While in college, studying as an accounting major, I learned about an opportunity to work for the Army Audit Agency as a student intern. I was excited about this opportunity because I had taken courses on auditing and taxes—I really enjoyed the auditing class and knew that I didn’t want to do anything related to taxes.
Meanwhile, I was working in the private sector and had already faced gender discrimination and felt that I wasn’t taken seriously because of my young age. I was interested in working for the Federal Government, in part, because it has great benefits and strong antidiscrimination programs and regulations.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join Army Audit while completing my degree. This has been the healthiest work environment I’ve had in my life. I quickly saw that supervisors don’t talk down to you because of your age or experience level. I enjoy a great work-life balance, taking advantage of flexible schedules, and telework opportunities.
Why I love my job
I honestly love being an Army auditor. And I recognize that I’m fortunate to be able to say that. The work has enough variety to keep me engaged and always learning new things. Each audit is different, so I don’t get bored or stuck working in the same area for too long.
Throughout my career here, I’ve been comfortable trying new things. Even though I may fail or fall short of my own expectations from time to time, my supervisors never make me feel bad about it. We always turn these into learning opportunities.
Skills I rely on most
In addition to knowing the fundamentals of auditing, the skills I rely on most are:
· Patience. Sometimes it takes days or weeks to get the information or answers you need when working on audits. You have to have patience when it comes to these things.
· Critical thinking. You have to look at things at different angles to be able to see if there’s a benefit to doing something differently. For example, during the audit, we have several meetings to discuss the path of the audit. Sometimes, to meet the needs of the Army, we have to change how we approach something.
· Flexibility. You must have the ability to change constantly. Things are always changing: standards are getting updated, and new technology and tools are coming out for the Agency to use. You have to be able to keep up with these changes and embrace the new.
· Humility. You have to feel comfortable reaching out to someone when you need help. You have to understand that others will know more than you—either more about the audit subject, more about auditing standards, or more about the larger picture that may provide context you wouldn’t otherwise have.
· Word and Excel skills. We use Microsoft Word and Excel frequently so having at least a basic understanding of these tools will benefit you greatly.
A typical day
I start my days by checking and responding to emails. Then I check my prioritized to-do list, focusing on tasks that have the closest deadlines. The typical day will vary depending on the stage of the audit. For example, during the survey phase at the start of the audit process, we usually have a lot of meetings with audited organizations to gather the information we need for the audit analysis. During the execution phase, the team uses this information to perform analyses and document everything in a workpaper. During the report writing phase, the team takes all the information learned during the audit and documents all the results in a report that’s shared with audited organizations and senior Army officials. Between active audits, I work on audit proposals to address ways to help the Army and training to help improve my skills.
Greatest challenge I face as an auditor
Lack of experience is my greatest challenge because there’s no way to get around it. I just have to continue to put in the time and learn all I can about auditing and the Army.
Advice for someone thinking about joining the Agency
Improve your critical-thinking skills and be open to constructive criticism. It also helps to have a basic understanding of the Army structure (it’s not required but it would benefit you greatly).
You should also take ownership of your own career. This means setting career goals and taking advantage of the many training and developmental opportunities the Agency and the Army offer.