Congratulations, you have landed that all important career-starter: an internship at a CPA firm! Being selected over others means that the firm sees some potential in you. Now your task is to learn as much as you can in this real-time test of skills, attitude and fortitude. How can you make the most of this opportunity?
Show enthusiasm for your accounting career.
From an employer’s perspective, a positive attitude is one of the most important attributes a young professional can bring to the table. Yes, having great math and computer skills are important. The same can be said for dressing properly for business. However, your new accounting or tax internship is going to drop you into a professional universe that may be different from anything you have experienced to date.
Don’t worry. No matter how odd things may seem at first, remember that the firm selected you for your potential, not your proven experience.
An internship is like a bridge between college life and workplace culture. You will need to absorb as much as you can: from facts and figures to company culture and mastering new professional relationships. Show a positive attitude when asked to do something, even if it sounds rudimentary, and make yourself available. People who approach work with a negative attitude do limit their chances for success, even if they are technical geniuses or MENSA-level intellects. No one likes working with people who suck the air out of the room with negativity.
The projects and tasks you will be assigned during your internship will help you to highlight your technical skills, but also focus on your professional soft skills.
Ask questions, but not too many.
While not a classroom, your employer understands that much of this work is new to you. Your questions reveal your character and professionalism. Relax and ask for help. When it comes to internships, asking good questions is an essential part of the learning process. Asking too many questions, too often, however, can be perceived as wasting time. Don’t overanalyze. Ask your questions, and then show some initiative with the assignment. Be respectful of your mentor’s or co-workers’ time.
In the end, being inquisitive will expand your knowledge of the accounting industry. Even more important to the firm, inquiry shows coworkers that you’re engaged and interested in the organization and accounting career path.
Be present and participate in meetings, lunches and organization-wide events as best you can. These gatherings reveal much about the real profession and the firm you may work for some day.
Your internship should give you a glimpse of many areas of accounting to see what fits you best. Use this experience to help you land a full-time career at this firm or the next!
Interested in joining the LvHJ team? We offer accounting career development in the San Francisco Bay Area, but so much more as we serve affordable housing entities and nonprofits. Make a difference in your career. Learn more about life at LvHJ on our careers pages.