I am honored to be the only African American student who represented The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, through my participation in the 2018 pilot class of the "Crowe on Campus" Centralized Audit Services Team (CAST) Internship Program. It has been quite memorable. I hope to set an example for those to come by inspiring others to not be afraid to take initiative and be a trailblazer.
Working with the CAST- Audit team, I was gaining the same experience as staff auditors, and was working on a variety of client engagements with teams across the country. This opportunity allowed me to apply classroom learning to real-life situations in order to enhance my audit learning experience and professional development. The Crowe intern experience has helped me improved my analytical and technical skills through Microsoft Office. Excel will become your best friend y'all. Moreover, I have grasped a stronger understanding of other software/database applications from training, to perform and execute audit practices including but not limited to: Cash, deposit, and loan reconciliation testing and data rollforwards. There definitely were ups and downs, and a few tears here and there from feeling overwhelmed. Working 3 three jobs while taking 17.5 credit hours this semester was not easy, but God saw me through because in one of my MOST busy semesters ever, I managed to turn last semester's 2.73 GPA into a 3.76 GPA this semester!!!
The mobile structure of the “Crowe on Campus” pilot internship program was convenient, as it allowed me to report to the business school to work, instead of commuting to the Columbus office when it was not feasible to do so in between classes. My career coach Alex and recruiter Gracie, amongst other Crowe professionals and fellow interns, supported me with advice and encouragement along the way. This experience will forever be valuable to me, because it was my first exposure to public accounting client services.
Below I have highlighted some of MY personal key lessons and takeaways from my internship experience and also included some advice I have for future student interns! Enjoy :) #InterningAtCrowe
MASTER your use of your back and shoulder strength.
I had to carry around 2 laptops (Personal and work) and a second monitor on my person across Ohio State University’s large campus. I definitely could use a shoulder massage right about now 🙃.
Advice: Carry around what you need on the go, and keep anything else in one spot to minimize what you have to carry on foot. Ladies, a book bag + a purse is one combination that eases some weight off of your back.
Chargeable time work...Is VERY different from regular shift to shift work.
At first, I did not understand that work availability and eligible chargeable time was not the same. Say, I have 30 hours of availability in my schedule for the week, I may only get to charge and get paid for only up to 20 hours depending on how productive I spent those 30 hours. Ex. If I plan to work 5 hours on Monday, but out of those 5 hours, I have a 30 min conversation with a co-worker about something completely unrelated to my client work, and then spend another 1 hour eating lunch and watching TV, and spent another 30 mins reading through work emails, and the remaining 3 hours on my computer actually completing my client work... then I can only charge the client for the 3 hours I spent working on their project.
Advice: Integrity is crucial. Determining what is considered chargeable or not takes lots of integrity, and accurate reporting of time takes a lot of attention to detail. I downloaded the HoursTracker App to clock in and out per client engagement, I highly recommended the app!
Meal prep AHEAD of time and carry a water bottle.
I never really packed my food until this semester. Not eating on Tuesdays until the free food from NABA student org meetings at 7pm was no longer cutting it. It is so easy to buy food on the go, and just eat whatever when you're really hungry.
Advice: Packing food prior to leaving your dorm/house for the day, is so helpful. If you're lazy when you first wake up in the morning, like me, then preparing your meal or snacks the night before makes it so much easier to grab it and go in the morning. This will save you from mid day stomach growls.
Know yourself & schedule ACCORDINGLY.
Tuesdays were my worst days of the week, but the best nights. On Tuesday, I had German class from 9:35-10:50am, Crowe internship 11-1pm, Legacy Scholars Student job 1-4pm (same building floor, where I worked for Crowe, but just across the hall from each other). Then, from 4-5pm I went back to my Crowe Internship, next my business analytics class was from 5:30-6:50pm, and finally the NABA student organization meetings were from 7-8:30pm. But, since I did not have class Mondays or Wednesdays, and was done with classes for the day by 11am on Thursdays, those were my main days to work as much as I could, visit my professor office hours, and schedule any other meetings. I struggled to get into the flow of my schedule for basically the entire first month. My class schedule kept fluctuating at first and I was still getting used to all the new changes. With 17.5 credit hours and 40+ work hours per week, I not only earned Dean's List, I surpassed it with a whopping 3.76 GPA.
Advice: If you're going to intern while taking classes, create a class schedule that will work with your internship requirements... and STICK to it. A schedule you don't respect is useless, and don't burn yourself out! Manage your free time and treat yo self sis! (There's nothing wrong with watching Netflix every so often). However, keep in mind what someone else can/can't do, may or may not work for you too. Know your OWN limits, and break through barriers!
I am sure you have heard this so many times, but lemme tell you it is easier said than done!! With it being busy season it was much tougher for me to feel comfortable asking questions, because everyone was so tied down with their own individual responsibilities. However, sitting around confused with no idea of what to do or how to move forward in my project goes back to Lesson #2... Sitting in confusion started eating into the amount of time I could actually charge the client for.
Advice: It is better to ask questions as much as necessary, than not to. It is also important to find the balance between asking questions when you have spent time to understand something and are still confused, vs. when you ask immediately without even giving it much thought just yet.
Ask the RIGHT questions & learn how to handle potentially shady answers.
LOL. This is an interesting one. Man oh man, I remember asking something, because I already spent lots of time trying to figure it out, and was still genuinely confused. The person responded "It doesn't just come out of thin air... you have to request the document." Their sarcasm made me feel dumb, and while the attitude in her response may have been unnecessary, learning how to keep your emotions in check is super important.
Advice: Keep it professional and classy, ya heard! Should you have any serious concerns more than some shady Skype messages, be sure to speak up for yourself and express your concerns to someone you trust either within the firm or an external mentor.
Be grateful and express it, be polite but don't be annoying.
Many of us, like myself, grew up thinking saying sorry and thank you all the time was the polite thing to do, and while it is... it can get annoying. It is important to be grateful and express it, but also be cognizant of people's time in your approach. Additionally, saying sorry for every little thing is not always politeness, it can make people take you less seriously. Apologizing for regular human things (like being confused) is actually ridiculous if you think about it. This is one of the most useful advice one of my favorite mentors Mariah Scott gave me.
Advice: "You don't want to be remembered for being the person who apologized for every little thing all the time," Mariah told me. I began understanding what she meant during my internship. This Forbes article: "10 Things to Never Apologize for Again" is a great read, as it goes more in depth of how saying sorry more than necessary can potentially be counterproductive.
Key Takeaways & Benefits:
I learned audit procedures (cash/deposit reconciliations & database rollforwards) on the job in a fast paced real world setting, before taking my first audit course in school. 🙌🏿
I didn't have to give up an entire semester and rearrange my 4-year academic plan to make this internship fit into my schedule.
I improved my Microsoft Office and other software application and project management skills.