Internship Leads to Examiner Job at the Alabama Department of Revenue

Posted on June 15, 2020
Thomas Becnel

Amara Baltimore, a spring graduate of the Mitchell College of Business, is just 22 years old, but she’s already conducting audits and interviewing taxpayers in her first job with the Alabama Department of Revenue.  data-lightbox='featured'
Amara Baltimore, a spring graduate of the Mitchell College of Business, is just 22 years old, but she’s already conducting audits and interviewing taxpayers in her first job with the Alabama Department of Revenue.

#MyFirstJob is a series focused on University of South Alabama Class of 2020 graduates who are beginning their careers.

After graduating from South this spring, Amara Baltimore landed a job with the Alabama Department of Revenue, but the coronavirus pandemic means she has to work from home.

A kitchen table serves as her desk, with manila folders stacked on the floor next to a printer. On a wall hangs the flowery painting she bought at a thrift store.

“It’s a good Zoom background — I think it looks sophisticated,” Baltimore joked. “$10 at Goodwill. So worth it.”

At the University of South Alabama, Baltimore was a Mitchell Scholar who became president of the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. She majored in accounting in the Mitchell College of Business. An internship with the Department of the Revenue turned into a full-time job as a state revenue examiner.

She will start graduate school at South this fall, too, with plans to become a certified public accountant. 

Baltimore is just 22 years old, but she’s already conducting audits and interviewing taxpayers. Even with her identification badge, people sometimes assume she’s a student in training. That often ends when she begins asking direct questions about state tax returns.

“What’s this number?” she likes to ask. “Where did this come from?”

If they can produce a receipt, the interview moves on to the next question. If they can’t, the process might end with a bill for thousands of dollars in back taxes. Baltimore is sympathetic but forthright.

“We try to be professional,” she said. “We don’t want to be confrontational.”

Baltimore comes from Hazel Green, Ala., a small town north of Huntsville. She makes the six-hour drive home several times a year to visit family and friends. Yet she chose to begin her career in Mobile.

The pivotal moment of her college career was meeting a department of revenue recruiter at a South event. She followed up on that encounter and was selected for an internship. She did well and was hired full-time.

While Baltimore’s career path is on track, her final months of college brought unexpected changes. The Class of 2020 will always remember that. She made the best of her virtual commencement ceremony.

“I was there in spirit,” Baltimore said, laughing. “I got to see my name scroll across the screen like a movie credit.”

She and her roommate, an audiology student at South, have shared several apartments in west Mobile. They’re moving into a bigger place this summer.

Earlier this year, Baltimore adopted a cat named Annie. She likes to watch television serials and read John Grisham thrillers. She was excited to see that the Mobile Public Library has reopened with curbside service.

In her spare time, she does yoga. With one of her first paychecks, she treated herself to a Lululemon accessory.

“I haven’t gone crazy, because I’m saving money for graduate school, but I did buy a $75 yoga mat,” Baltimore said. “It’s really good.”

On weekday mornings, she tries to follow a work routine. She gets up, makes a cup of coffee and turns on her computer. She does as much work as she can manage.

“Usually, when we’re auditing people, it’s face-to-face interviews, so this has changed everything,” she said. “Now we’re sending out letters, e-mails, saying this is what we’re looking at. It’s not the ideal way to do it. A lot of people don’t understand what’s going on, so it’s better to do in person.”

She enjoyed working in an office building off I-65, but doesn’t miss commuter traffic, getting dressed for work, or crowds of people. In a way, working at home suits her. She finds it quiet and relaxing.

“I’m an introvert at heart,” Baltimore said, “and now it’s just me.”


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