Andrew McClaskey is living many an accounting major’s dream: He’s 21 years old, is less than one year away from graduation at the University of Denver, and already has a great job with KPMG waiting for him.
McClaskey previously interned with KPMG, and he believes that internship enabled him to secure the position at the Big Four firm. “If a student chooses to pursue a career in public accounting, there is a very high chance that they will have an offer after graduation and often will receive the offer a year prior to graduating,” said McClaskey, who, as a graduate of his university’s undergraduate/graduate dual degree program, will finish with concurrent bachelor of science in accounting and master’s in accounting degrees this year.
An internship can set the course of an accounting student’s entire career because it often leads to the student’s first post-college job. But landing an internship can be a difficult and stressful process, and students often look for guidance from their professors.
Demand for accounting interns is high—Denver-based regional firm EKS&H alone plans to hire 69 accounting interns this year, said human resources Senior Manager Rebecca Himango, CPA—and so students may receive offers for internships from several firms. Faculty, who not only know the students but also are familiar with the culture of many firms, can help advise students on where to go. They can also partner with university career centers, organizations like Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for financial information students and professionals, and the employers themselves to ensure that students make the right connections. And they can help students learn about the application process and cultivate the soft skills needed to create a strong impression when being interviewed.
Professors and recruiting staff offer the following tips to faculty who want to help their accounting students find the best internship opportunities:
- Meet with accounting firms and companies regularly.
- Be responsive to employer requests, and get to know what firms want.
- Tap the alumni base.
- Adopt a firm.
- Direct students to on-campus resources.
- Prepare students for the application process.
Cheryl Meyer is a California-based freelance writer.