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Accounting internships allow you to work for companies in your field to gain experience or satisfy course or program requirements. For example, many accounting programs require an internship at an approved organization.
Internships help you gain valuable experience to transition into the workforce. Some programs also require you to complete assignments during the internship, reinforcing these newly learned skills.
You can include internships on your resume, which can help prove to employers that you have hands-on experience in the field. While some internships offer wages in return for work, many positions may be unpaid. Although unpaid internships do not offer 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.
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What to Expect From Your Accounting Internship
What Will I Do for My Accounting Internship?
The main goal of an accounting internship — which many college accounting programs require — is to encourage you to apply the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to realistic situations professional accountants face.
Duties in accounting internships 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. You may work on tax or auditing projects during your internship. In tax-focused internships, you must develop and maintain a working knowledge of tax law.
In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?
Online students can often find accounting internships at an approved location close to their home. You can do your accounting internship at small businesses, where you may work on bookkeeping, bill payments, or invoicing.
You can also opt to work for certified tax professionals, assisting with tax documents and helping prepare tax reports. Finding an internship at mid-size accounting firms may involve work on order processing, warehouse and inventory management, advanced reporting, and workflows. Pursuing internships at large accounting firms could mean using complex software systems.
How Long Will My Internship Last?
The length of an accounting internship can vary depending on your position and the requirements of your 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. You can expect to spend a significant amount of time meeting 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 often grant credits toward degree completion. These programs allow you to allocate different credit amounts for an internship, and some programs even let you choose from a range of credits.
For example, Bellevue University offers internships worth 1-3 credits, depending on how much time you want to commit to an internship. Many programs require you to submit papers describing your internship, detailing the various lessons learned on the job.
How Will My Accounting Internship Help Me?
Completing an accounting internship often gives you a variety of skills to help find a successful accounting career. You 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, learn the fundamentals of accounting by taking introductory classes. You can connect the lessons and theories learned in the classroom to practical situations faced by working accountants. Internships also help you gain confidence in your abilities, leading to a smoother transition between the academic setting of a college program and the professional setting found in accounting offices.
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How to Find Accounting Internships
Visit your 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 you prepare for interviews, conduct job and internship searches, and polish your resume.
- Job Fairs: Job fairs allow you to explore and compare several potential careers all at once. You can 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 you 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 you find internship and career opportunities based on different, searchable criteria.
Accounting Internship Databases
- Accounting Degree Review: This website allows you 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 you can use to search for different internship opportunities. You can filter search results based on location, subject, and other criteria.
- SummerInternships.com: SummerInternships.com is another website you can utilize to research different internship opportunities, including summer accounting internships. The site allows you 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 many browsable internship opportunities, helping you find suitable positions.
- Monster.com: Monster.com is a career search engine. You 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 you can use to search for internship or job opportunities. Aspiring accountants can find Internships based on the job title or location.
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