This is the path that I had generally felt I wanted to take with my career, and after this internship I still feel that is the right choice for me. There is a certain freedom that comes with being your own boss. Yes, there is marketing involved but that to me is a welcome break from the usual tasks. Knowing that all of the fruits of my hard work will be mine has an appeal. The culture of the office is something that I have total control over, and I do not need to answer to any other boss. I've seen that running your own office can be more challenging, but Mr. Garza genuinely loves what he does and having worked there for three months I can see why.
I also got a feel for the functional skills that are put to use everyday. Some of the tasks will be done all the time -- reconciling and categorized expenditures. Other tasks might only be done for certain clients, but you still need to know those skills, be able to identify the right time to use them, and then integrate them into the rest of the work. I learned that it takes a tremendous amount of knowledge to truly serve the interests of clients, and that this is something I need to work on. I know I can acquire this knowledge, but I learned that it is better to have this knowledge at the ready, than to have to constantly look things up and ask questions.
I also learned a lot about organization. The process of preparing several of these tax returns took around two weeks, sometimes a bit more and sometimes a bit less. The order in which things are done makes a big difference in how quickly and accurately the task can be completed. For me, this is one of the things I most took away from this. When a client comes in with a giant box of receipts and documents, you need to have a plan in order to turn that box into a tax return. The plan is key to the job -- without one the task will be overwhelming but with one you can truly envision every step that will be undertaken in order to bring the task to completion. This makes everything seem easy.
I worked with a lot of different forms in this internship, and I learned about the different accounting principles. The paperwork involved in a corporate tax return is extensive -- I worked with the Form 1120, a variety of Schedules like E, L, M-1, M-2, a and J. I learned a lot about the GAAP and how this is constantly evolving. Learning about accounting is not just something that is done in school -- it is always changing and the customer is counting on you to not only know all the changes in the rules but be able to use those changes to help them. There are big changes come to GAAP as it becomes integrated with IFRS in the future, so it is critical that in order to understand the changes, I need to understand everything in GAAP today, and how these different principles impact on my clients.
So there was a tremendous amount of functional learning. I went through the process of incorporating a company, for example, and I had to deal with an LLC and a sole proprietorship as well. I was exposed to the details of each, how they are taxed and how best to prepare a return. The flow-through aspect of the sole proprietorship was especially interesting because you end up creating a personal tax return for a business. That case was simple, but I could see that if the customer had a more complex domestic situation, the assistance of a tax accountant would be essential. I also had to deal with a company that had gone out of business, and that created it own unique set of circumstances. It is strange that even though the company went under, the process of dealing with the taxes does not change much -- it still must be done no matter what. It was interesting in and of itself to have the chance to compare the books of a company that is successful and one that was unable to compete -- this will be helpful when analyzing business statements in the future, because I will have a better sense of the warnings signs.
I learned a lot in my three and a half months as a. Garza Tax Service. It reinforced my belief that private practice is what I want to do when I graduate, because I can see that being your own boss creates near limitless opportunities. So in terms of my career direction, I think I learned a lot from this experience. The day-to-day tasks are not always fun, but the entire idea of managing a two-week project, helping people and being your own boss has tremendous appeal.
I also learned a lot about the functional side of the business. There is no doubt that accounting can be complex, but the more I learned about the different forms, and the different corporate structures, the more I gained an appreciation for how this works in the real world. The choices that the customer makes with regards to structure and accounting policies can have a significant difference on the taxes faced. It is the role of the corporate accountant to help the customer to understand the implications of the choices that they make, and to genuinely add value to their business through your knowledge.
Perhaps most importantly I learned that learning is never finished. Mr. Garza was always reading about the latest changes from the IRS or GAAP that would affect his business, and wanted to discuss these issues with me. Being up-to-date is something that is very important, so I know that I will have to continue my education even after school when I get into the workforce and start my own company. It was insights like these that made me realize just how much more prepared for life after graduation that I am…