COVID-19 and Accounting Internships: Why and How to Keep Internship Programs Alive


In 2008, millions of millennials entered the working world with no clear path ahead due to a contracting economy. Jobs disappeared by the thousands and companies used their bargaining power to squeeze most millennials out of the market in favor of more experienced workers. A little more than a decade later, generation Z is suffering the same fate. Accounting is one of several professions affected by the pandemic and many accounting internship opportunities have subsequently been put on hold or disappeared.

The Effects of COVID-19 on the Job Market

Forbes reports that companies are scaling back plans to hire recent graduates from MBA programs, while some have canceled hiring plans altogether. This includes the internships college students and recent graduates look forward to in the summer. In fact, 40 out of the top 116 corporations have frozen or canceled internships and other hiring plans.

Not surprisingly, the hiring freeze is most common for companies that took the hardest hits. This includes hospitality, sports, travel, and some sectors of retail. The good news is that some big companies are still hiring, such as Goldman Sachs, Amazon, and Google. So, what can other companies do to keep their doors open to interns?

The Virtual Solution for Accounting Internship Programs

The main solution companies have relied on to maintain business operations is remote work. This can benefit interns as well. Many professionals believe remote work could be here to stay for years to come, so interns might as well get a head start. Here’s how firms can make such setups work for accounting:

  • Build a Community: People detach more easily from a company and its culture when working or completing internship opportunities from home. Use efficient meetings, lighthearted newsletters, and virtual social gatherings to keep the team spirit alive.
  • Provide the Right Tools: Accountants handle confidential information and need the necessary equipment to keep data safe. Consider shipping this equipment at the start of the accounting internship program.
  • Offer Training: Many companies are still learning how to adjust to remote work, but training is nonetheless important. Teach interns about the importance of connecting via VPNs and locking devices. Interns may also need training on how to use specific remote work tools.

The Benefits of Making the Effort

There is no doubt about it. Business owners and managers feel overwhelmed under the pressure of the pandemic and its new realities. With more challenges ahead, it might seem tempting to put off trying to tackle accounting internship obstacles. However, companies could end up losing cream-of-the-crop talent to competitors that decide the show must go on. There are benefits to pushing forward:

  • Grooming: An experienced candidate is an asset to any company, but none more so than candidates who gained their years of experience at the company looking to hire or promote them. 
  • Efficiency: Whether accounting firms serve organizations, individuals, or both, many feel overwhelmed with questions related to government assistance programs. Interns can help.
  • Partnerships: It is important to honor partnerships with colleges to ensure they continue to send the best graduates to a company instead of to competitors who pitch in to fill the gap.

Make sure you have a robust offering of CPA review courses to fit the learning needs of your interns and professionals.

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