Ralph Petagna

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Name: Ralph Petagna
Major: Accounting
Year: Class of 2016

Where did you do your internship?
BBD, LLP, a PCAOB-registered CPA firm in Philadelphia, PA 

Time period for the internship / Number of hours?
Summer 2014: Approximately May 26th – August 15th, 40 hours per week

Responsibilities/Duties as an intern
As the firm’s first ever Summer intern, I served as an Audit Intern in the firm’s Investment Management Group. Initially, I solely reported to a Senior Manager in the group and assisted with his duties and tasks. I primarily worked on N-1A Prospectus reviews and audits, as well as the audits of other SEC filings made by the firm’s mutual fund clients. I eventually progressed and was assigned to help one of the group’s Audit Teams as well on their annual mutual fund audit engagements. I began running tests and doing research on the team’s mutual fund clients, completing similar work as the entry level staff accountants.

Positives/Negatives
Some of the positives of my internship included the flexibility of my role in the firm as well as the atmosphere of the firm. As I was the only intern working that summer, I was used in multiple ways within the Investment Management Group. I was therefore exposed to several types of work the firm and group completes, and was not stuck in one role. It was especially exciting to get to serve on an Audit Team, as by the end of my internship I had been brought on almost fully to assist with the team’s engagements. Another huge positive was my co-workers and the firm environment. I very much enjoyed working at BBD, mainly because of the kindness and openness of the employees there, even at the Partner level.

A couple negatives of my internship were the commute and somewhat lack of structure of my position. My home is in Central New Jersey, and therefore it took about an hour and a half both ways to commute into Philadelphia by train. Also, due to the fact that I had been the firm’s first summer intern, there were times in the beginning of my internship where I did not always have a full slate of work to keep myself busy. The summer is not typically the most busy season for a Public Accounting firm, and thus it took some time for my role as an intern to really be defined.

Skills you have developed.
I developed many skills during my internship, including more advanced use of Microsoft Excel as well as industry specific techniques in mutual fund auditing. I learned a great deal about mutual funds themselves as well. I also was able to sharpen my time management and teamwork skills working on the Audit Team with deadlines and multiple projects at once.

Describe the environment.
The firm environment was always very welcoming and friendly throughout my entire internship. Since it is a mid-sized firm, everyone knows your name and will say hello as they walk by. BBD has a very open environment, as everyone is approachable and willing to answer your questions. Many of the employees seem like very good friends as well, as many of them have been with the firm for many years. It was especially beneficial for the teamwork aspect, as members of each Audit Team typically sat near each other and are able to actively communicate as they work.

How has your internship changed you? 
My internship has definitely changed me for the better, as I have realized the importance of the work environment in finding a job or career. My internship with BBD has shown me that the salary or firm reputation are not the most important factors in choosing a job, but more so the environment and your happiness with the firm. Having a friendly environment to come to everyday makes getting up for work that much easier, and this is something that I will not forget in my career.

What steps did you take in seeking out this internship?
I took a number of steps to obtain this internship, starting with attending the President’s Business Council Networking Trip to Philadelphia during my freshman year. There I met the Human Resources Director of BBD, who was a Scranton alumnus. In my conversation with her, she invited me to BBD’s “Day at the Office” for college students the following summer.  I attended the event, and got to meet some BBD employees, tour the office, and learn more about the firm. The following fall at the Business Expo at the University of Scranton, the HR Director approached me regarding the possibility of the Summer Internship with the firm, and said she believed I was a strong candidate. From there, I stayed in contact with the Director to work out the details of the job and ultimately accepted the offer.

Did Career Services help you search for or secure your internship?
Career Services did help me secure my internship, especially through the help of Cheryl Collarini. Cheryl personally vouched for me to the HR Director of BBD, as well as guided me through the process of making my final decision in accepting the offer.

Any recommendations for students looking to start the internship process.
My biggest recommendation for any student seeking an internship is to start looking early on and to keep your search wide. I never could have imagined interning at a public accounting firm in a large city after only my sophomore year of college. The opportunities are out there, it just takes the right networking and searching to find them!

Other interesting items about you and your background and interests. 
Both of my parents are Scranton alumni, and my father also studied Accounting here at the University. I am also the President of the Men’s Crew Team here, as well as President of the Business Club.