Jake has been working in the Internal Audit department at his alma mater for a year now. He is kind enough to share his experience with us.
Life as an University Auditor
How did you get this job?
I saw a job opening at the university I went to when I took the master’s degree. It is really interesting to see how the university is run on the other side.
How do you like about your job?
I LOVE it. As an internal auditor, I get to meet with people in different departments — from the college, law school, medical school, to the state-of-the-art stadium, art galleries, medial center to construction (they are building new dorms at the moment). I feel like I am exposed to and learning something new every day.
More importantly, I feel valued and that I am making a difference.
How is the work-life balance?
I worked in a mid-size public accounting firm for a couple of years. Compared to that it’s been great work-life balance here. I normally work 8 hours on weekdays and there is little stress. Colleagues are nice, flexible and understanding, probably because no one is stressed out here.
Also, there is not much traveling. Some people like the experience of traveling around the world. For me, as a husband and a new dad, I appreciate the fact that we have little traveling.
What are the cons?
Work mostly involves operational audit versus financial audit. This means you look at purchasing, payroll, and various programs. If you enjoy working on lots of numbers and complex mathematical models, this may not suit you.
Also, salary tends to be lower unless you work in a big, research-intensive university. Benefits is usually good though. If you work in a state school you get state retirement plan.
What is the career path?
I need to take and pass the CPA exam within 3 years in order to become a senior. A certification and/or experience is required for a supervisory role. Going forward, I am not sure — the office isn’t big… senior positions become available only if someone move on or retire.
Any advice for those interested to become a University Auditor?
I’ve met with other IA people in neighboring universities. It seems like most of us prefer to hire someone with master’s degrees.
The fact that you went to the university is helpful. My interview was actually quite tough, meeting everyone in the team for an afternoon. But at the end of the day it’s personality fit.
If you are still in college, try landing an internship at the Internal Audit office. It’s a great experience and they will likely offer you a position if it is available, either right away or years later if you keep in touch with them.
- University Audit Office at Cornell – overview and FAQ