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Tax Prep Internship Prepares Accounting Students for Jobs

When he began his studies at SUNY Plattsburgh as an accounting major, Hao Jiang ’11, like many people, thought taxes were dull — a “black and white” process, he called them.

But after completing his first tax class and hearing about an internship available to accounting students with Plattsbugh’s AARP Tax-Aide, his perspective started to change.

“The internship added color to the tax picture,” Jiang said. “Tax courses made more sense, and it made me want to continue learning about taxes.”

Alongside other volunteers and tax experts, he began filing for community members three days per week for the program at the Plattsburgh senior center. The service is free for the public, and what it provides for interns transcends dollar amounts.

“It was a very fun experience, not only helping others fill returns for free, but it also proved to me that pursuing a career in taxes was a great plan,” Jiang says. “The internship was the first step toward my career choice.”

Tax-Aide interns work with people of all ages, and, depending on their availability, they file an average of from 85 to 100 returns each per semester. Karen Gelineault, the internship coordinator at Tax-Aide, says that by putting money back into the community, the internship improves the college’s relationship with the City of Plattsburgh.

“Clients are very appreciative,” she says. “Last year we filed about 3,500 returns.”

Gelineault also says that from an intern perspective, the environment is supportive. After they pass the certification exam, interns are not forced to sink or swim as they gain hands-on experience.

“We accept many interns,” she says. “We can provide recommendations, and we help them enhance their resumes.”

Now, Jiang works as a tax associate in Times Square for Ernst & Young. And although he works longer hours on more complex transactions for a multi-national company, he feels he has been well-prepared.

“The work I do at EY is an expanded version of the Tax-Aide internship,” he says. “The internship opened the career door to me."

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