Internship Spotlight – Caroline Collier, APS

Eller PDC Coordinator Student Stories

Caroline Collier is an Accounting major and will graduate in May of 2019.  She interned this past summer for APS as the Rotational Accounting Intern in Phoenix, Arizona. 

How did you get this internship?  The girl who gave me my tour of the U of A when I was a prospective student was at the APS table at the Fall Meet the Firms and I recognized her! I stopped by to ask about her experience as she had been an intern the previous year, she told me what a great opportunity it was and I interviewed the next day.

What was a typical day like? I would get to the office around 7:30 and spend the morning working on things for my project. Working on my deliverables, contacting people I needed to meet with, and preparing my recommendations. Then depending on which rotation I was in, sometimes I’d have meetings to attend pertaining to various things within the department that I was in at that time. I’d usually spend about half the day working on smaller projects related to the department that I was rotating through at the time. I would say that about 50% of my time was spent on my big summer project and the other 50% was spent working with the rotation that I was in. This was really valuable as I got to see how 4 different departments within accounting function, and what the day-to-day life for an employee in that area looks like.

What was your favorite part of the experience? My favorite part of the experience was getting to meet with so many people and learn from them. As an intern, you have incredible access to supervisors, managers, leaders, and even executives. I loved getting to meet with successful people and learn about what they do, how they got to be where they are, and hear any tips they might have for me.

If you worked on a big project, please describe it below: My overall summer project was looking at the process at APS that deals with the price variances between Purchase Orders and Invoices. It seems like it would be a simple fix, but with such a large company with so much inventory, this process is really complicated. I first had to learn about the process as it was currently and then think of potential recommendations for how to make the process more efficient. I ended by presenting my findings to the teams affected as well as the VP of Accounting.

What did you find most challenging about your internship? I think the most challenging part was in the first few weeks where you really have to adjust your way of thinking. In school, there’s one right answer and we’re looking for that. In the workplace, there’s no secret answer book. You have to critically think about problems and use your accounting knowledge as a base for how to solve them. Also my hour-long commute each way was not fun after being used to living 5 minutes from campus.

What advice do you have for other students looking for a similar internship? Ask anyone that you know who have had a great internship experience… You never know which companies are going to be awesome, I didn’t even think about working at a utility company until I knew someone who had interned for them and I ended up loving it! I think it’s all about using your resources to find where you’ll fit best.

How did Eller prepare you for your internship? I think I was really well prepared to communicate and network with others at my internship. There were times where I’d be writing a memo, or thinking over my presentation and I would remember what my professors had said about how to effectively communicate your thoughts. I also think that Eller does a great job encouraging you to think of your personal brand. If you can go into your internship knowing what skills you can capitalize on, you’ll be in great shape!

Did your internship employer provide housing or transportation assistance?  My employer provided transportation or financially supplemented my transportation during the internship.