How to select the best accounting internship or entry-level position
Virginia Tech Career and Professional Development Center highlighted the below article by Mandy Nevius, Keiter HR director and Hokie alumna. This article gives parents of college students tips on how to guide their child in selecting the best internship and/or post grad accounting position.
At the start of the pandemic many college students had to deal with canceled internships and rescinded job offers. Now that COVID restrictions have eased, accounting students are able to accept associate level positions and internships in-person instead of virtual, which can take some adjustment. However, some students, understandably so, are hesitant to commit to internships and job offers after an unpredictable and nerve racking last couple of years. Mandy’s tips are especially helpful for students that feel they have missed the mark on securing an internship or job offer or are easing back into the search for accounting career opportunities.
If your Hokie is still looking for a job or internship, it’s not too late…
According to a SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) article on January 4, 2022, “employer demand remains high, resulting in more job openings, higher wages and more turnover. There were 10.6 million job openings posted on the last day of November  … and far more than the roughly 7 million unemployed people looking for work.”
It’s March and it could seem that everyone has a job offer or an internship lined up, except your Hokie. There are still a couple of months of this semester left; surely there are opportunities available, hopefully in your student’s geographic area of choice.
To complicate matters, your young adult is facing a world that is constantly changing. In 2020, some employers canceled internships and rescinded job offers. In 2021, others attempted to get back in the game, but students were, understandably, hesitant to commit based on experiences they or their friends had in 2020. Fast-forward to 2022, and many students are looking for internships or jobs while adjusting to returning to in-person classes and choices about in-person, fully virtual, or hybrid work. It’s not an easy landscape to navigate.
Here are some tips to share with your Hokies to help them find an internship or secure that first entry-level position:
If your student doesn’t have a resume yet, there are many resources available. If interviewing causes anxiety and stress for your Hokie, this is common, and practice does help! There is a wealth of information available to Hokies on resume writing, interview preparation, interview questions, and appropriate follow-up after an interview. I’ve included a few below:
- The VT career center: Encourage your student to make an appointment with Career and Professional Development as soon as possible; these are resources available to students, and their focus is to help Hokies find internships, volunteer opportunities, and full-time jobs. Advisors can help your student draft and improve a resume, practice interviewing, and use Handshake to look for jobs where companies interview VT students before they graduate. They also offer assessment tools to determine which jobs align with a student’s skills and preferences.
- Indeed.com: Indeed has a wealth of short, informative videos on how to write a resume, how to post your resume for companies to see, and how to apply for jobs. Suggest that your Hokie hop on Indeed and search for resume writing videos and links.
- Your network: Do you have friends, colleagues, or family members who work for companies that hire interns or entry-level associates? Reach out and ask them about sharing their experiences with your student, then advise your Hokie to reach out to schedule a meeting. Students can interview your contact and find out more about particular industries, jobs, and other opportunities. If there isn’t an internship or job opening, many people will offer to meet or connect your student with someone who is hiring.
The choices and opportunities for jobs and internships can be overwhelming to the most organized and mature college student. Sometimes it can take figuring out what someone doesn’t want to do to pave a path for that first (or next) foray into the working world. Consider the following:
- What kinds of things does your student enjoy doing in their spare time? Are there jobs that offer this type of work?
- Did your student have a prior internship or other relevant work experience that could lead to something in the future?
- How does your Hokie like to work? Does your student enjoy spending time outdoors or is working indoors a better fit? Does working in the same place every day appeal, or is traveling to a new location from week to week more desirable? Does your student prefer to spend the majority of time working with others in-person, or does your Hokie prefer a hybrid or fully virtual work arrangement?
- Is geography a limiting factor? Are living expenses and distance to work an important factor for your Hokie?
Encourage your student to read job postings listed on Handshake and Indeed.com. Like a book cover, students shouldn’t judge a job or company by its title. Suggest that your Hokie read the job requirements and duties for a variety of positions to get a good idea of what is expected from an applicant. This can also pique a student’s interest in a company or help rule out a particular type of work.
Talking with friends about their experiences can also be a good resource for your student. However, be warned, there is tremendous peer pressure within some of the business and engineering majors to accept jobs with the “right” company. Too many students succumb to this pressure and they end up taking the “right” job for someone else!
Make a list of industries and non-profit areas that match what your Hokie is interested in. Brainstorm and research companies, firms, and organizations that meet your student’s desires. Glassdoor.com provides current and past employee and candidate reviews of companies. Most of the information is good, however, take extreme reviews with a grain of salt. Some disgruntled employees and job seekers may have a skewed perspective when sharing their feedback.
Having a good target list will decrease anxiety over where to start and will provide a direction for the search. Armed with a resume, interview practice, and a list of companies, the next step is to connect.
The search comes full-circle. Many of the resources that help students prepare for the job search are also valuable when it comes time to put the resume to the job posting. There are still lots of options for your student. It’s a candidates’ market right now, and spending some time each weekend can pay dividends down the road.
Virginia Tech has a great reputation for producing hard-working, intelligent, and creative candidates. Hokie grads are very attractive to many employers. Here are suggestions for your Hokie’s next step:
- Encourage your student to reconnect with Career and Professional Development. Hokies have open access to apply for jobs in Handshake, an online platform, where employers post jobs for college students. The career center staff can help your student create a profile to apply for jobs, volunteer opportunities, and internships.
- Search for job openings on Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com where both list job openings and company reviews. Many companies pay extra to provide additional information and videos on their Indeed and Glassdoor pages. Candidates may apply directly to jobs from these two sites. There is more competition for these positions, which are available to anyone with an internet connection, compared to the jobs that are posted on Handshake.
- Your Hokie’s network is a great resource, too. Perhaps friends or siblings of friends know of opportunities with their companies. Some professors might have summer projects and need student help. Suggest that your student reach out to his or her network to inquire of any internships or job openings.
- Reconnect with your network. You may know Hokies at your company, through your volunteer work, or at your place of worship, who would love to hire another Hokie. Many in your network may not be Hokies, but they are equally likely to want to help you and your college student find interesting and meaningful work. Ask them if they know of opportunities that would be a good fit for your college student.
If, despite your best efforts, these strategies have not yielded the desired outcome or opportunity, consider these options:
- Temp agencies. Many companies use temporary staff at various times of the year. Some source full-time talent from these staffing agencies. Several agencies cater to specific industries like healthcare, accounting and finance, and administrative professionals. Connecting through a staffing agency that works with companies in the field that your Hokie is targeting could lead to a full-time job offer. Having a job, even a temporary one, demonstrates a desire to succeed and speaks to your Hokie’s work ethic. A paying job, even a temporary one, can help offset student loans and living expenses.
- Customer service positions. Many stores, restaurants, and other service industries are hiring. In fact, most stores post signs advertising incentives intended to attract applicants right as you walk in. Perhaps your Hokie has a particular hang-out or frequented store. Are they hiring? Many may hire for short-term assignments and seasonal work. This can help offset bills, show that a young professional is serious about working, and provide excellent training opportunities. I suggest being candid with the hiring manager and letting this person know that this is a work experience stepping-stone, not a long-term career.
- Ask about other options. Doing something is better than doing nothing when it comes to a job search. If the target companies are not hiring, ask if they have any externships, voluntary educational programs, or opportunities to meet with or “shadow” someone in a position that is of interest to your Hokie. These experiences provide depth to your student’s skills and experiences and show your Hokie’s tenacity.
Finding a job or an internship doesn’t happen overnight. Time invested now, when resources are literally “just across campus,” will pay off later. It’s never too late to start, but waiting until after exams or graduation to start this process will limit opportunities.
Be positive when talking about job prospects with your Hokie. Things are not the same as they were when we were looking for our first jobs. Share your experiences, and take time to listen to what your student is going through. You may learn something, too!
Source: News Articles for Hokie parents and families.
About the Author
The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.