Unique Internship Program Completes Third Successful Year

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(l-r) The 2014 AISP interns: Gergana Tsvetkova, Corey Lettieri, Meghan Creed, Michael Bolnick, Ashley Barak, Tim Reichert, Sandra Ramirez, Sean Tews, Matt Wydra, Tim Martin

The Accounting Intern Scholarship Program (AISP) finished its third year on July 24, 2014. To celebrate, the ten interns joined representatives from all six participating firms at Arlington International Racecourse for an afternoon of fun and networking.

AISP accepts eight to ten interns each summer. The interns spend time at each participating firm and meet dozens of professionals. Upon completion of the program, each intern receives a $2,500 scholarship paid directly to their university.

This unique program’s continued success is due to the collaboration of partners and staff at all six firms:

  • Weltman Bernfield LLC
  • Porte Brown LLC
  • The Hechtman Group Ltd
  • Brown, Kaplan + Liss LLP
  • BIK & Co, LLP
  • Horwich Coleman Levin, LLC

Everyone involved contributes a great deal of time and effort, which all of the interns greatly appreciate. Here are comments from several of the interns:

“Thank you so much for devoting a great deal of your time to the AISP Program. I really appreciate the effort put forth in teaching me many of the necessary skills needed to work in a CPA firm. I have so much knowledge to take away from the program that I would have never learned in school.” - Meghan Creed, Elmhurst College

“Getting the chance to participate in the AISP program was definitely a unique learning experience. I was exposed to so much of the accounting profession that I knew nothing about before. The opportunity to use the various software programs, meet accounting professionals, and interact with the other interns was great. I enjoyed the hands-on work and I feel that this internship is great at bridging the gap between the accounting theories we learn in school versus accounting in the real world. Every one of the professionals I worked with was helpful and genuinely answered any questions I had. I strongly recommend this program for any accounting major looking to apply classroom knowledge and gain real world experience.” - Sandra Ramirez, DePaul University

“AISP gave me a great idea of what it’s like to work in public accounting, and now I’m excited to do just that. I loved being able to work with six different firms in the program. All the participants were incredibly helpful and I know I will greatly benefit from what I learned as I start my career.” - Tim Martin, Roosevelt University

“AISP not only covers a great deal of accounting material, but also gives you a great idea of what the average day of an accountant is like. Everyone involved with the program was extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to help. This program is a great medium between the classroom and the working world, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in accounting.” – Sean Tews, Elmhurst College

“Being a part of AISP has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much and have been able to apply the book knowledge I learned in school to the practical accounting we were exposed to both during training and when there was shadowing. My favorite aspect was the large amount of practical knowledge I gained. I now know what it is like to be a CPA and the tasks that are done on a day-to-day basis. I also loved going to the six different firms and being able to experience the differences in cultures. Being a part of AISP has shown me what it is like to be a CPA and where I want my career to take me.” – Ashley Barak, Judson University

“The presenters in the Program have provided me with valuable experience with using different accounting software that I have had no prior exposure to. I have also learned other skills related to accounting that will be useful in my future career.” – Matt Wydra, Trinity Christian College

The firms also appreciate the effort shown by the interns and have started interviews for employment. At least three interns from 2014 have accepted offers, which makes nine interns so far from the past three years who have found employment with a participating firm.

Thoughts on AISP 2014

The interns have completed over half of the 2014 Accounting Intern Scholarship Program. Here are some of their thoughts on what they’ve experienced so far:

“The presenters in the Program have provided me with valuable experience with using different accounting software that I have had no prior exposure to. I have also learned other skills related to accounting that will be useful in my future career.”

–Matt Wydra

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed AISP so far. A great feature of the internship is the opportunity to work with six different accounting firms, and I’ve enjoyed experiencing the different work cultures. This aspect of the program has provided me a much broader experience than the typical internship with one firm. It has also been beneficial to learn the various accounting software used by the firms, like QuickBooks and UltraTax. I also really enjoyed shadowing, where I had the chance to help with an audit at a client site. With the way things are going, I feel that I’ll have a good idea of what public accounting is all about.”

–Tim Martin

Meet the 2014 Interns

The 2014 AISP session started on June 3, 2014, with an orientation session at Ravinia Green Country Club. After an informal meet and greet over breakfast, the interns received a general overview of the eight-week program. Throughout the program, the interns will spend time at each of the six participating firms learning the ins and outs of life at small to midsize CPA firms.

2014 AISP meet and greet

An informal meet and greet preceded the program overview at the 2014 AISP orientation day.

Following the overview, the interns took part in “speed meeting” where they moved from table to table to talk with staff members and partners from the six participating firms. This allowed for both the firms and the interns to get to know each other in a more intimate setting. As an added plus, some of the staff from the different firms were alumni from previous AISP sessions who could answer additional questions about the program.

Samiyah Siddiqui, a 2013 AISP alum, represented The Hechtman Group during the "speed meeting" sessions.

Samiyah Siddiqui (center), a 2013 AISP alum, represented The Hechtman Group during the “speed meeting” sessions. Also pictured are 2014 intern Matt Wydra (left) and Steve Kunz from The Hechtman Group.

“This is the second year that we’ve used the speed meeting format,” says Lisa Chester, AISP coordinator and marketing manager for Weltman Bernfield. “Many of the interns have said that they like this format because it gives them individual time with each firm and gives them a chance to meet people before going to the actual firm.”

speed-meeting2

During the “speed meeting” sessions, interns were able to talk individually with partners and staff from the six participating firms.

The 2014 AISP interns: (front row, l-r) Sandra Ramirez, Gergana Tsvetkova, Ashley Barak, Meghan Creed, (backrow, l-r) Corey Lettieri, Tim Reichert, Tim Martin, Michael Bolnick, Sean Tews and Matt Wydra.

The 2014 AISP interns: (front row, l-r) Sandra Ramirez, Gergana Tsvetkova, Ashley Barak, Meghan Creed, (back row, l-r) Corey Lettieri, Tim Reichert, Tim Martin, Michael Bolnick, Sean Tews and Matt Wydra.

This year’s interns are:

  • Ashley Barak, Judson University
  • Michael Bolnick, Bradley University
  • Meghan Creed, Elmhurst College
  • Corey Lettieri, Illinois State University
  • Tim Martin, Roosevelt University
  • Sandra Ramirez, DePaul University
  • Tim Reichert, Roosevelt University
  • Sean Tews, Elmhurst College
  • Gergana Tsvetkova, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Matt Wydra, Trinity Christian College

Summer 2014 AISP Session Starts June 3rd

We’re about a month away from the start of our 2014 Accounting Intern Scholarship Program (AISP). Ten interns were selected from the more than 60 applications and inquiries we received.  Schools represented are:

  • Bradley University (1)
  • DePaul University (1)
  • Elmhurst College (2
  • Illinois State University (1)
  • Judson University (1)
  • Roosevelt University (2)
  • Trinity Christian College (1)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (1)

Watch for more information as we near our start date.

Unique Type of Accounting Internship Enters Third Year

Six Competing Firms Work Together With Proven Success

It takes time, talent and resources for today’s youth to establish a solid foundation. For a student about to enter the workforce, an internship that focuses on education and real-life experience is essential. This is what six Chicago-area firms thought when they agreed to be part of the Accounting Intern Scholarship Program (AISP). The program begins its third year in June 2014.

AISP is the brainchild of Allen Bolnick, CPA and member of Weltman Bernfield LLC. He wanted to create a way for small to midsize accounting firms to give back to the community, recruit high-caliber students and raise awareness of their profession and their firms. Bolnick brought the idea to members of his monthly CPA roundtable in early 2012. As a result, several firms now work together to provide a comprehensive eight-week program showing what life is like in their firms.

This internship is not about cheap labor for the firms. Billable hours are not the goal. AISP gives students the opportunity to work with professionals, develop contacts in the accounting field and experience different work environments. It exposes them not only to hands-on learning, but also to business networking and client interaction. AISP is a well-rounded program, designed to provide a broader view of the accounting industry than a classroom allows.

“We put together an actual training program to teach the interns what they need to know to succeed at firms like ours or in similar environments,” explains Bolnick.  “A large part of our industry is about building relationships, and that is part of what AISP provides.”

Weltman Bernfield (Buffalo Grove), Brown Kaplan + Liss LLP (Evanston), The Hechtman Group Ltd (Skokie) and Porte Brown LLC (Elk Grove Village) have been part of AISP since its inception. BIK & Co., LLP (Palatine) joined for the 2013 session. Horwich Coleman Levin, LLC (Chicago) becomes the sixth member of the group for the 2014 session. Additional firms have also shown interest.

AISP accepts eight to ten interns for the summer session. The interns spend time at each participating firm and meet dozens of professionals. Upon successful completion of the program, each intern receives a $2,500 scholarship paid directly to their university. So far, six of the interns have found employment with the participating firms after graduation.

The application deadline for the 2014 session is January 31, 2014.

AISP featured in “Accounting Today”

Accounting Today featured AISP in its August 2013 issue with the article Firms Create a New Kind of Internship. In the article, Samiyah Siddiqui, a UIC Master’s of Accounting student who recently completed her internship, was quoted as saying:

“At any internship, you learn the ropes, do a project and it’s the end. This is so far beyond it — they’re not asking us to do anything or produce anything for them but completely teaching us how to be an accountant.”

The 2013 AISP Wrap Up; Interns Say “Thanks!”

The 2013 AISP session ended on Thursday, July 25, with an afternoon of fun networking at Arlington Park. Representatives from the five participating firms were able to talk with the interns in a relaxed setting about life after the internship. Many were also introduced to some of the intricacies of horse racing.

After receiving a certificate of completion, each intern was asked to say a few words about their experience this summer. Each one expressed their sincere gratitude to everyone involved

After receiving a certificate of completion, each intern was asked to say a few words about their experience this summer. Each one expressed their sincere gratitude to everyone involved

After watching a few races and trying to figure out how best to make a $2 bet, everyone gathered for a few closing words from Allen Bolnick, member, Weltman Bernfield, and from each of the interns. The overall sentiment from each of the interns was a big “Thank You!” to everyone involved. They were grateful for everything they learned, as well as for the time commitment everyone made.

Commencement1

 

Here are some excerpts from “Thank You” notes received from a few of the interns…

“I have never seen or heard of any internship that even compares to the AISP! I learned more in 8 weeks than I feel I would have in an entire semester at school. I was amazed by all the time and effort the staff willingly put in. Everyone was willing to help and answer our questions. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience!” – Samiyah Siddiqui

“I wanted to once again thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Accounting Intern Scholarship Program. I learned more than I ever could have imagined by participating in this program. [The] personal interest in both the success of the internship and each of the interns made my experience that much more enjoyable. I hope that this program will last for many years to come because it truly is a one of a kind experience.” – John Bagnuolo