Hi all, I am Big Tuna (shout out to all Office fans) and will be posting periodically my experiences as an intern.
Monday, July 27, 2009
1:05 PM 26 comments
I am currently a Sophomore going on Junior in Fall as an Accounting major. I work in internal audit of a large corporation in the Southwestern United States. That's all I will reveal of my identity for obvious reasons.
I hope to enlighten you with some insider knowledge of what it is like to work in the audit department for a non-accounting company.
But what is Internal Audit? In any large company, there must be measures and safeguards in place to ensure maximum efficiency and compliance with regulations. Internal auditors are the people that check on just about every aspect of the company to ensure accuracy and efficiency. For example, internal audit would audit everything from payroll to fleet maintenance. And then an external audit group (like PWC or another Big 4) comes in and audits whatever it is that they audit (I'm not too familiar about this end of it).
So you ask yourself, why go into internal audit? Well I've been asking myself the same question. I've been here almost three months and still have yet to see any meaningfulness in this work. From what I gather through conversations with the auditors, it appears that most do not really enjoy work. I can kind of see why. Imagine this: You are assigned to audit the Fuels Purchasing department (assume you work in a factory that buys a lot of fuel for its operations). Oh wow, this should be fun, you think to yourself. Wrong. You ask the supervisor in Fuels for a stack of purchase orders. After much hemming and hawing they finally allow you to borrow their original copies just long enough for you to make copies. You rush back and make the copies (meaning you make the intern do it). Then the testing begins. For those of you who are unfamiliar with auditing, to "test" means you pretty much find some samples of whatever it is you're auditing. In each sample you have a master sheet with supporting documents/sources. Then you find a few numbers on the master sheet, and you flip through till you find those numbers in your source docs, you tick and tie them, then you do it again for your entire stack of samples. Great fun. It gets really old really quickly when you realize that you're pretty much making little marks with red pencil for hours on end by checking documents that are accurate for the most part. Granted, without this deterrent could be rampant fraud and waste, etc, but that's beside the point.
The thing you have to keep in mind with internal audit is that you are working with the same documents, same departments, and same procedures year after year with the rare addition or removal of a department. So if you are the type of person who likes to audit a lot of different companies and different industries, etc, you might not want to do internal audit since you don't really get to work with anything outside of your company. At the same time, it has been said that working in internal audit gives you a really good insight and perspective on how a company is run, because you get to see all the different parts of a company that all somehow connect together to form a well oiled corporation machine. This allgedly is good for those looking to eventually run their own companies or hold an executive position of some sort. But even this is over-hyped. More on this in a later post. Oh, and the other thing about internal audit is you don't get to travel nearly as much as external auditors, because everything you're auditing is in the same building. The hours are also a lot more manageable. Nobody here goes over 40 hours a week (at least so far from May - July)
I guess from what I've seen so far, my recommendation for those looking to pursue a career in auditing is this: If you don't have much of an imagination, enjoy working by yourself a lot, don't mind monotonous work, have attention to detail, enjoys following instructions, don't mind doing work that seems pointless (in your mind), and wants a steady paycheck, then I'd say auditing is for you.
However, if you have a free and entreprenural spirit, enjoy interacting with others, want workdays that offer something new and different each day, then I would say stay the hell away from internal (and possibly external) audit.
In my next post I will reveal some personal insight of my co-workers, some of the duties I do as an intern here, and more on life as an auditor.