When Should Accounting Students Get an Internship?

As an accounting student, you’ll have numerous questions about the accounting internship process from when it’s a good time to start looking to how you can land a coveted internship position with a great firm. Internships provide real-world experiences outside of the classroom as well as the potential for employment after graduation. Work experience is essential if you want to receive your CPA license too. While some internships are unpaid, there are others that can pay quite a bit. It depends on the company.

Early as Possible

A year or two before graduation is a good time to start looking for an internship. Your college’s career center can help you determine when it’s the best time to start applying for internships. It can be a great way to obtain some extra credits to be applied toward graduation. Some internships are paid opportunities for the summer. The type of internship will influence when you can start looking. Many students start looking for an opportunity for the summer when they begin school in the fall.

Resource: 50 Most Affordable Small Midwest Colleges for an Accounting Degree 2016 (Bachelor’s)

Type of Internships Available

Accounting is a wide playing field with a variety of internship opportunities. You want to find one that lines up with your ultimate career goal. If you plan on working in a corporate environment, you want to find a position in a large company local to your area. In this position, the intern will perform profit analysis reports and budget documents. There are tax accounting positions, audit accounting and financial accounting positions in a variety of firms.

Where to Look

When searching for an internship, you can look online for advertised positions in firms looking for interns. The common job boards can be searched using keywords like intern or internship. The fact that it’s advertised online means that there could be hundreds of applicants. If you don’t want to compete with all these other applicants, you can take the initiative to contact major accounting firms in your area. Government or non-profits are a great choice too.

University Career Center

Your college or university career center is a great place to make connections with professionals who work with these companies. Most firms will have a relationship with local universities and tell that campus’ career center about opportunities they have for interns. This should be one of the first stops you make as a student who wants an internship for the summer.

Professional Skills

Along with the burgeoning knowledge of the accounting world, you should have professional skills that translate to a good interview style. You may have terrific grades, but if you are stiff and nervous during the interview, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the position. Polish your resume before heading to an interview and make sure you’ve done your research on the company. Practice interviewing with someone who will give you honest feedback too.

You should start looking for an accounting internship opportunity as soon as possible. Contact your college’s career center to learn what kind of relationships they have with local firms. If that doesn’t lead to a position, don’t be afraid to contact companies yourself and be assertive in asking whether they have internships available.