The Columns

Sydney Internship and Study Abroad Program: Amanda Whalen ’18

— by on February 27th, 2017

I am blown away by how much I have learned, both about auditing and about the different industries of the clients that I have been assigned to.

Growing up, I always loved to travel; I believe the only way to truly understand a culture is to immerse yourself in it. Applying to college in high school, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to spend an entire semester in another country, experiencing a different culture. Junior year came way more quickly than expected, however, and suddenly I realized I had to make two important decisions: where I would study abroad and where I would apply for internships the next summer. After spending all of August before junior year researching different internship and study abroad programs, I quickly became overwhelmed with all the options and trying to figure out how timing would work out with being abroad and then returning for a summer internship. Upon returning to campus in the fall, I heard about the Sydney Study Abroad and Winter Internship combined program and was immediately interested in the opportunity. Although I always imagined myself studying abroad in Europe, after a Spring Term in Copenhagen my sophomore year, I was ready to explore a completely different area of the world. Not to mention that the inclusion of a winter internship made the program hard to pass up. After spending most of fall semester attending recruiting events and interviewing with different Big Four accounting firms, I accepted an offer for an auditing internship with Ernst and Young at their Columbus, Ohio office.

Six weeks ago, I was flown to Chicago along with every other Assurance Intern in EY’s Midwest region for a week-long orientation. The first half of the week was an introduction to EY as a company and the second half of the week was a crash course in auditing. And I mean a crash course! There were so many new acronyms and phrases being thrown around and when I left I honestly remembered none of them. Thankfully once I started working with clients, my team walked me through everything I needed to know.

Now that I am five weeks into the internship, and only have one week left, I am blown away by how much I have learned, both about auditing and about the different industries of the clients that I have been assigned to. One of my favorite parts about my internship at a public accounting firm so far has been my exposure to clients in multiple industries. So far, I have worked on a major pharmaceutical distributor, a real-estate investment trust that owns malls and retail spaces all throughout the United States, and another real-estate fund that owns hotels. With each new client, I am curious and excited to see how this client would differ from my previous one.

Aside from the actual work, I have enjoyed all of the people that I have worked with and gotten to know through this internship and the flexibility offered by EY. Despite being in the thick of busy season, my team still makes time for their own traditions such as going out together for dinner and drinks on Thursday night, rather than ordering into the office, and ending work at four on Fridays, even if it means putting in a few hours on Saturday. Additionally, the team puts an emphasis on being able to accommodate each member’s “QOL” (quality of life) goals, a concept EY promotes throughout the company. For example, several of my team members wanted to take a longer lunch so they could go back to their hotel and work out. To make up for the lost time, they came in early each day. I decided that I really wanted to travel down to Lexington to visit friends before I left for Australia and the team was very accepting of me taking a half-day off on a Friday as long as I put in longer hours earlier that week. I have definitely enjoyed the flexibility that EY promotes and the value the company places on work-life balance.

The Columbus internship program includes more than just the work component. There are several dinners and intern events put in place to promote bonding and to make us feel welcome. One week, all the interns and several full-time staff met for dinner at a popular pizza place in Columbus. The dinner was a great way to get to know many of the current employees and to catch up with the other interns, whom I hadn’t seen since orientation. I got to connect with some of the staff that were on the same client that I am on in a few weeks. After dinner, the interns all participated in an Escape Room which was a fun end to the night (even though we were unsuccessful in our escape).

As the internship is coming to end, I am amazed at how much I have learned. While this has been an amazing opportunity, I am definitely getting ready to be out of the office and exploring the beauty of Australia!

-Amanda Whalen ’18