6 tips for turning an accounting internship into a job offer

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You’ve been accepted as an intern at a Big Four firm… Now what? 

If your accounting internship goes well, you’re probably hoping to earn a job offer after the internship. Below are six simple tips, tricks, hacks and mandates for how to get a full time offer after your internship, so you can transform from intern to full time accountant. 

Turning an internship into a job

  1. Attitude is everything
    To put this simply, don’t be a jerk. This internship doubles as your last interview. Sure, these firms are paying you low and billing you out high, but all-in-all managers, senior managers and partners are just deciding if they like you as a person. Be excited. Be eager to learn. Most importantly, stay positive. Maintaining a positive attitude is essential to turning an internship into a job. If you cannot handle “busy season” as an intern - your internship to job prospects may be limited.
  2. Dress appropriately
    Turning an internship into a job doesn’t only include the work that you do - it starts with how you appear and whether you’re dressed appropriately for the office. Prior to starting your internship, take the time to learn what attire is required in the office and what attire is required in front of the client. Here is a quick summary of the different types of dress codes you may encounter: 

    Casual attire: For men, it is really quite simple.  On the top, go for an oxford or “golf” shirt. Pair this with jeans/khakis and dress your feet in loafers. Really, think “Midtown Uniform” when dressing in casual attire. Women should wear a nice blouse with non-holey jeans and flats --  always my go-to when dressing casual.

    Business casual attire: Men should wear a suit without a tie and jacket. Girls get a lot more leeway here than the guys; here I generally wear a dress or a skirt and blouse combo. A nice black heel always dresses up an outfit.

    Business professional attire: Men wear a full suit and tie; there is no leeway. Women can add a blazer to your business casual look noted above and suddenly it meets the criteria for business professional!

    When in doubt it’s always better to overdress than underdress!
  3. Take notes
    Taking notes is an extremely effective way to keep track of the information your boss or the client mentions. Don’t be like the waiter at the restaurant who tries to remember everything. The senior will get frustrated if they have to repeat things over and over to you. This can be easily prevented by writing things down, and it communicates to your boss that you are taking this role seriously.

    Microsoft OneNote is a great tool for taking notes. It’s like a digital notebook, so you can have different “binders” for each client and “pages” for each subject. In my experience, it’s one of the best ways to stay organized. OneNote has some really helpful features including: 

    a.  Create and track to do lists that link to Outlook and your work phone
    b.  Ability to attach notes made during a specific meeting to that calendar invite
    c.  Drag and drop files directly into your notes
    d.  Record audio and video to save directly into your notes
  4. Ask what you can do to help
    When you intern will greatly impact how busy you are during your internship. If you intern during busy season you will most likely be extremely busy (but at least you get overtime pay!). If you intern during the summer, the odds are that you won’t be too busy and may have some downtime.

    If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have much of a workload, use it as an opportunity to offer help to others. Many managers and senior managers balance working on multiple clients. If the work is slow on the client you are assigned, you could offer to help out on any of their other clients. Offering help to others goes a long way in making you stand out among the interns.
  5. Ask questions
    I cannot stress this enough; ask questions. Do not pretend that you know something when you don’t. It is much easier to ask a question than to deal with the consequences after making a mistake. Don’t mess up your chances of getting a job offer after the internship by not asking a simple question. Asking questions shows that you are interested in learning and putting in effort to really understand what you are working on. Most importantly, at the end of your internship, be sure to ask for a job. If you’re unsure of how to ask for a job after an internship, consider asking for guidance from  professional mentors at the firm or even at school.
  6. Accept the mundane tasks
    Unfortunately, as an intern you are the low man on the totem pole. You will likely be the one responsible for going on coffee runs and ordering dinner for the team. I secretly liked it since it was some time to escape the office.

    However, sometimes interns complain about the tasks and that can really hurt your chance at a full-time offer. It’s important to remember that almost every field requires entry level positions to complete the mundane tasks, and accounting is no different.

    These mundane tasks certainly separate the interns with positive attitudes from the ones with negative attitudes, which make it much easier for firms to differentiate who should get offers and who should not. 

These are the most important things to know as you learn how to get a full time offer after the internship. Follow all of these steps and prepare to go from intern to full time associate. Good luck!! 

I would love this series to be a dialogue, so if you have any additional advice to add or questions send me a message on Instagram.

This piece is Chapter 6 in “The Life of an Accountant Series” by Kristin Lofgren of @Lets_Get_Fiscal. Read her prologue here.

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