Do you love numbers, accuracy, and keeping everything in balance? Then you’re someone headed into a career in accounting. Starting out in the accounting industry and standing out from the crowd can be difficult if you have no demonstrated work experience, and are unsure of what companies are looking for in their ideal intern candidate. Accounting internships can assist you in developing the necessary skills you need to be successful. We’ve compiled a list of the top skills companies and employers look for when selecting an accounting intern or graduate:
1. Attention to detail
Are you someone who takes pride in doing your work to the best of your ability? Accounting is a detail-oriented profession where conscientiousness does not go unnoticed. In your role as an accounting intern, your daily tasks and projects will be structured in a very procedural manner. This requires double-checking your work and others’ work, as well as planning your day out in detail and prioritising accordingly. Accounting is a profession where being impulsive is not conducive to being an ideal candidate. Oftentimes, accountants calculate company money matters to the very decimal, so a lack of precision and consideration could be costly!
2. Timeliness and Reliability
The old saying that time is money rings true to the life of accountants and interns who value this principle. Much like being attentive to detail and having conscientious companies with accounting interns are required to be efficient with their time on tasks. In the accounting industry, deadlines, such as the End of Financial Year and Tax season are essential for every business. In a company setting, accountants need to work smarter, and internship candidates need to demonstrate their reliability through valuing others’ time. Following up and being engaged with the team is a positive attribute that companies look for in people commencing accounting internships.
3. Logical thinking and Problem-Solving Ability
Do you like thinking through abstract problems with careful consideration, or are you a boss at finishing puzzles and strategy games with great speed and precision? Find satisfaction in coming up with entrepreneurial-minded solutions to financial problems, big or small? Qualified accountants working in a company team or those working with private clients often need to plan out client financial matters months in advance, so developing putting those logical thinking skills needed for a fulfilling and impactful career into practice during an accounting internship will be attributes that companies look for.
The stereotype of accountants working alone may be true at times, but collaboration is a huge part of the profession. Companies look for accounting interns who are people-oriented and can develop client communication skills to hone in on big-picture and short-term thinking. Use your listening skills to help finding solutions that suit the needs of clients to reach their financial goals.
In an accounting internship, you will need to complete daily tasks or projects that require a high level of mathematical competency. Got an interest in analysing statistics, solving money matters, or having a technical know-how with Excel spreadsheets and know what MYOB is? These attributes will give you an advantage during your accounting internship. Your efficacy will increase as your familiarity with the company environment does.
6. Being Ethical
Having a sense of justice and fairness is crucial for those entering the accounting industry. Professional accountants deal with sensitive material, including personal information such as TFN’s and bank details, and have to have an understanding of financial, property, and tax law. Essentially, accountants must operate within the bounds of what is ethical for everyone involved. Companies do not want employees and people in graduate internships who wish to cut corners or rip clients off. If you genuinely want to help others and live by your values, then demonstrating the passion to serve and empower others will be advantageous.
7. Enthusiasm and Self-Efficacy
Perhaps the most important soft skill, it goes without saying that having a genuine passion and interest in developing your skills and knowledge in the accounting industry will get you far in your career. Companies appreciate accounting interns and – in future – employed accountants who can integrate into the company culture and embody its values in practice every day. Your work ethic says a lot about you, and demonstrating your ability to grow professionally during an accounting internship will give you more experience. Additionally, interns who have a sense of self-efficacy – the belief that you can complete a task to the best of your ability – present themselves as potential candidates for employment.
Accountants are crucial, skilled, and in-demand roles across all sectors and professional settings. The difference you can bring to an internship placement is within these positive attributes that companies seek in selecting their interns. Embodying these traits and having the values of an ethical, attentive, and capable worker will make your internship a productive experience that you can get the most out of.