Andrew O'Neal

  • Office: Dallas
  • Practice: Audit
  • School: Southern Methodist University

Andrew's Journal

PART 1

Driving to the KPMG office building in Dallas on the first day of my internship, my mind was racing. I was excited to finally get some real world accounting experience, applying what I had learned in school for the past two years, but slightly nervous, because I wanted to perform well and meet the expectations of my co-workers. I knew the internship would be challenging, but I felt ready for this challenge and knew that it was a great opportunity for me to learn, network, and grow professionally.

The internship began with two days of local office training. This was a great chance to meet the interns who I would be working with throughout the winter and get acquainted with KPMG policy and procedure. During training I received a laptop, was set-up on the KPMG network, and began taking online tutorials that discussed KPMG audit procedures and firm policy. At night, KPMG sponsored social events that allowed me to meet the other interns in my class. Fortunately, people quickly realized that it was okay to socialize with interns from rival universities and that everyone was now united under KPMG blue and white. These social events were a great opportunity to learn more about the other interns and begin building friendships. During local office training I was also assigned a Peer Buddy, who is a first year at the firm and serves as a mentor. The Peer Buddy program has already proven to be a valuable resource for me and has made the transition to KPMG extremely smooth. The greatest value in having a Peer Buddy is that they were interns not too long ago themselves, which allows them to provide great support and give helpful advice.

After two days of local office training, National Intern Training began. National training was held in Dallas, and since my internship is in the Dallas office I did not have to travel. There were, however, interns from all over the country who flew to Dallas for the training. As compared to local office training, which focused on KPMG policy and procedure, national training was focused on teaching technical skills that would be useful as I worked on different engagements throughout the internship. I was very impressed by how productive and organized national training was, given that there were so many interns at one location. Each day the interns were broken into small groups of approximately 20 people, who were then separated into various classrooms where two KPMG professionals led the daily trainings. This was a great environment because it gave me the chance to meet interns from other offices and, because of the small numbers in each classroom, I was able to receive one-on-one attention from instructors that helped solidify the technical skills being taught.

National Intern Training also proved to be a great networking opportunity. Each night KPMG either provided the interns with a food allowance or hosted an organized event. Realizing that most of the interns from out-of-town were unfamiliar with Dallas, a few Dallas interns and I decided to organize a large dinner at a restaurant on the first night. The dinner was a huge success and I remember having to continually add chairs to our tables because so many people ended up coming. I remember sitting next to an intern from the Kansas City office who was going to work abroad for half of the internship through KPMG's Global Internship Program. He was very excited about the opportunity and I look forward to hearing from him about the experience. The second night of national training was also very memorable. KPMG hosted an organized bowling event, which gave me the chance to socialize and network with other interns in a more relaxed atmosphere. Socializing, however, was not the only thing that took place that night as we were there to bowl! In order to support KPMG's Family for Literacy program, (which works to improve literacy rates at schools around the country), one book was donated for every X number of pins that were knocked down. By the end of the night we had knocked down enough pins to donate 1,442 books to the program!

It was hard to believe that so much had been accomplished in just one week. I worked hard, learned a lot, had an amazing time, and met some great people. Next week I'll start my first engagement. After so much training, I feel well prepared and look forward to the experience.

PART 2

This week I began a new engagement on an out-of-town client. On Monday morning I arrived at the Love Field Airport in Dallas at 6:30 a.m. in order to catch a 7:40 a.m. flight. The airport was buzzing with other professionally dressed people and it was fun to finally be a part of that business atmosphere. After checking my luggage and getting through security, I made my way to the departure gate where I met the members of my new engagement team. My team consisted of another intern, a second year associate, and two senior associates. They were all very welcoming and, after a short flight, we arrived in Midland, Texas.

The week was filled with hard work and invaluable learning experiences. Since the filing deadline for the client was quickly approaching, and there was still a lot of audit work left to perform, I had the opportunity to work on some great projects. The team did not think of me as an intern, but instead as a co-worker, and relied on me to complete some work that was very meaningful towards completing the audit. My main projects during the week were auditing stockholders equity, which consisted of working on restricted stock, stock options and the calculation of earnings per share, and the debt roll forward. The work was challenging, but the team gave me great support and I feel like I made positive contributions to the audit.

Not only did I learn a lot about auditing during the week, I also learned a lot about the other members of my engagement team. Being out of town, the team spends a lot of time together. I especially enjoyed eating dinner every night as a team. It is rare to spend so much quality time with senior members of the firm outside of the business environment, so I decided to take full advantage of the opportunity. I asked a lot of questions, but listened and observed even more. I learned about KPMG's culture, work/life balance, and the motivations and challenges of auditing. The team was very diverse with unique perspectives and I really enjoyed getting to know them on a personal level. One member grew up in Africa, went to college in Hawaii and is very involved in community service, while another member pursued a career in ballet for two years before going back to school to become an accountant.

This week showed me the importance of not only enjoying the work component of a job, but also the people that you are working with. I learned a lot about accounting and auditing throughout the week, which is great, but the team truly made the experience incredible.

PART 3

One of the best things about interning at KPMG is the mentoring culture. Even as an intern, I have mentors at many levels within the firm. This weekend I had lunch with one of my mentors, who happens to be a Partner that I've known since the recruiting process began during my junior year in college. It is very comforting to know that I can be open with such a senior member of KPMG. At lunch we discussed how my internship was going, options for attending graduate school next year, and life outside of work. He has been a great source of support and advice throughout the internship, and I appreciate the open relationship that we have.

Following a good weekend and lunch with my mentor, I began another week of my internship in high spirits. The week was going to be a new experience because we were scheduled to sign off on the client by Friday. Monday started with an up-beat tempo as the team was eager and excited to finish the audit. I began by tying out the 10-K provided by the client. This job entailed connecting the numbers in our test work with the numbers that the client had in their financial statements, which shows that we agree with the client's numbers. It was a hard job as it was very detail oriented, but it was a great learning opportunity because it allowed me to learn a lot about the structure of a 10-K and how the numbers flow throughout the financial statements. The week ended as quickly as it began, and the Partner on the engagement was able to sign off by the end of the week. The sense of closure associated with the completion of the audit felt great, and I was happy to have been a part of the team.

Even though the audit was wrapped up, there was still one last thing that had to be done before I left on Friday. Since this was the last day of the audit, and thus the last day for me on this client, I had to sit down with my in-charge (senior associate) for an engagement review over my performance. KPMG's policy is that every intern must be formally reviewed if they work more than 40 hours on any engagement. Although the review may sound intimidating, it is exactly the opposite. The review is a great opportunity to learn and grow as an auditor and professional. During my review, the in-charge and I had an open conversation that was very comfortable and productive. He gave me great feedback on what I had done well during the engagement, as well as ways that I could continue to learn and improve my audit skills. I really enjoyed my time working on this client, largely due to the great team working with me, but I was looking forward to the following week and the start of a new engagement.

PART 4

This week I had the opportunity to choose between working on two different engagements. The first engagement was one that I had previously worked on at the beginning of the internship, while the other would have been a new engagement for me. I chose the engagement that I had previously worked on because I really enjoyed the KPMG team on this client and I am very interested in this client's particular industry. One thing that I learned quickly about KPMG is that, even though it is a global company, it has a very personable feel and everyone that works here is given a lot of flexibility and choices, including interns.

The week started off quickly and did not slow down. Thankfully I have gotten used to these busy weeks, so I am not as shocked on Monday morning when the team is already in full gear at 9 a.m. The engagement team working on this client is particularly large. In one conference room there are seven associates and two interns, including myself, and in the next room there are three senior associates, two managers, and one partner. Even though it is a big team, everyone knows each other really well and it is a great environment. Something that I really like about this team is their willingness to help me when I need assistance. I have never had a question go unanswered or anyone get upset when I make a mistake. This has allowed me to feel very comfortable, which in turn has helped me learn a lot while working with this engagement team. Also contributing to the positive atmosphere is the highly anticipated "Four O'clock Funny" each day, which is when someone on the team shares a funny story or joke in order to take a quick mental break. I also really enjoy the weekly "Lunch and Learn," in which we order in lunch and the Partner and Managers answer any questions we have about accounting, the economy, etc. Small things like this are a lot of fun and help to make the KPMG culture so unique.

Not only is the engagement team and atmosphere great, but the work is equally enjoyable. This week I have done test work on unrecorded liabilities, helped to confirm the accuracy of the client's valuations, and tied out several financial statements. Not only is this work interesting to me, but I now feel comfortable performing the test work because I have seen similar tasks before. Having interned for a few weeks now, I am starting to repeat work that I performed on previous engagements. This has given me a great opportunity to see how much I have learned throughout the internship and I can feel myself working faster with fewer questions. It is very rewarding and motivating to realize how much I have learned in such a short period of time. Next week I will be working on the same engagement, which I am happy about. I am also excited because we are scheduled to sign off on the client's financial statements. It should be a great week, with plenty of opportunities for me to learn and grow as an accountant.

PART 5

This week was very busy because the client I was working on had several sets of financial statements that were scheduled to be issued. In order to meet these deadlines the engagement team had to be very focused and efficient throughout the week. Each day we set goals as a team and worked until they had been accomplished. The days were long, averaging 15-16 hours, but I was surprised by how quickly I adjusted to this work schedule. It is also easier to work late when the whole engagement team is alongside you working. For most of the week I worked on tying out the financial statements, which consisted of making sure the numbers in the 10-K were mathematically accurate and ensuring that KPMG's test work supported these numbers. It was a great learning experience and gave me a great chance to see how KPMG uses its test work to support the accuracy of the 10-K.

Even though we worked long hours, I had the chance to have some great conversations with the Managers and Partner on the engagement. They shared their experiences when they were first starting at KPMG and offered me some great advice. Throughout the internship I have been continually impressed by the accessibility of the Managers and Partners on my engagements and very thankful and surprised by their willingness to spend time offering me advice and answering my questions. One of the Managers I spoke with specialized in financial services, which is the industry group I am interested in, and he encouraged me to pursue this interest and assured me that KPMG would work hard to place me on several different financial services clients. This was very reassuring and another example of how KPMG works hard to support its employees and their interests.

Since the internship is coming to a close, I met with my Performance Manager this week to review my performance. We also reviewed the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the internship to see if I had achieved them. It was a very productive meeting and at the end I was extended a full time offer. I was very excited to receive an offer because I had really enjoyed the people, the firm, and the work over the course of the internship. I also really liked my fellow interns and had made some really great friends. It is nice going back to school knowing that I have a job, and I am very proud to say that I will be working for KPMG.

Fun Facts

  • Are you involved in any on-campus clubs or activities?

    I am the academic chair of an organization called Si Puedes. Si Puedes is an organization that provides mentors and positive role models for grade school and middle school students in the Dallas Inner City School District. During each meeting we also conduct fun, interactive activities to introduce the kids to different career choices. I am also in a social fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha.

    What are your favorite TV shows?

    My favorite T.V. shows are Wall Street Warriors and SportsCenter.
  • What do you do for fun/hobbies?

    My two biggest hobbies are photography and running.

    What are the top 3 reasons you chose KPMG for your internship?

    1) I really liked all of the people I met during the recruiting process and knew that I would be able to work hard with them while also having a lot of fun.
    2) KPMG has great clients and engagements that I wanted to work on.
    3) KPMG's training programs are unmatched and it is a company where I knew I could grow professionally and technically.
  • What do you do for fun/hobbies?

    My two biggest hobbies are photography and running.

    What is the last book you read?

    The last book I read was “Enough,” which was written by the founder of Vanguard, John Bogle.

    What advice would you offer to a student just beginning the recruiting/application process?

    Be proactive and don’t be afraid to ask questions. My experience has been that most people in public accounting are very personable and are eager to help you through the recruiting process.