Internships can be helpful in a multitude of ways – especially in Accounting where the field is so competitive. Being an area where there is a high amount of Graduates while job opportunities are limited, students are always thinking about how they are able to get ahead of the competition. One of the most common ways for students to do this are internships and this is what students generally turn to.
Internships in Accounting can be an extremely effective way to learn. Take into consideration that Accounting knowledge is different when applied, meaning that having hands on experience not only allows you to gain a deeper understanding for the topic you are learning but also allows you to understand what the Accounting career pathway is really about. It can allow you to gain understanding of an additional dimension within the Accounting field complimentary to your theory-based work learned at University or College.
Sometimes we have a different perception thinking that a specific professional pathway would be more interesting until we actually go into the role and realise that it may not be as interesting as we once thought. This is where an internship comes in, as it provides us with a taste of what the Accounting industry is really about. Some may find this profession more appealing as a result of an internship while some realise that accounting may not be the direction they would want to go.
Accounting is also made up of a wide range of areas such as Auditing and Tax, and may cross over into Payroll where there are many more duties involved. Areas like Tax and Auditing are specialisations within Accounting and may be overwhelming for fresh students when it comes to choosing which area of Accounting they would like to go into.
Internships can come in and help as a student is able to learn the ropes in a supportive environment without too much pressure or intimidation. With such exposure, Accounting internships can ultimately allow you to gain experience and an alternative perspective, along with deeper appreciation for various roles.
A common question that is asked by students undertaking an internship is “What will I be doing in my internship?”
In short, this generally varies from one firm to another. The answer I like to give is that there are benefits to all size firms for many reasons. Whilst the connotation might be that smaller size firms are not able to offer much training, I say that this statement is quite contrary to facts!
Having personally worked within smaller firms and organisations, I have actually found that the general mentoring within these firms is more tailored, personal and more guidance-focused.
In addition to learning about your industry, another key benefit that can be identified is the additional skills you may pick up – whilst you may have no experience in Human Resources, you may be exposed to ad-hoc elements of it such as sitting in interviews, helping coordinate hiring and contributing to policy amendments.
In saying this, larger sized organisations are not the bad guys. Don’t get me wrong. Internship experiences in larger firms can be and are just as valuable. Again, the connotation is that because you will have worked for a big name, you will be a stronger candidate – but that is not your selling point to employers when applying for positions in future.
Rather, the selling points can be your overall exposure to working alongside a large range of employees, thus showcasing your ability to work within and alongside a team environment, a possibly increased exposure to more software tools and be working on tasks with higher stakes.
All in all, we shouldn’t discriminate between internships for different sized firms as any option will definitely add value to your experience.
The duties that you should expect from Accounting Internships should be a representational aspect of an Accountants role – so don’t expect to experience everything in one go! Some of you may find your start head-first in meeting with the organisations clients, whilst others might start off shadowing an Accountant working in an Accounts Assistant role.
Ultimately, keep in mind that uniqueness has its advantages – extra additional skills you pick up in your Accounting internships can make great additions to your resume and or great interview conversation so always give opportunities a go as you never know what invaluable lesson you might learn from your next opportunity.