Category Archives: Internships

Why I Chose To Stay

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while…and yes I’m still here. I have stayed on as a MPA a semester longer than most, because I chose to complete an internship over the summer (and got credit for it).  I wanted to ensure I was making the right choice in career path and felt that actually trying it out for a few months would be the best way to assess my new profession.

I considered morning turkey sightings to be good luck.
I loved the turkeys on our campus.

I was lucky enough to intern in the Internal Audit department of a Fortune 500 company at their headquarters in Missouri. I was one of four interns for the group, and was able to participate in two audits. The job itself was a perfect fit for me, but one of the biggest draws for me was the travel component. I was based in St. Louis, but traveled to the Netherlands and Colorado during my two and a half months with the company. Best of all, this internship mimicked the full-time role that I will be taking on next year (yes-I liked it so much I signed on at the end of my internship).

The Hague
This photo was taken in the Scheveningen area after 8pm one night.
The Hague at Night
Not a bad place to go for an audit.

Coming to the MPA program people often have very set plans for the next 2-3 years of their lives. My advice, especially if you’re coming from outside the business world, is to take your time. If you’re able to spend extra time at UT, take an internship in the Spring or Summer. If you need to get out and into the workforce sooner, be sure to consider industry jobs in addition to public accounting. Up until last fall I’d never heard of the company I’ll be joining, and figured I’d be recruiting solely for full-time jobs while at UT. So never rule anything out, never close any doors-you never know what you’ll find or where you’ll go.

I went to St. Louis having never been to the state of Missouri before; next spring I will be calling it home.

Internship: True or False

Internship_BabyLet’s all be real for a quick second. As third and fourth-year MPAs, we hear all kinds of rumors and gossip about internship experiences. We never know who is exaggerating and who is telling the cold, hard truth. Well I cannot speak for everyone in what I am about to say, but I am going to go through some things I heard before my internship and tell you whether my experience has proven to live up to these stories or not.

1. You are going to have 80 hour work weeks consistently and pretty much not have a life outside of the office.
FALSE. There 25 other tax interns in the office I am in (PwC Dallas) and I have yet to hear of someone putting in more than 60 hours. And this is our busy season. As an intern, you may or may not be hitting overtime, but even if you are, keep in mind that you are compensated for that ($$$). Yes, you may have a weekend where they will ask you to stay, but this is not usually every weekend.

2. You are competing with other interns and therefore the other interns will not help you since you are the competition.
FALSE. You are going to become really close with your intern group. In fact, I recommend considering this as a factor when making your decision on where to sign for your internship. I originally tried to go to a smaller office in Denver because I thought I wanted to be in an environment where I was the only intern. NO. That would have absolutely sucked. I have become extremely close to the interns here. We bond over our random work assignments that none of us have a clue on sometimes and we also help each other ALL THE TIME. In fact, I would say they are the first people I go to if I need to know how to do something. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am friends with each of the 20 interns in my office. I know all of there names, groups they are in, and where they sit.

3. You will be taken out to lunch and dinners a lot.
TRUE. So very very amazingly true. There is no limit to the amount of food that is available during your internship. The other day, we had Pokey O’s brought into the office which is this great place that makes homemade ice cream sandwiches. It was AWESOME.

4. You are not going to have a desk.

FALSE. You will have a desk. You may have a conference room if not a desk but guess what? Conference rooms are even better because they have the best view. So come on people, why keep spreading the rumor about not having a desk?! Do you think they are gonna put their interns on the floor or in a corner?? Because nobody puts baby in a corner.

5. You will be meeting tons of people, clients and coworkers.
FALSE. Actually, this one is perhaps the most surprising. You would think that you would be interacting with lots of people everyday to complete your work but actually most of the work is independent work. Someone will show you how to do the task you are given and then you are left to finish it on your own. I kind of wish there was a day where they literally took you around to meet everyone. I have taken it upon myself to meet different people in the office. In fact, word of advice here, when I need help on assignments, instead of going to the same person every time, I jump around to different people just to have an excuse to meet them.

6. There are happy hours every week.

TRUE. (kind of). There is not always a paid happy hour every week but I can promise you that the intern group will plan to go out every Friday and Saturday. Because, hey, we are all in it together, right? RIGHT! So make it a point on your internship to be the one who creates happy hours for the group or to organize a lunch. Trust me, everyone will love you for it.

Recruiting: Interview Week

The crazy week of interviews and pre-interview dinners is past and somehow I have managed to survive. How did I survive you ask? Was it nonstop coffee and late-night studying? Was it doing my hair/makeup everyday (which I usually do not do)? Was it dressing business professional nearly everyday of the week despite the hot, muggy temperatures outside? YES. Despite all of this, it was also an incredible experience. Yes, I admit, it was scary being interviewed by partners consecutively but I feel so much more confident now. And who doesn’t like getting treated to steak dinner every night for a week? No complaints there.

The W Hotel, Downtown Austin

Pre-Interview Dinners

The firms will host a “pre-interview dinner” each night before your interview with them the next day. The dinners will be at a nice place or hotel downtown, such as the Omni or the W. They are usually catered with amazing food and also may include a fun event, such as casino games and a short presentation. At these dinners you will get a chance to speak with your interviewer. This is extremely helpful because it will help you feel more relaxed for the interview the next day. If you can make some good conversation with this partner at the dinner, the same good vibes are sure to carry over into your interview the next day. Also, please do not forget about etiquette at these dinners! You may be nervous and forget which forks and knives to use (hint hint….I did that) but that is OKAY! Remember that nobody is perfect, and you are bound to make a few mistakes here and there. Focus on what you can do to make recruiting successful (clean clothes, good sleep, etiquette) and forget about the stuff that is out of your control (redness, sweating, whatever!). Just keep smiling and know that they really do just want to get to know you!


The interviews were my favorite part of the whole week. I am not sure if I am comfortable with one-on-one interactions or if I just had really good conversations but either way the interviews went better than I expected. I am definitely the type of person that gets nervous and shows it, so my first piece of advice is to remain calm. It is not as big of a deal as you will make it out to be in your head. By your last interview of the week, you will be a pro at getting interviewed. In fact, I found myself laughing during a couple of my interviews. The partners are people just as much as we are and they enjoy jokes, too. Bottom line? Just be yourself! Do not undermine the importance of the interview, but also realize that you will be working with these people and they want to make sure your personality fits with the firm.

Things to remember for your interview: unofficial transcripts, follow-up thank you emails, and the right business attire (Yes, ladies that means pantyhose is included!).

Recruiting Pep Talk

Be prepared- It is nerve racking coming into an event trying to make a good impression on an employer. Being prepared will ease your fears, and let you focus on what you are there to do. Being prepared goes farther beyond company research, being prepared means also know your own schedule and accommodating your recruiting events so you are not stressed about how much study time you are missing out on. Being prepared also means being sure on what the dress code is, where the event is, and how you plan on getting there, so you can show up on time and ready. Unfortunately, in both accounting and recruiting, the devil is in the details, and taking the time to account for them will help you not sweat the small stuff.

Be inquisitive- Ask lots of questions at these events. You have questions, and they have answers, so be sure to ask away. Asking questions about the work you are going to see as first year staff, advancement opportunities, training and mentorship programs, etc., shows you are serious about pursuing a career with the company.

Be eager- Every year, I see students at events for a firm they have firmly decided to not accept an offer that are completely disengaged and are making no attempt at hiding this decision. Even if you have decided to not go with a firm, if you find yourself at that firm’s event make an effort to seem be eager to be there because this network you establish in recruiting will follow you during your professional career. Not to mention recruiters talk to each other. In my experience, eagerness is the quality that translates to recruiters the most and is the hardest to fake. Recruiters remember people that are eager to be at their events.

Be professional- You will bond with recruiters, but remember they aren’t necessarily your friends. Avoid topics and language that would make a future employer hesitate to put you in front of a client. Again, remember that recruiters talk, so things can carry across firm lines.

Be yourself- This is the most important “Be” by far. The whole purpose of recruiting is to see where your personality and skill set will fit the best. It’s impossible to determine if you fit if you are not being yourself, and being whoever you think recruiters want you to be.


Internship Spotlight: Vernon Chong

[EDITORS NOTE: From time to time amazing interviews or stories will land in our lap. Vernon Chong shared some great insight to common internship questions and we felt it was valuable enough to throw a guest blog post into the mix!]

What steps did you take to secure your internship?
I applied for the position through a job posting on AccessUT, and a talent coordinator from Adobe contacted soon after to set up a couple of phone interviews with her and the hiring manager.  The interviews were mostly conversational as they were already impressed by the educational background I had at McCombs.  I was offered the internship about a week later.

What are your responsibilities in this role?
To help my boss out with whatever she needs!  In all seriousness, a big priority of mine was insurance renewals, which involved working with the broker for favorable quotes.  I was responsible for preparing risk analyses and financial models that backed up the insurance application.  I also helped streamline the purchase order process Adobe used to buy financial assets such as insurance coverage.

Describe the culture within your organization.
There are several company-sponsored events a month, and many benefits and amenities are provided to keep employees happy.  Community involvement and volunteer work are also strongly encouraged, and many employees are more than happy to participate.  It’s very much a family-type atmosphere as employees socialize with each other often outside of the work space, whether at the gym, café, basketball courts, or even the break rooms.

What has been most surprising or unexpected during your experience?
How well Adobe treats its interns!  We get a lot of the same benefits that regular, full-time workers do, including wellness activity funding, travel and commute reimbursement, holiday pay, retirement savings plans, and Adobe product discounts.

What advice would you offer your peers about getting the most out of an internship?
Don’t be afraid of feedback.  It’s easy to feel victimized when someone is singling you out—the thing to remember is, your peers are there to help you, not fight you. Feedback doesn’t mean critique: it’s constructive insight meant to help you learn, grow, and be aware of your working style.

How have you found your classes in the MPA Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?
Yes, most definitely.  I think the most important thing I took from my classes was the business lingo and jargon.  Working in the Treasury department, you’re going to be in trouble if you don’t understand basic concepts such as debit and credits or prepaid assets and depreciation.  Thank you, ACC311.

How has your organization ensured you get the most out of your internship experience?
Adobe sets up several check-ins and performance reviews throughout the internship with your manager as well as HR coordinators.  They support your development through discussions, feedback, ideas and suggestions.  They want to get idea of how you’re feeling about your internship and help map out goals to get the experience you want.

How will this internship affect or influence your future career?
I’m definitely sold on the tech industry.  It’s rapidly growing and there are a lot of career opportunities out there even for business majors.  Companies in this platform are developing the products of the future, and I want to be involved in that sort of vision somewhere down the line, whether at Adobe or elsewhere.

What are the most valuable lessons you have gained from this internship?
Research shows that the most powerful sustained learning comes from on the job experience and application of learned knowledge.  I definitely believe that this is true after going through an internship. Learning through exposure to others is a key aspect of career growth, and I think that it’s important to plan ahead on how your development opportunities align with future business needs.