Career Recruiting Advice for Fisher School of Accounting Students
Accounting students are encouraged to explore all career opportunities in public accounting, industry, financial services, and government. Students should strike a balance between recruiting activities and other responsibilities (academic, extracurricular, social, and work related). Prospective employers are on campus and in Gerson Hall regularly. The School Calendar provides details about these events. As time permits, attend recruiting events to build relationships with prospective employers, but do not devote too much time to recruiting activities because, if your academic performance deteriorates, your marketability will be adversely affected.
Summer Leadership Programs (SLPs)
SLPs are an excellent way to build relationships with accounting firms and companies. The programs are typically two to three day retreats where students focus on learning about the culture of the profession including: team building, networking, professionalism, etiquette, and client service.
Recruiting for SLPs takes place during the spring Career Showcase and typically involves a campus interview. SLPs are recommended for students who have completed Financial Accounting and Reporting 1 (ACG3101) and Business Processes and Accounting Information Systems (ACG3401) prior to the spring semester in which they are recruiting for an SLP. The Course Sequencing Chart for the 3/2 program describes the correct tracking pattern.
Students currently enrolled in ACG 3101 and / or ACG 3401 during the spring SLP recruiting period are off track. It may be possible for these students to get back on track by taking Summer courses. If these students stay off-track, attend an SLP, and it ultimately results in an internship offer for the following spring or summer, their graduation will be delayed one year if the offer is accepted.
For students enrolled in class during the summer, SLPs, though only two or three days long, can conflict with class meetings, assignment deadlines, quizzes or exams. Class commitments should be a priority. Instructors are not required to make accommodations for students who are attending SLPs.
As long as it does not delay progress towards graduation, students are encouraged to complete an accounting internship. The internship experience provides students with the opportunity to apply the accounting concepts they have studied in the classroom. It helps develop practical skills that will be required of entry-level professionals. Finally, an internship exposes the student to the culture of the profession and reinforces the importance of communication and interpersonal skills. To be on-track for a spring or summer internship, students should complete TAX 5025, TAX 5027, ACG 5637 and ACG 5647 during the fall semester of their senior year. The Course Sequencing Chart for the 3/2 program describes the correct tracking pattern.
Although it varies by employer and city, there are typically more spring internships available than summer. Spring internships can often provide a richer professional experience, particularly in the audit area.
Because the FSOA is a lockstep program, it is critical that students remain on track with all accounting coursework to complete an internship without delaying graduation. Being “off track” (ahead or behind) by one accounting course, as early as your sophomore year, can delay graduation by an entire year! Off track students can get back on track and graduate on time by remaining on campus in the summer of their senior year instead of completing an internship.
For example, to be on-track for a spring or summer internship, students must complete TAX 5025, TAX 5027, ACG 5637 and ACG 5647 during the fall semester of their senior year. The Course Sequencing Chart for the 3/2 program describes the correct tracking pattern. Students who are off track (completed TAX 5025, TAX 5027, ACG 5637 and / or ACG 5647 during the spring semester of their senior year) must start the MAcc program in the summer to get back on track. If these students complete a summer internship, they will miss the required foundation graduate-accounting courses (which are prerequisites for most graduate accounting courses taken during the fifth year).
Because of the requirement to use specific faculty members with the requisite expertise, the module timing in which fifth-year courses are offered may change from year to year, or, on occasion, specific courses may not be offered every year. In addition, to offer a meaningful case-based classroom experience, enrollment capacity in fifth-year courses (not required for one of the concentrations) is limited. These fifth year courses may have 50-60 seats, but there are 100-120 fifth year students who may be interested in completing the course.
For students who are on track (completed ACG 5226, ACG 5815, and TAX 5065 during the spring or summer of their senior year consistent with the School’s Course Sequencing Chart for the 3/2 program), these limits never cause a problem because on-track students meet prerequisites for every fifth-year course in our curriculum inventory. For these students it doesn’t matter if the School only offers twelve of the fifteen fifth-year courses in a particular year because they only need seven fifth-year courses to graduate, and they meet the prerequisites for every course the School offers.
On the other hand, students who are off track and choose to complete an internship have no way to predict which fifth-year courses will be available during their fifth year. It is also impossible to predict if they will satisfy the prerequisites for the courses which are offered, and prerequisites are strictly enforced.
Don’t be short-sighted. MAcc graduates who do not complete an internship have virtually the same placement rates as students who complete an internship. Forgoing a few thousand dollars from an eight-week internship pales in comparison to the cost of losing an entire year of professional wages and paying for an extra year to remain on campus. In addition, employers traditionally expect students to graduate one year after their internship.
Students facing delayed graduation are strongly encouraged to have a frank conversation with their prospective employer, academic advisor, and family about consequences of accepting an internship under these circumstances. Depending upon the relationship built with students, employers may be willing to consider full-time employment without an internship. Keep in mind that only approximately 60 percent of our students complete an internship, yet the School has close to 100 percent full-time position placement.
Off-track students should never be tempted to unintentionally misrepresent their graduation date by hoping there may be a way to accept an internship and graduate on time. The School regularly meets with employers to discuss the optimum timing of recruiting activities. Most employers who actively recruit FSOA students will be able to determine if students are on track simply by viewing transcripts; unrealistic graduation plans of study based upon hypothetical course offerings may prove to be embarrassing or even jeopardize prospects for employment.
Remember when academic performance deteriorates students lose marketability. Students are often intimidated by the recruiting process and will never ask for an accommodation when employers schedule events that create conflicts with other commitments. Employers want our students to succeed. They will do their best to make changes to scheduled activities (e.g., office visits) whenever possible. Employers also understand that students cannot attend every recruiting activity they host on campus. Students facing conflicts, especially with School-related activities, need to communicate conflicts with their recruiting contacts. Recruiters can’t help resolve conflicts if students are afraid to ask for help.
It’s okay to say no. Office visits are time consuming for both the student and the employer. Students should carefully choose among offered visits and only accept those from potential employers for which the student holds a serious interest. This may also open opportunities for your classmates who may still be seeking employment. Recruiters are aware that students are talking with more than one potential employer. This is not something a student needs to hide.
Recruiting for employers is simply a business decision. If students are not a good fit for the firm or company, then the employer will end the recruiting process. Students should approach the recruiting process in a similar way. Is the employer a good fit for you and your career aspirations? A few signals that commonly indicate the employer may not be a good fit include:
- Exploding Offers—all offers must have a deadline, but is the employer forcing me to accept an offer before I get an opportunity to visit with other firms or companies?
- No Flexibility in Scheduling—does the employer expect students to attend an office visit that conflicts with a major exam?
- Expects Students to Complete Graduate School Elsewhere—does the employer recommend that students graduate with an undergraduate degree from UF and complete their education at a program of lesser academic caliber to accommodate their needs?
Accepting an offer, whether for a job, an internship, or a Summer Leadership Program (SLP), is a firm commitment. If you are not sure whether you can make that commitment, you should not accept the offer, or at the very least, you should discuss your situation with your company contact. If you are waiting for offers from other companies, ask for an extension. If you have every intention of following through, but there is a chance something may come up (maybe you are considering dropping a class and retaking it over the summer?), make that clear before accepting the offer. It is much better to be up front and honest, than to indicate you can commit to the offer and then back out at the last minute.
Remember that you were given a spot that could have gone to another student, and it may be too late for them to replace you. Backing out of offers can reflect negatively on you, the Fisher School, and your fellow students. With that said, everybody understands that things do come up. If you have accepted an offer, and find out later you are unable to take the position, contact the company representative immediately, explain your situation, and provide a sincere apology for your change in plans. Be sure you receive an acknowledgement of your withdrawal so that you are sure they know not to expect you. In most cases, they will be understanding of your situation and appreciate your timely, professional notification.