ELKINS -The Center for Railway Tourism at Davis & Elkins College and the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (DCNRHS) have partnered to create a unique, year-long paid student internship that will benefit both organizations. Established through a grant from the DCNRHS, the internship will provide hands-on experience to an undergraduate accounting student in the full lifecycle of not-for-profit bookkeeping and accounting.
The internship was organized by DCNRHS President Scarlett Wirt and the Davis & Elkins Division of Business and Entrepreneurship, with collaboration among Division Chair Dr. Carol Carter, Center Director Jim Porterfield and Instructor of Business and Accounting Lisa Daniels-Smith. An official signing of the internship agreement took place Monday at the Robert C. Byrd Center on the D&E campus.
Heather Snead, a junior from Bartow, W.Va., was selected as the first internship recipient and will soon begin work. Special computer software provided by DCNRHS will enable Snead to complete the accounting process on a self-paced schedule without leaving campus. Each piece will be reviewed by Daniels-Smith before it is returned to DCNRHS.
Daniels-Smith, a CPA and former treasurer for the city of Elkins, says what makes the internship unique is that its focus is on the not-for-profit sector – a process she describes as completely different from business accounting and one that isn’t emphasized in most classrooms.
“Whenever accounting majors go through their classes – not only here, but typically at all college levels – the focus is on business accounting,” Daniels-Smith says. “They are usually subjected to just one course in not-for-profit accounting.”
Daniels-Smith points out that not-for-profit accounting is an ever growing field with high demands on the accounting profession.
The internship will allow Snead, and the students who participate in the future, a chance to take part in the day-to-day transactions leading up to the annual IRS 990 filing required of certain federally tax-exempt organizations which includes information on the mission, programs and finances.
Wirt says the internship falls in line with DCNRHS’ mission to “expand the public appreciation of railroads and their history through preservation and education” and also serves the organization by segregating its accounting duties.
“We have a number of programs that we operate as a public service, including the historic Pullman sleeper-lounge-buffet car Dover Harbor and two former Amtrak railcars,” Wirt says. “With this we have a responsibility to our members to manage their money very carefully, and we do. The intern will get to see the whole cycle of accounting and show the stability of our finances.”
Porterfield noted that this arrangement is one of a number of programs and services being developed by the Center for Railway Tourism to attract and prepare young people for work in the growing field of heritage tourism.
"This internship," he said, "will not only serve participating students, the college, the Center and DCNRHS, but is one more step in introducing railway heritage and preservation to its next generation of stewards."
The current internship will run through March 2016, when the next intern will be selected for participation.
The Davis & Elkins College Division of Business and Entrepreneurship is committed to excellence in education through a philosophy of liberal learning that entails individualized attention and service to students. The program includes majors in accounting, business, economics, finance, hospitality management, management and marketing.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.