What Can I Expect from an Accounting Internship?

If earning an undergraduate degree in accounting is the first step in the career path of accountancy, the second step must be landing the ideal accounting internship. As new companies start and existing ones expand so does the need for business professionals with accounting knowledge and skills. Because accounting involves financial record keeping that complies with state and federal laws and a unique code of ethics, the career field itself is highly regulated. A person who wants to work as an official accountant for a company or start their own accounting firm must be licensed by the state in which they plan to work as a certified public accountant (CPA). Experience working under the supervision of a CPA is one of the requirements to become a CPA, and many new graduates attempt to gain this experience through accounting internships. Here are some internship types available to new accounting graduates, tips for obtaining the right internship and the recommended timeline to search for internships.

Internship Work Represents Essential CPA Duties

Since real world accounting jobs incorporate numerous tasks depending on areas of expertise, good accounting internships should reflect the same duties. Before pursuing an internship, one should first consult one’s academic advisor or career counselor about the requirements for CPA licensure in the state. Many states require a specific amount of CPA supervised work hours dedicated to topics like auditing and financial statement preparation, and internships should include these topics at a minimum. Students who already know their accounting specialty’s areas of interest may seek internships with companies that can give them the desired internship experience. For instance, students who want to work as tax accountants easily find companies of various sizes that require this type of work. These students would prepare income tax returns, conduct income tax research, and perform tax account reconciliations.

Landing a Valuable Internship

Utilizing the accounting department’s career center, tapping the resources of professional organizations and conducting independent job search are just a few ways that students obtain the internships needed to sit for the CPA exam. Colleges and universities with top rated accounting programs often house career counseling centers that help prepare students for the next steps in their careers. These programs often have pre-established partnerships with businesses that work with students to give them challenging work. Savvy students join and actively participate in accounting related professional organizations. These organizations present students with excellent networking opportunities, scholarships and sometimes direct internship opportunities with member businesses. The digital age has simplified the process of locating quality internships independently. Students can now access accounting internship positions via online career sites like Indeed, Simply Hired and Glassdoor. Career sites like InternMatch specialize in paid internships for university undergraduate and graduate students. Smart students do not rely on just one avenue for obtaining internships; they usually pursue all three paths to gain the best positions.

Featured Programs

When to Start Looking for Internship Opportunities

Students should start outlining their career goals and identifying companies that would provide the best internship opportunities as early as possible. Academic and school career counselors steer these students to the right professional organizations, help them prepare resumes and cover letters and advise them about beneficial elective classes to take.


Planning and organizational skills are prominent traits of successful accountants. They are also the same attributes that aspiring accountants need to locate and negotiate great accounting internship experiences.