Accounting Internship Etiquette: How to Start on the Right Foot

by | Jan 29, 2020 | Culture, Career

Having worked with a lot of accounting interns over the years has given me insight into the do’s and don’ts that can determine a successful internship. In this article, I will share some tips to keep in mind as you embark on your internship journey.

Before You Begin Your Internship

So, you’ve landed your first accounting internship. It’s important to be prepared and do your homework prior to the actual start date. Some things are obvious, like checking out the company website. However, there are less apparent things that you can do in advance, which include:

  • Find out if the company is having any events you could attend. This is a great way to meet people you will be working with and get to know them in a social setting (Think: holiday party, after-busy-season celebration, etc.).
  • Reach out to people you met during the interview process and tell them you look forward to working with them. These contacts will be your built-in buddies or advisors on the job.
  • Contact the human resources manager for the dress code. Is it business casual or otherwise? Plan to step it up a notch and look your best. This might be the time to invest in a few new statement pieces for your wardrobe.
  • Do a run-through of your first day. See how long it will take you to get dressed, drive in the morning traffic and find the appropriate parking location.

On Day 1

Be on time the first day and every day. Punctuality may not necessarily be applauded, but tardiness will always bring bad press. Now that you have arrived, take the time to say hello to people you have previously met. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to others in the office, too. Even if they don’t know you, it will prompt them to ask, “Who was that?” It is never too soon to start building your network, making friends and keeping an eye out for the ideal mentor.

Having a Great Attitude

Remember that attitude is everything. Being pleasant, helpful, flexible, and genuine will go a long way.

Be brave and contribute to the conversation.  Show your technical knowledge and interests. Remember to take moments to listen and learn from others.

More specifically, pay attention to the company culture (every culture is different). For example, take the time to initiate conversation while getting your coffee, say hello to people as you walk over to the printer or bring that extra muffin you baked this morning to your office mate.

Asking Questions

Asking questions is an essential part of the learning process, but “what” and “how” you ask says a lot about you. There is actually an art to asking questions. Pause for a minute to make sure you have organized your thoughts, including what steps you have taken to get to this point, and you might offer a possible solution. Be prepared to listen, write down answers and learn from what you hear. This goes a long way in making a good impression, and you want to put your best foot forward!

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips to consider:

  • Do not be afraid of unknown challenges or assignments. Be willing to take a stab at it! People generally will not ask you to do things beyond your capabilities.
  • Be present and participate in meetings, lunches and firm-sponsored events as best you can.
  • Ask for feedback, and then be prepared to own it.
  • Take your time to choose the right mentor. You want to find a person who’s a good fit for you.
  • Let people know who you are. Don’t be afraid to show your unique personality.
  • Show gratitude. Give a “thank you” to a co-worker or boss for something they taught you or for introducing you to a new person.

At the End of the Day

Accounting internships are key to helping you learn the ropes and experience the firm’s culture. Following these etiquette suggestions will help you get the most out of the experience. I wish all accounting interns good luck!

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