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One thing that you’ve probably heard time and time again (from relatives, parents, and even your high school teachers) is the importance of finding internships. And they’re right. As a current college student, we know you have a lot on your plate in terms of completing coursework and dealing with life. However, finding an internship (and a good one) is one of the best advantages you can have when it comes to jumpstarting your career immediately after graduation, or even before!

This is true especially in the accounting industry where work experience is required to obtain your CPA license and can help you move more quickly up the corporate ladder. Here are our top tips to land an accounting internship.

Understand the Importance of an Accounting Internship

There’s nothing that beats hands-on experience, and firms like the Big 4 appreciate that. A lot. In fact, 50% of entry-level hires at the Big 4 auditing firms were previous interns. And with so many great accounting students getting good grades, experience becomes a much bigger determining factor for who gets the job.

Know Where to Look for an Accounting Internship

You can find accounting internships at:

  • major firms
  • local firms
  • in industry
  • government or non-profit organizations

Ideally, you should apply at a firm, industry, or organization that closely aligns with what you plan to specialize in, your area of interest, or where you’d like to work as a benefitted and compensated full-time employee.

Again, the Big 4 offers great internship opportunities, often times paid; however, because competition for these internship positions is very high, it’s important to make sure you’re well-polished. Which brings us to our next tip.

Brush up on Your Professional Development Skills 

Regardless of whether you’d like to work for the Big 4, developing your professional skills is a significant factor that will impact every aspect of your career. They include:

  • Following directions: When applying for an internship, your application will have a very specific set of directions. Make sure you follow them to a T. Many candidates will get eliminated simply for not following directions; this is a testament to your attention to detail and how accurately you can process information given to you.
  • Polishing your resume: Include relevant experience with key words, phrases, and transferrable skills that speak to the job description. Make sure it’s in a good format that’s easily readable and aesthetic to the eye.
  • Writing cover letters: It’s a good idea to always include a cover letter. For applications that do not specify whether or not they would like one, you can use your judgment to include one anyway—but only if it isn’t going against following directions. Most applications will say that a cover letter is optional—in that case, make sure you definitely include one.
  • Practice interviewing: Make a list of the questions you think they’ll ask you and practice providing good, concise answers. Also make a list of questions you’d like to ask them. Prepare yourself for proper interview etiquette, such as dress code, body language, arrival time, etc.
  • Writing follow-ups: After your interview, make sure you send a follow-up email that reiterates your interest in the position, why you think you would be a good fit, and incorporating the information you received from the interviewer during your interview.
  • Networking: Go to Meet the Firms events and career job fairs. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and find opportunities to meet people in the industry. Ask for informational interviews from people at firms you’d like to work at; find out if your connections could connect you to hiring managers, etc. Networking can definitely get you an in toward the right direction!

Work Hard, Ask Questions, & Be Patient

Landing a good accounting internship isn’t easy. It will require time and effort and a few rejections before you find one. And if you have any questions or want more resources, don’t be afraid to ask! This goes for your career center at school, your professors, fellow peers, networking connections, family members, or friends. You won’t get the resources you need unless you actively seek them out. As long as you continue to work hard, ask questions, and be patient, you’re sure to land an accounting internship that will help you in the next level of your career.

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