If you’ve just completed your accounting degree, you know first-hand how difficult landing that first job can be. Having no work experience in your chosen field distresses many new graduates – and yet it’s critical to find a company that will take a chance on someone completely new to the field that has not yet had the chance to exercise or hone their skills. In addition, the Recession transformed the industry, requiring it to make a number of sweeping changes to keep the industry competitive – and running.
But landing your first job does not have to be a stressful experience – particularly if you have yet to graduate and still have time to plan ahead. Here are five tips for applying for your first position.
Create a Stellar Resume
Even if you have yet to graduate, your resume is something you should keep polished and up to date. Your resume should include any experience you may have – including projects or volunteer work – and your education, certifications, skills, and anything else relevant to your search.
In addition to crafting a stand-out resume, compile a list of references to give to potential employers. These should include project team members, professors, and any academic staff that can vouch for your work or have a personal or professional relationship with you.
Take a Lucrative Minor
If you’re still in school, consider adding a minor in information technology, computer science, or even cybersecurity or marketing. This added skill set can help to make you a more attractive and versatile candidate to many companies, and will help to set you apart from your peers. Before choosing a minor, consider carefully what your other interests are and how they can translate into a lucrative minor, and then meet with an academic advisor to determine what the best path forward is for you to complete your entire degree program with the minor included. Don’t rule out taking summer classes, either – you’ll finish sooner if you do.
Volunteer For a Non-Profit
This is one of the best ways to gain experience in the field before and after graduating with a degree. Many non-profits operate on a shoestring budget, and will utilize any and all skilled help they can get. Research non-profit agencies in your area and make a list of those that interest you the most. Express your interest in assisting with the number crunching – but don’t allow them to rope you into doing other tasks that aren’t relevant to your career goals.
Sometimes volunteering at such an agency can lead to long-term employment if your work is high quality, so don’t slack on the job even though you aren’t being paid. Additionally, most non-profits will be happy to give you a glowing reference if you did your work well, so take it just as seriously as you would any other position.
Complete an Internship
Completing an internship – even an unpaid one – is an excellent path to developing experience. If you can gain an internship with a national accounting or tax firm, even better – but don’t rule out interning for a smaller or locally based firm, either. Seek out paid internships where you can, particularly if you’ve already graduated, and limit your internship time to a year maximum. Internships can lead to long-term employment if you perform well, so perform diligently and, after you’ve been at it for awhile, inquire about the possibility of your internship translating into a part or full-time career.
Listen to Accounting Podcasts
Podcasts can offer a multitude of tips on how best to hone your skills and land employment in this extremely competitive industry. Podcasts to try include The Bean Counter, CPA Exam Review, and THRIVEal. A great many quality podcasts on the subject exist, and range from fifteen minutes to two hours. Try listening during your morning coffee or commute, during your workout, or in the evening before you head to bed.
Landing a new position can be a challenge, but utilizing the skills and information you have available to you can help you find a position relevant to your skills and degree.