Internships benefit both the student and employer. Students have the opportunity to “get their foot in the door” of a prospective employer and to “try” a potential career path prior to graduation. Given that most CPA firms report that 70-90% of their new hires are previous interns, internships have become a “must-do” for accounting majors. Misti Rasmussen, one of our UAB accounting alums, who has been in charge of UAB recruiting for Kassouf & Company for many years says, “The greatest benefit for us is that it is a test drive for full-time employment. If we interviewed a candidate, he/she already looks great on paper, thus proving himself/herself in the classroom. With the internship, we are able to evaluate their work ethic, ability to apply what they’ve learned in class and how well they gel with our group. If, for any reason, the relationship doesn’t work, it’s much easier to separate. If it does work, then we and the intern can relax and know a good match was made, and in a year or so, the long-term relationship can begin.”
Although UAB’s accounting internship program started off small in the late eighties with two internal auditing interns at SONAT and a handful of interns at CPA firms, over the last eight years, the number of students applying for spring accounting internships has almost tripled from 26 students in 2001 to a record-breaking number of 72 students this year.
Between Aug. 25th and Sept. 22nd, the following CPA firms conducted interviews on campus: Pearce, Bevill, Leesburg & Moore PC; Horton, Lee, Burnett, Peacock, Cleveland, and Grainger, PC; Warren, Averett, Kimbrough & Marino, LLC; Deloitte; Culotta, Scroggins, Hendricks & Gillespie, PC ; Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Kassouf & Co.; Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith PC; Ernst & Young; and Dent, Baker & Company, LLP. Many of the firms’ interviewers were UAB alumni who had themselves been through on-campus interviews for internship and fulltime positions when they were in school. According to the employers, competition for internship positions was extremely intense this year, and the interviewers had a difficult time selecting candidates to receive offers.
So far, fourteen UAB students have received and accepted offers. After offers have been made and accepted, Ms. Whitney Wilson, the Accounting Program’s new Employment/Internship Coordinator will continue to work with the remaining students and employers throughout the fall to secure as many internship positions as possible before “busy season” for tax and audit work begins in January. Most of the interns will work fulltime through at least early March (audit interns) or April 15th (tax interns).