Balancing a Full Class Load and an Internship

A CPE college student’s summer internship experience by Stephanie Garcia

This summer was different. I felt crazy for enrolling myself as a full-time student for the summer term. I had to mentally prepare for the commitment of four online classes, two during Session 1 and two during Session 2. Before going back home in May for the summer break, I knew it would be difficult to also hold a summer job, as I had done in previous summers. Being that I didn’t know what to expect, I made sure to save enough money to hold me off until getting back to campus in August. I felt uncomfortable not having money saved for the upcoming school year.

The two classes in Session 1 kept me on my toes. I had homework due every day and tests every other week. In between each test involved several hours of studying. Even though I wasn’t working, I was exhausted. In early June, I was notified I had been offered the CPE Internship Grant. Reading the offer letter brought so much relief. Receiving financial help through this grant gave me one less thing to worry about. The cost per credit for out of state students recently increased by $50 per credit so I no longer had to worry about whether or not I could take fifteen credits in the fall.

The application process for internships can be intense. In my case, I had received two six-week internships through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Around January 2018, I applied for SYEP. This program helps DC youth secure summer jobs that vary from high-physical labor to internships. As a part of the application process, I was required to upload my resume. Soon after uploading my resume, I received a call from Ms. Jacky. Ms. Jacky worked in human resources for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She expressed high-interest in helping me find my place at the IRS. Ms. Jacky was interested in helping me because I uploaded a resume, listed that I was majoring in accounting, and previously interned with the World Bank Group while in high school. After the Summer 2018 internship was over, Ms. Jacky knew she wanted to keep me in the IRS for Summer 2019. She contacted me around March 2019 to tell me I would be interning in the Large Business and International Division (LB&I), Exchange of Information (EOI) Department.

After successfully passing my Business Analytics and Intro to Technology courses in late June, I had to prepare for the SYEP IRS Internship. The internship would go by quicker than I thought. My first week was focused on learning about the policies and procedures of the EOI department. I met with my supervisors daily to go over questions and other information related to their positions and daily tasks. My biggest concern was how every team managed to remember the detailed procedures that changed based on the type of case.

My supervisor chuckled when I asked if he had to remember the details of every procedure. From there, he introduced me to the EOI Integrated Management System (IMS). This was the virtual filing room for closed cases. At first, he gave me a few cases to close. Learning how to use the system to close cases was one of the easier jobs. Of course, the IRS always has to keep physical copies of cases. After closing cases on IMS, it was important to file them in the filing room. The only stressful part about filing was realizing that employees don’t like to keep files in numerical order.

After closing cases, I was introduced to Swiss cases. Closing Swiss cases was different since I had to use a USB or hard drive in the process. I would double check passwords, bank information, and input appropriate comments. After working on a handful of these Swiss cases, I got in a rhythm. The only surprising thing I saw was how old this information was. I quickly learned that years to a civilian is equal to months for the IRS. No matter how old the information, ensuring proper storage of cases is one of the most important jobs of the IRS. Without history, there would be no way to confirm that conversations and documentation ever existed.

Toward the end of my internship, I sat in on a Practice Issue Presentation on the transfer pricing of a very wealthy taxpayer. Sitting in on this presentation gave me so much perspective. I witnessed the behind-the-scenes process before the IRS presents their case in court. Prepping these cases can take years. The presenter shared that this was her first time working with tricky numbers and tables. I was able to see how important a team is when it comes to giving constructive feedback. Also, asking questions helps the person clarify the presentation before presenting in court.

This part-time internship at the IRS helped me balance out the other two classes I was taking. After the internship ended, I quickly moved on campus to attend the Resident Assistant (RA) training. After turning in a few documents to the financial aid office, I calculated what I would have to pay out of pocket for the fall semester. Being a full-time student is overwhelming, but having to stress about monthly payments on private loans while being a full-time student is even more stressful. Before receiving the CPE Internship Grant, I predicted a long, stressful junior year. However, the CPE Internship Grant has taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders and has been a blessing. CPE has continuously shown support, through mentorship, opportunities for growth, college support, and financial assistance. Knowing that I have CPE on my side for the remaining years of my college journey makes me so appreciative. I realize that my degree will be used to give back to students like myself a few years from now.