Leveling up in Dublin: Acquiring New Skills and Competencies

I have gathered quite a few new skills from my time at Staycity, which I believe will be very helpful in my future career. First, most of these new skills are soft skills. Due to the nature of having a virtual internship, I am limited in what kind of tasks I can complete. However, I have absolutely leveled up my working knowledge of Excel, and I now feel confident in being able to list it as a special skill on a resume.  

One of the first lessons I learned was from one of my co-workers. I was tasked with making an excel sheet for reconciling a difficult account. I needed to show her what was on the account, what we had in our system, and what was the balance. The point was to be able to see what accounts up to date, and which ones had a balance that needed to be addressed. This way we could identify where the discrepancies in our records were originating and work with the vender to zero out the accounts. My first spread sheet I made had many notes on it for each entry and was overall very wordy. My supervisor said that she could understand the point but could not see what was going on in each account. She said to me “I am a numbers person, talk to me in numbers because this is what I understand.” I remade the excel into a new format. It had only the amounts on each invoice from the vender, what we paid to that invoice and the balance remaining. I did this for each account and when I was finished the amounts and final balances were clear enough for me to identify that we had three problem accounts with credits. I could not, however, figure out which invoices were causing the credits. The lesson was in communication and critical thinking. I learned to communicate with my supervisor correctly for our job, which is to use numbers, and I learned how to evaluate and balance accounts.  

Another lesson I learned is how to cooperate with other colleagues and be respectful of their backgrounds. I frequently am on a call with someone and when we have a moment for conversation, I make sure to acknowledge the time difference and their location (as them being in Europe and me in America). I go into work at an earlier time to account for the time difference. I also ask them many questions and avoid assuming anything to be common knowledge. For example, I don’t assume that they know American holidays. I make sure to tell everyone good afternoon and good evening (though it is morning and noon here). I ask them about their weekend plans, what it’s like for Covid restrictions and vaccines there, what interesting places are in Dublin, etc. My co-workers seem glad to discuss their hometowns and what’s going on in Dublin. They are also eager to speak with me or work through any cultural differences (like the Ms. Claire joke from last post) that come up because I try to assimilate with their cultures first. The point is that being open-minded and making changes to your routine is the one of best ways to navigate a multinational workplace. 

Finally, in concrete skills I am building a foundation of knowledge on international payment procedures. I know now that German companies almost exclusively use 14-day payment terms while Ireland is on 30-day payment terms. As a compromise with our German suppliers, we make payment runs bi-monthly. VAT is an international tax that varies by country and what is supplied/serviced. It is important to know how to allocate it. VAT is paid for the country in which the goods/services are received. For example, a French supplier cannot charge French VAT when they invoice an Irish property. A last bit of information is that Italy has a government system for all companies to submit invoices and receive payments. In order to post and pay Italian invoices from Italian venders, one must first login to the government portal and download them from there. We cannot process any invoice or document that has not first been submitted to that government portal. 

As a wrap up for this blog post, I gave just a glimpse into my improvements I made at Staycity. I have had a great time getting to know my colleagues and interact with them, and I have learned a lot about what kinds of work I should expect from accounting careers. Overall, I have had an invaluable experience with the IIP program.