Bigger Than Us

By Matthew Oberreuter

Hello! I’m Matthew Oberreuter and a Junior at Iowa State University (ISU), studying Accounting and hoping to earn my Certified Public Accounting license after graduation. I am also a member of Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi), a fraternity at ISU, and an intern at McGowen Hurst Clark Smith (MHCS) since August in the Client Accounting Services (CAS) department. Unfortunately, fraternities (and sororities) and some internship programs can get a bad reputation with lots of negative energy centered around it, and some of it may be true. Many individuals shy away from joining or understanding such communities because of it. Today, I’d like to share my very positive experience of both and how they have had a significant impact on my life.

I joined Phi Kappa Psi two and a half years ago shortly after starting school at ISU. I learned then that a good fraternity means friendship and fellowship and that Phi Psi’s founding motto is “The Joy of Serving Others.” That motto has stood true through my experiences thus far in my college career, in my fraternity along with my internship.

Each member of Phi Psi is required to complete 20 hours of community service each semester, creating 40 hours of service per member, per school year. At Phi Kappa Psi, we currently have 120 members, creating a required 4,800 hours per school year for my chapter alone! And, I can proudly say that we have exceeded that total number every year by quite a bit, generating around or above 5,000 hours both years I have been a member. I have grown used to this mindset in the past two plus years, and participated in a variety of fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, and more. In addition, I have been able to obtain leadership roles in my chapter, along with professional development opportunities, academic support, and an array of diverse workshops. I also believe that it has helped me earn my internships and that I wouldn’t have even been the right candidate for this one without Phi Psi.

When I started working at MHCS for my internship this past summer, I spent much of the time early on learning about the firm, the service departments, the culture, and the job as an accountant, in general. But as I shadowed, asked questions, and talked to the employees, one of the most common themes that drew me to MHCS more than anything else was greater than the ‘job’ – it was the commitment to serving each other and the community. About once a week (and on certain weeks or months it happens much more often), we receive an email about volunteer opportunities coming up and encouragement to take time off work to join the team of volunteers. Besides that, there are tons of opportunities that I heard about with groups of people helping out the community in the evenings or on the weekends, bringing employees together beyond the normal work hours.

When offered to stay on part-time in the CAS department after my internship, I knew my answer already given their philanthropic roots. I obviously reflected on it but the impact was real for me as we served the clients on a regular day, and witnessed a trend of selfless help and advice to each other plus support for the community with intention and excitement. I’ve learned that organizations set-up like this are truly about their employees or members because of the culture engrained in them of volunteering and putting others before yourself. I have found in both my fraternity and MHCS that a group culture like this leads not only to increased community service, but to a genuine, kind and caring group of people who want to help all the time.

Thank you for being a welcome and supportive environment that is dedicated to things that are bigger than the MHCS firm.

Matthew Oberreuter | CAS Intern