In very rare examples there will be accounting internships offered to young professionals where the experience is seemingly wasted.

From the perspective of both parties, these ventures are designed to encourage progress in their professional development and a chance for the organisation to refresh their ranks.

However, there are some accounting firms who pay lip service to this exercise and simply offer these programs because it is good PR and they feel obliged by public sentiment.

This is why it is important to take stock of the bad luck stories and illustrate examples where time would have been better spent at another organisation or remaining in the classroom.


No Guidance or Leadership Structure

Guidance and leadership are two qualities that accounting internships should bring in abundance. When participants are allowed to drift without any sense of duty or obligation, the time is officially wasted. Sometimes there will be down times as there is not always a pressing matter at hand for accounting interns to handle from week to week, but there should be a guiding influence that informs participants about what they should be doing and how they should be applying their skills to the task at hand.


No Educational Framework or Intern Plan

The roles that are showcased within accounting internships are specified to key departments. There are opportunities for accounting all-rounders, but the firm should have a plan mapped out for the weeks that lay ahead within the organisation. From learning the ropes with budget forecasting to filing tax returns, analysing key financial data or simply taking stock of records, a plan should be put in place so that the time can be appropriately optimised.


Positive Behaviours Left Unnoticed or Unrewarded

Time and time again young men and women who enter accounting internships will be fed advice on how they should behave, what to wear, who to listen to and how they can make tangible gains within the organisation. However, when all of those boxes are ticked and there is no response or recognition, that is when a red flag should be signaled. It will be hard enough for these participants to negotiate a new workplace environment, so it is important that they at least receive recognition of their efforts and encouragement to continue that pattern of behaviour. That will be emblematic of a healthy workplace culture, but the absence of it will be illustrative of a poor one.


Unpaid Without Pathway To Paid/Full-Time


There are some dubious and immoral operators who work in the world of accounting internships where the program essentially becomes a front for cheap labour. Despite the best efforts of government departments to crack down on these firms and ensure that their policies are 100% transparent, these initiatives become a wasted exercise when they start as unpaid and remain that way despite giving assurances to the contrary. There must be strict limits placed with unpaid internships as these brands are deemed to be breaking the law if the interns are continuing to do the work of paid employees.


Experience Left Unchecked, Uncertified and Undocumented

There are two key takeaways that participants want from accounting internships – the physical real life experience that they will learn from, and the documented experience that boosts a resume. Those organisations who don’t provide any genuine evidence of a young man or woman’s time at the business are doing themselves and their interns an incredible disservice. These recommendations and referrals often prove to be the difference between being offered an interview or a role, or missing out altogether. Having the high school and university qualifications is a great starting point, but prospective employers will equally enjoy seeing documented internship experience as well.