Can Applying for an Accounting Internship Hurt My Chances (Sometimes, actually YES!)


From the mailbag:

I recently read your article regarding advice to start a career in public accounting. I am in sort of a unique situation as far as accounting majors go. I have only recently declared my major in accounting and I have just begun my senior year with an anticipated undergraduate graduation date of December 2015.

I was previously a general business management major and was encouraged to pursue accounting after excelling in a mandatory financial accounting course. This semester I am taking my first intermediate accounting course and really enjoying it. It is clear to me that I want to get my CPA and I am suddenly dreaming of working at one of the Big 4.

I am only worried because I feel like I am a bit late to the game. Ideally I would like to have an accounting internship this summer but I am learning that most firms prefer you to have already taken intermediate accounting and I am just sitting through it now. What advice do you have for me if any?

I would love to hear your input on this matter. I really enjoyed reading your article and found all the material really helpful. Also, side note I am currently interning part time while going to school at a bookkeeping firm.


Bean Countess

Yes. It’s true. There are actually times where applying for an accounting internship can hurt your chances with public accounting firms.

Most large public accounting firms are looking to hire accounting interns:

Summer or Spring between Junior & Senior year

Summer or Spring between Senior year & Masters (of 5th year)

In the woman’s case above, the only thing that would make sense if to get hired this semester for an internship in January-March internship.

SEE ALSO: Ultimate Step-by-Step Hiring Process Guide for Public Accounting

The downside is that she’ll have to take off an entire semester. There is no way she can do school and work busy season hours. Most firms don’t allow it.

The good news is she would get paid about $22/hr plus time and a half and have a 95% chance of getting the full-time job locked in. Not to mention great experience and a CPA review course package paid for by the firm when she returns for the masters or fifth year to meet the 150 hours requirement.

But if I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t worry about the internship unless a firm said they wanted to do it. I would focus on getting hired full-time in Spring 2017. She is doing a great job getting experience now at a bookkeeping firm. Get a few more classes and hit the career fairs and Beta Alpha Psi hard! If she follows my steps laid out in How To Get Hired By Big 4 Accounting Firms, she’s on your way to making that dream a reality!

If she tries to hard for the internship, she may be met with a bit of rejection. Especially if she’s not willing to take of an entire semester in Spring ’16. If you have a plan of what YOU want to do, and it matches with the firms hiring schedule, you become one of the most attractive candidates they have! Recruiters start to get worried when they think you’re not getting what you want (when in reality we just want a job, right!).

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!