Sarah Hutson

  • Office: Indianapolis
  • Practice: Audit
  • School: Taylor University

Sarah's Journal

PART 1

As I walked into the KPMG Indianapolis office for my first day of work, I was very aware of two things: (1) the butterflies in my stomach were slightly more active than usual and, (2) my body was definitely not used to waking so early in the morning. When I arrived at the office, I had no idea what to expect, but what I found exceeded my expectations. A warm welcome from the recruiting team and office manager, as well as a buffet of fabulous breakfast food awaited my arrival. I met the other interns, exchanged names and made introductions — all while thoroughly enjoying my breakfast.

Thus was the start of my summer at KPMG and it has continued to exceed my expectations. As I reflect over the past month, I cannot believe how much I have learned and how many amazing new people I have met. We kicked off our internship with a four day long national training session in Chicago. While there, we were given the opportunity to network with other interns from across the nation, learn technical training specific to our practice, and get a better feel for KPMG's corporate culture. Much of our time was spent in the classroom learning about our field. As an audit intern, I practiced with realistic simulation software and learned an incredible amount in such a short span of time. To keep up the pace of the class, games and brief breaks were interspersed throughout. Our instructors not only explained the material, but also used their work experience to provide interesting examples of the practical applications of what we were learning. While I enjoyed learning more about the KPMG's auditing methodology, I also loved getting to know the other interns. My birthday happened to fall over the training week, which initially left me a little disappointed that I would not be home to celebrate with friends and family. My doubts were quickly ended after day one of training. A Cubs game, new friends, and an exciting new city definitely made for one of my best birthdays yet. I genuinely enjoyed getting to know everyone at training and hope to maintain these connections in the years to come.

While training definitely got me pumped to start actual work on clients, I was still a little nervous for my first day "on the job." Now that I've been working a few weeks, it still never ceases to amaze me 1) how great my seniors have been and 2) how much I've learned. Instead of tossing us work and expecting us to figure it out (which was my worst fear coming out of such extensive training), they took the time to explain not the just the task, but the reasoning behind it. All of my seniors have been open to questions and encourage them. They reassured us that there is a huge learning curve, but that they would be there to support and help guide us. Speaking of guidance, we are also assigned to a mentor. This person is someone we can ask our "stupid questions" to and who will be there as a support system throughout our internship. I immediately connected with my mentor — not only were we close in age, but we had similar backgrounds. Our small private schools had been rivals, and it was refreshing to talk to someone who understood our traditions. At the close of the internship, I hope to not only have made a strong professional contact, but also a great friend.

Thus far, I've been exposed to a variety of different clients and work. My time is spent helping to complete test work, write memos, and provide documentation. This internship is truly unique in that interns are assigned much of the same work as first years — I have yet to make coffee! It has been a blast so far — and I'm sure that as I get adjusted, it is bound to get even better.

PART 2

After training, the weeks that followed flew by quickly. A typical day would find me arriving to the office (or more typically, the client site) at 8:00, grabbing a cup of coffee and spending the next few minutes getting caught up on e-mails. If I was at a client and in the audit room, I would usually spend this time getting caught up with my engagement team as well. After getting settled, I check in with my senior for the day's assignments. Thus far, my work has been varied and mirrors what might be typically expected of a first year. I have spent time working on test work (such as cash and accruals) and helping with documentation. I've also done lot of vouching (anything from checks to shipping documents to invoices), tying in, and sampling. Each day and each client finds me working on something new. I've also been relieved at how great my seniors have been about answering questions. They encourage questions and really make an effort to help me learn more about KPMG's audit methodology. Considering that some of KPMG's terminology and tick marks have seemed like learning a new foreign language, they've been a huge help.

After working through the morning, I'm always a little surprised when I check the clock and find that its lunch time. If I am at a client, the engagement team will go out to lunch together. This has been the perfect time for me to ask questions about life at KPMG and get to know my seniors on a more personal level. If I am working from the office, I'll either go out to lunch with the audit team, or catch up with the other interns. We usually take about an hour break for lunch, and then head back to finish up work for the day. During the summer, the audit work level is lighter — a definite contrast from the spring busy season. Because of this, we are usually done working by 5 or 6 pm. However, this past week I was able to get a little taste of the busy season with a 6/30 year end client. We would work until 7 or 8 pm most days, and then take home work to finish for a couple hours each night. While these hours are definitely not the same as busy season, it still gave me some insight into something other than our typical summer schedule.

Now that I have been working for a few weeks, I feel like I am more adjusted by the day. KPMG had us perform goal setting by week one, and has kept us focused on career building. I have also received my first two engagement reviews — a great way to reflect on your work and performance on prior engagements. While I'm always learning, and each day brings something challenging, I definitely feel like I'm starting to get more comfortable with KAM. I am always surprised at the amount of hands on experience I'm getting on a daily basis and cannot wait to see how far I've come once our internship concludes.

PART 3

This past week, I started a new engagement and am helping with their year-end audit. As I have become more familiar with KPMG's audit methodologies, I've found that my responsibilities have similarly expanded. I spent much of my time last week on test work, including testing cash, pulling together lead sheets, writing analytics, and checking for unrecorded liabilities. These are all things that a first year would traditionally be responsible for, but that as an intern, I've had the opportunity to experience.

Something unique to KPMG's internship program is a focus on service and giving back to the community. KPMG has a close relationship with Firstbook, a community service organization focused on improving literacy, and encourages interns to get involved throughout their internship. As part of the internship program, we have the opportunity to fundraise for organizations affiliated with Firstbook. Our office chose to support a home for abused and battered women seeking support from domestic violence. These women enter the home with their children and are provided with shelter, skills training, and counseling so that they may become independently successful. Our team brainstormed a variety of ways to raise support for the organization: we sold snacks, advertised $5-baseball-shirt-Fridays, and created a World Cup bracket competition for our super competitive office. In all, we were touched by how willing people were to donate and support the home. Not only were we able to achieve our financial goal, but in the process we interacted with office employees outside of our practice. As a side note, I must confess that I was extremely proud of myself for my performance in the World Cup competition. First runner up after being dead last and hopeless for weeks was a pleasant shock and surprise. Thank you Spain.

After completing the majority of our fundraising, we picked a day to volunteer at the home. After touring the facility, we spent the day reading with the children and helping with their field day. I loved every minute of it. The children were absolutely hilarious, full of life, and completely adorable. My personal responsibilities for the day consisted of face painting (the Avatar arrow symbol was a hit), musical chair monitoring, bubble gum bubble judging, and relay race refereeing. I have no idea how I managed to be a five year old child because at the end of the day (correction: by lunch) I was pretty tired. They were full of energy. It was great to see the kids and recognize that because of the work done by the home, they were able to have a safe place to live, learn, and thrive.

PART 4

This week I continued working on my client from the prior week. As I gain practice working on clients, I find that my responsibilities and expectations as an intern increase. My work continues to be primarily on test work, including testing cash, checking for unrecorded liabilities, writing analytics, and pulling together lead sheets. During this time, I learned more about the importance of bank confirmations and learned how to test outstanding checks. I gained greater experience interacting with the client while testing for unrecorded liabilities. Since my client is a public company, it was interesting to see their filings with the SEC online and correlate them with our work on-site.

I also learned more about the significance of corporate culture. Visiting client sites throughout the internship introduced me to a variety of distinct corporate cultures, but my work over the past few weeks has highlighted these differences dramatically. The culture at my current client is relaxed and characteristic of what one would typically associate with their industry. The employees wear jeans, including the executives, and the atmosphere is quite informal. As an auditor, I will need to be attentive to changes in the corporate culture and interact accordingly. For example, a different client of KPMG's requires that the auditors wear suits on site. If I wore business casual to that client, under the assumption that all clients were like my current client, then it would be quite inappropriate. Thus, I learned that it is important to familiarize yourself with the corporate culture and speak to your senior about appropriate attire before starting an engagement.

Now that my final week is coming to a close, I cannot believe how much I have learned in such a short span of time and how many great people I have met along the way. I found my time at KPMG this summer to be highly educational and invaluable to my development in audit. I was exposed to a variety of clients, work, and training that helped me develop an understanding of how audit is practically applied in the public accounting industry. The amount of hands on experience also helped me learn more about and apply the accounting tools that had been addressed in my studies at Taylor University. In all, I found the experience to be challenging, but invaluable to my growth as an accounting student and my prospective career as an auditor.

Fun Facts

  • Are you actively involved with any community organizations? If so, which ones and briefly describe your involvement.

    I am an Upland Community Church volunteer and am currently participating in “Interns for Literacy”, the KPMG Internship program’s support for Firstbook.

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

    SIFE- Students in Free Enterprise, Alpha Chi Honor Society, Beta Alpha Epsilon Honor Society, and Intramural Sports.
  • Do you have a mentor? If yes, please describe the experience.

    I was recently assigned a mentor in the KPMG Indianapolis Office and despite having only known her for just a few weeks, I feel like I have known her forever. She has been a great support through this new experience and I hope to stay in touch with her after this summer.

    What are your favorite TV shows?

    Seinfeld and the Amazing Race

    What is the last book you read?

    Superfreakonomics by Stephen Levitt
  • What do you do for fun/hobbies?

    Friends, roadtrips, good books, skiing, and I usually love anything involving the sun.

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

    1. The people - I immediately felt a sense of community and welcoming in the Indianapolis office. The people here carry themselves professionally and make an effort to invest in each other’s lives on a personal level as well.
    2. The opportunity for learning - This internship is ranked at the top nationally for good reason. The training and hands on experience are absolutely invaluable and uniquely offered by KPMG.
    3. The chance to make a difference - Since an internship at KPMG is similar to working as a full time first year, I knew that I would have the chance to contribute. I wanted to make a quality contribution as an intern and have the opportunity to do that on a daily basis here.
  • What are 5 things that your friends may not know about you (and that would be appropriate to share!)?

    My friends know just about everything about me! If I had to pick, some might not know the depth of my obsession with J Crew skirts and gum, that my biggest pet peeve is getting lost (I just bought a GPS to navigate to my audit engagements- Best. Investment. Ever.), I could live off of cookie dough for the rest of my life, and I’m secretly still not a huge fan of texting - I’d much rather call (I can speak a whole lot quicker than I can text). Oh. And I’m team Edward.

    Have you traveled outside of the US? For school or personal? Where?

    I have vacationed with family to various islands in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Jamaica over the years. I have also been to China, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Nicaragua for school.
  • What advice would you offer to a student just beginning the recruiting/application process?

    Do your research. Research not just KPMG to succeed in your interview process, but also take a close look at other internship programs. See what all is out there and what other companies incorporate into their programs. It will not only be helpful in the selection process, but will also make you that much more appreciative of what an amazing opportunity a summer at KPMG is.

    What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

    The best preparation for tomorrow is the best use of today. So true!