Busy Season Internships – the best of all worlds!

Every year, numerous accounting and finance students complete internships, and this year is no exception. Some of these internships are completed in the summer, but an increasingly popular option has been for students to complete “busy season” internships.

“Busy season” refers to the period from January through mid-April when those who work in accounting are particularly busy. Auditors are examining company financial statements and annual reports before they are released to the public, while those who work in tax are preparing tax returns for individuals in business prior to the April 15th deadline.

CPA firms have a high demand for interns during this busy period, and our department is structured so students can complete an internship and stay on track to graduate in four years. These internships are worth up to 12 credits, which allows students to earn 150 credits by graduation, the amount expected by most of the CPA firms who recruit our students. Some students will intern through April 15th, earn 12 credits, and start their summers early. Other students may intern through about March 15th, earn 8 to 12 credits, and return to campus for the 2nd half of the semester to take a couple classes.

Busy season internships can range from 40 – 60 hours per week, and CPA firms pay overtime at time and a half. Many of our students earn $15,000 or more and obtain a full-time job offer. Since most students who complete these internships are juniors, they will enter their senior year with a job offer in hand.

A nice thing about these internships is they free students up to pursue a fun or creative job over the summer. Our professors have been known to advise students as follows: “Do an internship from early January through March 15th. Get great experience and earn great money while the weather is cold, as well as lock your full-time post-graduation job. Return to campus after spring break and take a couple classes, applying what you learned, and enjoy time with your friends. Then, find a different internship or a fun outdoor job for the summer. Maybe even do some traveling.”

This spring, twelve of our students are completing these busy season internships for credit. Nine are working for firms near campus, in the Saint Cloud area, and three are working for firms in the Twin Cities. We asked a few students why they chose to do an internship and how their experience was going, and we received some great replies.

Shelby Pfannenstein is working as an auditor at CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) and had this to say: “I wanted to do an internship because it truly is the only way to determine if public accounting is the right path for you. Getting to work with others who have been in this field for years and can share their knowledge with you is so rewarding! It makes the ‘adult world’ after graduation less scary and gives you a taste of what life after college will look like. I highly recommend a busy season internship if it fits in your schedule because you truly get the most out of those weeks working on different audits, reviews, and tax returns, along with learning how to work efficiently during busy times.”

Sam Rademacher also works in audit at CLA. He said, “The internship is an amazing experience and is getting me exposed to audit. Everyone I work with makes work enjoyable and is very helpful in answering questions that I have or finding someone who can answer my questions. It has been quite shocking how much I have learned in a short period of time!”

Tyler Bautch works in tax at local CPA firm Schlenner Wenner. “I found my internship through a recommendation from my professor,” Tyler explained. “They put me in touch with a partner at the CPA firm. I decided to do an internship because I thought it would be beneficial to see what accounting is really like and make sure it was something I wanted to do. I am enjoying my internship because you can only learn so much from a textbook. I find it valuable because it forces me to learn quickly and use what I have learned in school to problem solve.”

Jack Sand also works at Schlenner Wenner, on the audit side. “I wanted to get a chance to be hands on with accounting—to take what I have learned and put it into action in the real world,” Jack said. “I enjoy getting to work and interact with people in an office setting and learn a lot about what I will hopefully do someday. I have really enjoyed every part of my internship.”

Josh Sola works in audit for Big 4 firm KPMG. Josh said. “I have been enjoying the internship because it has given me the ability to apply what I have learned in the classroom to real life and learn new things on the job. I chose to do an internship because I wanted to get experience before I go into the workforce full-time, as well as make some money!”