Communication Is Key

This week, I completed my international internship experience. Although I am disappointed that my internship is over, I am looking forward to applying the skills and experiences I have gained to my classes and future career. I completed several projects during the last two weeks of the program. These projects included copying transactions, saving nominal ledger reports to different company folders, and recording tasks in the management system Karbon. However, I spent most of these last two weeks matching transactions on a document with over 190,000 separate transactions. This is the same project I talked about before, but I was now working on withdrawals instead of the lodgments.

One of the staff members and I used several methods to try to match the transactions. Match 1 consisted of using the member number and the total amount to match the transaction on both the nominal ledger and bank statement. This provided some results but left many unmatched. Match 2 used a unique ID consisting of the date, total amount, and member number. This provided many more matches because the data used for the Vlookup was more specific than Match 1. Then I manually searched and matched some of the remaining transactions. The project was tedious, but I enjoyed finding and correcting the matches. This extensive project gave me experience working on large amounts of accounting data that I can certainly use in the future.

Low-context and high-context communication are both critical in business. Low-context communication is direct, explicit, and requires little interpretation. On the other hand, high-context communication is less direct, less explicit, and involves interpretation and nonverbal cues. In America, the business community relies on low-context communication to get their ideas across quickly and clearly. The same is true in Ireland, but they rely a little more on high-context communication than here in the United States. Throughout my internship program, I experienced low-context communication within Devaney and Durkin. The instructions given to me were direct and clear most of the time.

There are several communication differences and preferences I noticed over the course of my internship. The first difference was the formality of the emails and chats sent between the staff members. Some of the messages I received were unclear. This sometimes made it difficult for me to understand what they were expecting of me. I know that these were quick chat messages sent through Microsoft Teams, but emails I received were often sent similarly. However, I tried to keep my messages direct, correct, and understandable. When on a call, conversations were also informal. The only time I experienced formality was when I was meeting with my supervisor. He tended to use more formal language compared to the other staff members. I also noticed another communication difference using certain slang words and phrases such as lads, queries, touch type, and some different accounting vocabulary. Although I knew what most of the terms meant, it took some time to adjust to the vernacular.

One miscommunication situation that I had to overcome was when I had to draft an informational letter for a client. The letter was to inform the client of the tax benefit of buying an electric company car. My supervisor left me a short description of the task and a website. I was very nervous because I did not know anything about the topic, and I felt I had not been given enough information or instruction. The first thing I did was research benefit-in-kind tax benefits and the advantages of buying an electric car. It took a long time for me to understand the tax exemptions, the restrictions on the benefit, and the time it would take place. When I felt I understood the topic enough, I began to draft the letter. When I was finished, I had to review and edit it during a meeting with my supervisor. Several things had to be fixed. If I had been given more descriptive and clear instructions, I could have avoided many corrections. Another miscommunication situation that I had to deal with several times a week was being left without work for hours. When I had finished a task, I would send a message to a staff member notifying them I was done. The message would be read by the staff member and then not answered for several hours. It was hard for me to know if they were in a meeting, left for lunch, or didn’t have another task for me. I would overcome this by asking another staff member for work or learn about a business concept on my own while waiting for a response.

Although navigating communication styles and miscommunication can be challenging, it was essential to my internship experience. Of all the skills I learned during the program, I feel I strengthened my communication skills the most. I am looking forward to reflecting on my overall experience in my next blog post.