Auditing an investment bank and training at PwC

I spent the last week on training, spending about 8 hours a day going through the content that any successful intern should know with a Senior Manager.  We had these sessions in rooms with about 20 interns. Excel was a big portion of our training, as we were encouraged to become more efficient in our work. To my surprise, a significant number of associates at the Firm are able to navigate their computer without ever touching their mouse. This seems impossible to me, but then again, being able to type without ever looking at the keyboard seemed just as hard back when I was nine. However, not everything from last week was work; as PwC is a strong believer of work hard and play hard. On Friday, PwC invited all workers and interns to Madison Square Garden for Promotion Day. We had the opportunity to hear from our CEO, Market Leaders, and from Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show! After which, we had happy-hours/social events that lasted about 4 hours; first near the Empire State (everyone at the firm) and later in a boat near the financial district (everyone in my team -Banking and Capital Markets). It was a wonderful first week.

Going forward, I will be spending my time between Madison 300 in midtown Manhattan and Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City. as there will be tasks that I can only do at home office, while others at the client (most of them). While most audit internships have their interns work in multiple clients from different industries within a few weeks, an audit internship in a major city is quite different. This is because in big cities, audit teams become more specialized. In fact, in some cases, audit associates can spend series of years with the same client, as this have complicated business operations and financial products. As a member of the Banking and Capital Markets team, my client is an investment bank, and my first assignment surrounds its broker-dealer operations. Right now the team is working in assessing the key risks of our client, and trying to understand their business processes. This is because we have just started this year’s audit. Even though I am an intern, I am being given meaningful and challenging work. Tomorrow I will sit in a meeting with one of our senior associates and the client’s internal audit team to learn more about how derivatives are sold and the process through which commissions are recorded in this bank. Our main goal is not to make sure that the client is taking appropriate risks, but that the recognition of revenue through each activity is appropriate.

I will blog more about the work itself in the future, but to conclude, I wanted to talk about my team. Despite our client being able to bring billions of dollars in their IB operations, we are a team of only 12 individuals in this office as of now. This means that we all get to collaborate in about everything that we do. In fact, we don’t have an office, but a conference room, where we sit around a big table and talk through the challenges that we encounter.

For the first time, I am in a group of people where having an accent is the normal, as there are more people from outside the US than there are US Citizens. We have a SA from Madrid, a SA from Pakistan, a Partner from the UK, an associate from Russia, an associate from Portugal, a manager from Canada, and and intern from Mexico (me), while the rest of the team are US citizens (one of which lived 10 years in the UK). I really like where my career is going.




The Intern Perspective

Today was the first day of my internship, and throughout this week I will be training with the rest of the local interns. On Day 1, we mostly talked about PwC’s culture, its career opportunities and had special ice-breakers around Time Square. From day one I can tell that PwC is a diverse and talented place to work in, as it was very common to find other interns who spoke more than one language.

Since no real work has yet happened, I will use this blog to talk about what is like to work in the City of New York. While you may have been in NYC before, your perspective truly changes as an intern. If before Time Square was the first place you wanted to see as a tourist, it becomes the last place you want to walk by when  trying to make it in time to work. Central Park becomes more than a cool spot to take pictures, but your running track where you get your daily work out. And my favorite change as of now; remember the serious people in suits that marched between skyscrapers? Well, some of them are your colleagues now and you get the chance to become friends with them during breaks. There are always things to do here, and the best part, a lot of it is free! From street concerts from major artists to late night shows, even  museums hold special days where admissions are free.  Having said that, budgeting is a serious matter. If you didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to budget as a college student, the learning curve will be steep. However, one thing is clear, NY does deserves the big red heart that comes in the shirts.



The power of being fearless- Cold Emails

The purpose of this post is to show you how to get anyone in your company to respond to your email. I have had success using the techniques below while interning at PepsiCo.

Disclaimer: The techniques mentioned in this blog post were derived from The Competitive Edge podcast Episode 30.

Before the Email

It is possible to reach ANYONE in your company by phone for a short conversation. If you are not afraid of rejection, you can get in touch with anyone through cold emailing.

How to Find an Email

If your company uses Microsoft Office, you have access to all employees’ email in your company. Steps to get an email are shown in the pictures below


Articulating the Email

Below is an email I sent to a Senior Vice President at PepsiCo (the equivalent of the CFO for supply chain) asking for career advice.

blog 1

The Breakdown

Subject Line

Grab their attention. Make a subject line that will draw attention and sum up why you are emailing them.

My example: Following in Your Footsteps


Cut straight to the point; do not waste words on meaningless background facts (hometown, school major, interests etc.). The short introduction is vital; you will capture the person’s attention in the first sentence. Throw something in at the end of the sentence that will make them want to read more.

My Example: I aspire to be as impactful as you have been in PepsiCo and the world.

Gaging interest

The second sentence is the most important part of the email. You must connect on an emotional level here. In my email, I brought up an achievement of his which he is extremely proud of while relating it to myself. Referencing something specific shows you have researched the person and are serious about getting time on his/her calendar. When bringing up a topic that connects you and your targeted executive, keep in mind it can be anything that you relate to. Some examples are an article the person wrote, an interview that he/she gave, a position they held, specific accomplishments or even a personal hobby you both share.

My example: Your influence on Gatorade, my favorite drink, to move it to a Kosher beverage is truly amazing especially because half my family keeps Kosher.

Specific Time – 10,3

Put time on their calendar and be specific. It’s harder for someone to say no if you found an open timeslot on their calendar, exemplify that you have a plan and are not going to waste a second with them. A personal rule of mine is to request ten minutes of their time to ask three questions. Ten minutes is short enough where they can be willing to speak to you but long enough where you can get some good information.

My example: I have put time on your calendar to speak with you on Thursday at 10:00 but will only need ten minutes of your time to ask you three questions.


Throwing in a blog2 towards the end of your email lightens up the subject matter. Do not use this for every person you email though. You must understand what industry this person is in and if it will be taken in a positive or negative way. If you can find out that the person is easy going definitely throw it in there.

My example: I’m looking forward to your response blog2


Notice how I had a grammar error because I did not proofread. Always double check your work to avoid a costly mistake.


Anticipate that the executive will initially deny your request to have a phone call. BE PERSISTENT. I sent my email request three days in a row until the executive accepted my meeting with him.


Best of luck and happy interning!


A Day in the Life of a Technological Auditor

As I promised in my first blog post, “Gearing up for my Summer Internship at Key Bank”, I will go into more detail about what being an IT General Controls Sox Audit team member looks like on a day to day basis. Before I get into anything too serious, I need to start with the basics. Some of the most important things that I have learned this summer about being a technological auditor are from my marvelous manager, Brian Drotleff. Ironically, most of those things are witty one-liners. Some of my most coveted one-liners are:

  • Be comfortable being uncomfortable
  • Be curious
  • Trust, but verify
  • If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen

With these handy dandy proverbs in your pocket there is nothing you can’t achieve in the working world.

The first saying is by far my favorite. I think being comfortable being uncomfortable is applicable to all parts of life. If you can be comfortable not understanding or knowing everything, but make inquisitive, intelligent steps towards your task, then you will be worlds better off. Throughout my internship I have learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable really quick. From day one I was staffed onto a project looking into access provisioning. I am by no means a subject matter expert on access provisioning, but by accepting what I do know I am able to then build steps to fill the gaps of what I do not know therefore completing my testing. The more comfortable I get with being uncomfortable the better I fair with each set of new testing!

The second maxim once again applies to almost everything in life and ties in very closely with the first. If I had a nickel for every time I was encouraged to be curious, I would probably already be retired. All jokes aside, being curious is really important to being a technological auditor. If I get an email back from app support and I do not really understand what they mean, it’s imperative to take it a step further to make sure my understanding aligns with the deciphered technological lingo and abbreviations (there are abbreviations for everything – including abbreviations for abbreviations).

The third axiom plays off the second. It is paramount for all Risk Review, or the third line of defense, to ensure that what is being reported is accurate. There is no way to ensure the information sourced from applications and systems, if the application and system can’t be ensured to be working efficiently and accurately. For example, if an individual tells you a password is securely stored – that’s great. You can trust them, but you better verify.

The final one-liner is probably the most important. I can be as comfortable being uncomfortable, as curious, or as verified as I want, but none of it happened unless I document it. Throughout my internship the screen shot has become my best friend. I am constantly logging different conversations and pulled reports as form of documentation. As tedious as it may seem, documenting is very valuable. When coming across a speed bump in testing, it is very nice to be able to look back at all the documented details from last year to give clues to the next steps.

The most challenging part about being a technological auditor is walking the line between being a member of the KeyBank team and being an independent body to the lines of business. Many lines of business don’t reply or comply in a timely fashion because we are seen as the folks that show up once a year and point out all of the mistakes similarly to regulators and external auditors. I spend a measurable time at work trying to track down emails and get answers. At the end of the day, we all play for the same team. Whether the lines of business acknowledge it or not, it is much better off for Risk Review to find something rather than the regulators or the external auditors.

Opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent those of KeyBank

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Brian Drotleff – SOX IT Audit Extraordinaire

25 Short, Sweet Tips for Success as a Summer Intern

by Sarah Steenrod

While it seems like just yesterday (okay, so more like 13 years ago) I was an intern at Neiman Marcus in Las Vegas, the lessons I learned and experiences I had a during that pivotal time in my college and professional career are crystal clear. Here are some tips that will help make your internship a success:

  1. Set goals. Having personal and professional goals can help you make the most of your summer, stay on track, and know if you have achieved what you set out to do.
  2. Ask questions. An internship is a learning process and you may need to seek clarification along the way.
  3. Participate in all intern and company activities that you are invited to. It’s a great way to meet fellow interns and people at the company who are investing their time in your experience.
  4. Share your ideas. People want to know what you think, so speak up!
  5. If you finish your work, ask for more. By taking initiative, you may end up with an awesome project or learning experience.
  6. Pack your lunch. You’ll save money and calories. It’s absolutely fine to join your colleagues and treat yourself to lunch every once in a while, but you will thank yourself at the end of the summer if you don’t blow your paychecks on takeout sushi.
  7. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Always be sure to follow the dress code. Make sure your clothes are clean, neat, and pressed
  8. Get a good night’s rest. If you’re used to going to bed at 2 a.m., the sound of the alarm at 6 a.m. is going to be a rude awakening (literally and figuratively). No one at your workplace will care if you’re tired, so don’t look or act tired.
  9. Consider your internship a three-month interview. This is your opportunity to make the most of each day with the potential of getting a job offer at the end.
  10. Ask people if you can be of help to them. You might think you don’t have a lot to offer, but perhaps one of your colleagues has a child that is considering your university and would love to hear your perspective.
  11. Explore the city…and the food. If you’re in Cleveland, don’t miss the West Side Market and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. St. Louis is famous for fried ravioli. In Houston, be sure to try the BBQ.
  12. Exercise. Take a brisk walk, ride a bike, run, do yoga! Do whatever you like, just get moving!
  13. Drink water. That’s what the water coolers are for! Eight 8-ounce glasses day is what’s recommended, but if that sounds like a lot, just start with a couple glasses a day. It also helps to get a water bottle that you really like.
  14. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, find a way to fix it, and move on. Don’t make excuses.
  15. Connect with alumni from your school. Use your university’s alumni club. Tap into the LinkedIn Find Alumni tool.
  16. Check in regularly with your parents, family members, and friends and let them know how your internship is going….they will appreciate it.
  17. Say please. It’s amazing how many people will be willing to help you if you ask nicely.
  18. Follow all computer rules and lock your computer when you step away from your desk. Also, if your company has a social media policy, refrain from posting on Facebook during work hours.
  19. Ask for feedback. Some supervisors will be good at giving you positive and constructive feedback, while others may be less forthcoming. If they know it’s important to you, they may be more likely to give it.
  20. Avoid office gossip. If someone talks about others to you, they are probably talking about you to others.
  21. Pay attention to your experiences, reflect on them, and jot down a few notes. Your worst on-the-job experience may someday be your best interview story. The trick is remembering all the details.
  22. Wear sunscreen. Seriously
  23. Be present and enjoy the experience!
  24. Keep in touch. Don’t wait until you need something to e-mail your former supervisor. Send an e-mail every once in a while to check in and let them know how you’re doing.
  25. Thank people and let them know how they impacted your life and career. A handwritten note is a very nice touch.

Sarah Steenrod is Director of Undergraduate Career Consultation and Programs in the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.