A focus on teamwork and relationships makes Bennett Gualdoni’s tax internship rewarding and fun. Join us as Bennett shares why he chose to intern with DHG and what he has learned over the past couple of months.
AGH: Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of our DHG Podcast Series. I'm Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I really love this venue because we get to hear from all of our people about the things that matter the most to them, flexibility, careers, and people. And today I have with me an intern from our Atlanta office. Welcome Bennett!
BG: Hey, how's it going?
AGH: It is great, and we're so excited to have you talk with us. Bennett graduated from Georgia College and in the fall he'll be getting his masters from the University of Georgia We’re fortunate that he wanted to come back and do a second internship with us. I asked Bennett if he would just share with us some information about what it was like to intern at Dixon Hughes Goodman. So Bennett, let's get started - why don't you tell us why you chose to intern with DHG.
BG: Okay so around my sophomore years, I began recruiting with different accounting firms and I went to a smaller school, Georgia College, so the recruiting process is a little bit different compared to larger schools. Basically firms will come and present to the students at Georgia College and they have socials afterwards. And for me, DHG was the only firm that talked more about what they do for their people rather than about themselves. Most firms that come and recruit talk about their statistics and talk about how well they're doing, talk about their future and everything. Where DHG was more focused on what they offer their people, all the services they provide for their people, all the benefits. So that's what first stuck out for me.
AGH: Very cool. It means a lot to me because I work really hard with our messaging and it means a lot to me to know that in the market place we really are focusing on our people, which is what we do every day here. So then you decided to come back and do a second internship. What made you come back for a second internship?
BG: Well I will back up a little bit, another reason why I first chose to intern with DHG last spring, the spring of 2015, is that DHG offered a half audit/half tax internship. Most firms make you decide before hand whereas with DHG there's a lot of flexibility, so I got to see both audit and tax. That is a big reason why I chose to intern for my first time last spring. But the reason why I came back in the spring of 2016 for my second internship is that I did not get to see all of the tax work necessarily that I wanted to see. So I talked with my recruiter at the end of spring, I said, "You know, it's been a great internship, I don't know if there's a possibility of me seeing some more tax work, some more corporate work?" She says, "Absolutely, you definitely can." So immediately they prepared a second offer for me and that just really stood out to me that they really cared more about what I wanted to see than what they could get out of me.
AGH: Fantastic. And it is nice that you get to see audit and tax because it's a totally different world actually being on the ground doing it than what you're reading in a textbook, right?
BG: Oh yes ma'am, definitely. I mean two almost different styles.
AGH: So tax season, I've heard it gets a little crazy with lots of long hours. What's it like to be an intern during tax season and does the firm do anything to make it more bearable?
BG: You are correct. It has definitely been a busy spring so far. One reason why I'm happy that I interned during the spring, especially for tax season, is that I get to see more of the day to day action, rather than seeing random projects that aren't necessarily what you'd be doing when you come back as an associate. I feel like I got thrown right into the middle of the mix and it was pretty hectic to begin with, but now I feel like I'm getting in a routine, and it's become a lot more bearable. And DHG has been doing a lot of different events, particularly for the interns but also for all of the employees at DHG. We have numerous happy hours after work, a couple of days ago we went to the Atlanta Braves home opener. We took off of work around 1:30 and we headed over to the Braves stadium to watch the game. I think that really speaks highly of DHG that they were able to take 15 or 20 employees from their office and take them to the Braves game during the middle of a very busy, busy season.
AGH: Yeah, you're absolutely right. That's really special that they did that. So DHG is different than other firms, and now that you've been here for a while, you've seen what the culture's like. What is it that makes our culture special?
BG: You know I think the best part about the culture at DHG is that it's more of a family atmosphere. One thing that I was turned off from is the fact that some offices at other firms have over 1,000 people. For me, walking around the office after months and not recognizing people - it's just a little crazy. So I really like the fact that DHG has a family atmosphere- it's a teamwork atmosphere- they're very focused on putting you on the right teams. And I feel like once you are on the right team, it makes work more bearable. You know, work is work when it comes down to it. So the people you're around really is the most important part.
AGH: Very good. So what would you say is your key takeaway from this internship?
BG: Going off of the culture at DHG, I think it's all about the relationships. Coming in for my first internship, I was so worried about impressing people, I was so worried about working the hours and making sure I get all my work done, and that's what I was really focused on. Especially going into my second internship, I really shifted my focus to making sure that I was making key relationships, especially from the associate level to the partner level, really making sure that I've made these key connections. And I'm really glad that I did focus on that.
AGH: Woah, that's a great takeaway. So before we conclude, do you have any advice for our leaders who might be listening today?
BG: I would say my biggest piece of advice for our leaders is to just never forget that people do come first. The firm has done an outstanding job, in my point of view, of always making people come first in this firm, and I think they should never leave that focus. I'm a believer in a leader is only as strong as the people he's leading. So I believe that if our leaders never stop focusing on improving our people, then they will succeed.
AGH: Very good. Well Bennett, it's been such a pleasure having you with us today. I wish you all the best as you move into grad school this fall.
BG: Thank you so much Alice Grey. I appreciate it.
AGH: You are welcome. And thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you'll tell your friends and your colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our life beyond numbers. Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.