The Journal of Accountancy’s “How to succeed in your first accounting job” written by Dawn Wotapka in April 2017 is worth a read as we creep closer to Internship season.
Throughout our academic careers, we are told that the internship is an extended job interview. It’s not just an opportunity for you to test out the job, it’s the firm’s way of evaluating your potential for success in the future. Think of the first day of your internship as the first day of your career, and prepare.
Wotapka suggests new hires hone “soft skills” as an early performance differentiator. Our generation has the reputation for edging on socially inept when it comes to professional human interactions. Avoid being another data point for the millennial stereotype by sharpening your professional conversation skills, maintain appropriate eye contact, and don’t give “dead fish” handshakes.
Be prepared to learn. Exiting the classroom does not mean you stop learning. In fact, the learning curve steepens upon entry into the work place. Approach every day on the job with a healthy amount of intellectual curiosity and a “can-do” attitude. Try to figure things out yourself, but don’t be afraid to have a little humility and ask for help—no one expects you to do everything on your own!
Use your internship as a busy-season test run; take note of which habits work (and which don’t). Busy season is just that—busy. Keep your eyes open, and make note of how your more seasoned teammates balance the workload, and how they take care of themselves. Working long hours doesn’t mean that you stop checking in with your friends (though you should limit social media usage), or stop going to the gym—you just have to be more conscious of how you spend your time. Build healthy habits during your internship that will carry you into your full time career. There’s no time like the present!