Business students work in the College’s Controller’s Office with great success.
When you’re a student, and classwork is piling up, and all you can think about is what life will be like after college, an internship can seem like an added burden — just another thing on the list of things there simply aren’t time for, and it can be hard to see the importance of one. However, the five students who worked in the College’s Controller’s Office last semester found a way to apply what they learned in class in a way that will stick with them throughout their careers.
“Generally it’s accounting somewhat similar to what we’re covering in some of our classes,” says Frank Pufko, assistant professor of business. “In fact, one of my students over there said something I covered in class on Monday — trial balances and ledgers — that he was doing a little bit later this week in the Controller’s office.”
While Pufko doesn’t work in the Controller’s Office himself, he’s been instrumental in bringing students to the program. Though it’s not technically an internship — students either work under work study or student employment — Pufko saw the Controller’s Office as a way to give students a hands-on accounting experience without having to leave campus.
“It’s one thing to hear a teacher go over and over something, but if they can sit down and then they see it, then it’s really beneficial to them,” he says. “I thought ‘what a better idea,’ because sometimes students can’t leave classes, or can’t leave college because, you know, they’re working, they’re playing sports, they’re taking classes, and then if they would have to drive somewhere for a half hour, it would be pretty hard to get all the hours in … so I thought that it would be a good way to help the students if we could let them work right here.”
The students agree that the experience they’re getting is not only similar to class, but similar to the workforce as well.
“It’s interesting, seeing what I do in class in real life,” says Matthew McLeod ’17. “I say it would lay the foundation for an internship. You have that advantage over, say, another person applying because you’ve actually done bank reqs, and other invoices, and checks like that. I guess it would give you an advantage because you already know what our accounts payable coordinator and our senior auditor do, so it wouldn’t be new to you in the workplace; at a first job, or an internship. I’m really looking forward to getting an internship and seeing how this job would relate to future careers.”
Pufko adds, “That’s the big benefit: they’re more motivated to pay attention and do things in class because it’s going to be something that they’re going to do when they go out to work.”
McLeod is preparing for a summer internship with the U.S. Liability Insurance Group (USLI) in Wayne. The sophomore accounting major says he knows the work at CHC helped him nail the interview at USLI.
“I learned how to apply the theories we learned in class,” he adds about his efforts at CHC, where he worked entering invoices and making journal entries as well as calculating expenses and budgets and more.
The evidence is there: former accounting students have moved on to work for companies like Johnson & Johnson and the FDIC.
This is due to Allison Pollack, senior accountant, and Mary Ciotti, accounts payable coordinator, who helped the students have a real learning experience by including them in the everyday work flow.
“When they come in as first-year students, we start them off with easy tests like filing and running errands. But then, as they get more experienced, they start doing a lot of other stuff,” says Pollack. “Instead of just giving something to [the students], I like to explain why he’s doing something, so it’s also a learning experience, not just ‘do this’ or ‘take this somewhere.’”
For the women in the Controller’s Office, the relationship with the students is mutually beneficial. They love having the students around just as much as the students love being there. “[The students] help me a great deal. In getting things ready to be paid, they know how to enter invoices, they know how to put dates on invoices as to when things should be paid,” says Ciotti. “There are exceptions, and they know what those exceptions are … so without [them], I’d be in a great big mess, because I couldn’t do it all by myself.”
— Frances Ellison ’15