Intern Blog

Fieldwork as an Intern

Mar 24, 2018

Category: John Carroll University

Fieldwork: Work away from work. Fieldwork is done on the majority of engagements that Cohen & Company performs for its clients. An engagement team is usually tasked with going directly to a client site to perform their work and have direct access to the client for support, documentation, and inquiry. During the busy season, interns are pulled onto these engagement teams and are tasked with the same work that a first year staff would perform. This can be a daunting task for someone only weeks(or even days) into his or her internship with little to no knowledge of what an auditor does. So here are a few tips on how to not only survive, but thrive in your fieldwork experiences as an intern:

1. Ask Questions – You learn more during a week of fieldwork than any other point throughout the entire internship. This, however, is completely contingent on how engaged you are with your team. There is a 100% chance you will be stuck countless times on your work out in the field and although everyone might seem very busy, their job is to teach you and help keep things moving along. Asking questions, no matter how trivial they may seem, is vital to your development and to getting the job done on time.

2. Be Confident with The Client – A big part of fieldwork is talking with the client. So, aside from the obvious points such as being nice and respectful, being confident is easily the most important thing to remember when inquiring with the client. I guarantee there will come a time when you will be asked by the overseer of your team to take point on a discussion related to one of your work papers. Whether you know what you’re talking about or not, being confident will instill trust in not only your manager, but the client as well. Additionally, don’t be afraid to mess up in front of the client either, because it will happen. They will understand. Many of the client’s accounting personnel we work with were once in public accounting so they understand the difficulty of the work.

3. Establish Relationships with Your Team – More likely than not, a fieldwork engagement will have you at the client for a week (sometimes two). Which means you are with the same group of people for 9-10 hours a day, every day, for that entire week. Take this opportunity to get to know those who you are working with. Think of it as a prolonged networking event! Being able to talk with your engagement team about work (and especially not work), is key to developing meaningful relationships. Many of these people, especially managers and above, will be key resources to your success at the firm. There’s also a chance you’ll work with those same people multiple times throughout your internship. So make sure to talk and stay engaged as much as possible, it will pay off immensely.

4. To close, just a few administrative pointers to make sure your time at a client goes smoothly:

- Request a travel monitor in advance – It’s much nicer to work on two screens rather than just one.
- Update your calendar – Let others know you will not be in the office during fieldwork.
- Contact your team about general info – If an e-mail is not sent to you beforehand laying out general details of the entire week ahead (address, dress attire, time to arrive/leave, lunch, etc.), reach out to someone on the team and they should be able to get you that information.
- Don’t forget your mouse/charger.
- Plan the trip ahead – Once you have the client address, gauge the drive time from your house so you can plan your morning accordingly.