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Career News | April 3, 2024

Intriguing Internships with Sarah Duff

By DCAA Staff Writer

Sarah Duff is a Senior Auditor whose DCAA journey began in July 2020 as an audit intern with the Pathways Internship Program. Sarah worked for DCAA as a paid intern from the summer before her last semester until graduation. As an intern at a Corporate Audit Directorates (CAD), Sarah learned about DCAA’s role directing audits for DoD’s major defense contractors and worked closely with branch offices. Today, Sarah shares her internship experience.

I had a unique internship experience because I was in school and interning for DCAA during the global pandemic. I think onboarding during the summer helped give me extra time to learn about DCAA without having to worry about classes. I continued my internship through my last semester because I was working from home and my courses were online. I worried about fitting my internship into my class schedule and schoolwork; however, DCAA was understanding and helped arrange a schedule that worked best for me.

My biggest worry was learning how to do the job. I was nervous about transferring the skills I learned in school to practice. After I found out interns receive the same training as newly hired auditors, I was more comfortable with the work and felt prepared for the office. The best way to ensure success for a DCAA internship is the same way new auditors find success, asking questions. Questions are highly encouraged throughout all DCAA. Do not be afraid to ask questions, it’s a great way to learn and to get exposure to as many different opportunities and skills as possible. There are so many different assignments at DCAA and becoming familiar with them during an internship is a great way to learn. I had a great coach, supportive manager, and a kind team that encouraged questions and my professional growth.

At the CAD, my typical day was working on training or proposals. I started doing some simpler risk assessment steps and moved onto testing direct material vendors. My supervisor and other senior auditors guided me and always provided helpful feedback for improvement. I’m amazed at my journey and the progress I’ve made in less than four years. I got to learn and navigate the different expectations for all levels of the auditing job, and I became a full-time auditor after graduating and have since earned my Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Thanks to my internship, I successfully balanced studying for the CPA exam while working full-time in my new role and had a smooth transition from school to the workforce.