With Summer accounting internships beginning right around the corner, we wanted you to hear from real students who just completed their winter internships at public accounting firms.
Today, we speak to Mitch Weiland, an intern from Baker Tilly who gives insight on what his experience was like, what his best piece of advice for those looking for internships this fall is, and why they're so important for future career success.
1. What were you looking for in an internship opportunity?
A way to get into the public accounting world. I wanted to use it as my stepping stone to start a career in public accounting.
2. Why did you apply for an internship at Baker Tilly?
I had heard a lot of good things about their firm from my peers, some of whom actually had done internships with them and spoke highly about it. They talked about the great way they treated them as well as regular employees, and I knew they were a decent mid-sized firm.
I had also interacted with them at my college’s career fair in addition to doing my own research online. I learned that they offered a variety of services to specific industries. This told me that you could specialize in different areas, which gave you an advantage of helping clients better since you would know specific information in regards to their business and needs.
3. What was the application process like from beginning to end?
I filled out an internship application and submitted my resume online. That got me an on campus interview where I spoke to 4-5 different people from Baker Tilly.
Afterward, I was invited to an intern social where all the intern interviewees went out to dinner and mingled with one another as well as the interviewers we were going to speak to the next day.
Then I had a final, formal interview the following day, and the same night I received a phone call from one of the Human Resources representatives verbally extending an internship offer. I went online and accepted it.
4. What was the internship program like?
My internship lasted for 4 months, beginning in early January and wrapping up around the end of Tax Season. They were very transparent about the hours, expectations, and what I had to do.
They set me up with a buddy system, in which every intern or new hire is assigned a more seasoned staffer who has recently been in my position and knows what I’m going through. They’re someone you go to for resources, or to get you set up through the beginning stages, which was extremely helpful.
For a majority of the internship, I helped audit clients, and during the last few weeks when the audit work began to dry up, I started doing 1040s and different tax tasks. I enjoyed this since it gave me a taste of both the audit and tax sides.
5. What was your favorite aspect about interning at Baker Tilly?
Definitely working with all the different people here. I really liked the people I worked with, all of whom are smart, friendly, and very approachable. I learned a lot from them.
6. What did you find to be the most valuable experience during your internship?
I gained so much general and specific knowledge about the industry I was working in, and also learning how to use accounting software on a day-to-day basis. That was probably equally important since it helped you accomplish your tasks.
Overall, I learned how to be a responsible professional in my real first professional type job. That’s something school can’t teach you and is invaluable to take with you as you move forward.
7. How has interning affected your personal and professional life?
Professionally, it has helped me a lot. I made a lot of great connections and learned how to be a better professional in the workplace. And since I recently graduated, it will give me a huge leg up in my accounting career.
On a personal level, it has helped me make a good transition into the real world. I’ve never worked this much before, and all the problems I had before my internship now seem minor in retrospect.
8. Why do you think internships are important?
Internships are a great way to see if you’re a good fit with the area of accounting you’re being exposed to and the firm you’re working at. Producing quality work in a real job setting is a good test drive indicator of how you’ll perform in the real world. It will give you time to pick up on skills you’ll need before becoming a full-time employee.
9. What’s your best piece of advice for those looking to land an internship?
While grades are important, what can be even more important is your level of involvement both in and outside of college. For me, Baker Tilly looked a lot at my extracurriculars and social abilities. They wanted to see my communication skills and see if I could hold a conversation well. Being involved with clubs and different organizations can be indicative of this.
Also, don’t be afraid to get out there and apply to as many internship opportunities as possible. Then you can narrow down your choices if you get multiple offers.
10. Anything else you’d like to share?
I was very nervous before my internship started because I felt like I didn’t know anything. I had just received my degree in accounting, and I had no idea what to expect or what the people were going to be like. But I quickly learned that you will obtain a lot of skills on the job and it’s okay not to know everything right away. There will be a lot of people to help you both feel and become capable so you can work autonomously.
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