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Welcome to the real world: Interns prepare to face the future

“Maybe they hired too many interns,” suggested Daisy Yang. Not a bad theory. Yang and nearly all of the other first-year interns at the Detroit office of Deloitte and Touche had nothing to do. They’d finished their weeklong orientation at the accounting giant and they were ready to work.

But there wasn’t any. Not much, anyway.

“We’d walk around from office to office and ask if anyone had work to do,” said Nancy Stano, 21, a senior at the University of Michigan. “We called it trick-or-treating.”

Yang called it “trolling for work.”

Others had ruder names for the daily rounds.

Whatever they chose to call it, it meant that they were begging for work. Occasionally they found it. But it was hardly what they hoped for.

Yang spent several days stuffing and sealing envelopes. “Crap work,” she called it. None of her colleagues argued with the sentiment, though they were more tactful with their descriptions.

Deloitte’s intern class is made up of students who are at the top of the heap at their schools. They have stellar grade point averages and are leaders in various aspects of campus life. When it comes to envelope-stuffing, they’re a tad overqualified.

But then, this is another one of the challenges of being an intern. These jobs are, after all, entry-level positions. Even lower than entry level because interns are still outsiders. They haven’t really joined the team yet. In some ways, they’re glorified temp workers.

It’s times like these that test their mettle and their commitment to this career. There are no class assignments. No extra credit. This round of life will belong to those who are tenacious and are able to create opportunities for themselves. It is a profound lesson in the working world.

In time, even Yang grew philosophical about what she knew was a temporary dilemma.

“When you’re an intern, sometimes you do intern work,” she admitted. “No matter what, you’re going to be putting in the time. It’s just that I like to run stuff. I like to pull together a million pieces and have it turn out just the way I knew it would. So right now, it’s frustrating _ I’ve waited so long for this.”

Within days, she’d get her first assignment, working on an audit of an environmental services company in the Detroit suburbs.

Deloitte hadn’t forgotten about the interns, of course. It’s just that it’s difficult to predict precisely when work of substance will be available, particularly work that’s appropriate for green beans, as Deloitters call their accounting rookies. Within days, they began wading into real work.

Jessica Krebsbach is normally a chirpy and talkative person. But this morning, she’s quiet as she sets off on her first day of work on Deloitte’s GMAC account.

Deloitte’s space at GMAC is nearly identical to the one Krebsbach just left. Gray on gray on gray — spare and antiseptic. At least there are windows.

And familiar faces, too: interns Paty Hinojosa and Erik Larson. Suddenly, the working world feels less intimidating. And there, in the middle of a row of three cubicles, is one with a sign that says “Jessica Krebsbach.” She grins. It’s not beautiful. Or spacious. But it’s hers. Life is good.

There’s a short tour of the office and lots of introductions. And after a short mini- orientation and lunch with the new gang. Krebsbach is hurled into the real world of derivatives, a financial instrument used for hedging exposures to variability in cash flows.

“So far it’s not bad,” Krebsbach says as her first day nears an end. “The toughest part is keeping up with the acronyms.”

It does seem that there’s an obsession with them. Deloittespeak, as they call it, involves things like BDMs (Business Development Man-agers), SA numbers (Service Authorization numbers) and ATSW (Automated Time System for Windows), which will soon be replaced by DTE (Deloitte Time and Expense). Of course, you have to be sure you don’t confuse that with the other DTE — DTE Energy, another Deloitte client.

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