You’re studying to become an accountant and have decided to apply for an internship. Good thinking! Recruiters and educators consider accounting internships to be a key strategy for full-time employment.
But to get yourself an internship, you’re going to need a compelling resume that shows you are much better than the other students applying for the same position. We are going to show you how.
Resume objective for an accounting internship
According to the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, globally, accounting education has relied on apprenticeships for decades.
So, even though an internship isn’t usually compulsory, you should consider one because it can do wonders when it comes to securing permanent employment.
Similarly, the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania states that its commitment to accounting internships is because it has become an integral part of the educational process.
The University of New Orleans says that accounting internships are a win-win experience for students and for companies that offer these positions. Students get professional employment that earns them college credits, while firms get to test potential employees.
While most internships are paid and most internships qualify for an academic credit, you will need to check each one that you consider.
Students commonly find internships via their colleges and universities, but there are also many companies that advertise internships.
While your college might advise you on exactly what employers of interns want to see in a resume, if you are applying to an advertised job, you must consider its requirements carefully.
Including an objective in your resume is optional. If you include one, you want it to attract the attention of the recruiter.
Accounting student due to graduate in 2021, seeks an internship position that will combine continued learning with the opportunity to contribute to a range of accounting and finance projects.
Resume skills for an accounting internship
The skills that an accounting intern will need to match the skills required for any accounting job.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a handful of skills that both accountants and auditors need to have. It stands to reason that you need to be detail-oriented because you are always compiling and examining documents and figures.
You also need analytical and critical-thinking skills to be able to evaluate data critically and identify any issues and suggest solutions. For instance, accountants and internal auditors often detect fraudulent actions that affect the company or external agencies.
Communication skills are essential because accountants need to listen to factual evidence and discuss any concerns anyone has relating to financial issues.
Accountants have to compile and examine documents, so you also need to be detail-oriented. And you need strong organizational skills to be able to work with financial documents that are supplied by a variety of clients.
Of course, math skills are critical too, because you have to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures. As you are aware, knowing how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide is not enough.
Advanced math skills are vital.
Critical thinking | Analysis | Written and verbal communication | Interpersonal relationships | Organization | Math | Statistics | Adaptability | Time management
Accounting internship work experience
While work experience is always a major factor on any resume, it can be a problem when you are a student looking for an internship, especially if this is the first internship you are applying for.
The career counselors at Belmont University’s Massey Undergraduate School of Business advise all their business students, including those who are majoring in accounting, to intern early and often.
They have a flexible internship program and students can start interning as soon as they have earned 30 credit hours, which is doable in one year of full-time study.
Since internships can be anything from a few weeks to the full length of an academic year, taking up internship opportunities early on will help you to accumulate work experience worth sharing on your accounting internship resume.
Another way of getting work experience to list on your resume is to do volunteer work. Lots of agencies need volunteers to help with tax returns annually.
If you have done any bookkeeping work or perhaps taken on a clerical accounting job during high school or university vacations, you can bulk out this section of your resume this way.
If you don’t have work experience to add, don’t worry too much, it isn’t normally a prerequisite to getting an internship.
Sample Work Experience
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Accounting Intern, 2020
Accounting internship that involved assisting with capitalization, transfer, maintenance, and retirement of fixed assets as well as calculating appropriate depreciation of these assets for financial and tax purposes.
- Reviewed and validated the capital expenditure request and work-package setups.
- Supported the transfer of assets via the Intercompany Billing System.
- Assisted with the manual calculation of Cost of Money.
- Maintained, analyzed, and undertook troubleshooting-related accounting issues.
- Assisted with billings and maintained invoicing controls.
BPM LLP, CA
Tax Intern, 2019
Worked as a part-time tax intern for three months, as staff. Experienced what it is like to be an associate at the firm during the busy tax season.
- Analyzed data and prepared work papers and tax returns based on professional standards for individuals and various other entities.
- Identified, researched, and assessed tax issues for seniors and managers.
- Completed 150 tax returns for my seniors to check.
- Increased my knowledge of tax laws and issues relating to the IRS, courts, and other regulatory bodies.
Benjamin Moore, NJ
Accounts Payable Financial Intern, 2018
Learned the end-to-end process of how invoices are received, processed, and the important metrics of the system. Worked with the accounting team processing accounts payable.
- Assisted with prioritizing invoices according to cash discounts and payment terms.
- Reviewed canning document procedures and identified process improvements.
- Contacted more than 20 vendors to resolve payment disputes and invoice inquiries.
- Performed quality control activities including validating vendor profile information.
- Assisted with the review of workflow rejection notices and resolved outstanding issues.
Accounting internship education
The first step towards an internship is to be accepted by a university or college for an accountancy program.
According to the American University in Washington D.C., freshmen must have demonstrated above-average performance in secondary school, particularly in math.
College admissions are commonly decided on ACT and SAT tests. Although similar, the SAT tests include a section on science that tests critical-thinking skills, and the ACT tests include a math section which must be completed without a calculator.
Doing both tests and earning competitive scores always increase a student’s chances.
We sampled dozens of accounting internship possibilities and found that most want students who are halfway through or in their final year of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business studies.
Universities have their own rules. For example, the Louisiana State University Department of Accounting internship program is only open to students with a 3.0 GPA who have completed certain courses with a C grade or better, and who have been an accounting major for at least one semester.
Some universities, like Kent State, allow students who don’t qualify for an academic credit (because they don’t meet the GPA requirements) to still apply for internships.
University of San Diego School of Business
Studying towards a Bachelor of Accountancy degree, 2018 – 2020
- Majoring in Cost Accounting & Accounting Information Systems
- GPA: 3.8
Adding relevant courses to your resume could help to impress recruiters, especially if you haven’t got much, if any, work experience.
Courses are also an excellent option for students who take a gap year between high school and university.
The types of courses to consider range from general accounting courses to areas of specialization including valuation, taxation, and financial management. If you have already studied the basics of courses you will only take in your final years at university, they could make a big difference to your accounting internship resume.
You might also consider software courses that accountants use including BillQuick, SageOne, Wave, FreshBooks, and Xero.
As with everything else, only list courses that are relevant to the internship you are applying for.
- Introduction to Finance & Accounting
- Accounting: From Beginner to Advanced
- Financial Accounting
- Tax Law for Accountants
While Certified Public Accounts (CPAs) need to be licensed, this isn’t something that a student looking for an internship will be actively working towards.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, to become a CPA, all states require candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework. This is 30 hours more than a regular bachelor’s degree and will take a year to complete.
Sometimes students take the combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet this requirement. If you are in your fifth year and applying for an internship, this could be important.
There are other optional certifications, but none of these relate to interns.
- Eligible to sit for the CPA exam on graduation next year
Complete accounting internship resume sample
The advert below is a posting for an internship at the Mazars Group, the global audit, accounting, and consulting group that employs tens of thousands of professionals through member firms all over the world.
This internship is in their New York office and it is a part-time position that involves rotating three interns who each commit to working for four days a week.
The company is looking for sophomores or juniors studying for either a bachelor’s and/or a master’s degree in accounting. They want to be sure the candidates will be eligible to sit for the CPA exam when they graduate.
They also want someone who has volunteered and/or who is actively involved with campus-related organizations.
A major advantage of this internship is that it involves intensive training on-the-job and in-house. Because it is such a large company, there are significant opportunities for future employment.
Highly motivated accounting student due to study Master’s in 2022. Current vice-president of the UB Accounting Association.
Reliable | Dependable | People-oriented | Detail-oriented | Analytical | Communication | Teamwork | Computer skills including Microsoft Office
Rich Products Corporation, NY
Finance Intern, 2020
Worked on projects within the company’s Information Systems team for three months. Assisted in spend, project analysis, and to drive the decision-making for the IS department project leaders.
- Assisted in three monthly close processes reconciling monthly expenses and assisting in the preparation of journal entry adjustments.
- Prepared a monthly financial review deck for IS steering team leaders that focused on full year and monthly spend variance rather than a forecast plan.
- Tracked the status and spend that related to IS capital projects and helped to differentiate between capital spend and expenses.
- Created reporting dashboards in PowerBI for advanced data analytics.
- Created five Excel templates that the company still uses for long-range planning.
Ariva Inc., NY
Volunteer Income Tax Assistant, 2019
Worked part-time for four months providing free, high-quality income tax return preparation for low- and moderate-income people and families.
- Reviewed clients’ completed IRS forms to ensure all the fields had been filled in correctly.
- Reviewed identification of clients and verified that the return was within the scope of a VITA certification.
- Utilized IRS-approved software to prepare returns for paper or e-filing.
- Required to be 100% up to date with IRS rules and regulations as they relate to VITAs.
International Rescue Committee, NY
Volunteer Tax Screener, 2018
Worked part-time for four months helping the IRC’s Program Quality and Innovation Unit assist offices that help new refugees and low-income people find entry-level jobs and learn basic financial management skills.
- Helped 100s of low-income taxpayers prepare their returns correctly, and referred more than 40 out-of-scope returns to a professional return preparer so they would be exempt from paying tax.
- Completed IRC and IRS mandated training and certifications including Standards of Conduct and Basic level certifications.
- Ensured taxpayers had the required documents for completion of the prior year’s tax returns.
- Explained the return preparation process to taxpayers and provided assistance in scanning and uploading tax documents to the IRS.
University at Buffalo School of Management
Studying for a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, 2018 – 2020
- In 2022 will be studying for a Master of Science in Accounting
- GPA: 4.0
- Cost Accounting
- Income Taxation
Writing a resume for an accounting internship can be challenging, especially for students who don’t have any work experience. It also involved delving deep to identify the skills and abilities you have. This, in itself, takes confidence and honesty.
- Analyze your skills and abilities and compare them to those that relate to the internship opportunity you are pursuing. These are all attributes that you will need when you are qualified, so if you don’t have some of them, now is your chance to work on building them.
- Although it is not necessary to include an objective in your accounting internship resume, it works in our sample resume because it is a great place to boast involvement in the university’s Accounting Association – which is in line with the internship requirements.
- Take the opportunity to mention some of your best accomplishments and any new skills that you have learned.
Tips from Experts
“A resume is an opportunity for you to really show off. List out work experience such as part-time jobs, internships, and volunteer work that you’ve done – and write them out in reverse chronological order. Show off your personality in the section on skills and interests. Are you a traveler, a chef, maybe a dancer? We want to know what makes you really you! Lastly, don’t forget to include your major accomplishments.“ – Kim Brennan, MBA & senior consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP
“Recruiters consider internships to be a key strategy for full-time employment recruiting. Thus, students should approach internship seeking with the same level and mindset of professionalism needed to obtain a full-time position.” – The Sam M. Walton College of Business career consultant
“Most firms do have partnerships with business schools so normally host some sort of activity on campus, including etiquette dinners and info sessions. Check these out. If you show up and help out you will get noticed by the recruiters. Also, go to career fairs and networking events at college. “ – Nicole P, public accountant (auditor), former ambassador for an accounting firm while studying
Getting an internship is a big step forward whether you’ve had one before or it’s your first. Internships have the potential to open up huge opportunities that can impact your career in the long term.
Study the tips and advice we have offered and use it to craft a compelling resume that will help you get the experience and knowledge you need to excel as an accountant down the line.