Faith & My Internship
Kaushik Dhanyamraju - December 1, 2016
It all started on a cold November afternoon. I was all snuggled up in my bed, registering for classes for the spring 2016 semester resisting the urge to take another one of my lengthy afternoon naps. Suddenly, I found myself in what could be described as a tight situation: I was two credits short of eligibility for full-time student status and for the NCAA. I had three classes and a lab equating to ten credits registered and the other required courses for my major in accounting were not going to be offered in the spring. Suddenly, my inner Jimmy Neutron sprung to life and I had a brain blast; in this brain blast, my mind bellowed the one golden word that would solve my predicament: INTERNSHIP!
I bolted out of my suite and raced to the Office of Postgraduate Success where I was greeted by then dean, Francis “Brigg” Bowe. As I had sent an inquiry about the possibility of a five-credit internship earlier that month, Brigg pulled up my file and immediately referred me to an incredible opportunity to fulfill that requirement at the Campaign for Working Families in Philadelphia. Afterwards, I went online and learned that this benevolent organization is a non-profit company that prepares free federal and state tax returns for moderate to low-income families in the Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey areas. As I had always yearned to bolster my knowledge and applications of income taxes, I submitted my application and resume. At he speed of light, the coordinator of volunteer operations, Mr. Jonathan Barnes called me. We exchanged pleasantries then got down to business. He explained the expectations and responsibilities of their interns. While I had no problem with the thought of learning tax law, one daunting task stood in my way: in order to be accepted into the Campaign’s internship program, I would need to acquire IRS certifications by passing online IRS exams in advanced tax preparation, interviewer/intake forms, quality review, and in Volunteers’ Code of Conduct. Fortunately, the Campaign for Working Families was providing tax preparation “boot camps”, so I promptly registered for the 16-hour course to be completed over two days in early December.
I’ll be completely honest: taking the boot camp was probably one of the most boring and time-exhausting experiences ever—I was struggling with a sinus infection and the urge to nap in the eight hour classes. However, the rewards of going through such a rigorous training paid off in more ways than one: not only did I successfully pass all three of the IRS exams, Jonathan Barnes immediately gave me my letter of offer/acceptance into the Campaign for Working Families.
Starting January, the new adventure that was tax preparation began, and I could not have been more blessed to be a part of such a fruitful and rewarding experience. For the entire 2016 spring semester, I was assigned to multiple sites to prepare income tax returns under the watchful eyes of my supervisors; some notable locations where I worked were at the ARC Alliance in Montgomery County, Mt. Pisgah Church in West Philadelphia, State Representative Margo Davidson’s Office in Upper Darby, Northeast Philadelphia’s Super-Site, Center City, and the North Central Financial Center (CWF-Philly Headquarters) in Northern Philadelphia. Over the course of my internship, I logged in over 200 hours of filing taxes and quality reviewing my colleagues’ returns; I earned a number of accolades such as, but not limited to, March Volunteer of the Month and the U.S. President’s Volunteer Award. Other exciting year-end events included a party for volunteers and interns and a chance to watch the Philadelphia 76ers play against the Washington Wizards live (too bad the 76ers lost)!
Interning with the Campaign for Working Families had a lot benefits like the aforementioned awards, events, and in helping me fulfill my internship/credits requirement for my major. However, the true reward wasn't about recognition, academic/athletic eligibility (even though it really helped!), or watching live basketball (even though it was really great), it was the experience of helping people.
I am a devout Hindu and one of the important principles of my religion is the Dharma, the virtue entailing generosity and charity. It can also mean assisting those who are in need. Religiously, the Campaign allowed me to practice this principle to a level I never thought possible. The experience went beyond fundraising just to fulfill a community service requirement or to simply bolster the funds of an organization. Working for this wonderful organization allowed to me assist an innumerable amount of people throughout the Greater Philadelphia area in ways I could have never imagined. Until applying for this internship, I had no idea how many families in the Philadelphia area are stricken with low-income and poverty induced situations. The happiness and gratitude that my clients felt after successfully filing free tax returns, which is something many other companies do not even provide, resonated with the core of my very being. As an esteemed member of the Rosemont College men’s soccer program, I’ve prided myself on giving everything I possibly have for my team. Whether it was excelling at academics, attending strength and conditioning sessions, being on time for meetings, study hall, practices, games, or just working out on my own, I was always ready to leave it all out there for my team. The Dharma of my religion is commonly expressed on an athletic perspective when it refers to teamwork and playing for an entity that’s bigger than oneself. Similarly, working for the Campaign gave me the chance to emulate the efforts I gave my team, but on a much greater scale. While doing so, I believe that I had successfully carried out the sacred mission of Rosemont College:
“Rosemont College is a community of learners dedicated to excellence and joy in the pursuit of knowledge. Rosemont College seeks to develop in all members of the community open and critical minds and the ability to make reasoned moral decisions. Rooted in Catholicism and guided by the educational principles of Cornelia Connelly and the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Rosemont College values:
- Trust in and reverence for the dignity of each person;
- Diversity in human culture and experience;
- Persistence and courage in promoting justice with compassion.”
Assisting moderate to low-income families, where money is so tight, was indeed a humbling experience and it gave me a sense of duty, responsibility, and purpose much like the game of soccer has done for me. It was an honor and privilege to be of service to others, and my knowledge, understanding, and perception of the world and what so many families face was bolstered by the experience. In comprehending and empathizing with people from various financial backgrounds whilst preparing taxes, broadening my horizons and understanding of the Philadelphia area on a financial spectrum, and servicing my time through my responsibilities at the Campaign, I (once again) believe to have carried out the mission of Rosemont College. While the impact may have been minute in a national or global sense, making a positive difference in the life of one or the lives of many goes a long way. Thank you to the Campaign for Working Families of Philadelphia for allowing me to make a difference in the lives of many, and thank you for making me a better man in the process.
Click here to view the newsletter where Kaushik was highlighted.