6 Tasks to Give Your Accounting Intern

by | Jan 2, 2020 | Accounting, Business, Internships

The students or recent graduates you hire for your company’s accounting internship know that their first job as an accountant begins long before they graduate. Entry-level positions are much easier to secure if they have experience in the accounting field.  While the goal of any accounting internship is to help interns learn more about daily accounting tasks and activities, it could also include more in-depth responsibilities like shadowing accounting department staff members, assisting with the financial report preparation process, and learning to track and analyze financial information. When writing your accounting internship job description, you must ensure that applicants understand the accounting intern duties and responsibilities at your organization. Your applicants will want to know exactly what is expected of them. 

Below is a list of 6 tasks you can give your accounting intern that will benefit both you and the applicant. 

General Clerical Work 

Interns know that they are the low man on the totem pole, which is why they will expect to do some menial office tasks. Don’t be afraid to delegate these. Accounting interns need to know how an office runs if they are ever going to thrive within this field. You can ask that they file away documents or pull client files for other accountants on your teams. You could also include tasks like data entry, as it will familiarize them with common accounting and bookkeeping software programs, photocopying documents, answering phone calls and keeping the office area clean, functional and organized. 

Audit Work 

Auditing involves going over clients’ financial documents to ensure that tabulated amounts are accurate. Depending on your intern’s level of experience,  you could ask them to perform audits on their own and then report the findings or aid a staff accountant in performing the audits. This task can involve traveling to a client’s business or office. This will help hone their communication and teamwork skills. Auditing work will also test their eye for detail as they carefully examine records to spot errors. Be sure to add this task to your accounting intern job description. 

Preparing Financial Reports

You could also ask your Intern to prepare a variety of financial reports using client data already available, such as payroll information budgets, accounts payable records and pricing lists. Preparing financial reports will help the intern learn how to work with data from various sources to create a picture of a client’s overall financial health. 

Preparing Tax Returns

Definitely get your intern involved in tax preparation as it will be an extremely beneficial learning experience for them. You could enlist their help to do clients’ taxes, personal or business. Have your interns gather required financial documents from clients, check facts and figures, work with tax reports or tax exemption records and even perform complete tax preparation on their own if you feel they are able to handle it. Because taxes are the bread and butter of many accounting practices, delegating these types of tasks will provide key professional experience that will come in handy when your intern graduates or enters the job market to start looking for their first real accounting position.

Learn the Company Culture

One of the most important tasks for a new accounting intern is to learn the specifics of company culture. Interns are expected to observe how employees interact, learn the expectations of entry-level associates and figure out the norms of company behavior. For example, even though an intern may not have developed the skills needed to complete many of the tasks required of an accountant, he or she still may be asked to attempt some work assignments and interact with the team as if she had that knowledge. If an intern learns these behaviors, it will be easier for them to make the transition to a full-time position if they are invited back after their internship.

Industry-Specific tasks 

In a business segment such as investment banking, accounting interns may assist teams working on special projects with the mergers and acquisitions department. Performing research, running financial models for analysis, and collaborating with account managers to create presentation materials are viable intern assignments. According to Chron.com, “at a CPA firm, interns work in the audit or tax department. Interns often provide support by preparing balance sheets and income statements. Assisting in the client services department gives an intern the opportunity to work with a senior auditor. In this role, you might accompany a CPA to client companies to help perform ongoing audits.” This is an opportunity with dual benefits. Interns get a first-hand look at the role of an auditor in addition to exposure to the client’s industry. If you are part of a specific segment of accounting, be sure to add industry-specific tasks to your accounting intern job description. 

Remember you can never be too detailed when it comes to writing your internship description. Not only will it help you attract the best talent for the position, but it will also allow you to share this information with your team members so that everyone is on the same page as to what tasks they will be delegating once the intern is hired.