Accounting internships are perfect environments for individuals to improve their skillset, build contacts and further their career objectives.
For all the benefits these programs provide, there is a degree of anxiety and confusion about what these roles involve and what is considered best practice.
Rather than being consumed by preconceptions about the exercise, it is worthwhile taking stock of what is involved.
Time to offer a step-by-step guide for young professionals preparing for accounting internships.
Step 1: Keep An Open Mind
Participants who attend accounting internships by and large have a career objective in mind, but not everyone does. Young professionals who have graduated from high school or university will be equipped with accounting skills and might have been steered in that direction. Whether the profession is a genuine ambition or there are potentially other alternatives in the market, it is worthwhile investing the time and effort into the exercise. This setting offers individuals with a chance to gain real world experience that improves any resume and can help to define what type of professional role the applicant wants to pursue in future years. If that positive attitude can be sustained, then many of the other setbacks and issues can be put into context.
Step 2: Ask Questions
People may have heard the phrase ‘being a sponge for knowledge’ and while that might sound like an unusual metaphor, accounting internships are always optimised when participants feel empowered to learn more on the job. There is only such much understanding of the industry that can be achieved by reading textbooks and studying lecture materials. Much of the real work will be seen up front in real time, paving the way for applicants to pick the brain of expert operators who have years of experience in the industry. This approach will also help to build relationships that will be valuable in the intervening days and weeks ahead.
Step 3: Ask For Extra Duties
A strong work ethic is seen as one of the most valuable characteristics for any applicant who participates in accounting internships. Given the diversity of the field from filing for tax returns, reading key sets of data, developing reports and helping with the management of client budgets, there will always be a project on the desk that requires some additional attention. If the intern has not be inundated with a full load of work, then seeking extra duties will be seen as a major step forward and a benefit for the firm.
Step 4: Dress As An Accountant
It might appear like a cosmetic benefit when talking about attire, but in many instances looking the part when attending accounting internships can really help the image of the participant. There are few times when employers are working directly one-on-one with interns, so being able to see a well presented man or woman with good hygiene and a smart aesthetic will only improve the cause. Young professionals are not expected to invest thousands of dollars on some extravagant and high-end attire, but a buttoned and ironed shirt with a clean pair of formal pants with a tie or jacket will allow the intern to adapt into the corporate culture space.
Step 5: Develop Contacts
Arguably the most effective step that anyone can take when attending accounting internships is to develop key contacts in the industry. This will be beneficial for young professionals who are either successful or unsuccessful with a full-time opportunity. Once they are able to build friendships and learn about hiring processes and opportunities in the industry, then other doors can open. Networking is part and parcel of any commercial sector in the public or private space, so building those relationships will only help the cause.