The key to a successful internship is planning. It’s important to take a structured approach and be ready to devote sufficient resources to the program to ensure both parties will get the most out it. But you also need to make sure you find the right person for your firm. Here are the steps to follow when bringing on an intern.
Before you recruit
Recruiting an intern is much like bringing in a regular employee. Before starting the search for the right candidate to join your firm, you should formalize:
- The duration of the internship program
- Whether it’s a part time or full time
- The kind of compensation they will receive
- The nature and scope of the role (e.g. daily responsibilities and overall objectives)
- Who will mentor the intern and evaluate their performance
- Any specialist skills you’d like them to learn (e.g. specific software capabilities)
Where to find interns
It’s worth cultivating relationships with local colleges and universities in order to find accounting students. They usually have jobs boards where you’ll be able to advertise your internship program. Their career fairs are a good option too, and allow you to meet potential interns in person. You can also use social media to find interns. Simply create a post using the information above and include some interesting details about your firm, and you’re good to go. You can also search within your own circles, notifying your business network of your program.
How to select the right intern
The best possible return on investment when hiring an intern is that this person eventually earns a position as a full-time employee. Here are some of the qualities you should look out for to find the right fit:
Adaptability: Accounting is a dynamic industry, so look to recruit an intern who can positively adapt to change. Develop specific interview questions with your firm in mind and evaluate the intern on this basis.
Communication: Interns are likely to interact with senior partners and co-workers on a daily basis. They may even represent your firm to clients. So, consider how the potential intern came across in their initial contact with you. Were they a good communicator? Did they leave a good impression?
Analytical skills: Set a short task as part of the application process that will help you evaluate the intern’s analytical skills and give you an insight in their way of thinking. This can be a very useful tool when assessing their suitability for your firm and the tasks ahead.
Organisational skills: Keeping track of work processes and documents is key skills for accountants. As aspiring professionals, your intern should ideally be a natural in keeping track of tasks and timelines, too.
Integrity: Integrity as well as honesty are prime characteristics for accountants. After all, people are trusting you with their finances. Reviewing references from previous employers or tutors can help you assess whether this candidate is trustworthy.