Vocational placements for finance, also known as accounting internships, are very useful tools that students can use to get valuable hands-on experience in the industry before they seek their first full-time job. The primarily utility of these placements is that they give students the chance to apply their theory in a real agency environment on real work and get some seasoning in a professional corporate environment.
Employers prefer to hire people who have experienced accounting internships in the past because it demonstrates that the candidate has gone out of their way to get extra experience to make themselves more employable. It also means that the employer can expect you to already have some training in the role you are applying for and therefore won’t have to wait as long before you become a productive team member.
However, there are plenty of poor-quality placements that are going to be more of a waste of time than they are a benefit to your career. The following will identify the top features that a good accounting internship should have so that you can get the most out of it.
1. Real work and not fetching coffee all the time
Obviously, you want to find an accounting internship that actually engages you with real work rather than keeping you around only as a glorified errand boy. While it is commonly seen as a rite of passage to fetch coffee and do boring admin tasks during a placement, this should not be the entirety of what you do there and it would be a poor experience if it was.
It can be a little presumptuous to expect a firm to dedicate a huge amount of time and personnel to facilitating your learning experience, but they should make some kind of effort to engage you with tasks that will prepare you for the workforce. If you feel like you are being exploited as a free or low-cost employee rather than being guided as an intern, then it’s a sign you should go somewhere else.
2. A chance to find a mentor
While not every accounting internship necessarily has to connect you with a mentor to be worthwhile, the best placements will. Getting a mentor who sincerely likes you and wants to see your succeed can be one of the most powerful things you do for your career.
As with anything, who you know is more impactful than what you know so having a well-respected industry veteran on your side and vouching for your abilities can make a huge difference in the type of job offers you get. If you really want to fast-track your career, finding an accounting internship where you can work closely with and form relationships with senior employees is essential.
3. An opportunity for future employment
Of course, a sign of an excellent accounting internship is when you are given a chance to secure future employment at the host company. While this is not always a guarantee and you need to prove that you deserve it, it is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door since you will already know the ins and outs of that agency, meaning it won’t take as much training to get you up to speed as it would with a fresh hire.
Hopefully the above has given you some more insight on the features that the best accounting internships need to have.