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​The Future Is Bright

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​I've spent time over the last few weeks on the campus of Louisiana State University (LSU) participating in recruiting activities for my company's internal audit internships this summer. With my company's headquarters located in Baton Rouge, La., we are fortunate to have the LSU Center for Internal Auditing (LSUCIA) program in our backyard. The LSUCIA program is one of The IIA's Internal Audit Education Partnership (IAEP) programs, which are designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge to help them conduct basic internal audits immediately upon hire. IAEP programs also provide a foundation to begin preparing for the Certified Internal Auditor exam.

As I interacted with the students, I was excited about the future of the internal audit profession, particularly the next generation of internal auditors who will play a part in advancing our profession. The students' interest in and knowledge of the profession, their diverse backgrounds, developing communication skills, and thoughtful questions were just a few of the reasons I believe the next generation of internal auditors will positively impact internal auditing in the years to come.

During the recruiting events, I was fortunate to talk with many of the 70-plus students enrolled in this year's IAEP program. Each of the students with whom I interacted was genuinely interested in internal audit and viewed it as a profession that would allow them to make the most out of their careers. The engagement and enthusiasm of these students for internal audit was truly contagious.

I was also excited about the diverse academic backgrounds of the students enrolled in the program. I talked with students from many different academic programs, which included some of the traditional internal audit backgrounds such as accounting, general business, and master of business administration. Alongside them were students from information systems/decision sciences, computer sciences, various engineering programs, and public administration, to name a few.

The students' wide variety of academic backgrounds closely aligns with the wide variety of risks faced today by many in our profession. Further, the students' ability to blend their varying technical backgrounds with a base understanding of the core concepts of internal auditing learned in the IAEP program will position them to contribute to the internal audit departments that they ultimately will join.

While the work experience to date for some of these students was somewhat limited, many could hold their own in a networking conversation. Recognizing the important role that communication plays in the internal audit profession, this capacity for connecting with practitioners and communicating effectively will serve these students well in the future. While communication is a skill that often improves over time, these students will be starting their careers with an advantage over those who haven't had the same opportunity to practice and get comfortable in similar situations.

Lastly, the well-thought-out questions students asked were quite impressive and indicated their interest in the profession as well as a preliminary understanding of the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. For example, I received questions about how to ensure quality in the work performed by internal auditors, how different organizations are leveraging technology to enhance their internal audit work, and how to address emerging risks. To me, these questions represented not only a sincere interest in the profession, but also strong critical-thinking skills, both of which are important for continuing to advance the profession.

Based on the excitement, passion, and emerging knowledge of these students, I think the future is bright for the internal audit profession. It is up to those of us who are currently in the profession to harness the excitement of those who are entering it and assist them with the tools, feedback, and encouragement they need for continued success.

I encourage anyone who is not familiar with the IAEP program to learn more about it and see if there is a program in their area. These programs provide a strong foundation for students interested in an internal audit career. Today's practitioners must ensure we build up the generation of professionals who are coming up behind us. 

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