Summer Leadership Programs (SLPs) are an enriching part of the accounting recruitment
process. The most common questions about SLPs are answered below. It's important
to note that each accounting firm has a unique SLP schedule and selection process.
What is a Summer Leadership Program?
Summer Leadership Programs are 2-3 day, invitation-only conferences, hosted during the work-week by the accounting firms in their local offices. Accounting majors most commonly attend SLPs during the summer before their senior year (Texas SLPs are before junior year). The programs are structured to include a mix of career development, firm education, networking and team-building events. Not only will you learn more about the firm and accounting profession, but you will have FUN!
Does every firm host an SLP?
All of the Big 4 and national firms, plus some regional and local firms host SLPs. If a firm does not host an official SLP, they may still host a summer office visit/social event to stay connected with their recruits. Early spring semester, a list of firms sponsoring SLPs will be posted on the SOA Blog and advertised in the ACCT Recruiting News & Events Newsletter. The Summer Leadership Programs blog thread will be updated each week during spring semester, so keep checking back.
What is the benefit of attending an SLP?
Since SLPs are typically hosted on a firm's "home turf," SLPs offer a unique glimpse into a firm's culture that you don't get from their visits to Auburn. You meet more of their people (that may not be AU alums) and may even get to see one of their clients. In addition, you meet current students from other universities who have also been invited to the SLP. If a student makes a positive impression at the SLP, they are more likely to receive an internship offer from that firm.
Do I have to pay to attend the SLPs?
No, SLPs are meant to be a "treat" for a select group of recruits, and are therefore all-expenses paid. Since an overnight is involved, the firm will pay for a hotel room as well as meals. Firms will also cover your travel costs, whether it's an airline ticket or fuel reimbursement.
What is the application process for SLPs? How many should I apply for?
Most SLP opportunities are posted on Handshake; several will involve an on-campus interview. Beyond Handshake, you should confirm any additional application steps with the campus recruiter (you may also need to apply on the firm's website). A few SLPs are strictly application-based and will be publicized in the weekly ACCT Recruiting News & Events Newsletter and posted on the SOA Blog. Regardless of your summer plans, you should apply to many SLPs in the location that you wish to intern. For example, if you know that you want to work in Birmingham, you should apply for SLPs that are hosted in Birmingham. Be consistent and only apply for conferences in your top location preferences. Your SLP may lead to an internship offer, and your internship may lead to a full-time job offer.
I have never been through a "real" interview on campus. How can I practice?
SLP interviews are very similar to the internship interview; in fact, many SLP interviews are considered "double-duty" and satisfy the internship interview requirement as well. You can consult the Interviews thread on the blog to get more information about putting your best foot forward.
I'll be out of the country working for most of the summer or committed to another obligation. Should I still apply?
Yes! Even if you can't attend an SLP, you should absolutely apply for the ones in your location of interest (informing the recruiter of your conflict in advance). You should send a note in conjunction with your application explaining that you are unable to attend (and why you can't attend), but indicating that you still would like to meet with the firm. If you're selected for an interview, you will gain interview practice (potentially satisfying the internship interview requirement) and additional visibility with that firm. If you're not selected for an interview, you have at least made yourself known and shown an interest in getting to know that firm.
I am taking classes this summer. Should I still attend SLPs?
If you are taking summer classes, you may not be able to accept every SLP invitation. Keep in mind that summer classes are offered on mini-terms, so missing multiple class days equates to missing weeks on a regular 15-week semester. You will need to work with your professors to determine the acceptable number of days to miss during a summer class session. If attending an SLP will result in you making a bad grade, then you should decline the invitation and make arrangements to visit the firm's office after you finish your mini-term classes. The firms understand that school is a priority!
If I get invited to attend multiple SLPs, may I attend them all? Do I have to accept all invitations?
As long as you're not missing too many days of summer classes, you may accept as many SLP invitations as you receive. You are not obligated to any firm based on attending an SLP, and your attendance at the SLPs will help you make the ultimate internship decision during the offer periods. Similarly, if you are invited to more conferences than you can realistically attend (e.g. due to your summer courseload), you may need to prioritize your list of employers and accept invitations to those that are your best fit. If you have to decline an SLP invitation due to time constraints or conflicts, make your continued interest clear to the recruiter so they do not interpret the decline negatively.
What if I don't get selected to interview or attend an SLP, may I still obtain an internship?
Yes! SLPs are very selective, but not all students that apply and interview will be invited to attend. The number of SLP invitations is typically less than the number of internship positions a firm has to offer. So, it's not mandatory to attend an SLP to get an internship offer. Keep an open mind, and do not get discouraged! You should still continue to recruit with that firm and apply for fall internship interviews.
What if I get invited to an SLP but know that I cannot attend?
Ideally, you should proactively communicate known conflicts in advance of invitations being issued. If a conflict suddenly arises, you should inform the firm right away that you cannot attend, so they can invite another eligible student, and ask about other opportunities to visit the office over the summer. Sometimes, recruiters will schedule special office visits for students who have a conflict with an SLP, and you should take advantage of this courtesy to be competitive during the summer offer period.
May I add SLPs to my resume?
Absolutely; you should be proud to display any SLPs you attended on your resume (after you have actually attended them). SLPs naturally fall under the "Honors & Activities" section, and you can account for them using a description such as, "EY Emerging Leaders Program Participant, Summer 2018." As with anything you put on your resume, you should be prepared to answer questions about it.