Internship Programs: A Benefit to Students, Your Unit AND the University

May 4, 2018 

There are many benefits for a department of the University of Kentucky to institute an internship program, from the additional assistance and fresh perspective of the students to the opportunity for your staff to cultivate their leadership and organizational skills. But perhaps more rewarding is seeing the benefits such a program affords the students, such as the ability to put the skills they have been learning in class into action, acquiring valuable experience, and having the opportunity to expand their professional network. Some may even earn school credit, though it isn’t a requirement

UK Internal Audit (UKIA) has benefitted from its internship program so immensely that this year, it expanded its ten-year-old program to 10 interns, nearly doubling the size of its department during the spring semester. For the first time, the cohort of students was expanded outside of the audit profession to include cybersecurity, communications and risk analysis interns.

“Our division is thrilled to be part of our students’ overall educational experience,” explained Joe Reed, Chief Audit Executive with UKIA. “It is both precious and rewarding. We welcome the opportunity to balance classroom learning with its practical application.”

The students ranged from Accounting and Finance majors/double-majors to Business and Economics/Accounting and Information Communication Technology majors. Three earned class credit, one worked unpaid, and two teams of three students each worked with UKIA as a semester-long assignment for their 500-level Internal Audit class. Their assignments were equally varied and involved assisting with the following:
 

  • Pre-planning research and analytics for a compliance audit.
  • Identifying inventory process weaknesses and proposing improvement strategies for an inventory audit.
  • Reviewing planning documents and participating in some interviews for an information security audit.
  • Creating an access database to help UKIA track the access our staff members have to various databases across campus.
  • Interviews and analysis of chief business process challenges in units of varying sizes for a joint project with University Financial Services and Purchasing.
  • Communicating the results of follow-up audits.
  • Categorizing information from various sources to help populate UKIA’s risk database.

“These are actual projects that provide the students invaluable experience while affording us some additional manpower to help us meet our goals,” said Reed. “The program has been a tremendous success for us.”

When asked about their experience, the students were also very complimentary. The student teams all noted how different the actual experience was from any of the case studies that they had worked on in class, and how valuable it was to put their skills to work in a professional setting. Second, the internships opened their eyes to new career opportunities they had not previously considered.

“As a University, we must remain steadfast in our focus on preparing our students for the utmost success in the future, even as we work to overcome operational challenges that accompany tighter budget restrictions, said Reed. “As UKIA’s interns clearly demonstrate, developing an internship program is one way we can successfully accomplish both.”

To develop an internship program for your department, contact the James W. Stuckert Career Center at ukcareercenter@uky.edu or 859-257-2746, or check out other internship job descriptions at https://www.uky.edu/careercenter/handshake.