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Internships Give Business Students Experience in Accounting Fields

February 1, 2021

Even before the spring semester started, accounting students in the School of Business have embraced internships, whether remote or in person. Regardless of modality, students are gaining critical work experience, networking, and assessing potential career paths.

Lakn Woodward, Samantha Haines, and Sarah Mapley

Junior Lakin Woodward, an accounting and finance double major and art minor, kick-started her new year with an internship at The Bonadio Group. After attending several accounting firm presentations at the Fisher virtual career fair, The Bonadio Group experience appealed to her and she landed a position.

When she first came to St. John Fisher College as a freshman, Woodward planned to pursue a degree in nursing, but after taking prerequisite classes, she started rethinking her path. With the help of her family and advisors in the Center for Career and Academic Planning, Woodward found the School of Business as a next step in her academic journey.

As a “busy season” intern, Woodward stepped into the setting of a public accounting career right away. Since the beginning of January, she has been putting in more than 40 hours a week. Currently working with the tax division, she is gaining experience planning and preparing tax returns for individual, small business, and large business clients.

“I like the internship because there is the possibility of learning something new every day. Whether it be learning the different software that is available or applying that software knowledge into a tax return, it is just extraordinary how it all links/connects to each other,” she said.

Sophomore accounting and finance double major, Samantha Haines is also interning at The Bonadio Group as a “busy season” intern.

Similar to Woodward, Haines attended the virtual career fair where she spoke one-on-one with a partner at the firm. During the informal interview, Haines was able to share her career goals and learn more about The Bonadio Group itself. She was impressed with the number of Fisher alumni at the firm and the experience she perceived she would have there. Interning since the beginning of January has reinforced she made the right decision.

Haines’ interest in accounting arose during her first year at Fisher. With the relationships she has developed with her accounting professors and her passion for finance, she decided to pursue a double major.

“I am very grateful for the many opportunities I have had within the School of Business; I have grown so much from it and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my future holds,” she said.

Haines is currently working 40 hours as an intern and works within the small business advisors division. There, she has a perfect balance between learning audit and tax, compilations, reviews, and bookkeeping for small to mid-sized clients. She plans and prepares tax returns for individuals as well as small businesses, and has the opportunity to work with different organizational audits.

“So far, I think the most important thing to take from this is that what you learn in the classroom is different from what you experience in public accounting. The concepts still apply, but the process of applying them is quite different. I have learned so much since the start of January and am grateful for what this internship has and will teach me,” she said.

Senior accounting major Sarah Mapley wanted a different experience for her internship in accounting, and through Handshake found a governmental position with the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

By June 2020, Mapley was working for the Agency, which administers audit and financial advisory aid to the Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal bodies accountable for acquisition and contract administration. She currently serves as a trainee, grasping the knowledge of her federal clients and in the end provides audits for them. She also assists and helps the agency in larger-scale projects relating to financial advisory services.

Mapley came to Fisher undecided about her major, but after taking an introductory accounting course, her interest in the field grew. “I really enjoyed the challenge and sense of accomplishment this class brought me after completing a tough problem,” she said. “Without the decision I made freshman year, this internship would have never been a possibility.”

This article was written by Salvatore Saunders ’23, a marketing and communications intern in the School of Business.