I am an Accounting major and am currently looking for a position in the field to gain experience. However, most positions are asking that a candidate already has a Bachelor’s degree and have three to five years of experience. I am wondering if you can give me advice on how to get started in the industry?
Thanks for your question, Eyvonne –
As a graduate in Human Resource Management, I faced the same challenges as you in college. When I was searching for my first full-time position, I noticed that many roles required me to have over two years of experience in the field to qualify. As an ambitious young professional, I was discouraged and struggling to find a way forward. However, once I spoke with my career counselor and some industry professionals, I was able to get a plan together to start my career in HR. So don’t get too discouraged! There are always other ways to gain experience and build your resume to sell yourself to employers, a few of which I will share with you.
Aside from full-time permanent positions, there are many other types of work experiences that count towards your “experience” count when it comes to applying for positions. I’ll share a few ways on how you can leverage these to get yourself started in the industry and hopefully bridge your way to launching a successful career.
Internships are far and above the best way for college students to gain real-world experience that will translate to a full-time job. Additionally, internships are excellent networking opportunities that often lead to full-time offers. Although internships are most often thought of as summer experiences, there are many companies who will hire students during the school year to work part-time in-between classes. Are there any accounting firms in your town where you attend school? If so, I would highly suggest reaching out to them to inquire about potential opportunities for students to work during the school year. Not only will this give you more experience but will be more convenient for your school schedule as well! Connect with your career center to help you craft an e-mail or set up a networking opportunity. This website includes several links to resources for internships in the accounting field, as well as some other helpful information.
Professional Organization Memberships
Another great way to gain experience is to join professional organizations, both through your university and nationally. Joining a professional organization will help you develop the necessary skills to succeed in your field. Not only will you gain the benefits of a well-rounded education, but you also may be presented with networking opportunities and student leadership opportunities as well. Students who are members of a professional organization send a message to employers that they are committed to succeeding in their careers. This page includes several professional organizations that you may consider and also list some in other fields as well.
If you find yourself at graduation without a job, I would highly suggest looking into contract opportunities. These are positions that hire individuals for a specified length of time and sometimes can lead to full-time employment. However, even if there isn’t a permanent job at the end, these positions can also be great “experience-builders” for your resume. Seek out local staffing agencies as well as your career center to get connected with these types of jobs.
Navigating the full-time job market for the first time can be challenging but stay positive, don’t get discouraged and keep pushing towards your dreams! As a quote I saw recently says, “Believe in your potential even if you haven’t seen the results.”