BerganKDV’s internship program holds a special place within the firm. Our current CEO, Dave Hinnenkamp was our firm’s very first intern back in 1984, so BerganKDV understands the significance interns have at an organization and the importance of curating a program that motivates and inspires.
Our firm recently wrapped up its main internship program, which runs from January through April. Before the interns officially concluded their program, we sat down and did a Q&A with three tax interns to get their perspective on their overall experience with the program, from key takeaways they received to what advice they would share with future interns.
Here’s a look into the internship experiences of Katelyn Mielke and Meghan Fails from the firm’s Waterloo office and Shane O’Byrne from the firm’s Omaha office.
Q: What made you excited to be part of our internship program?
Mielke: After completing 2 previous internships with BerganKDV, there is just so much opportunity and various areas to learn in. Whether you remain in the CPA Solutions branch or venture into wealth management or payroll, the opportunities are endless.
O’ Byrne: The ability to get real-world accounting experience.
Fails: A big part of my excitement was the constant communication between my mentor and Crystal Ford. It made me feel like I was really a part of something and welcomed into the team! This was also a chance for me to get a glimpse of what I plan to do with my career after graduating, so that played a role in it as well.
Q: What has been your favorite part of your intern experience?
Mielke: My favorite part of my intern experience has been building work and personal relationships with my coworkers. They provide guidance in your work and help to make you feel welcome and part of the team even as an intern.
O’Byrne: Working on real tax returns from start to finish alongside professionals that help me improve daily. It is rewarding to see the work I do actually get sent out the door. I feel like the work I do makes a difference in the client’s life.
Fails: Definitely making new connections between the other interns and staff members from all levels. Everyone is easy to converse with and makes the work life much more exciting!
Q: Which one of BerganKDV’s core values do you identify the most with and why? (Innovation, curiosity, authenticity, commitment, and passion)
Mielke: I would identify myself within BerganKDV’s core values as authentic and curious. For authenticity, I bring my whole personality to work each day and am not afraid to be myself. The work environment here allows everyone to show their personalities without hesitation. As for curiosity, I am always asking questions. If and when I ask a question, I search for the why in order to understand more and apply it in the future.
O’Byrne: Authenticity. I feel like accountants have a reputation for being boring, but it’s not true at all. I love to talk to people and get to know them. I feel energized by making other people smile. I want everyone around me to be the most fun version of themselves at all times!
Fails: Out of the five core values at BerganKDV, I believe that I would have to identify with commitment. No matter what it may be (school, work, etc.), I am committed to doing what I have to in order to be the person that I want to be. If I start a task, I am committed to finishing it before I leave for the day. I think this is something that sports have taught me throughout the years, to stay committed to something in order to achieve your end goals in life.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from your intern experience that you will take with you in the future?
Mielke: The biggest lesson I have learned is to challenge myself and take on hard projects and tasks no matter how scary they may seem. A key way to grow is to go through challenges and within accounting, it is quite the same.
O’Byrne: It sounds obvious, but I do not know everything. In fact, I know far less than I don’t know. But that is okay! I know way more about taxes now than I did when my internship started, and I will know way more about taxes 3 months from now. Education is great, but nothing beats experience.
Fails: Not everything is going to come easy to you. Don’t beat yourself up when you are unsure about something, speak up and look to those around you for help. Someone is always willing to help, and there’s probably more than you think. I’ve heard this saying in many of my classes and a few times throughout the internship, but I believe it’s good to remind myself of it every now and then: “Accounting isn’t easy, and if it was, everyone would be doing it”.
Q: What piece of advice would you share with the next intern class?
Mielke: My advice for the next intern class is to not be afraid to ask questions. The only way you will learn is if you ask. This also goes with getting to know the team you are working with and making those connections with them. They may become some of your friends and a reason to be at BerganKDV. My second piece of advice is to take it all in. You are in the internship for roughly 14 weeks and from day 1 the learning and connections begin.
O’Byrne: Your ability to succeed as an intern is not determined by the amount of information you know on Day 1 or 2 or 3 or 20. Success will be determined by your ability to improve. The best way to improve is by asking questions. Seriously, ask all of the questions.
Fails: You will hear this a lot throughout the internship but take advantage of it: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It can seem intimidating being an intern, and you might not want to come off as annoying, but everyone in the office was in your shoes once. One trick I learned was to write down all your questions first. Then when you get to a point where you cannot move on, go ahead and ask your mentor or another staff member around you for assistance. Everyone is more than willing to take a few minutes to help you be successful! Take advantage of internship mixers, brown bag lunches, and virtual happy hours on Fridays. These are great ways to learn more about BerganKDV and the other staff members.
Thank you to Katelyn, Shane and Meghan for their insight into the program and for their thoughtful responses! We also want to take a moment to thank all of the interns who partnered with our teams this tax season. Your hard work and the energy you brought to the firm were incredibly inspiring and helpful. You all played a key role in making our busy season run more smoothly, and we sincerely appreciate you all and can’t wait to see where your careers go from here! Check out this video to meet all of the interns from our 2022 class!
If you are interested in learning more about our internship program and applying for next year, check out our Careers page to see our open positions and to subscribe to our Talent Insider newsletter!