Internships and Practicums
Accounting internships allow students to work for companies in their field to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a college course or program. For example, many accounting programs require students to complete an internship at an approved organization. Internships connect academic coursework to practical examples, helping students gain valuable experience and more easily transition into the workforce. Some programs also require learners to complete assignments during their internship, reinforcing these newly learned skills. Internships can be included on a student's resume, which can help them prove to employers that they have hands-on experience in the field. While some internships offer wages in return for work, many positions remain unpaid. Although unpaid internships do not offer students financial compensation, they can still provide exposure to the field.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 81% of college graduates believe that their internship experiences helped improve their career directions slightly or significantly, and many of these internships led directly to career opportunities. As an example, NACE conducted a study at Endicott College to determine the professional success of students who completed internships. In 2015, 53% of Endicott College graduates who carried out an internship earned positions at a former internship site within a year of graduation. Additionally, 90% of those graduates reported that they found a career in their field.
What to Expect From Your Accounting Internship
What Will I Do for My Accounting Internship?
The main goal of an accounting internship — which is required by many college accounting programs — is to encourage students to apply the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to realistic situations faced by professional accountants. Students in accounting scholarships commonly include profit analysis, handling accounts payable and working with payroll departments, preparing tax reports, organizing files for audits, researching new methods for pricing, and managing an organization's budget. Students often work on tax or auditing projects during their internship. In tax-focused internships, participants must develop and maintain a working knowledge of tax law.
In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?
Students enrolled in online programs can typically find accounting internships at an approved location that is close to their homes. Accounting internships can be completed at small businesses, where students may work on bookkeeping, bill payments, or invoicing. Students can also opt to work for certified tax professionals where they assist with tax documents and help prepare tax reports. Students who find internships at mid-size accounting firms may work on order processing, warehouse and inventory management, advanced reporting, and workflows. Alternatively, students can also pursue internships at large accounting firms where they may learn to use more complex software systems.
How Long Will My Internship Last?
The length of an accounting internship can vary depending on a student's position and the requirements of their program. For example, the accounting program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas requires students to complete a 150-hour accounting internship. Students must submit a paper prior to their internship outlining their expectations and a paper afterwards reflecting on what they learned.
The University of Wisconsin – Platteville's accounting program requires students to complete 240 hours of work during their accounting internship, working at least 20 hours each week. Students can expect to spend a significant amount of time meeting their internship requirements.
Will I Get Paid for My Accounting Internship?
There are two types of internships: paid and unpaid. Paid accounting internships tend to be more competitive than unpaid positions.
Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship?
Programs that include accounting internships typically grant credits toward degree completion. These programs allow students to allocate different credit amounts for an internship, and some programs even let students choose from a range of credits. For example, Bellevue University offers internships worth 1-3 credits, depending on how much time students want to commit to an internship. Additionally, many programs require students to submit papers describing their internship, detailing the various lessons learned on the job.
How Will My Accounting Internship Help Me?
Students who complete accounting internships typically learn a variety of skills that help them find a successful accounting career. For example, students may learn how to construct budgets and forecast spending, prepare vouchers and tax reports, conduct profit analysis, and work with payroll offices. Prior to applying for an internship position, students learn the fundamentals of accounting by taking introductory classes. Students can connect the lessons and theories learned in the classroom to practical situations faced by working accountants. Internships also help students gain confidence in their abilities, leading to a smoother transition between the academic setting of a college program and the professional setting found in accounting offices.
How to Find Accounting Internships
Students can access many different resources while searching for accounting internships. For example, all aspiring accounts should visit their school's career center and any job fairs or recruiting events hosted on or near campus.
- Your School's Career Center: School career centers help students prepare for interviews, conduct job and internship searches, and prepare their resumes.
- Job Fairs: Job fairs allow students to explore and compare several potential careers all at once. Students have the freedom to visit booths hosted by different companies, ask questions, and gather information and resources about various job opportunities.
- Recruiting Events: Similar to job fairs recruiting events allow students to network with professionals, potentially advance their careers, and explore new job opportunities.
- Alumni Network: Alumni networks provide a forum for graduates to connect with one another to share job opportunities, ideas, and best practices.
- Job Boards and Internship Databases: Job boards and internship databases help students find internship and career opportunities based on different, searchable criteria.
Accounting Internship Databases
- Accounting Degree Review: This website allows students to search for scholarships and job opportunities. It also provides online accounting tools that may prove useful to both accounting students and professionals.
- Internships.com: Internships.com is an online database that students can use to search for different internship opportunities. Search results can be filtered, allowing students to find internships based on location, subject, and other criteria.
- SummerInternships.com: SummerInternships.com is another website students can utilize to research different internship opportunities, including summer accounting internships. The site allows students to find opportunities based on location and focus area.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social networking platform that focuses on an individual's professional accomplishment. The site also hosts thousands of browsable internship opportunities, helping students find suitable positions.
- Monster.com: Monster.com is a career search engine. Students can use Monster to search for internship opportunities, searching for positions by location and job title.
- Indeed.com: Indeed.com is another useful website that students can use to search for internship or job opportunities. Aspiring accountants can find Internships based on the job title or location.