Student Spotlight: Isabella Brilliant '16

Isabella BrilliantCompany: BDO

Position: Tax Intern

 What was your internship like?

“I did the winter accounting internship program with BDO, [who’s] one of the top accounting firms [outside of] the big four. I worked there for ten months as a tax intern…so I worked there for a while and it was a really good experience.

“So when you’re a tax intern you’re pretty much just thrown in [since the] Saint Joe’s curriculum does not give you a tax class before you do [internships]. So it [was] definitely all new information, and it’s a lot of learning in a very short period of time. That’s just something to keep in mind, but again, you learn it just like you would learn a class and [I] learned more than I would ever learn in class.”

What does a typical day look like?

“I [would] pretty much walk in [and] have a lot of things in the work flow. So everything now…is paperless, so you get a ‘work flow,’ which is like an online file cabinet of things that you need to do. [So] I would look in there to see what [I had to do], I would talk to my supervisor, ask questions, and do what I could. After my internship, I took a tax class and it [really] reinforced all that I did.”

How did you get your internship?

“Career Development is very involved in the Accounting Department, so [Amanda] came into a lot of my classes and [she told us] that [BDO’s] winter accounting internship [was hiring], [and said we] should [apply for] it. Since I’m interested in tax, I thought it was really beneficial to my learning and [to] my experience personally to see how it is during a busy season. You hear a lot of things [about tax] like ‘oh you’re not going to have a life’ [and] ‘it’s overwhelming, you’re not going to be able to do it,’ but I thought I needed to experience it for myself, and it’s obviously doable since I’m sitting here, and [I’m] still an accounting major and [I’m] still doing it.

“So I did [the whole process] through Career Development; I applied [and just] followed the steps. I didn’t have any problems with the process, [I think] as long as you want to do it, it’s doable.”

What did you like most about your internship?

Definitely the first-hand experience. People can sit here and tell you about their experiences all day, but it’s not as valuable [as when] you experience it yourself. I’m one of those learn by doing type of people, so I felt like I needed to have that experience for myself in order to really solidify the fact that this is what I wanted to do with my life, [and that] this is something that I can see myself doing every day. My favorite part was just being able to have that experience….and being able to feel like I, at the end of the day, learned something [new] and knew something that [I] could [use in my] daily life.”

What did you find most challenging about your internship?

“Definitely not having any prior tax knowledge before going in. Tax is one of those very specialized areas where there’s so many rules [and] guidelines, [and] so many things that you [have to] learn by doing and not by reading about. So definitely not having that prior knowledge of tax [was difficult]. And also just coming in at a really busy time when everyone’s kind of high strung and people really have to take time out of their day to teach you. So that was tough.”

What is some advice you’d give to students looking for internships?

“Don’t be lazy. I think a lot of people come to college because they think they have to, or because it’s just the next step in their journey. But you’re here to get a job, and there are so many resources that you just have to keep your eyes open to. I’ve had three internships [and I think a lot of the reason for that is because] I have always been very involved with my experience and known that this is my time to shine and get experience. These resources aren’t going to be here forever, [and] it’s never going to be as easy as it is right now.”

What is some advice you’d give to students who are going into their first internship?

“Definitely listen. I’m one of those people who can talk for hours, and it’s way easier for me to talk then [to] listen, and that’s a fatal flaw of mine. But I’ve learned that you just need to stop talking and listen and soak it all up, because if you don’t you’re not going to get anywhere.”