Tips and Tricks to Landing an Internship
By Nancy Haig, CIA, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, CCEP, CFE, CRISC, CBA
Landing a position as an internal audit intern can be, at best, a significant first step toward a fulfilling career in an exciting profession. At the very least, an internal audit internship may offer students an organizational overview and additional knowledge of governance, risk, and compliance processes useful in any field.
As someone who has hired and mentored many internal audit interns, below are some tips that may be helpful to you.
Getting the interview:
- Ensure that you have a LinkedIn profile that is professional and up-to-date, and grow your network by adding professional contacts
- Include a “professional” photograph – a smartphone photo works well, if it’s a close-up headshot and you’re looking into the lens
- List business courses completed that demonstrate general knowledge that may be relevant to the position
- Specify any applications you use that may be relevant, especially ones in which you are certified (e.g., Microsoft Excel certification)
- Include extracurricular activities, including sports, volunteer positions, and jobs held during the school year or breaks, particularly highlighting leadership roles and any awards received
- Similarly, polish your resume to accentuate your academic, time management, and extracurricular achievements, including proficiency in applications — your resume should be a close match to your LinkedIn profile
- Work with your career development office, and monitor job postings through your college or university
- Target companies where you would like to work, and monitor external job posting sites
- Attend job fairs and other career events offered by your college or university
- If not already a member, consider getting a student membership with The IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors). Even if not a member, there is public information on The IIA website that may help you learn more about the profession
Succeeding in the interview process (whether it is in-person, a phone call, or through Skype):
- Do as much research on the company as you can before the interview, and be prepared to ask some questions based on your knowledge
- Be certain you know where to meet, if in-person, and how long it will take to get there
- If by phone or Skype, ensure that you will be in a place with limited distractions
- Be on time
- Look and/or sound professional
- Answer each question calmly and thoroughly
- Try to make the interview conversational, if possible, without “cutting off” the interviewer
- At the end of the interview, after asking your questions, thank the interviewer for their time, re-emphasize your interest, and enquire about next steps in the process
You’ve been selected as an intern! To get the most from your internship:
- Find out if your school provides scholastic credit for your internship, and if so, how many hours you may need to work and what forms you will need to complete
- Once you arrive, ask your manager what is important to them to ensure you are meeting goals, objectives, and expectations
- Let your manager know that, if possible, you would like to be part of a project, from start to finish
- Offer to take notes during opening meetings, interviews, and closing meetings
- Offer to draft observations and report sections — professional writing takes practice!
- Attend team meetings, and if you have thoughts about ways to make processes more efficient, speak up
- Be curious and inquisitive, and ask questions if you don’t understand something
- Be upfront about your schedule with your manager — most should understand there will be times when your course load or other obligations have become more demanding than anticipated
- Attend, if possible, lunches or other events for interns outside of internal audit, to expand your circle of connections
- Send invitations to all of your new contacts to connect on LinkedIn
- Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your internship, responsibilities, and specific accomplishments, keeping in mind not to share confidential company information
- At the end of your internship, if there is no formal performance appraisal process, ask that your manager discuss with you your strengths and weaknesses
- Request that your manager add your updated resume to the company’s database, for future employment consideration
If you have other tips, or questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I can be reached at Nancy_Haig@piacllc.com.
Nancy Haig, CIA, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, CCEP, CFE, CRISC, CBA, most recently implemented and led both the internal audit and compliance functions for a global professional services firm. While at the firm, she also successfully implemented an internship program, mentoring nearly 20 students. She currently serves the internal audit profession as a member of The IIA’s North American and Global Boards of Directors.