Why do an internship?
August 11, 2014
During the fall semester of 2013 I was gearing up for graduation along with many other students in my accounting program. Just three classes in the spring and I would be done, free to join the working world with my degree in hand. I believed that college had taught me what I needed to know to enter the world of public accounting with a running start. I was wrong.
During that same fall semester I chose to join Beta Alpha Psi, and I must say for any college student considering joining, the experience I had was crucial to my professional development. During the many meetings I got to not only learn about the realities of public accounting, such as work/life balance and how to choose a career in audit or tax, but I also had the opportunity to speak one on one with members of all the major firms in my area. During these meetings the importance of internships and real life experience was repeatedly brought up. I had never considered doing an internship during my time at college, but the students I knew who had done them spoke of how different the reality of accounting was compared to the classroom. Most of them also had job offers or interviews with prestigious firms lined up after graduation, something very appealing to a new graduate in today’s economy. I knew then that an internship was an opportunity I had to consider.
Of course there were obstacles I had to overcome. If I was to do an internship it would delay my graduation by an entire semester, was that something I was willing to sacrifice? Also, most of the internships I was interested in were offered in Atlanta, could I really move four hours away from home for three to four months? There was also the recruiting process. Did I have time outside of school, work, and activities to attend several interviews and office visits? What if I did not get an offer from the firm I loved? I know many other students deciding whether or not to do an internship face many of these same challenges. In fact, my class was divided on whether or not an internship was worth it. I can tell you wholeheartedly from my experience that it was.
In the end I chose to overcome all the obstacles I faced and do an internship, and honestly I have learned more in the past several months than I did in any classroom. During my internship with PKM I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including several internal audits, SOX 404 compliance work and even the audit of a 401K plan. Everyone here is friendly, welcoming and willing to teach. Being able to be a member of an audit team and go out to clients is an experience you just cannot grasp by merely reading a textbook and I believe the knowledge I gained during my time with PKM will be crucial to my future success in public accounting.