What is it like to work for the public sector? Mark Tran ’17 (accounting and finance) is an accounting intern for the City of Long Beach. He provides a “day in the life” of his job and discusses the opportunities in local government.
Since landing an accounting internship at the City of Long Beach in August, Mark Tran ’17 has been among the more than 14 million Americans who have jobs in local government. Many of these roles, including accounting, finance, marketing and managerial positions, dovetail with the career goals and interests of business students.
Tran works alongside the city controller and senior accountants to move the city’s data into a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. He ensures that all accounting entries are correctly categorized and organized for smooth fiscal operation in the municipality of nearly 500,000 people.
As he nears the completion of his undergraduate degree and looks forward to a career in public accounting, Tran shares with us what a typical day is like in his internship and what students should know about working in the public sector.
Describe a “day in the life” of your internship.
When I arrive to work, my first task is to prepare coffee and set up my laptop on my desk. I check my emails and calendar to see if any of the senior accountants would like to have a team meeting, since we work on the city ERP project together. I work with another intern, whom I share most of my projects with.
Throughout the day, I stay in contact with my supervisor, the city’s controller, to see if he needs any assistance. I get an hour lunch around noon, but otherwise it is a full day.
Working in the city’s financial management helps me understand more about government accounting, including the importance of GASB instead of the FASB that I am familiar with. It has helped me improve my time management skills to fit my team’s needs while I prioritize my school work and Beta Alpha Psi commitments.
Where do you see your career in the future, and how will this internship assist you?
I see myself working for a CPA firm in the future. My goal is to pass the CPA exam in my first year of professional life. I hope to work at a firm in public accounting for at least four years.
In this internship, I have learned how to communicate, manage my time and work in a team-based environment. Communication is very important in this environment and interning for the city gave me a chance to work on a project, gain an understanding of it, and then present it to senior accountants, the assistant controller and the controller.
What would you like business students to know about working in the public sector?
The pay is decent and there are many good opportunities in the long run. The workplace is diverse, and there is a strong pension plan for retirement. Jobs are stable, and the hours consistent. Just make sure to find the right job or department culture that fits your personality.
For More Information
For more on job opportunities in the public sector, check out our earlier blog post, “Careers in America’s Public Sector.” If you are looking for an internship of any kind, including in the public sector, take advantage of Mihaylo Career Services, a great resource to help you plan your career path through personal advising, résumé development and regular career workshops. In other words, they can help you find an internship!