Posted on September 5, 2017 by Guest Blogger
Every year the NAO hosts a 9 week Summer Internship aimed at second year university students from a diverse range of backgrounds, and is a great opportunity for those interested in audit and accounting. Kevser is currently studying Maths at Queen Mary University and Fis is studying French and Arabic at the University of Oxford. They are both penultimate year students who completed a 9 week summer internship at the NAO and took part in a graduate assessment centre for the opportunity to join the 2018 trainee intake.
Why did you apply?
K: I applied for the summer internship because I am interested in auditing, and in particular public sector audit. I hope to study for the ACA and their 91% pass rate at the advanced stage was very encouraging. There is also a lot of flexibility around study leave to ensure that the assistant auditors can prepare for their exams.
What advice would you give to young people wanting to apply?
K: It’s important to tailor your application to the NAO competencies. There are 8 in total, which can all be found on the official website. Make sure you demonstrate these throughout the application process with plenty of examples.
How did you make the most of the internship?
F: Be yourself – YOU are your biggest selling point. Be confident in the value that you bring to the table, in terms of your previous experience, your ideas, your skills and your strengths! People will appreciate your authenticity rather than listening to you sound rehearsed.
K: Take on challenges – Once you are here, enjoy the experience and take on challenges like doing team meeting presentations. Everyone on your team will be happy to hear about your experiences, and even any recommendations that you might have. This will encourage you to come out of your comfort zone and will be an amazing opportunity for you to develop your personal skills.
F: Feel free to ask questions – From very technical questions like “Where do you see the NAO in ten years?” to even asking what acronyms mean (you will hear the words C&AG at least once a day!), you shouldn’t feel afraid to be upfront about not knowing something. The information you can gain from working at the NAO is very wide-ranging and I know personally that some of the knowledge I’ve gained will most definitely be taken forward with me because it’s so relevant to other areas of life.
What are things that you wish you’d known before coming to the NAO?
K: More insight into the teams we are allocated to – Although we did receive some information about the different clusters at the NAO, a more personalised email highlighting the roles of our own departments could have been more useful.
F: Working styles – There are a variety of ways to work while at the NAO. In some office environments, it can be easy to fall into one specific way of working and that is silently! However, it’s perfectly acceptable at the NAO to work in whichever way you feel comfortable, be that with headphones plugged in, speaking with team members around you or totally silent with your head down. All of these ways are totally respected!
What did you enjoy the most?
K: I enjoyed leading my own project with the MESH team – I was given a lot of responsibility early on and this encouraged me to step up and get out of my comfort zone. Having no previous knowledge around accounting estimates and methods of auditing, I managed to pick up so much in a short amount of time with the support of other NAO staff. During this project I had to meet MESH leads, who were often managers, to discuss the accounting estimates/models. This significantly improved my confidence.
What is the most interesting thing that you’ve learnt here?
F: I was interested to learn that there are opportunities to travel abroad while working at the NAO. As a modern languages student, I was pleasantly surprised that it would be possible to put my knowledge of different languages and cultures to use, because of the wide potential for international audit work here.
What do you hope to see added to the internship in the future?
More intern projects K and F: We have really enjoyed collaborating to write this blog post and we also took the initiative to film a video with the other interns of our experience at the NAO. These group exercises were great for building up our personal skills, such as good teamwork, planning and organisational skills, ambition and presentation skills. We really think the inclusion of more intern projects would be a good idea for next year as it’s been a lot of fun but we’ve also ending up producing lasting things that we’re really proud of and we can take these accomplishments away with us, feeling that we’ve really added value to the NAO.