By: Zeke Sigler
Experience in the workplace is one of the hardest things to come by in the accounting profession when you are in college or a recent graduate. The process of gaining experience through an internship is a tedious one, but if done properly, can help you land a great first job. But how do you go about being hired for an internship?
The first step to landing a great internship is to network with potential employers. Accounting firms may host networking events in your area, so take advantage of these opportunities to get your name out there. Don’t be afraid to throw your resume in the mix, too. Even if you aren’t a senior, sophomores with a good GPA and extracurricular activities are a good base for potential interns, and you want to make sure your name is at the top of the list.
Practice Makes Perfect
Go to practice interviews in the spring with firms that you are interested in. A good practice interview can land you a real position later on, and impressing an interviewer during a practice interview can be enough to give you the edge on your competition down the road. There have been plenty of people that have landed an internship early because they were exactly the person the companies wanted. And the best part is that those who are inexperienced in the interview setting have a chance to learn before they go into the real thing.
Apply for a Firm’s Leadership Conferences
One of the best ways to get to know a firm is to spend a few days at that firm’s conferences. The leadership conferences are beneficial because they allow you to get a glimpse of the firm you are interested in, while allowing the firm to get to know you in advance of potential interviews. Several offers may stem from the leadership conferences that you attend, because the firms will get to know you personally and see you interact with existing employees.
The most important aspect of seeking an internship is to just be yourself. This is important so the firm you are interested in can determine if you are a good fit, and it is important for you to decide which firm is the right choice for you. Pretending to be someone you’re not only hurts both parties in the end.
Ultimately, passing your CPA exam will separate and distinguish you from other hopefuls more than any internship could. However, the ideal situation is one where you can demonstrate your book smarts with the exam, and your experience with an internship, and that is easier to achieve if your name is out there early.
The relief of landing internship before the fall semester of your senior year is something you will thank yourself for, and even if you don’t end up interning early, at least you have your name and foot in the door of several firms that are likely to give you an internship during the formal recruitment time.
Zeke Sigler is a senior accounting major at East Carolina University and is an incoming audit intern for EY Charlotte. Zeke is involved with the NCACPA through SLINC and the SOAR committee.