rather than at you, and I couldn’t think of a better place to be.Angela Gavic, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign