Tips to make the most of an internship 

In a presentation to summer interns, BRC professionals shared advice learned during their own internships. The panel discussion was part of a summerlong program for selected college interns – mostly rising juniors and seniors – to help them better understand the public accounting profession. 

Steve Amigone, Consulting Practice Leader, suggested they consider lessons learned on the job as tools to add to their own toolbox. “The toolbox is yours to take with you and your job is to fill the toolbox.” Once you understand bank reconciliations, for example, “you own it, it’s yours,” he said.  

Kim Ripberger, CPA, Assurance Partner & Chief People Officer, urged interns to step outside their comfort zone. “Allow yourself to be challenged.” When you understand a concept, and apply it and grow from it, “be proud of yourself,” she said. During her time as a staff accountant, she kept copies of every review note she received as a reminder to never repeat a mistake. “Review notes are part of the process and a good way to learn,” she said.   

Interns should not feel intimidated by loads of new information, said Bridgette Burchett, CPA, Assurance Manager. “An internship is intended to be a nurturing environment. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. You are not bothering us.”  

Bethany Banks, CPA, Tax Manager, concurs. College coursework can teach you the basics, but the rest you have to learn by doing. “You can’t expect to know it all, but eventually it starts to click. Show yourself some grace,” she said.  

When James Morrison III, Tax Supervisor, interned at BRC in 2015, he made a goal to get to know as many people as possible by asking questions. “Nobody knew I was asking 20 questions a day because I spread them around the office. My advice is don’t be shy. Ask away.” 

Morrison discovered quickly that public accountants use Microsoft Excel heavily.  “I was pretty naïve about that,” he said. He advises anyone who wants to join this profession to know Excel well. In addition to brushing up on technical skills, he encourages interns to sharpen their people skills, especially communications. “A super smart but ineffective communicator will struggle in the field,” he said. “Plus, communication skills are transferrable to wherever you land in your career.”   

Rachel Annelise Chaney, CPA, Tax Manager, recalls that when she interned at BRC in 2018, she made the rounds in the office, too, either to ask questions or to offer to help someone else. “If I didn’t have any other work, that sometimes meant just scanning papers or organizing a pile of envelopes or even helping admin put out snacks. But it sometimes meant I got to help on work that no one would have considered sending my way if I hadn’t been proactive.”  

One lesson she had to learn the hard way, the result of a sudden power outage: Save your work. “Hit the save button constantly in your Excel spreadsheets, on your Word documents, and especially in the tax software. Think you saved already? Save again,” she said.  

Kim Ripberger updated cropped 473 x 315

Kimberly Jessup Ripberger CPA, Chief People Officer, Assurance Partner

Kimberly is an assurance partner at BRC with more than 21 years in public accounting.  Her previous experience included working in Industry in process improvement and project management.  She works primarily with clients involved in the governmental, nonprofit and affordable housing industries, including tax credit properties, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and […]

This is one of a series of articles summarizing weekly presentations by BRC professionals to 14 summer interns. The selected students, representing eight colleges across North Carolina, will meet for 10 weeks in the Greensboro office to learn about BRC operations. For more information on the new Leadership BRC Program, contact Kim Ripberger, CPA, Chief People Officer, at