The internship program was implemented by the Department of Internal Audits during the Spring of 2006. The opportunity to participate in the internship is offered to senior accounting students at VSU who show an interest in the auditing profession and who wish to gain professional experience in a work environment similar to one they may encounter after graduation. Students interested in participating in this program should contact their Auditing professor. The faculty sponsor for Fall 2012 is Dr. Tanya Lee.
The Accounting Internship Program at Valdosta State University (VSU) was developed as a solution to two challenges facing the Internal Audit Department at VSU:
- Audit the campus every three to five years and
- Support the University’s long-term goals of excellence in learning and effective resource utilization.
The program is designed to give senior year accounting students the opportunity to participate in a work environment similar to one they might encounter when they begin their professional careers after college graduation, to gain valuable experience in audit procedures and communications with clients and to develop professional skills and attitudes to enhance the furtherance of their careers.
The Department of Internal Audits at Valdosta State University is a small department with a big mission. Our defined role is that we are an independent, objective assurance and consulting entity charged with adding value and improving the organization. Our departmental goals include providing audit coverage of the University within a three to five year cycle. We also strive to be an integral part of the University. By fulfilling our mission and achieving our goals, we are at the forefront of supporting the long term goals and strategic plans of VSU. These goals include excellence in student learning and retention and effective resource utilization.
Our Department has been in existence since 1991 and today employs three people: the Director and two full time staff auditors. This size department limits the number of audits and consequently the amount of audit coverage that can be achieved in a year’s time. So, the questions arose – how could we reach our goal of auditing the campus every three to five years while supporting the long-term goals of excellence in learning and effective resource utilization? Since students are the University’s largest resource, what better way to accomplish these two goals than engaging the students in some audit work!
Beginning with spring semester 2006, our Department partnered with VSU's business school, the Langdale College of Business Administration, to give senior accounting students an opportunity to serve as interns for the Department of Internal Audits. In addition to receiving course credit, the students gain valuable, hands-on audit experience to help prepare them for their first professional jobs after graduation. The University gains the benefit of additional audit coverage at reduced costs. The original idea was one student intern assisting with current audits. The program has grown to include as many as ten student interns.
Accounting Internship - The audit internship is a three credit hour class requiring the application of academic accounting skills and values in an employment situation. A research project, approved by a faculty member and the Department of Internal Audits, is required. The work schedule for this course is flexible with much of the work accomplished after hours. Meetings and field work could be scheduled far enough in advance to be convenient for the clients, the student auditors, and the staff auditors. Prerequisite: Faculty approval.
Selection of Students - Senior year accounting majors who have completed a course in Auditing are encouraged to submit a resume to the faculty sponsor. Selected individuals should possess the following traits: responsibility, analytic ability, curiosity, and the ability to maintain confidentiality.
Selection of Audits - Audits selected are expected to be interesting and challenging to the students, but not beyond the abilities of a first year staffer; audits will be diverse in scope, but should fit well in the allotted time frame. Once we have made our selections, the appropriate Department Heads and Vice-Presidents will be contacted to gain their support for students working in their area. Fortunately, our University is staffed with many devoted leaders who view this internship as a great learning experience for the students and many have expressed their excitement to be a part of it.
The Department Head for Accounting & Finance, the Assistant Professor for Auditing, the staff auditors for Internal Audits and the Audit Director will meet with the students as a group the first day of class. At the meeting, the student will be given their group assignments and will appoint a leader to act as spokesperson and to keep the group focused, motivated and on target with their work.
During this hour, students will be given their first look at the work to be completed during the semester. The students will be performing an actual audit from start to finish, including planning, analyzing, testing, making recommendations and report writing. An “Audit Guide” will be provided and reviewed in class. This guide includes a description of the purpose of the Internal Audit Department, steps for departmental reviews, and items that should be included in planning the audit. Also included are a sample report, an estimated time schedule for their project, task codes to be used for time reporting, and an evaluation form to be completed at the end of the semester. The Code of Conduct, an appropriate dress code, and some useful websites will also be discussed.
The Office of Internal Audits is very concerned about maintaining confidentiality. This will be stressed at the first meeting, and each intern will be responsible for signing a document stating they have read, understood, and agreed to abide by the Rules of Conduct as set forth by the Institute of Internal Auditors. The importance of confidentiality may be repeated throughout the semester; the interns must take this charge seriously and act in a professional manner.
Performing the Audits:
Weekly group meetings will be held throughout the semester. At each meeting we will review the group’s accomplishments, discuss and resolve any problems that have arisen, outline a plan for the following week and ascertain progress with remaining goals to completion. The work will include interviewing clients, understanding and creating flow charts of the business processes, identifying areas of control risk, developing audit objectives, testing and analysis, and writing the audit plan. The students will visit the clients’ offices, and perform field work on their own. A staff auditor or the audit director may join them for the initial interviews, cash counts, or whenever students express uncertainty about the work they are to perform. The students will draft recommendations as the work progresses, and will draft the audit report after the field work is completed. If the audits are completed before the end of the semester, the students will be able to participate in the exit interviews, make recommendations to the clients, evaluate the clients’ responses and see the finished product.
The students will be introduced to electronic workpapers. This will reduce the time spent on preparing notebooks, organizing, and reviewing the working papers. It will also give students the experience they are more likely to encounter when they begin their first jobs.
A final presentation is part of the course requirements. The presentation will solidify the experience for the interns as they review the procedures they followed in setting and accomplishing their goals. This presentation will be given to all the interns, the professor, and perhaps other accounting and auditing classes. This exercise will mimic the presenting of a finished project to colleagues, supervisors, and other interested parties.
The internship provides measurable value to our department and the University. We are able to complete additional audits, bringing us closer to our goal of complete audit coverage. Students find it very worthwhile by gaining meaningful experience in audit planning and preparation, working with clients, performing field work and analytical review, and report writing.