World flagsBack in April last year I had the opportunity to work on the audit of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Copenhagen. The UN was an audit I had been keen to get on right from the start of my time here, as I am really interested in international issues – I volunteered in Ghana in the summer before joining the NAO and had previously done an internship with a human rights charity.

The NAO has been on the UN Board of Auditors for 5 years and we currently share the role with the Supreme Audit Institutions of Tanzania and India. Each member stays on the Board for 6 years after which a new country is appointed to take their place.

Working on a UN audit presented a variety of new challenges – including the use of different accounting standards. UNOPS uses the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) rather than International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which meant the format of the accounts was different from those I had audited previously.

What I found really interesting about the audit were the contracts I came across which showed the variety of projects UNOPS gets involved in. It provides project management, construction and procurement services to other UN agencies; the small sample of contracts I looked at ranged from a large shipment of mosquito nets and malaria medication to construction of a new hospital.

There was an added level of challenge for the contracts in different languages. For these I had to draw on my (rather rusty) French A level knowledge – and when that failed me, seek help from Google Translate or my multi-lingual colleagues. As UNOPS’ transactions were conducted in a variety of currencies, the audit also gave me an opportunity to practice what we had recently learned at college about how to account for foreign exchange gains or losses.

As our time in Copenhagen was limited, we wanted to make sure we got as much work done as we could whilst we could talk to the clients face to face. This meant working long hours during the week but I made sure I had time to explore the city at the weekend. The audit team also had film and pizza nights together in our hotel rooms when we felt like having an evening off.

Unfortunately 2015-16 is the NAO’s last year on the UN Board, so there is likely to be fewer opportunities to go on international audit after that. However there are plenty of other interesting opportunities at the NAO to get involved in, especially if you are proactive.

Last chance to apply!

Our summer internship programme closes for applications today (19 February 2016).

Head over to the Windsor Fellowship website for further information on how to apply.

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