Dave Cain: Welcome to unsuitable on Rea Radio, the award winning financial services and business advisory podcast that challenges your old school business practices and their traditional business suit culture. Our guests are industry professionals and experts who will challenge you to think beyond the suit and tie while offering you meaningful modern solutions to help enhance your company’s growth. I’m your host, Dave Cain.
Dave: Competition for top talent continues to be fierce across the country, which means more companies are developing strategies to attract and recruit potential job prospects. For many, internships have become much more of a glimpse into a company than ever before. Today, internships are necessary first step in the journey of a young professional’s career within a company.
Dave: Today, we are fortunate to have two young professionals on the mic. Alex Bixler and Derek Mohr located in Rea’s Dublin, Ohio office, are here to talk to us about their own unique career paths and the role their internship experience played in setting them up for success.
Dave: Then we’re going to put these two guys on the spot and ask them to speak on behalf of all millennials when it comes time to identifying what this generation is looking for when searching for or staying at a particular job. Believe me on this one, business owners everywhere want to know the answer to this question. You guys are going to help us out.
Dave: Welcome to unsuitable, Alex and Derek.
Alex Bixler: Thanks Dave.
Derek Mohr: Thank you.
Dave: But we want to just kind of start out, Bixler you know you’ve been part of this podcast for many episodes. In fact, this is the first time I ever knew you had a first name because we always refer to as just Bixler. Alex, how’s it going?
Alex: It’s going pretty well. How are you?
Dave: Good. For our listening audience, tell us a little bit about what you do currently with Rea & Associates, what’s your job description?
Alex: Right now, I’m actually in the Practice Growth Department or our Marketing Department, so I’m pretty much, I like to call myself entitled rover of the group. I handle social media, I do content for webpages, content for publications, editing for newsletters. So pretty much anything that has to do with content or social media that’s my role.
Dave: You’re on the marketing side of the practice.
Alex: Yeah, marketing.
Dave: Derek how about you?
Derek: I am a Staff Accountant here, I am an Associate so I do taxes and I also do some assurance work.
Dave: My understanding is you’re also known as the ambassador of fun is that you? You carry that title?
Derek: I am known by that to some people, yes.
Dave: Great, great. Now what’s interesting and what we want to talk about today is Rea’s internship program and the both of you came up through the internship program and ultimately secured a full time position. So we want to pick your brain a little bit, so maybe this is a little bit of commercial about Rea’s internship programs, so here we go.
Dave: Derek, let’s start with you. When you started the internship program, did you know anything at all about the public accounting profession?
Derek: I did not. So it was very helpful to secure that internship and get an idea of what I’d be doing.
Dave: What a level in college where you when when you started the internship program?
Derek: I was actually a senior, I had one more semester left to graduate.
Dave: Oh, you must’ve red shirted a year in there somewhere?
Derek: Yes. Yes.
Dave: So you started as a senior. Alex, how about you?
Alex: Yeah, I started as a senior as well. So it was January of 2017.
Alex: Yep. Where did you guys go to college? Derek?
Derek: I went to the Ohio State University.
Dave: Okay, great. Alex?
Alex: I went to the Ohio State University.
Dave: Okay, a couple of Buckeyes here. Great. What do you think about our new football coach?
Alex: I think aside from Urban Meyer. I think he was the best choice because he knows the program and the players seem to be receptive of him, so I think we’re going to win the ship next year, so.
Derek: Yeah, I think Coach Day did a great job last year, so got high hopes this year.
Dave: Good, good. When you first started, the internship program. Let’s start with a couple of questions. One, was this a paid internship program?
Derek: Yes, it was a paid internship.
Dave: Okay. Alex during the internship program, did you receive any college credits while you were intern with Rea?
Alex: Unfortunately, no. No college credits were offered, but I think the experience of it outweighed the credit that I would receive because I was already in line to graduate on time. So if you need the credit it’s tough, but if you don’t, it’s a perfect internship for you.
Dave: Okay. We’re going to dig into this a little bit later on, but your generation is kind of known for waiting to the last minute to do stuff. So I want to talk to you about your internship program, when did you apply? You don’t wait till the last minute did you Derek?
Derek: Yeah, that’s a funny story. It was kind of last minute. What happened there was I got an email from Ohio State saying Rea & Associates is looking to hire interns. So, like any rational college student and I got online and applied and I had to interview about two weeks after that and started four months after I got the email or four weeks. I’m sorry.
Dave: Alex, how about you?
Alex: Actually, I was on my LinkedIn profile and came across Rea & Associates and said, A marketer for a accounting firm, and it just blew me away so I had to apply. The next thing you know I got an interview and I got the job.
Dave: So a little bit through social media.
Alex: Yeah, it was surprising.
Dave: A couple of different directions, so again, I think the message to our business owners that are listening that if they want to start an internship program has to have a little bit of strategy behind it. You’ve got to put some time and effort. There’s some timeframe, but you work hard because as we know here at Rea & Associates, it’s been a springboard for our team that reached that talent gap. So that’s a good thing about the internship program.
Dave: Let’s talk about some things that you guys liked and maybe didn’t like. Obviously you came aboard, Derek, I’ll start with, really didn’t know much about the profession, didn’t know a lot about taxes, didn’t know a lot about accounting, but you had a personality that that sticks out great. So what were your first impressions? First Day?
Derek: Oh man, it was a lot to take in. There I was a senior at Ohio State going for accounting and I really had no idea what accountants did all day, to be honest. So coming here I thought it was great that I could go around and I did a bunch of different tasks. I did taxes, I did some assurance work, audits, reviews, and it was very helpful to learn what accountants actually do all day and that was one of my favorite parts.
Dave: Derek, in public accounting, obviously you changed directions minute-by-minute-by-minute, and you weren’t prepared for that. How did that go?
Derek: Yeah, that was hard to get used to it first. You got to be very focused. It’s tough, but you get used to it.
Dave: What about the stress, Derek, of not knowing the job, the descriptions, the systems, did you have a lot of internal stress?
Derek: Oh yeah, yeah, I had a lot of stresses is very difficult to come here and learn all this and try to get acquainted to the software. But everyone here at Rea & Associates was very helpful. Their open door policy and they all played a huge part in me fitting in here.
Dave: Sure. Alex, maybe and it’s kind of interesting because Derek is kind of on the technology side, the technical part of the practice, you’re more into the practice growth and social media. So a little bit different type of technology systems and programs. How did you feel your first month in the business? Were you able to adapt pretty quickly?
Alex: Yeah, I think I was able to adapt pretty quickly, it was nice being the first practice growth marketing intern to come through Rea. So I think the team was right there for me and any questions I had they were ready to answer them and it was pretty much just fail forward, we like to say here. It was just one step at a time and I pretty much learned the ropes pretty quick.
Dave: Alex, as you were going through school and everything, obviously you had to use your alarm occasionally to get up to go to class, but to come to work you had to set your alarm each and every day.
Dave: How was that transition?
Alex: The transition, let’s just say it wasn’t one alarm, it was a couple to really motivate me to get out of bed. But knowing that was coming here and like we said earlier, it was a paid internship and just knowing that the team was willing and ready to help me out on any step of the way and I was going to learn a lot. It was just a motivator to get out of bed each day.
Dave: Did you have to cut back your nightlife?
Alex: Initially no. I was still young. I was still bright-eyed.
Dave: Thought you could do it all?
Alex: Thought I could it. Body is shutting down a little bit at this point, but I’m doing all right.
Dave: You’re doing all right. Yeah. So yeah, you had to adjust to the alarm clock and the day-to-day, but Derek, what about dress code coming out the college campus, into a professional organization like Rea & Associates, you probably didn’t have the wardrobe?
Derek: Yeah, no I had a wardrobe. It was pretty old though, mostly old church clothes.
Dave: Sweat pants, stuff like that.
Derek: A lot of those, yeah.
Dave: So he had to spend a little money up front, a little invest in your career to, to buy some blue shirts and white shirts, some blue pants, trousers, et cetera.
Dave: So a little bit of adjustment getting dressed for work every day.
Dave: Great, great. Obviously the learning curve was, was big, but how did the firm do with teaching you guys the ropes? Alex, start with you. How did we do teaching? Now keep in mind, Rea’s board of directors is listening to your response as well as our CEO. So let her rip, good or bad.
Alex: Yeah. Like I said earlier, I was the first marketing and turn to come through, so it was kind of new for everybody at the firm. But what’s cool is they invited me to the accounting two day internship orientation. Before you even show up, they send you the strategic plan, so before you even show up, you know the initiatives, the goals and the path that the firm is taking. So just having that at my disposal, to actually read about the company more and understand where they’re coming from helped me a lot.
Dave: Good. Derek, how about you?
Derek: Yeah, like Bixler said, we have a very good orientation program here, so that was very helpful to kind of know what to expect. Then once we get here, here at Rea & Associates we do what’s called a Buddy Program. So when you’re an intern you have an assigned buddy is what they call it. The buddy is one of your peers and they’re going to be the person that you to whenever you have a question about where’s the bathroom or what do I input this on the tax return? So that was very helpful.
Dave: So the buddy system that was good, kind of the orientation was was pretty good.
Dave: Where did we fall down as far as the internship program? Now things have changed since you guys have both started, but what are some areas that you know, again, if you were consulting with one of our listeners, clients and said, Look, here’s some things that happened with us at Rea that I would recommend that maybe you guys look at before you put an internship program in place. Anything you guys can think of, we weren’t perfect, almost, but not quite.
Derek: You’re pretty close to perfect.
Alex: I guess the only thing I could say maybe more direction and more organization with the onboarding process.
Dave: Okay, fair.
Alex: Having an outline of what’s to be expected when you show up, but other than that I really can’t think of any cons.
Dave: Okay, and Derek, I think you’d mentioned the buddy system was a good process.
Dave: Anything else you could add that we could maybe improve on?
Derek: I agree with Bixler. When I first started as an intern, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I showed up for work and I didn’t really know what to work on. I would go and ask my buddy, say, Hey, what should I be doing right now? So I think it would be beneficial to have a weekly outline and day-by-day outline.
Dave: Right. Okay a little more structure of what the day, the week looks like.
Dave: Those would be some suggestions we can make to our clients and even our own team.
Dave: Now, we’d mentioned the internship program. You guys basically were a here in the winter. How long was that internship program? Do you remember? I think you were both a little on a little bit different schedule.
Alex: Mine went from January, 2017 to May of that year, so five months.
Dave: Derek yours it was the same?
Derek: Yeah, mine started in January and ended in April, so three months.
Dave: Yeah. So how’d you guys feel about not being able to go on Spring Break with your friends? But you are making money.
Alex: Yeah, it was tough but I think it all played out the way it should have and look where I’m at now so it’s all good.
Dave: You know our listeners, we’re also at Rea & Associates, beginning a summer internship program as well. So all year round internship. I think our numbers across the board go from anywhere from 10 to 24 a year of internship programs that ultimately lead into a full time positions.
Dave: Now I know Derek, you started towards the end of your internship program politicking for full time job. Do you remember those days?
Derek: Yes. I remember them very clearly.
Dave: But I think that’s part of the process. If you want a full time job, you’ve got to go get it and I think you guys both did that. Kind of switch a little different direction, your buddies had got to know you were internship, of course getting paid and now you had a little money in your pocket, when you guys went out on the town, did you have to buy?
Alex: Usually I’m pretty generous when I go out anyway. If someone buys me a round, I usually buy the next.
Alex: Having a little money in your pocket is nice to have, especially after college, usually have student loans and all the stuff dragging you down, but when you have a chance you got to to have a little fun with it and it’s just paper if you don’t use it, right Dave?
Dave: Yeah, you got it. Derek, how about you? Do you pick up a round or you keep your, your hands in your pocket when the bill came?
Derek: Yeah, I try to save some money, but it’s a little difficult. My girlfriend has come to start expecting larger presence and such, we’re working through that.
Dave: Yeah. Well, you know, you bring up a point and certainly there’s an age difference between us, but when you’re in college, what a was one of your favorite pickup lines, Alex?
Alex: Oh, so many.
Dave: So many. Well, just one, this thing only lasts 25 minutes, so we only have time for one.
Alex: The one when I was a kid I heard on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, it was a, do you know karate because your buddy’s kicking? It doesn’t work that often.
Dave: Doesn’t work that way. What about you, Derek, did you have favorite one?
Derek: That’s a tough question. I’d have to say, are you from Tennessee because you’re the only 10 I see.
Dave: Okay. See creativity in our interns. Kind of the one thing I can add too and I shared with a colleagues, everybody kept mentioning, Well let one of the interns do it. Let one of the interns do it. Finally I said, These people have names, these are real people. They have names, there’s Derek and there’s Bixler and so they have real names. Did you get that people were calling the interns?
Alex: Not as much as you think, but I do have a first name, Alex, but as an intern. People were pretty good about getting to know you and my team, anyway, he took me around the whole office and introduced me to everyone so by the time the first day is over, you have an idea of people’s names anyway, you can’t remember them all.
Dave: So the internship program was kind of a bridge from going from student to young professional and certainly began to embrace your role in the firm and kind of figured out whether this was a career path that you wanted to to go and you guys both decided, Hey, let’s give this a try.
Dave: Okay. So, so let’s switch directions a little bit and talk about this. I hate to use the word millennial, I think you guys get a little bit of a bad rap, so we’re not going to go there. But I want to talk a little bit about, now you’re on board, coaching and mentoring, what are some things that are important to you in those kinds of relationships? Derek, we’ll go with you first. What what do you want your mentor to do? What’s the perfect mentor look like?
Derek: In my opinion, I want my mentor to give me advice, just give me advice on what they wish they would have done differently. Just general advice.
Alex: With my experience, I think empowerment was big with me, not micro managing and looking over my shoulder, but allowing me to figure it out as I go. If they did have any suggestions, speak up to me and say, Hey, this is how we do it here. Or, Hey, try this. But what helped me a lot was constant communication and just knowing the team had my back when I did do something wrong, I could actually go to them and not be scared about it. So it was just nice to have that communication, that relationship, on more of a personal level than just a business level.
Dave: Now, full disclosure, your mentor is in the room, part of their production team, do we need to ask them to leave and get the real answer?
Alex: Maybe a another episode for that. But all in all, it was a good experience.
Dave: Now you know there’s about 40 years age difference in us, does it make a difference the age of your mentor?
Alex: For me, no, because I feel like they’re pretty much on the same wavelength in terms of technology use what they expect. When you boil that down, it’s kind of you got to get stuff done and you got to do it right and we’re all on the same teams, same page. So in the end of the day it’s just let’s get this work done and do it right.
Dave: Derek, what about you to have a mentor, let’s say that might be the age of one of your parents when you see one of your parents. Can you see one of your parents being your business mentor, coach?
Derek: Yeah, I agree with Bixler. I don’t think the age is.
Dave: You mean Alex?
Alex: Thank you, Dave.
Derek: I agree with Alex. I think the age of your mentor is not so important as how willing-full they are to help.
Dave: How often do you look for job performance reviews? Do you want them never or weekly, monthly, give us some feedback on that?
Derek: Yeah. Personally, I like to go out and actively search for review. My coach and I would do some performance coaching, I’ll get together with him once a month and have him give me some feedback on how I’m doing.
Dave: What if that feedback is not positive in nature? How do you take that?
Derek: I’m a big fan of constructive criticism.
Dave: Good or bad, you like it?
Derek: It’s good yes.
Dave: You want good, honest, frequent feedback.
Derek: Correct, yes.
Dave: Alex Bixler, how about you? We’re going to use both names here.
Alex: For me, I don’t know if I personally seek out feedback as much as I should, but my coach and I meet every week and I feel like we have a relationship to where she could talk to me right then and there, on a weekly basis, about what I’m doing well when I’m not. I think there’s not a set time that I want feedback, but just an open communication of what I’m doing right and wrong would be nice.
Dave: Derek, I read recently where our nation’s deficit is reaching almost a trillion dollars. What does that mean to you as a young professional?
Derek: Yeah, obviously it’s scary because that’s going to keep on growing as the years go by. What it means to me as a young professional? That’s a tough question to answer.
Alex: For me, with the trillions of dollars in debt that we are, I don’t know if I feel the consequence of it right now per se because I don’t really feel it day-to-day. Maybe that’s a bad thing, but I remember my dad showed me this website with the national debt calculator and every second it’s just going up and up and up, so at that point it’s kind of how do you shop it?
Dave: You we’re not sure. It feels a little bit like monopoly money?
Alex: A little bit, yeah, which is bad to say, but yeah.
Dave: You guys, again, you rub elbows with all different kinds of industries, et cetera, are we pretty recession proof for few years? Derek, what do you think? You wanted to be creative. You wanted to get outside the box and not talk about normal stuff. Here you go. What do you think?
Derek: I sure hope we are recession proof for the next few years. That’s about all I can say.
Alex: I guess with an accounting firm, being recession proof, I guess since we are kind of diversified and all the segments and sectors we’re in maybe, but it kind of depends on our clients and when the economy is going for their companies and businesses because we do a lot with small businesses.
Dave: Before we wrap up here, continuing with the coaching and mentoring, would you recommend to our clients that they continue to develop and build a coaching, mentoring relationship inside their organization?
Derek: I would definitely recommend that. That’s one of the things I love about Rea & Associates is how well we take care of our people and the development we go after.
Alex: Yeah, I’d have to agree with that, any relationship you can build with your employee or your coach is going to be a positive one. I think it doesn’t hurt to have feedback and coaching because that’s what kind of drew me to this company. If you can implement a good one then it’ll be set up for years to come with the flow of candidates and job seekers.
Dave: Good. Is there anything to this Millennial, Baby Boomer, X Gen thing? Anything or is that just all hype and things. Is there anything to this in your opinion?
Alex: I think in some ways stereotypes have some truth in it, but I think all in all, we’re pretty similar to each generation. It’s just a lot of bad news about millennials is going around and it seems like we get a bad rap, which I don’t think is granted for most, but I can see where the stereotype comes from.
Dave: Sure. Derek?
Derek: Yeah, I think the stereotype is definitely there and present, but honestly in my day-to-day life, it never affects me. It hasn’t affected me yet.
Dave: I think part of this mentoring ,coaching, both sides have to kind of understand each other. There’s no one size fits all and I think you guys pointed that out.
Dave: I want to finish up in the next few minutes that we have with new policy that Rea & Associates adopted I think is pretty cool and that’s the dress code policy, Dress for the Day. Derek, tell us a little bit about this.
Derek: Dress for Your Day is basically a policy saying, if you’re going to be in the office all day, you have no client meetings, nothing important going on. You’re just going to be stuck in the room, then it’s all right to wear jeans and maybe some less casual, but still professional shoes.
Dave: So you can dress down a little bit, you’re not like looking like you went to the concert and have a t-shirt on, but you know, comfortable.
Dave: Business comfortable. Is that what, what do you think?
Derek: Yeah, you got to dress presentable.
Dave: You guys like that policy?
Alex: Yeah. I like it. I feel like as a marketing team I kind of not dress down in any way, but I’d never showed up in a suit.
Dave: Not going to wear a Whalen t-shirt to the show?
Alex: No, no, no.
Dave: You probably guys that probably don’t even know who Whalen is do, you?
Alex: I don’t, but it was funny.
Dave: Man, you guys are young. Man, you guys are young. Thanks again for joining us on unsuitable, Alex and Derek. I found this interviewing to be very enlightening and we’re going to have to have you guys come back. Any final words Alex for our listeners?
Alex: Final words? I guess if you’re looking for a job, go for it and make sure your resume is updated.
Dave: Derek, take us home here.
Derek: Yeah, I think the internships are definitely good for any company and I’d highly suggest that all companies start a program.
Dave: Great. Listeners, I hope you found today’s episode to be valuable as well as I did and then that you can see from the insight that these two young professional shared to help you shape your own internship program and career development strategies will help along the way. If you’d like to learn more about this topic or if you’d like to hear more about the topics of recruitment, retention in generational considerations or you have a friend or family member who wants to apply for an internship program at Rea & Associates, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave: If you enjoyed today’s episode, like it, comment on it, and share it and subscribe to it. Until next time, I’m Dave Cain encouraging you to loosen up your tie and think outside the box.
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