“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis
More often than not, this quote tends to hold true, regardless of whether you’re an intern or a long-term staff member. When it comes to working in the Transaction Services Group here at Cohen & Company, that fact is doubly true. I have found that most times, how you approach challenges often drives the fine line between success and failure.
As you will come to find in this internship, there are four main factors that will determine how things go: having a good attitude, being flexible, communicating and always asking questions. (Although, honestly, you’ll see that these are goals everyone at the firm works toward.) If you can consistently keep these four goals in mind, you won’t have too much to worry about. Without these four goals, you may find yourself struggling and unable to enjoy the internship program as much as you’d otherwise be able to.
Having a good attitude and being flexible are interconnected. Without a good attitude, it’ll be more difficult to be flexible. Without being flexible, it’ll be harder to maintain a good attitude. In transaction services, there are times when you will have to navigate both slower and busier periods without getting frustrated. Keeping a positive attitude and remaining flexible will be key.
Managing your everchanging workload also requires good communication, so you can articulate just how busy you are or aren’t. If you handle this part well, you may find that it impresses those you’re working with. If you aren’t communicating when you’re too busy, you may find yourself getting overloaded and wondering how you’re going to keep up. When this ends up being the case, it may take you longer than expected to complete a task.
On the other hand, it’s just as important to communicate with the team when you can take on additional work. Rather than sitting on your hands wondering what you’re supposed to do next, reach out to different team members and ask them if there is anything you could help them with. This helps the team ultimately accomplish more, in addition to allowing others on the team better understand what projects you are working on.
Finally, I think the best thing that you can do during your internship is to ask questions. During the interview process, you may hear that understanding the “why” of what you’re doing is just as important as the actual work that you’re doing. Making sure you’re asking those questions and understanding the “why” of your work allows you to have a better grasp of what you’re trying to accomplish and, in some cases, will make the work you’re doing more intuitive and easier to complete. No one will be frustrated with you asking them “why” questions.
Asking questions also includes asking for help when you need it. Being able to communicate when you’re stuck is extremely important so you aren’t wasting more time than necessary and so you don’t have to potentially redo work. “Raising your hand” for help saves time, frustration and that good attitude you want to maintain. It’s never a bad thing to need to ask for help, and it’s something that many of the full-time employees still do.
Reaching out helps you learn why something isn’t working and what might work in its place. Coming in as a new intern, it’s normal to not know all of the tips and tricks more seasoned employees use. They know what to look for and how to complete certain tasks easier, but if you don’t reach out and ask for help, you will miss your opportunity to learn from them.
Those are the biggest things you should know coming in as a transaction services intern. The team is just as friendly as they seem during the interviewing process, and they will always be happy to answer your questions and help.
Thus, as long as you have a good attitude and stay flexible, and make sure you’re always communicating and asking questions, you won’t have to worry about blurring the lines between failure and success — you’ll surely be successful! Just make sure to have some fun along the way, and you’ll have a fantastic internship.
Samantha Porter, University of Toledo
Cohen & Company is not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. Information contained in this post is considered accurate as of the date of publishing. Any action taken based on information in this blog should be taken only after a detailed review of the specific facts, circumstances and current law.