Career Options: Audit Intern

ImageHave you ever wondered what it would be like to work in a certain career or hold a specific position? I wanted to give you all some insight as to what it was like for me to be an Audit Intern at a medium sized CPA firm. I wanted to inform you what my day entailed. Lastly, I wanted to give you some insight as to how to get such a position.

What I Did…

Please understand that every position and company can be different, so I am only writing about my own experiences. The company that I worked for mostly audited government agencies, so the busy season came during the second half of the year. While I was in school, we agreed I would work 3 eight hour days during the week. Because the company was smaller than a Big 4 accounting firm, I got a wider range of duties than the average intern. My travel ranged from 5 minutes to 2 hours depending on which organization we were auditing.

My day consisted of reviewing financial statements and making sure the information was correct. Each line item in the financial statement had a to-do list that needed to be completed. We were there to prove what was on the financial statements was correct. Sometimes that meant witnessing the inventory ourselves or selecting samples documentation to make sure the procedures were followed correctly. At the end of the audit, I would be the final editor. I would check spelling, grammar, and the math of the final financial statement.

What is was like…

If you are one of those people who likes to work by yourself, this may be a good position for you. To me, the job was very lonely. You typically did your work at the agency that you were auditing. Most of the time those employees did not was to talk to you because they were scared of you. At times, we had a group of auditors in a conference room, so I did get to work in a group setting. As an auditor you are required to travel, so you may have to spend the night out of town. It is important to understand the difference between and internal; and external auditor. I was external, meaning I was coming in from the outside and I did not work for the agency itself. I was hired by the agency to do a job.

The position pays well, especially for a student. I have seen hourly wages range from $15-30/hour. If income it important to you, this may be an ideal position.

The hours count towards your CPA experience. If you are working under a CPA, your hours will count towards your CPA certification. You do not have to graduate to start the work experience portion of the CPA certification.

You can move up pretty quickly. If you work hard and pass your CPA exam it is rather easy to keep moving up in these type of organizations. The supply of good, hard-working, Certified Public Accountants is just not as high as the demand. I know many people who pass their exam and got an immediate bump in salary and tittle within the company.

How to get the job…

Start looking early. Most people wait until the last semester to look for an internship. Most organization that I spoke to at Meet The Firms were wanting to hire students in the sophomore or junior year of college. If you get in early and work your but off, you will be ahead of the game.

Have the career center look at your resume. You would hate for a small mistake to keep you from getting that dream job.

Get great grades. Most accounting positions or internships had a minimum GPA requirement, especially in your accounting courses. Make sure you pay attention to your overall and major GPA.

Network! Get to know your classmates, your fellow accounting club members, your teachers, and the companies you want to work for. I first went to an informational meeting for the CPA firm, through the accounting club. Then I introduced myself again at Meet The Firms. After meeting them a few times and keeping in contact, they offered me an interview.

Ace the interview. Review your material. Although if you get good grades, you should understand the basic questions they may throw at you. Review the job description and what you talked about in past conversations. Think about what the company wants and how you can fill that for them. Dress the part, I have never seen an accounting interview that was less than business professional. Practice, Practice, Practice. I used the career center to get a mock interview.

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My First Networking Event-ASWA

MyBIZNet - Your Worldwide 'Business Networking...

MyBIZNet - Your Worldwide 'Business Networking' site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American Society of Women Accountants put on an event yearly, called ASWA Annual Student Night. They invite accounting staffing companies, Big 4 Accounting Firms, accounting review courses, accounting clubs, and small to medium size accounting firms. They also invite students from local schools and let them network and eat with these companies. You get to spend the first hour and a half networking, then you sit for dinner and listen to the speakers.

It was extremely nerve racking to get ready for such an event. I got my first suit, nice button up shirt, and close toed heels, so I could look professional for these potential employers. I took my resume in to get reviewed and brushed up on it right beforehand (although not a lot of employers ask for your resume right then and there). I got a portfolio with a notepad and wrote down a few notes. My notes consisted of important information I wanted to know and key points about the firms. I was nervous that the conversation would not flow, so I started to think of ways I could flow into the questions. Here is an example of the open ended questions I asked in order to keep the conversation flowing…

Make eye contact (make sure you are not interrupting another student)

Shake their hand and introduce yourself.

I then ask, so you work in Tax/Audit in ____________ company?

Why did you pick this area of accounting?

Do you get to Travel? How much?

Do you find that there is a nice work/life balance at this company?

What types of training programs do you provide for your employees?

Do you have any advice for me?

When do you hire for internships?

It was a pleasure to meet you,

Do you have a card, so maybe I could contact you again?

I am not an expert at this, again, this was my first event. These were the issues that were important to me, so please ask questions that you care about. I did cater my questions to the person who I was speaking to. For example, I would not ask a recruiter how much they travel, because I’m not looking to be a recruiter. I would not ask an Intern about what she looks for in a potential intern. Although Interns can be a good source of information for the internship life. Other notes I wrote down, was key points about the firms that were attending. It seems a little silly to walk up to a Big 4 accounting firm and ask, so who are you? Write down information from heir websites. There are examples of what I wrote down…

Where are they located?

Are they Big 4?

Are they regional? International? Local?

Interesting facts from their website that you can bring up in a conversation?

Overall, this was a GREAT experience. Even if I don’t get that job from this event, The practice really helped me out for the big Meet The Firms event. I relaxed and realized that these people aren’t as scary as they may seem. They were actually very nice. They we

re there to answer our questions and we were there to ask questions. What do you know, a perfect fit!

By the way, on another note. I didn’t write down any notes during this event. I wish I would have. Now that it is the next day, I may be getting a few companies mixed up. So, my suggestion to anyone going to a networking event or job fair, please, write down what you liked and key points about the conversation. That way if you met this person again, like say, in an interview, you can bring it up again.

Please, comment if you have any questions or if you have any other ideas. I have plenty more of these events to attend.