Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Accounting students gain experience via internship

Seniors Marina Roberts and Daniel Hubbard spent their days this spring learning about accounting – but not in class.

Roberts could often be found researching international tax policies, but she did it at a desk in Houston at the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers, not a desk in Bruno Library.

Hubbard was auditing clients of Sellers, Richardson, Holman, & West, LLP in Birmingham, far from the classrooms of Alston Hall.

Although they never saw a single class assignment, both Roberts and Hubbard have class credit for the spring term thanks to the Spring Internship Program in the Culverhouse School of Accountancy. This program offers a special opportunity to accounting students to be matched to firms for a spring internship and receive not only experience to put on a resume, but three hours of academic credit.

(See also “Study says 60 percent of internships end in job offers“)

“I think they’re probably the most valuable experience that a student can have,” said Mary Stone, faculty advisor for the program. “They really give the student an opportunity to determine whether they’re likely to be successful in a career in accounting.”

Roberts and Hubbard are two of 118 students that accepted spring internships through the program in locations across the country, as well as in Beijing and London.

The program simulates a real-life job experience. The accountancy school gathered 44 firms to participate in an on-campus interview process in the fall. Firms selected candidates from the student applicants to hold formal interviews.

After the internship period is completed, most students take the Certified Public Accountant Exam and attend one year of graduate school.

“You can study accounting and you can do well in tests and do well in the classroom, but when you get out and you actually are doing the work that accountants do under the pressure that is part of public accounting, there are some people that don’t like it as much as they thought, and then they still have time to look elsewhere,” Stone said. “They’re not in a situation where they actually work full-time for a firm, and then discover that they don’t like it.”

Interns return as much better students because they recognize the relevance of the topics covered in class and are able to see them in context after having used them in actual jobs, Stone said.

“They absolutely are going to expect you to work like any other employee in the firm, and they hold you to that standard,” Roberts said. “I learned so much during my internship, not just in terms of experience, not just in terms of knowing what it’s like to be there, although that was extremely helpful to me, but in terms of the technical knowledge that I was picking up during the job about tax accounting.”

(See also “Tax season gives accounting students chance for real-world experience“)

Both Hubbard and Roberts will return to work in full-time positions at the firms where they interned, a common occurrence for students that participate in the program, Stone said.

“I think students get exposure to what it’s like to be a professional accountant, but [it] also gives the firms an opportunity to experience what our students are able to do,” she said.

The program assists students by getting them in contact with different firms, which Hubbard said was the most important role of the University.

“The whole recruiting process is set up for you. They tell you every single thing to do. I was never confused on what I should be doing, and I never was nervous that I wasn’t going to get an internship after doing all those things,” she said.

The accountancy school hosts job socials such as “Meet the Firms” and invites students to socials to foster interaction between the students and firms.

“The accounting department was just phenomenal in terms of how they worked with me and how they helped me,” Roberts said. “Admittedly it took reaching out to them, it took asking for help, but I met with professors who were willing to bend over backwards in order to help me work through the questions I had about my career [and] help me figure out where it was that I wanted to go.”

(See also “UA accounting program ranked 18th in country“)

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