Students in all types of academic programs can greatly benefit by seizing opportunities to work with companies and other organizations within the scope of their academic pursuits. Even limited internships can provide invaluable insight and opportunity for personal growth not found in traditional academia. Whether the position is paid or unpaid, interns can improve their abilities and appeal to future employers by pursuing these job opportunities in school or immediately following graduation. Interested accounting students can often take advantage of their school’s faculty and resources to help find accounting internship opportunities suited to their interests.
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Resume Building and Networking
Perhaps the most common reason students and young professionals seek out internships is to build their initial resume. Many employers in the finance industry prefer hires to have at least some practical industry experience, even for entry-level positions. Some of the big firms hire almost exclusively from their interns, so getting one of these internship positions is practically necessary for getting a job there. Many new accountants also start establishing their professional network during internships, giving them an advantage when searching for available positions.
Identify Professional Strengths and Weaknesses
For many new and prospective accountants, an internship provides invaluable insight into their own abilities and knowledge. Taking this opportunity to identify personal strengths and weaknesses is a great way to derive additional benefit from the experience. Interns may find that they need to hone their computer proficiency, improve time management habits or build their interpersonal communications skills before graduating. Even a small amount of hands-on experience can reveal valuable information to help candidates prepare themselves for professional life.
Improve Performance in the Classroom
Another benefit of completing an accounting internship is to improve performance and engagement in the classroom. Internships provide practical context for academic and theoretical concepts, solidifying knowledge and information gained through study. In fact, responses to a 2017 survey of accounting interns at major firms found that most agreed that internships added valuable contributions to their educational foundation, according to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Explore Various Topics and Specializations
Interning is often a student’s first opportunity to explore various roles, duties, and responsibilities within the accounting practice. This insight helps shape future career goals by allowing young professionals to figure out what areas and activities have the most interest for them personally. While interns don’t perform the same functions as a certified accountant, they do gain exposure to the same issues, processes and challenges they might encounter later in their career.
Regardless of the academic program or desired occupation, students can always benefit by pursuing practical job experience in their chosen field. Accounting internship opportunities are particularly important in the finance industry, since positions are often competitive and require some proven experience. Taking on a part or full-time position may place extra demands on a busy student’s schedule, but many people who serve as interns believe the experience is well worth the investment of time and energy.