As you progress and near the end of your accounting degree, the hunt for employment in our field of profession gets more and more competitive. The reality is, the accounting industry is tough – with an oversaturation in the number of graduates having studied accounting versus the realistic number of positions available – it’s competitive! So the question stands, “how am I going to find a job?”
Accounting internships offer more than just “making your resume look a little longer”. Where the real life skills and application in the professional field such come into play – allowing you to present yourself to an employer as a candidate with a competitive edge. Internships are one of the many ways in which knowledge is taught about a particular industry – aside from your traditional paper and book, and as such, should not be neglected. The best type of experiences and the best type of qualifications are gained through hands on experiences in the professional work place, while this is also proven to be effective through multiple studies.
Not only that, but we find that internships are also more effective and a more efficient method of education. Although lectures, tutorials and assignments are an essential part of what is deemed acceptable in being “specialised” in your field, practical application of knowledge in real life is just as paramount – if not more important. Internships can provide exposure to the working environment of the field, bringing in a sense of reality to abstract concepts taught in class.
In addition to this, internships also give a good indication as to how you might feel about your field of study – in some cases you might end up changing your field of study after an internship having found out that the type of work is not for you. Not all candidates have the same interests as others so internships at times also determine the professional pathway a candidate will eventually take.
Accounting internships uncover the workings of a firm, especially within the accounting field where so many different types of firms exist – all servicing different aspects of the field. In undertaking an internship, you can ensure a holistic exposure to a variety set of tasks, forming goals into which sector of accounting you would like grow into.
For those of you who are still fresh into your degree and are unsure of the various areas, fields you can specialise and grow into include auditing roles for those of you with a keen eye for detail and patience for repetitive work; whilst those of you with great organisation skills may wish to grow into a bookkeeping role.
Regardless of the role, maximum experience and exposure in various areas can be a great first start to your career, not only does it showcase a willingness and passion for and about the industry to employers, but you learn and grow as an individual. You may undertake an internship in auditing and find out you may not like it, that it may not be your forte – and that’s okay! All learning is great experience, and besides, it would be a shame to miss out on experience without first trying the field.
But will I get a job out of an internship? This notion – being quite popular, and rather being the intention of undertaking an internship in most cases (especially true for accounting given the competitive nature of the industry), whilst it is possible, the brute reality is, that it is not always the case.
Instead of focusing on the stresses getting a job, and impressing to get a job, go in with an open mind, and heart, and most importantly, a willingness to learn. They are still a great starting point to develop as well as put into practice your practical skills and build attitudinal endurance and discipline professionally. In addition to this, presenting work experience obtained – regardless of this being unpaid or paid – puts you higher up in a pool of candidates when applying for various roles, this being further true for those of you with exposure to different fields of accounting.
The shift from the traditional degree or qualification to being a tip-top candidate is evident, with “attaining experience” being iterated throughout your degree. Accounting internships give you both experience in your field and (hopefully) a respected reference; internships are thus a good method for self-evaluation and professional development.
They allow us to see how well we might do in the professional world while also allowing us to see our strengths and weaknesses but ultimately the feedback from an internship should always be used to improve and further progress in your professional accounting career.