TGen Accounting Intern

A two-month accounting internship during the summer of 2009 offered Mara Oda a wealth of important learning experiences, some extending beyond the confines of her technical work.

Mara OdaOda served as an intern in the finance department of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Ariz. TGen is a non-profit institute that conducts scientific research focused on the exploration of the human genome as it relates to cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and other diseases.

Oda assisted accountants with audit preparation, worked on account reconciliation, and helped the staff prepare for financial meetings with the scientists and project managers. She felt her Cornell experience had prepared her well for the internship.

“The intensity of the block plan transitions well into the workplace, where you’re constantly having to multitask and work efficiently in order to meet deadlines,” she said.

Oda said she also gained useful insights about operating effectively in a professional setting.

“One thing that I learned from this internship is that you don’t have to know everything, or even know how to do everything,” she said. “But you have to know how to ask the right questions and you have to want to know why or how things are done. There should be a desire to learn.”

Beyond the office environment, Oda benefited from the experience of living on her own and working as a young professional.

“While I learned a number of practical and applicable skills, I think that the largest lessons came from the work experience itself, and living in a new city,” she said. “I don’t think anything really compares to the experience of your first “real job” and living in a new city on your own. It was scary, and frustrating, and challenging at times, but it was exciting and it’s neat to look back and be able to think ‘Wow I did that!’”