How Can I Get Practical Accounting Experience While in College?

Gaining practical accounting experience while still in college is easier than you might think. When you enroll in one of these finance programs, you’ll typically take courses on economics and finances as well as taxes. The professors in your program can help foster your interest in one field and help you apply for graduate school. With the knowledge and skills that you gain on your own, you can really make your application stand out. You can gain those skills in a few different ways.

Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs

Attend Conferences

Professional organizations for accountants put on a number of conferences each year. You’ll find some in regions like the northeast or the southwest, but other conferences are open to those in any state. These events may only be open to members though. Most organizations offer student memberships at a discounted rate. You can become a member while still in school and gain access to all upcoming events. Many of these conferences include workshops that let you learn more about a subject you might not study in school. Other workshops can help you form professional connections with licensed accountants.

Do an Internship

No matter what you major in while in college, you should still look for internship opportunities. Check with the career services department on your campus. Those departments will often have listings from local firms who hire students like you, and you may find some jobs listed on boards hanging on the walls. An unpaid internship awards you course credit for the work that you do. A paid internship provides you with a salary as well as class credit. Paid internships often have more competition than unpaid internships do and require that you do more work. Those positions will look great on your resume and grad school applications.

Sign Up for an Independent Study Project

Forming connections with your professors is important because those instructors can help you with an independent study project. An independent study project is one that you can with minimal supervision. You might write a detailed research paper or do some type of project. Colleges will let you base your project around a topic you briefly learned about in one of your classes or a related finance topic that you did not study. The number of credits that you get for the project often depends on the size of your project and how much work you do.

Shadow Professionals

The ACCA recommends that college students get accounting experience through a job shadowing program. Even if your college does not offer this type of program, it’s easy to shadow someone on the job. You can contact local firms and agencies to ask if you can come in and follow a licensed accountant around for the day. This lets you see exactly what that professional does on a daily basis and can help you decide if you want to work as that type of accountant or another type. You can shadow a professional for a few hours, an entire day or longer.

Accountancy college programs teach you the fundamentals that you might need when working in finance and prepare you for graduate school and taking a licensing exam too. Getting accounting experience while in college by doing an independent study project, shadowing a professional on the job, doing an internship or attending conferences can help you in the future.