“Am I already turning into my grandpa?”
That thought has swirled in my head for about a month now, and for good reason. But to understand where I’m coming from, I’ll need to give you a little context.
Last summer I had my first internship with Cohen & Company, and I loved it. To make my life easier during the internship, I decided to move into my grandparents’ house, as it cuts down my commute by about 45 minutes. I really prefer to be in the office more often than working from home, and having a shorter drive helps. So, I chose to live with my grandparents again this summer.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Is he crazy?” or “He is going to go crazy” living with his grandparents. If so, you certainly aren’t alone, as most of my family verbalized similar thoughts to me before I moved in last summer. I can answer those questions/thoughts with a simple, “kind of.”
The day I moved in with my grandparents, I became the resident IT guy, and I have been asked every question you can imagine about smartphones, laptops, iPads, televisions, speakers and printers. No matter the question or nature of the answer, we typically end up in a similar place — with my grandpa expressing his disdain for modern technology, his amazement that I can figure out the issue he is having, and his strong wish for things to go back to the “good ol’ days.”
Personally, I always perceived myself as an early adopter of new technology, or at least as someone who stays informed on the latest developments. But during this summer internship, I found myself questioning that perception and asking myself, “Am I already turning into my grandpa?”
SurePrep is a software that assists in the completion of individual 1040 tax returns, and it was new to the entire firm this year. Coming into my internship, I was fairly confident in my ability to complete work. I knew I’d have to knock the rust off the gears as I hadn’t worked all schoolyear, but I was confident I could get up and running quickly. Most of that confidence stemmed from having a solid base with the software we use in our day-to-day work. And so, I sat through training this year maintaining that confidence as we were taken through the basics of the software.
When we arrived at the day of SurePrep training, I knew I had to pay special attention because this was the one new thing compared to last summer. I found out SurePrep is just a different way to do the same thing in preparing 1040s. So, I get through the training, and now it’s time for me to start using the software on my own.
I’m sitting at my desk and open SurePrep, and I have the training video on another monitor so I can follow each step. Without getting too deep into the description — it was a struggle. I was asking the people around me a ton of questions, but as I came to find last year, everyone is more than willing to lend a helping hand. I appreciate that just as much, if not more, than before.
I’m the type of person who either is going to sink or swim, and I do not let myself sink. So, I got to work. It went slow at first; I was getting stuck around every corner. I’d spin my wheels for a bit, then ask for help. Getting an answer and moving past a problem felt amazing every time — like I was making real progress. It wasn’t until about return number seven of 15 that I started to notice I was getting further and further into each return before I got stuck. I realized the questions I was asking were less about the returns themselves, and more about the new process.
It was about this time I also had to ask myself, “Am I already turning into my grandpa?”
In the same way he complains to me about new technology and how he struggles to understand it, I was complaining in my head about this new software and my struggles with it. We echoed the sentiment of wishing things back to the “good ol’ days.”
For all the grief and concerns I’ve heard about living with my grandparents, it has truly been one of the best experiences of my life. I have gotten to know them so much better than ever before, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I joked with my grandpa about the SurePrep issues I was having, and he found it entertaining. But he reminded me to keep an open mind, because the second I close off, it’ll become even harder to adapt to new things.
I’m writing this from the other side of those 15 returns I was assigned, having completed them all. I now have become accustomed to SurePrep and the process alongside it, and I have to admit, I do like it better than the process of old. It did take me a few returns and a couple weeks to get there, but I was able to keep my mind open enough to prevent myself from sinking.
With that, I encourage all of the other interns, present and future, as well as any staff, senior or even partner reading this to keep their minds open. Not just to new software, or to a new process, but to everything. This SurePrep process has shown me that it is new for everyone, and that we are all having our own issues with it. I’ve been able to pass on tips and tricks I’ve learned to others in hopes it might make their life a bit easier. The day we stop learning is the day we stop growing, and, especially in tax, we cannot afford to stop learning. Things are constantly changing in the tax world. Adapting to these changes is how we can continue to offer a premium service to our clients for years to come.
So, keep your mind open. That new process/technology/software might just leave you better off than then back in the “good ol’ days.”
John Louria, Grand Valley State University