Accounting in Real Life is Different Than What You Learn in Business School

June 18, 2012

Three weeks into my first internship, it’s safe to say I’ve learned more about the inner workings of a business than I could have in an entire summer of bussing tables or lifeguarding elsewhere, and yet I still feel like a minnow in the Vineyard Sound. The behind-the-scenes effort that goes seemingly unnoticed in operating a business is mind-boggling, something I have come to realize in these short three weeks. From staying current in social media to attaching documents to our Agency Management System to generating sales reports, the body of work that has been thrown at me has been a welcomed challenge, one that I’m proud to say I have stood tall against.

As I've grown more comfortable at my desk, more accustomed to fielding emails and operating the agency’s database, work has been flowing across my desk. A true display of the meticulousness of a business’ operations is accounting, more specifically reconciling accounts. Reconciling an account entails adding up its endless debits and credits, cross-referencing these with invoice records, and ensuring the accuracy of the account balance. While the numbers we use in school are nice and round, and when accounts don’t reconcile it’s easy to find discrepancies, this isn’t the case in the real world. In the real world, balances could be off by cents on the dollar and you could have no clue where those cents come from. It takes repetition and a keen attention to detail to ensure the absolute accuracy of account statements.

Circling back to last week’s “Intern Insights” post about generating new business, I’ve learned that the effort required is astounding. It takes a certain determination to market to hundreds of clients or prospects and to generate a few policies. A major project I worked on this week, is the generation of personal and commercial leads. In generating commercial leads, I used a tool that allowed me to map the area I wanted to market. I chose to highlight essentially from the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown which generated nearly 29,000 results. Grumbling ensued. It would take me days to put 29,000 businesses’ information into a spreadsheet. However, I was able to narrow my results down to 2,200 local businesses by manipulating the parameters of my search. I was able to carefully select the size of the business I wanted to market to, in employee and sales volume, as well as a number of other specifications. It’s interesting to see how this information, all publicly available and free, allowed me to target a specific market which will fill our Pipeline with qualified prospects.
Finally, I’ve learned that in business you need to enjoy the little things. For a sales associate, this could be the smile on a customer’s face or the “Thank you” they get when they solve a customer’s problem. For an executive, it could be the assurance of watching your employees operates seamlessly together. For me, it’s sitting in a comfy chair out in the sun on my lunch break, closing my eyes for a few minutes, and enjoying the turkey sandwich on double-protein bread I made myself for lunch. Tough life!

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