When Arcadia University alumnus Marc Ruggia ’14 first heard of an internship opportunity at the Defense Contract Audit Agency for the Federal Government in Moorestown, N.J., he didn’t know that his ambition and hard work would eventually lead to a full-time career with the DCAA.
In fact, when the former accounting major and tennis standout applied for the intern position during his sophomore year, he found the process to be “pretty intimidating at first.” After all, not many students stepped into federal employment during their second year of college.
“Although I didn’t want to begin interning that early into college, I knew—with the help of my parents, of course—[that] it would be beneficial to get my foot in the door,” said Ruggia. “It was tough having to work every day while all my friends were out having a good time, but in the end, it paid off.”
Despite experiencing initial nerves throughout the in-depth application process, extensive background check, and mountain of paperwork, Ruggia made it to the final list of applicants and successfully interviewed before a panel of five DCAA administrators.
A month later, Ruggia was offered the internship position with the ability to advance to full-time employment once he completed all requirements and obtained a worker rating of “fully successful” by his supervisor.
Achieving the full-time employment status was not simple, however. Having never worked as an auditor, Ruggia had to memorize the DCAA’s responsibilities before diving into his internship tasks.
“At the DCAA, we save taxpayers money by making sure the Department of Defense pays a reasonable price for essential equipment,” explains Ruggia.“An example of that would be the Navy requesting a radar system for their ships. Various contractors—Lockheed Martin, for example—submit a bid or proposal. We audit the bid/proposal to make sure the price for that radar is reasonable. At the conclusion of our audit, we make recommendations on the bid/proposal. This is used to negotiate a better price.”
As a financial management student trainee, Ruggia completed agency-required training courses and worked with colleagues on a variety of audits. During this process, the classes—namely, an Auditing course with professor John Fusco—that Ruggia took at Arcadia helped him to better understand the work he was assigned.
“I do everything I learned in that class. We learned how to complete various audit steps to reach an audit conclusion and to ultimately write the final report,” said Ruggia. “I also used a lot of info I learned from a Cost Accounting course with Professor [Thomas] Brinker. We reference the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) at DCAA when reviewing the contractor’s accounting systems.”
While he got a taste of responsibility as an intern, Ruggia never was the one signing off on reports as a trainee. When he became a full-time auditor following graduation, however, Ruggia was granted full access to all documents and began working on his own. Since then, he’s been assigned audits with the responsibility of getting reports out on time and signing off.
“At first, it seemed like a lot to take in,” said Ruggia, “but I have become more and more experienced when it comes to completing audit steps and communicating with big contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing.”
Ruggia’s internship with the DCAA not only led to his position with the Federal Government, but it has prepared him for potential employment with other government organizations as well.
“I always wanted to work with either the FBI or CIA and that still hasn’t changed. But the work I am doing now with DCAA is a solid stepping stone to getting that ‘dream’ job,” said Ruggia.