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Yinny Lo recently completed QAO’s graduate program. During her time as a Graduate Auditor, Yinny gained experience in Audit Analytics and Performance Audit Services. Yinny was happy to discuss her experiences with QAO and share advice about starting in the graduate program.
What was beginning the graduate program like?
I was really excited to start the grad program. Coming to QAO was a change of career for me, so I was looking forward to starting this new challenge. I was definitely nervous, but everyone in the office was so welcoming and happy to see us that I felt comfortable quite quickly. I think one of the biggest benefits of starting in a graduate program is that you get to share the experience with a group of people, and that helped me get through those nervous first few days and the rest of the year.
In the first two weeks we had a lot of training, which covered everything from the background of QAO, to auditing in the public sector and audit principles and procedures. It was a lot to take in, but it was a good introduction to QAO and the type of work we were likely to see.
I was then placed in my home team, where I worked closely with my manager/supervisor and buddy. Everyone in the team was really nice and helpful, and made me feel part of the team straight away.
I think one of the biggest benefits of starting in a graduate program is that you get to share the experience with a group of people, and that helped me get through those nervous first few days and the rest of the year.
What did you find most surprising about starting in the graduate program?
I was already working full time before joining QAO, but what surprised me about the graduate program was that once you were assigned to your home team, they have you involved in work from day one. You are given the responsibility to finish procedures and interact with clients straight away. I found this was a really positive experience. Although they kind of throw you in the deep end, I learnt a lot from it and there was always support and help on offer.
Which teams have you worked with, and what was each like?
The first team I joined was within health, where I worked on the Department of Health and Central West Hospital and Health Service. When I joined the team working on the Department of Health they were busy with interim testing, but everyone made a real effort to help me feel welcome. Every day I had so many questions, but there was always someone to help. I think they all understood what it’s like for a grad, so there was always support. I also got the chance to travel to Longreach for the Central West Hospital and Health Service audit. I think travelling away together as a team was such a good experience—I got to visit a place I had never been before, and you get to know your team members better. There is also a greater push on meeting deadlines, as your work is limited to the time you spend on site, so it really helps it feel like a strong team effort to get the audit finished.
I have also worked in Audit Analytics and Performance Audit Services teams. Data analytics is such an important part of audit, and it was impressive to see how the Audit Analytics team supported the work of QAO. I also learnt how to write SQL scripts that were used to select or insert data, which was fun but challenging. My work with Performance Audit Services was certainly different to anything I had done before. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed my time there. I got to research some interesting future topics and help create an audit program for a current audit topic. I think the experience working in different areas of the business is a great opportunity to learn other aspects of QAO, and you get to meet a whole team of other really friendly people.
What’s the first big thing you worked on?
My first big piece of work was interim expenditure testing for Queensland Ambulance Service. It was a pretty standard procedure, but it was the first assigned to me to complete by myself, so it sticks out in my mind. There were a lot of analytical steps that I had never seen or done before, but I had a lot of support from my supervisor. I learnt a lot in this situation—but that’s what I have found with audit: you learn the most by doing. When I hit the complete button, it was definitely a good feeling. Looking back, it’s funny to think how daunting the work was when I first looked at it. I was recently able to help a new graduate with a similar task, which has shown me how far I have come.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety in clients and the different types of work you get to do keeps it interesting and keeps me on my toes. There is always something new to learn and different aspects about auditing you can gain exposure to. Every day is different, and there is always something to challenge you.
The people you get to work with is a definite plus. Working in teams, you get to know each other really well and make good friendships. I found that QAO is really supportive in giving graduates different opportunities and people want to help you develop. When I went to my new team, I was able to talk to my manager and discuss what I would like to do this year, and the team was really accommodating and assigned me audit cycles that I had not worked on before.
Every day is different, and there is always something to challenge you.
How prepared do you feel starting a new work placement compared to your first?
I moved to a new area and a new team at the beginning of October where we were about to start the planning process. This was another learning curve, as I was now working with new clients and new procedures. However, I felt I was more prepared to handle this challenge, using the skills and knowledge I gained during my time in health. It was also good to see how the audit process starts and I look forward to completing this year’s audit from start to finish.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you?
To make sure when I was given a task that I knew why I was doing it and how to complete it, and to always ask questions. This might involve sitting down with your supervisor for 10 minutes discussing a procedure before actually starting it, but it gives you a better understanding of what you need to do, and saves a lot of time and confusion if you just tried to do it yourself first without that help. Asking questions was always really encouraged. I was initially hesitant to ask so many, but you soon realise that it’s what they want from graduates as it shows you are trying to learn and understand how best to complete a task.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give a new grad?
Make the most of your support network—your buddy, supervisor and especially the other graduates. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think you’re supposed to know the answer or that somehow you will work it out on your own—it saves a lot of time and effort! Everyone wants you to succeed and understands that you are learning, so there is always someone to help with an audit question or to have a chat about how things are going.