Accounting internships: Where to find the jobs

If you're one of the many college accounting students who is hoping to land an internship this summer, you might be wondering where to start. Internships, like the firms that offer them, come in different packages. There are jobs at the Big Four, regional firms, and small firms. Some internships are paid and some are not. Some are full-time, some are part-time. Some are in your home town, some require relocation. Start by deciding what you're looking for, then you can use some of these tips to help zero in on the right job for you.

If it's a big firm that interests you, try that firm's Web site. Search for "internship" and you're likely to find information about the programs including details on how to apply.

For example, KPMG's internship site explains the benefits of having an internship with the Big Four firm, what the experience will be like, and how to apply. KPMG offers its interns training, experience, and even sends each intern back to school with a laptop computer.

Ernst & Young's interns have the opportunity to attend the firm's international conference for interns, held in Orlando every August.

Clifton & Gunderson does a good job of explaining what types of experiences an intern can expect: "An internship with CG will give you an edge over your classmates by providing real work with real professionals and real opportunities.

As a CG intern, you will:

  • be exposed to many of the same responsibilities as a full-time, first year Associate

  • work with a variety of CG professionals and Partners as an active member of the engagement team

  • get an inside look at the people, technology and processes that make us a model in the Profession

  • experience our culture and environment to better understand if it fits your ambitions

  • understand the value we place on diversity and helping our employees maximize life

  • be challenged by opportunities to apply the analytical and problem-solving skills you’ve acquired in class

  • develop new skills that will help you in almost any career – such as working well on a team, effective communications and project leadership "

    But firm sites are just the beginning. You can head over to Monster.com where a quick search for "accounting internship" pulls up a remarkable 286 jobs. Or Google "accounting internships" to find 176,000 entries.

    Some colleges allow internships to take the place of an accounting course in the regular curriculum. Most if not all college accounting departments have placement programs and business department bulletin boards are often filled with job notices including internships.

    A meeting with a college adviser might prove fruitful in helping a student determine what kind of internship is most appropriate. An advisor can also help determine if you have the appropriate amount of credits and the grade point average necessary to begin pursuing an internship.

    eHow.com recommends college students join the national accounting fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, and use the resources of the local chapter to help find internships. The site also suggests that BAP alumni frequently hire current BAP members.

    Developing a working relationship with at least one accounting faculty member can also open up other resources for finding internships. Employers rely heavily on faculty remarks concerning interpersonal and academic qualifications. Many professors have a network of real-world contacts and from time-to-time can make an internship offer materialize by making a phone call.

    Job fairs that are held on campus can be another good source for seeking out internships. Potential employers come to the campus events, giving students the opportunity to introduce themselves to recruiters and gather information on specific companies.

    eHow.com suggests these tips for securing an internship:

    1. Dress appropriately for the interview. This is the real world. Most businesses, especially accounting firms, are very formal.
    2. Be on time. Being late for an interview is unacceptable.
    3. Send a thank you email or letter after the interview.
    4. Request the details of the internship in writing once you receive an offer.
    5. Go to your adviser immediately to verify that this in a qualified internship that meets the school's requirements.

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