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, format, and selection process. What is a Summer Leadership Program?
Summer Leadership Programs are 1-3 day, invitation-only conferences, hosted during the work week by the accounting firms virtually or in their local offices. Accounting majors commonly attend SLPs during the summer before their senior year (sophomores, many SLPs are looking for you!). 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 in 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 SOA Blog will be updated each week during spring semester, so keep checking back.
What is the benefit of attending an SLP?
Since in-person 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 (if you didn't receive one beforehand). If a firm chooses to issue SLP invites AND internship offers at the same time, attending the SLP will allow you the opportunity to picture yourself at a given firm. Virtual SLPs are also helpful touchpoints but do not offer the chance to visit the office.
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 usually involved (in-person), the firm will pay for a hotel room as well as meals. They 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?
Many SLP opportunities are posted on Handshake and involve an 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 as many SLPs as possible in the location that you wish to intern (unless you are not interested in the employer at all). 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 interview/attendance may lead to an internship offer, and your internship may lead to a full-time job offer.
I have never been through a "real" campus or virtual interview. How can I practice?
SLP interviews are very similar to internship interviews (and sometimes, one in the same!). We recommend preparing for a behavioral format, as many employers utilize that interview methodology. The OPCD offers mock interviews, and The Big Interview (tool accessible via Handshake) is also helpful. Practice makes perfect!
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 along with your application explaining that you are unable to attend and why you can't attend but you still would like to meet with the firm. If you're selected for an interview, you will gain interview practice 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. Remember, more and more firms are using the SLP interview as the internship interview, and you do not want to miss out on that opportunity!
After reviewing the list of SLP dates, several of the ones in my preferred location conflict. Should I apply despite the conflict?
Yes, you should apply to the SLP for all firms of interest, regardless of whether the actual conferences conflict. SLP invitations are not guaranteed, so it's best to take a more conservative approach to your applications. If selected to attend a conference, you will have the option of accepting or declining the invitation. If you must decline due to a conflict, please see the guidance below (What if I get invited to an SLP but know that I cannot attend?). If you decline because you are no longer interested in pursuing that employer, you do not need to make alternate arrangements for a visit.
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?
Yes! As long as you're not missing too many days of summer classes. 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 this summer.
What if I don't get selected to interview or attend an SLP, may I still obtain an internship?
Yes, but it will be more difficult. Why? Most of the firms fill their spring and summer internship positions for the upcoming year with their SLP attendees. Students who are proactive and visible in the spring are the ones who receive invitations to attend SLPs. Students who aren’t invited to attend SLPs and don't receive internship offers over the summer should be very proactive during the summer and early fall to identify firms who are still looking for interns.
What if I get invited to an SLP but know that I cannot attend?
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!
What happens if I get offers before attending some SLPs I commit to?
Students should only accept invitations to conferences they know they want to attend. We discourage students from canceling SLP attendance after getting offers, so students should determine if they are truly interested in the employer before accepting the SLP invite. Regarding the offers, ensure you work with the respective employer to determine a decision deadline that will allow you to see your obligations through to completion. Attending all SLPs available to you will give you confidence in your ultimate acceptance.
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, "CRI Summer Leadership Academy, Summer 2022." As with anything you put on your resume, you should be prepared to answer questions about it, so omit them if questions about the experience will make you uncomfortable.