Accounting Internships - A Guide To Resumes Cover Letters & More

Accounting Internships - A Guide To Resumes Cover Letters & More | Accounting Smarts
Charles Hall

Last updated by

Charles Hall

on

June 17, 2021

Accounting students always wish to bag a dream internship. However, you must learn the basics about accounting internships and their prerequisites.

Accounting students always wish to bag a dream internship. However, you must learn the basics about accounting internships and their prerequisites.

As an accounting student, an internship is an opportunity to enter the professional accounting working environment while you are still at college. To apply, you must learn to write a powerful covering letter and resume that showcase your knowledge and interpersonal skills.

Whether you are a current student or a fresh graduate with a degree in accounting, an internship will allow you to work temporarily at an accountancy firm. Here you will get to learn how professional accountants do it. However, in order to succeed in an accounting internship, you will have to learn to present your knowledge and communication skills. The best way to do so is to learn to draft detailed and impressive cover letters and resumes. This article will be your guide to what an accounting internship is, what to expect and how you can showcase your accounting forte.  

During our research to draft this guide for you, we found out that there were 500,940 accounting interns working in 2020 in the U.S. alone.  Moreover, 69 percent of the interns had a Bachelor’s degree. This guide will offer you the most up-to-date and authentic information on how to earn a good accounting internship.

ShowHide

Table of contents

What is an Accounting Internship

An accounting internship means while you are still studying, you get the opportunity to enter the world of accountancy by working for a professional accountancy firm. This can often lead to a job offer upon completion of your degree.

Remember, employers are always on the lookout for a free or cheap workforce, i.e., upcoming accounting students. Therefore, you can use the internship as an opportunity to gain experience, and you may possibly get a job title with the same firm once you graduate.

As an accounting intern, you will learn to apply your knowledge as well as communication skills. Yes, you will be on an internship program but have job responsibilities just like any other permanent employee in the company.

Therefore, you will have to maintain the same level or high standards of professionalism and accountancy knowledge. After all, an accounting internship is also an effective way for the company to know how competent you are.

If the firm finds your knowledge and ethics to be on par with their requirements, an accounting internship can often turn into a permanent position. This means you have a job offer before you graduate.

Is Accounting Internship Important?

The most valuable objective for you as an accounting student is to gain hands-on experience in accounting. This is the reason why internships are gradually becoming an integral part of the accounting degree’s curriculum.

With thousands of fresh accounting graduates competing each year for the jobs, an internship puts you in the lead because of the prior experience. This works for you because the new employer does not have to put too much effort and resources into training you. After all, you already know how most things work.

You must remember, in today’s world of competence and fast-paced working environment, grades alone are not going to cut it for you. You will have to stand out amongst the rest, and an accounting internship is the best way to do that.

A Benefit of Landing an Accounting Internship

Apart from an internship often leading to a full-time job offer, there are several other benefits associated with undertaking an accounting internship.

For example, bagging a successful internship at the right firm can help you to score a dream job in the future. However, it depends entirely on how much of a good impression you create during your tenure as an intern.

While you can always gain experience to improve your resume in other ways, an internship gives you a full-blown experience and insight into what it will be like to work as a professional accountant.

What to Expect During an Accounting Internship

As you start your internship, you will gain exposure to different professional accounting scenarios. Most importantly, you will get an opportunity to work in a professional environment and network with various clients from different industries.

As you progress in your accounting internship, you will get numerous chances to prove your knowledge, expertise, and skills as an aspiring accountant. You will be responsible for tracking financial transactions, maintaining records, running analyses, generating financial and income reports, etc.

The best part is that managing to get a good accounting internship may even pay you entry-level graduate wages.

That said, not all internships will lead to permanent job roles. However, an accounting internship is still the best pathway to kick start your career as a professional accountant while studying at a college or university.

Where to Intern

If you are an accounting student with ambitious career goals, you need an internship, but the secret of doing it lies in where you should intern. Do not worry; here are some places where you must try your luck to secure the right accounting internship.

  • Local businesses
  • Local accounting firms
  • Major accounting firms.
  • In any industry of your choice
  • Non-profit organization
  • Government organizations

Accounting internships come as both part-time and full-time opportunities. Moreover, you can also look for academic internships as they contribute towards your academic credits.

In case you aim to reach the top position as a public accountant, scoring an internship at one of the major companies will be a great place to start. The Big Four accountancy firms are amongst the top choices for you to try and get a placement as an intern.

These Big Four are Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG). However, these are the cream of the lot and some of the highest-ranked companies. You can always get decent accounting internships at other reputable accounting firms in your city or state.

What You Need to Land an Accounting Internship

First, you have to show academic competence to get a good accounting internship. Any major company will require you to score a stellar GPA before considering you for their internship program. Therefore, the best and safe limit is maintaining an over 3.5 GPA throughout your accounting degree course.

You must also be diligent and curious to learn about the internships you want to apply for. Find out what additional requirements the internship program has apart from your academic forte. For example, some extracurricular activities may help you stand out amongst the rest of the applicants.

Suppose there is still some time before you apply for an accounting internship. In that case, it is best for you to join a student’s organization, job shadow, and other students and professional networking groups.

Most importantly, do not forget to mention these involvements and other accomplishments in your cover letter and resume.

How to Make a Cover Letter That Stands Out

If you wish to write an effective cover letter, simply remember to focus on the following questions for successful hiring.

  • What is the reason behind your wanting to work with the company?
  • What interests you the most about the company or their internship program?
  • Why do you think you will be a good fit for the company? Mention your previous work experience, skills, and life experiences relevant to the internship.
  • How can you personalize the cover letter?
  • Have you proofread the cover letter?

How to Write a Cover Letter for Accounting Internship

Here are the major components of what you must include in a cover letter as an intern.

  • Include full name and your contact information at the very top of the covering letter
  • Start your cover letter by addressing the recipient of the cover letter by their name
  • Mention the source where you found the internship posting and what you are interested in this opportunity
  • In the first paragraph, you must explain why you will be a great hire as an accounting intern.  
  • You must briefly touch on your qualifications, experiences, and achievements that are relevant to the accounting internship opportunity
  • Thank the recipient/reader and express your interest in further discussions about the role in detail.
  • End your cover letter with a courteous and professional sign-off along with your full name

A quick tip always ensures that your cover letter must not exceed a single page.

Cover Letter Template for Accounting Internship (to help you get started)

Your Name

(phone number and email address)

Dear Mr./Ms (Name of the Recipient)

I found your posting for an accounting internship position with (XYZ or source name). I immediately knew that this is the internship I want to be a part of.

I am a (enter your current academic status) pursuing an Associate/Bachelor/other relevant degrees in Accounting. Throughout my academic journey, I have undertaken and successfully completed numerous accounting projects and gained in-depth knowledge. I also have advanced knowledge about the tools such as Ms. Excel and Access.

Now that I am nearing my graduation, I am extremely excited to apply my knowledge in professional accounting work settings. Not only am I excited, but your internship program also aligns with my career goals because I have always been a huge fan of your company for many years.

I am eager to learn and know that I will gain unmatched knowledge about business tax returns, bank reconciliations, and how accounting software operates. Moreover, I would love that your accounting internship program will allow me to learn about different sub-domains within accounting, including tax compliance, revenue accounting, and fixed assets.

I am hardworking and self-motivated, and always eager to learn. If you give me this opportunity to work as an accounting intern for your prestigious firm, I assure you of my full commitment and become a valuable asset to your accounts team.

I have attached my resume for your consideration and review. I am looking forward to discussing this internship opportunity in further detail.

Sincerely,

(Your Full Name)

Phone number

Email Id

How to Write Your Resume for Accounting Internship

Your resume is your chase to showcase your metal in the field of accounting. However, you have to be precise in mentioning your qualifications, experiences, and skills relevant to the internship program you are applying for.  In order to write an accounting internship resume, it must include the following details

  • Your Name and Full contact information
  • Your work experience
  • Your education
  • Your skills in a listing format

So here is a quick template to help you create a powerful and extensive resume to shine amongst the rest of the competition.

A Resume Template for Accounting Internship (to help you get started)

Your contact information

this section will include information includes the following

  • Your First and Last Name
  • Email Id
  • Your Telephone Number

Work Experience

In this section, you will mention any previous work experience relevant to the accounting internship you are applying for. If you are a student, you must showcase any relevant paid or unpaid projects showing your level of knowledge and how you will be a great candidate as an intern.

You can also mention your skills such as:

  • Organization and planning skills with the ability to multi-task
  • Good communication skills with the ability to liaise with a diverse group of people.
  • Highlight your written and spoken skills on a personal and professional level.
  • Mention experience through relevant on-job training or any meaningful projects.
  • Mention any previous accounting internships
  • State any technical skills that may help you perform the duties at this internship program

Your Education

Ensure to mention all your education relevant to the accounting internship program. These include the following details.

  • School you will be graduating from
  • Your major/minor
  • Expected year of graduation
  • Location of your college or university

Professional Skills

Here you must mention all your skills in a listicle format.

  • Impeccable communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Critical thinking
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Well-versed in using PC and Accounting tools such as MS Word, Excel, and Access.

Personal and Professional Interest

List all your personal interests and professional aspirations

Key Elements to Impeccable Accounting Internship Application and Interview

When you apply for an accounting internship, you must strive to make a long-lasting impression on the employer. Think of this as you are applying for a full-time job. Therefore, you must make a resume that reflects your academic record, essential skills, and work experience.

If successful, your application for the internship program gets a reply, and the employer will invite you to come in for an interview. Let us have a look at what you can do and what to expect.

Attending an Interview

This is one of the most critical phases when you apply to secure an accounting internship. Before you go in for the interview, make sure that you do thorough research about the company.

The employer will appreciate that you know a great deal about their company and make any suggestions for improvements. Do not be afraid when voicing your opinion; this is your time to shine. You must also act professionally during the interview while demonstrating your passion for accounting and your knowledge about how the company works.

You will have to look at the bigger picture and see where you see yourself working within the company. Do not be shy to highlight your achievements and skills, and let the employer know with confidence about the skills you will bring to the organization.

The interview is all about selling yourself as a potential asset for the firm if they hire you as an accountant intern. Remember, most of these companies are not just looking for interns; these positions often lead to full-time employment.

This makes logical sense. If the company is willing to invest their resources into you for learning their accounts operations, why would they go through the pain of hiring someone brand new later?

Do you Get Paid at all, and How Much Can You Expect

Forget about the conventional concept of internship, i.e., an easy temporary job role with no responsibilities and accountability. If you are going to be an accounting intern, things will be pretty hectic most of the time.

You can do a full-time accounting internship during the summer as the workload is relatively low during that period. That said, most of the accounting internship programs begin during the busier season, i.e., fall or spring.

A summer internship usually lasts for a couple of months and may require you to work up to 40 hours per week. In case you are taking on a full-time intern position, you may have to work as many hours as a regular employee, including some extra days of work for emergency scenarios.

An accounting internship during the school year may last for as long as up to 3 months. Plus, you are most likely going to work between 10 and 20 hours per week.

If it is a paid internship, you may be able to earn an average wage of $14.44 per hour. However, the Big Four offer a higher hourly rate to their accounting interns.

Do You Get to Choose the Department You Wish to Work For?

In an accounting internship, you get a choice to opt between two major accounting domains, i.e., tax and auditing departments.

In Audit Department

Your job duties as an auditing intern will involve tasks of a staff accountant such as checking account balances, preparation of paperwork, and interacting with various clients.

You may have to travel while working in this role. Hence you will get the opportunities to network with other industry experts and companies. This will be an excellent medium for you to learn more and diversify your accounting career.

In Tax Department

Choosing to work as an intern in the tax department, your job role will typically involve preparing reports, assembling tax returns, and performing data entry.  This may sound like a mundane office or clerical job, but you will be working in a highly specialized department from day one.

If you have the itch to be an entrepreneur, you can use this experience and start your own tax business one day.

How to Turn Your Internship into a Permanent Job Offer

Pretty sure you would love to bag a dream internship and turn it into a permanent full-time job opportunity before you graduate. Yes, it will require some effort, but here are some other simple tips that will help you all the way.

  • You must be punctual and show a sense of responsibility
  • Be professionally courteous and approachable to all
  • Check your emails as frequently as you can to reply promptly
  • Be quick to follow up on all queries from within the organization and by the clients.
  • Use flawless oral skills
  • You must be impeccable in your written communication skills
  • Make the most of your time and learn all tricks of the trade. This way, the company will find it really hard to let go of you.

Apart from this, a positive attitude always goes a long way. Some of the tasks may not suit your taste buds, below or above your skill levels. However, you must always show the eagerness and willingness to learn and put your best foot forward while performing the task.

Ask a lot of questions and genuinely make efforts to be the best at whatever task comes your way.  While the employer may not expect much from you being an accounting intern, they will definitely want you to be passionate about the field.

A cliché but do your best and let your hard work make the noise – Your efforts will not go unnoticed

What to Expect After the Internship Ends?

Accounting internships usually entail summer-long interviews and then working during the fall season. The companies receive an overwhelming amount of applications for their internship programs. This is because training during the academic years has become essential for students to gain an advantage in their careers early.

Once the accounting internship ends, you will most likely receive an experience letter or certificate of appreciation. However, if you have been impeccable and proved your mettle to work as a public accountant in a professional setup, the company may offer you a place to come and work for them upon graduation.  

Whichever the case, it is entirely up to you which route you wish to take. You can always choose to work for the company while looking for a better opportunity. On the other hand, there is no limit to how many internships you must complete. So, you can begin as an intern at a local firm and work your way up to secure that dream accounting internship in a bigger company based on your experience.  

Charles Hall

Charles Hall

Charles has spent 25 plus years in the world of accounting and business. His experience includes working as a CPA/Auditor international accounting firms. He has worked as a controller and as a COO for small to medium sized companies.

Learn more about Charles Hall