General Question

steve22's avatar

What kind of duties should an Intern Trainee expect the company to assign him?

Asked by steve22 (55points) July 13th, 2010

I’m doing an internship for 4 weeks at one of the big four Ernst & Young , Assurance Dep. in the country Syria. It’s been a week and I haven’t been assigned anything from my supervisor. All they ask me to do is reading materials that are not really beneficial for me. None of the materials is applicable on-site. All I’ve been reading for the past week is 10-k and Annual reports of global companies that have been audited before.
I even asked my supervisor if I was going to meet clients or do anything like preparing financial statements or even have an access to the main software that the company uses but she said the company’s policy does not allow interns to do any of the above, and I should continue what I’m doing now for the rest of the program and ask her if I have any question.

I did an internship with the IRS back in the US before, and it was totally different. I had a direct contact with the clients with a supervision by one of the supervisors.

Please, I want to know what exactly goes on in an internship in companies like Ernst & Young and what the interns do specifically.

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10 Answers

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
janbb's avatar

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any defined role for an intern. You do what you are told to do. This does sound like a very unsatisfying internship but I think you are stuck with it unless you decide to bail. Perhaps before accepting another one somewhere else, you can clarify what tasks you will be involved with. I sympathize with you, boredom is terrible.

BoBo1946's avatar

I even asked my supervisor if I was going to meet clients or do anything like preparing financial statements or even have an access to the main software that the company uses but she said the company’s policy does not allow interns to do any of the above, and I should continue what I’m doing now for the rest of the program and ask her if I have any question.

ask her if I have any question. This part confused me…or you saying, she asked if you had anymore questions?

My intern was about learning company polices, history, and a brief introduction about my job. They gave me a large number of tapes to listen too and after each tape, would have a short quiz. Did this for three weeks. Boring..yes! But, no stress. After that, attended three schools that were 3 weeks each over a period of 6 months. But, my boss gave me a game plan of all this from day one. I’m surprised your boss did not give you a game plan.

Hey, they are paying you…enjoy!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here is a link to a US internship program with E&Y. Why not check it out and see if there is anything that might be worth suggesting to the supervisor? Then, ask for a block of time to sit down with her to discuss it.

The intent of an internship is to give potential employees an opportunity to see what it’s like to be working there, as well as their chance to see if interns are people that they want on their staff permanetly. IMO, she is wasting company money by having you sit and read for 4 weeks.

CMaz's avatar

I will give an intern as much of a work load as they can handle.

Sort of a lesson about being thrown into the fire

bob_'s avatar

It varies a lot. It depends on the workload they have, the type of tasks they need to get done, the amount of time your immediate superior has to supervise you, and the potential you show. If those factors align in your favor, you can be assigned interesting, challenging tasks. If not, you can end up making copies and getting people’s coffee (not joking).

You should not be expecting to meet with clients. They pay a lot of money for the services they’re getting, so firms aren’t all too eager to have them see the interns.

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s how I handle it:

Up to 20% boring stuff if necessary, up to 50% routine stuff if necessary, and at least 50% of interesting, challenging stuff so that the intern will learn a great deal, which means our company also needs to invest time for instructions and checking. I never use smart interns as cheap labor. I consider this to be unethical. Yes, in a busy week they might have to do more boring stuff too, but this is part of life and interns have to learn to endure this. Nothing is 100% fun over longer periods of time. Very often interns come back, when they were given the chance to learn and grow and sometimes we hire them as full time permanent employees after graduation. There’s a lot of competition for talents. Opportunities for interns are key!

wundayatta's avatar

As an intern, you are testing the company as much as the company is testing you.

As to boring work—I’m afraid that is often the best way to get to know a company. Once, as an intern, I had to sort through files in a filing cabinet. That told me a lot about what was going on, although it seemed really boring.

Often the first thing interns do is xeroxing materials. It sounds tedious, but if you take a look at what you are copying, you can learn a great deal about what is important to the company at the moment. There’s a reason why many CEOs were able to work themselves up from the mail room.

You’re reading about stuff that provides background information for you. It is information you may need to know to do a good job. I would take a different attitude toward it. I’d look at it with curiosity to see what the company is doing, and to figure out what I could do to help the company. It would be research I should do, with the added benefit that they are paying me to do it.

Later on, we’ll see how useful it is, and whether you really want to work there. For now, keep an open mind.

Austinlad's avatar

I try to give interns the types of tasks and responsibilities that will teach them something about my business, not just take work off my hands. And here’s a good tip… I admire an intern who comes to me with a list of tasks he or she proposes doing. Proactivity never hurts.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I work for a Fortune 100 company. We have interns spend the first week or so getting familiar with industry terms and trends, and with the structure of the company. We send them on 1+1 interviews with various people in the company in different roles. We assign an extended work project in an existing role, usually at an operational level (not making copies or filing) that gives them a bit of autonomous problem solving by having contact with the market offices. We put them through a bit of six sigma training, and give them a statistical analysis project, and a process improvement project. By the time they finish, they’ve got several powerpoint decks they’ve put together, visio process maps, have worked in Access and Microsoft Project. Some schools require turning in a paper on their internship project, so we make sure that they have plenty to write about.

I think you could approach it from the perspective of asking your manager, “what could I being doing to add value to the department while I’m here?” Ask her if she’s had interns before, and how were they utilized, and ask her point-blank if she is finding it difficult to have you in the department. Based on those answers, you may want to contact whomever in HR oversees the internships and tell them that you feel like you’re an imposition, and would like to be able to add some value.

You might want to evaluate how you engage with others in the department, in particular the admins. I agree with @Austinlad. Be proactive. Recap what they’ve given you to read and analyze it. In looking at E&Y’s assurance page on the web, I would be asking questions about audit practices in Syria vs. US market offices. What are the fastest growing segments of business in Syria, and what are the compliance and audit constraints for those industries? How does director liability differ? What about China’s presence and impact on business in Syria?

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