Operations Intern, Bob Smathers, Writes About His Experience with the local Red Cross

2013-01-15_20-09-07_360With the recommendations of almost everyone close to me, I knew I should get an internship before I graduated. I was told the prospects of graduating without real-world experience were not great.

Volunteering and donating blood have been with me since my time in high school, so when I saw the American Red Cross looking for an accounting intern, I saw it as a great opportunity to build professional skills while giving back to the community. Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with my decision to intern here.

I’ve had many positive experiences throughout the duration of the internship, so picking a favorite part poses a challenge. Working mainly with Excel is something I am grateful for, because most accountants and statisticians use complex spreadsheets regularly. The scope of operations for the region certainly enhanced my overall experience. It was complex at first, but once I became familiar with the accounting function of the regional headquarters, the process became both smooth and insightful. As far as accounting knowledge, I quickly learned that some things just aren’t taught in class. I gained valuable experience in my field of study, specifically in the area of accounting for various types of revenues. I enjoyed seeing and processing some of the large donations received for the Red Cross Ball event at the Omni William Penn Hotel in March. It was great to know that both individuals and corporations give back to a terrific organization.

Looking past the accounting knowledge gained, my favorite part of the internship was working with all the people here in the office. With this being my first office experience, I wouldn’t have guessed the employees and volunteers I’ve interacted with would be so friendly. While maintaining a professional atmosphere, everyone here has a great personality, making everyone very approachable. It was truly a breath of fresh air to be welcomed as quickly and as warmly as I was. I feel that I have connected with just about everyone in the chapter, and I will definitely remember these relationships as I go through my career.

What I’ve learned at the American Red Cross will definitely serve me in my career. The job-specific knowledge has been great, and the professional atmosphere can translate into any office setting. From gaining these skills, I was given an opportunity for a summer internship in financial reporting. I’m truly grateful for the people I’ve met at the American Red Cross and the skills I’ve developed while interning here.

Bob is a senior majoring in Accounting and Finance at the University of Pittsburgh.

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