How to get an accountancy internship
Completing an internship in accountancy will impress employers and give you confidence when it comes to applying for a graduate accountancy job . Doing an internship in accountancy or professional services will also help you decide if you want to pursue a graduate career in this sector as you’ll get to find out what graduate accountants and financial managers spend their working time doing.
What are accounting internships?
As an accountancy intern, you will be treated as a member of the team and, after an induction period, be given work that is similar to the work done by graduates at the firm. You’ll do real work that helps the business, such as assisting with the preparation of accounts, report writing, attending client meetings alongside colleagues and planning. You will usually be expected to apply for a particular business area – such as audit, advisory, business services or tax – so attend company presentations, speak to students who have completed internships and read organisations’ websites to help you decide which area you should apply to. At the end of your internship you should have a good feel for the culture of the organisation as well as for what the job entails. Read Emma’s story of how she went from an intern to a junior tax associate at for more insights about what to expect from an accounting internship
How do I apply for an internship in accountancy?
Treat the internship application as seriously as you would the application for a full-time graduate accounting position; the application process itself will be very similar. Show how the skills you have – whether picked up through work experience or during university work or extracurricular activities – are relevant to the accountancy sector. Remind yourself of the skills accountancy recruiters will be looking for in graduates – they’ll be looking for the same in you, so it’s important to demonstrate that you can, for example:
- work in a team
- communicate effective with people
- come up with innovative solutions and approaches
- think intelligently
- be enthusiastic and curious.
You won’t be expected to be able to explain complicated financial concepts at your interview, but it’s important that you demonstrate a level of commercial awareness – how the business world works. This will show that you have an aptitude for the sector – academic qualifications alone won’t get you a place.
When is the best time to apply for an accountancy internship?
Most accountancy internships are designed for students in their penultimate year of study and take place during the summer between this year and the final year of study. You’ll find that although some employers have December closing dates for applications, many accountancy employers do not place deadlines on their internship applications. We would however advise you to apply as early as possible (usually in the autumn of your penultimate year) as many employers will allocate places on a rolling basis. Check the employer profile or website of the accountancy employer you’re interested in to make sure you don’t miss any application deadlines.
What if I can’t get an accountancy internship?
Try not to panic – many graduate roles in accounting are offered to candidates who have not completed accountancy internships. There are plenty of things you can do to boost your employability. Many accountancy and professional services firms give you the chance to taste working life by offering insight days, talent academies and skills sessions… many of which take place in your first year at university. Often taking part in one of these increases your chances of a successful internship application.