International Accounting Course Helps Set Sails

September 6, 2013

While counting pieces of construction equipment in the rain in Panama isn’t the usual idea of a summer break, it was fine with Jeffrey Baumgartner ’14 MSA ’14, an intern with Caterpillar Inc. 

“The most memorable part of my internship was the hotel in Panama,” he said. “There were 5-foot-long iguanas walking around everywhere. It was a beautiful country. Most accountants don’t get very close to the actual product at Caterpillar, so it was pretty amazing to be physically touching the equipment.”

This experience was the third time the Naperville, Ill., native interned for the Peoria-based Fortune 50 company. In addition to his time at the product distribution center in Colon, Panama, Baumgartner also traveled from the company’s headquarters for projects at other facilities. These assignments included an accounts payable audit and transferring information from older to newer data systems. His normal 40-hour workweek would grow to as many as 60 when audit completion dates neared. 

“Some days, I would do nothing but interview employees involved in the process I was auditing,” he explained. “Other days, I would piece together all the information I gathered and summarize it.”

The heat and frequent rain showers in Panama required some adjustment, he noted, as did the language difference: “All the documents in Panama were written in Spanish. I would have the employees translate the information I required.”

His Bradley connection also continued overseas. “I met a lot of Bradley students and alumni during my internship,” he commented, adding one alum arranged a lunch where all the Bradley accounting interns met the company’s recruiters. 

With goals of passing the CPA, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Management Accountant exams, Baumgartner credited his international accounting course with putting him on the road to the internship. “I traveled to London for that course, which was the only reason I had a passport. Because I had the passport, I was able to go to Panama,” he said. “My auditing course also taught me the skills I needed to be successful.”