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Accounting Internships

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Accounting Internships: Students working to achieve a qualification in accounting will often have the opportunity to gain practical experience by completing an internship. Accounting internships are temporary positions within a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firm, a company in industry, or a government agency. They are generally part-time during the academic year and full-time during the summer.

The purpose of an internship is to allow the intern to gain work experience in an area related to your studies or that you feel you would be interested in pursuing in the future. This enables you to make more realistic and informed decisions about your career path following graduation. Most internships are unpaid positions but some companies will pay their interns an hourly fee while others will provide an allowance for expenses such as lunch or travel. You may be able to gain academic credit for successful completion of an internship. In such cases, the company you intern with may liaise with your school to ensure that your practical experiences in the workplace are linked with the academic requirements of your program.

Internships allow you to observe and participate in a variety of real world experiences and see how the theory you have studied is applied. You get the opportunity to work alongside professionals and learn from their expertise. You also have the chance to demonstrate your ability to them. Internships can be an excellent way of getting your foot in the door with a company you may particularly want to work with. Many companies offer their interns full-time employment on graduation as your experience will make the learning curve shorter.

What does an accounting internship entail?
Accounting students are encouraged to try to gain experience that is relevant to the area they are specializing in. In most cases, the company will try to provide access to a wide variety of engagements so that you gain an understanding of the work environment. You will have access to the methods, technological tools and knowledge resources used by the company you intern with. Interns working in the tax department of a company may carry out activities such as gathering and organizing client information, entering data into specialized tax computer software and assembling the final tax returns for the client.

You may help to conduct audits which will allow you to learn more about audit concepts such as accounts payable, cash, internal control and current liabilities. An important element of accounting internships is financial reporting on a monthly or quarterly basis which includes the expenditure throughout the company. If you intern in the Accounts payable department of the company, you will be involved in the processing of invoices and account coding. Interns in the Accounts receivable department will be involved receiving debtor payments and allocating them into the appropriate accounts and ledgers.

You may be required to prepare financial statements and also review and analyze these with your clients. Interns are often given the chance to work on marketing strategies, assist in capital-sourcing efforts or work on mergers. Many companies ensure their interns gain professional skills such as effective writing and presentation techniques. Internships will often involve contact with clients, allowing you to develop your communication and interpersonal skills in a professional setting.

How do I find an accounting internship?
Competition for internships with leading companies is usually extremely intense. If you have identified particular companies that you would like to intern with, you should forward them your resume with a cover letter, ensuring that you do not miss the deadline for submission of applications. If you are called for interview, ensure that you thoroughly research the company and try to display this knowledge during the interview.

Your school may have information on companies that regularly offer internships and may help to find the best placement for you. You should bear in mind that larger companies may provide better opportunities to gain experience within a specialized area. However, smaller companies may offer more general internships working in all departments of the company. This often means that your abilities are visible to more people, including those in senior management. This could greatly enhance your chance of being offered a full-time job following graduation.

What skills do you need to win an accounting internship?
Doing a good interview is key to winning the accounting internship you want. Excellent communication skills are vital for success in an internship as you will need to be able to clearly express yourself verbally and through the written word. Ensure that you can speak knowledgably about the latest trends and events within the industry. Companies benefit from exposure to the current knowledge, skills and practices of the intern so you should be prepared to show that you have performed well academically. You will need to have good computer skills and be particularly proficient in Microsoft Office Suite. An aptitude for numbers is essential. Experience with accounting or payroll software such as Quickbooks is a distinct advantage.

Below is a list of some of the various types of internships.