Internships: a great way to gain experience and, potentially, a first job

We speak to two former interns to find out more.

ACCA acts as a connector between our extensive network of university, learning provider and employer partners. One way in which we connect our network is by creating opportunities for students to participate in employers’ internship schemes.

We facilitate these schemes in two ways:

  • employer partners’ internship opportunities are listed on ACCA Careers and students are invited to apply directly for the roles, and
  • running bespoke internship schemes linking employers to students who are currently studying towards ACCA accredited degree and Masters-level qualifications at a university.

Visit ACCA Careers or speak to your local office to find out more details about internships facilitated by ACCA.


AMIE LAING


Studied:
BA (Hons) Accountancy degree at Glasgow Caledonian University
Interned at: Alexander Sloan Accountants and Business Advisors, Glasgow, UK
Is now: Audit assistant at Alexander Sloan

How did you find out about the ACCA internship scheme and why did you decide to apply?

I was in my fourth year at Glasgow Caledonian University, studying for a degree in accountancy. I thought an internship would be a good opportunity to gain valuable experience and to find out how to apply my learning in the workplace. I also thought it would be a great way to network with potential employers.

At university you took part in a Kaplan Business Challenge (as part of the ACCA internship scheme). What did you do and what did you learn?

A group of students took part in the challenge and we were split into teams and given a ‘business’ to run. We had to consider a wide range of business issues, from the cost of upgrading equipment to budgeting for tax, and we also had to create forecasts and year-end accounts. We took on different roles within the team, and we also worked together on project bids, deciding which projects we wanted – and didn’t want – to bid for.

The challenge was a really valuable experience that taught me that even with careful planning, things don’t always turn out as expected. We also discovered more about how different businesses operate and the pressures they face, and how these pressures can (in turn) affect the success of the business. The challenge really helped to consolidate what we had been taught in our lectures, while also showing how theoretical knowledge is not always directly applicable to real-life situations.

How did you apply for your internship placement?

I researched a number of employers, looking at the type of clients they worked with, and felt that Alexander Sloan (now my current employer) offered a good variety of business experience. I applied to a number of different organisations, but I was lucky enough to secure a place with Alexander Sloan.

What did you do during your internship?

I worked in the accounts department, helping prepare year-end accounts, and I also helped in the audit and administration departments. As a result, I learned how the different departments interacted and worked with each other.

What aspects did you enjoy most? And was there anything you found difficult?

I enjoyed working on the year-end accounts and getting to know my colleagues, but I was also actually given quite a lot of responsibility. I found this difficult at first, but my colleagues reassured me and helped me with my work when I needed support.

Your internship resulted in an immediate offer of employment. Why do think your experience was such a success?

I think it was because I worked hard and applied myself to the tasks I was given. Also, the internship allowed me to demonstrate my capabilities, and to show that I was a good fit within the team at Alexander Sloan.

What about your current role?

I’m now a full-time audit assistant, which means that I help the audit senior by completing tests on the audits that we undertake. This also means I get on-the-job training if I’m asked to deal with any aspect of an audit that I haven’t seen before.

I’m gaining experience in a range of different sectors, as our clients include charities, businesses, commercial landlords and credit unions. At the same time I’m working towards my Strategic Professional exams in order to eventually become a qualified accountant.


THANOS AGRAFIOTIS


Studied:
Business administration at the University of Patras, Greece
Interned at: Deloitte Greece, audit department
Is now: Audit semi senior, Deloitte Greece

Why did you decide on a career in accountancy?

I had always loved working with numbers and was also keen to learn everything about business, so it made sense to study accounting at university. It’s the language of finance and gives you a solid understanding of every business sector, while also developing your technical and software skills. I also felt that an accountancy qualification could boost my career, especially if I wanted to start a business as I would be able to manage my own finances and understand the financial impact of any business decisions.

How did you find out about the ACCA internship scheme and why did you decide to apply?

After completing my military service I started job hunting, which at that time was challenging. Then my university – the University of Patras – announced that it was launching the ACCA internship scheme. I read about the requirements, the assessment procedure, and about the accounting firms attending the event and decided it would be something worth taking part in, even if it didn’t lead to an internship.

Why did you apply to Deloitte Greece for your internship?

Among the firms attending the ACCA event, Deloitte was the largest and had been one of my target employers right from the beginning. I had read many Deloitte publications while at university and found them really insightful. Deloitte was also the largest of the Big Four, with opportunities to engage with leading firms in every business sector. Another reason for choosing Deloitte was its people – they had a great reputation for being very helpful.

What did you do during your internship?

I spent three months in the audit department learning about the fundamentals of audit and about Deloitte – how it operated and what it expected from its professional staff. I had the chance to be involved in projects that were already running, giving me the opportunity to see what audit was all about and what an auditor actually did. From the beginning everyone was really helpful and patient, explaining what they wanted from me and showing me what I had to do. I was encouraged to suggest better ways of doing certain tasks, something I found really challenging, and I also developed soft skills such as time management, teamwork, creative thinking and networking.

What aspects did you enjoy most? And was there anything you found difficult?

I really enjoyed learning on the job, but the amount of information you have to absorb every day is huge. I did find the whole internship process a bit difficult to manage in the beginning but, as soon as I got the hang of things, it was great to know that I would never get bored.

Your internship led to a permanent position in the audit department. Why do you think your experience was such a success?

I had three mentors who trusted me right from the start and helped me address my weaknesses. They were patient, very good leaders, and obviously thought it was worth investing in my development. While I was there I also gave the best support that I could to my co-workers and worked hard to keep up with everything I had to learn. I think that working effectively and efficiently is key in accountancy.

Could you give us a brief description of your current role?

I have been working for Deloitte for two years and I am now an audit semi senior. On most engagements my role is to be the field senior and manage the day-to-day split of responsibilities among team members. This also entails performing reviews on some working papers prepared by assistant-level staff and give the appropriate guidance.

What are your longer term career goals?

During my work at Deloitte my goal is to obtain experience in accounting and auditing issues. In addition, I am aiming to gain ACCA membership and become a certified public accountant and eventually reach a level where I can manage my own engagements.