The right work experience gained while studying can mean everything when you want to get your foot in the door. Employers want to see you’re more than just a good student.
Whether or not you’re earning a salary, internships and junior roles will pay dividends when it comes to launching your career in the competitive world of tax and accounting. A short four-week stint at an accounting firm or tax office, for example, could be all it takes to set yourself up for success.
But why is this experience so important?
Firstly, it shows prospective employers there is more to you than just the knowledge learnt from accounting textbooks. Work experience will also nurture the non-accounting skills you’ll need to be a valued employee, give you solid project experience and a relevant work history. It will also prove you can work well with others, do the work you’re given and that you can handle pressure.
Here are four possible ways to get a jump on your accounting career while still studying.
1. Volunteer bookkeeper
Demonstrate your initiative by actively seeking out opportunities that will provide you with practical experience. Offering your time as a volunteer at a local charity or non-profit helping to handle their books can be a valuable addition to your CV. You’ll gain plenty of hands-on experience, as well as possibly getting the chance to spearhead the implementation of new systems and processes that will continue after you’ve left.
Also consider the insight programs many large financial institutions and professional services offer. These vary in length and range from offering information to involving you in group activities and assignments. They are a good way to show potential employers what you can do and, in some cases, lead to a formal internship.
2. Clerk or assistant positions
Many accounting firms prefer to take and shape recruits early via formal apprenticeships and placements, often advertising for roles such as trainee accounts clerks and trainee accounting assistants. Similar junior roles can be found inside large companies in other sectors that have their own in-house finance departments or accountants.
The alternative is to gain experience in a closely related field. Again, joining a firm as a junior bookkeeper will help you gain relevant skills you can build upon and from which you can jump sideways into accounting when the right role comes up.
3. Non-accounting work experience
Don’t dismiss roles that are not directly in accountancy or financial services. Many firms value external experience and the maturity and people skills they teach. Most experience offers transferable skills, however unrelated it may seem.
By gaining experience as a paralegal, for example, you will acquire solid writing and research skills, commercial awareness and client-relationship skills that will stand you in good stead for your future accounting work.
A great way to spend your mid-semester break is as an office temp. Not only will you be able to apply for more relevant vacancies within that firm as they come up, you’ll already be known and valued – giving you an edge over external candidates. Not to mention you’ll know all the ins and outs of the company.
Even retail roles will show employers you have people and numbers skills, which will at the very least help build your work ethic and show you are able to run projects and manage people.
Don’t forget to keep building your formal skills
The Tax Institute’s education programs are another good way to ensure you build the right mix of relevant skills and qualifications. Find out more information on tax and accounting courses that can set you up for a successful career.
Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law
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