Internships can be a good test drive for everyone involved
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]bout 15 years ago, when Dean Katsoupas was an accounting major at The College of New Jersey, he signed up for a student internship with the Iselin-based CPA firm Amper, Politziner & Mattia (which became EisnerAmper LLP following a 2010 merger). Katsoupas never left, and today he’s an Audit and Assurance Senior Manager at the 1,600-person firm.
“I worked on personal and corporate tax returns, and helped to audit nonprofits and manufacturing companies,” recalls the 36-year-old Berkeley Heights resident. “The internship gave me a well-rounded perspective on public accounting, and an appreciation for the profession.”
SPOTTING THE RIGHT TALENT
From the firm’s point of view, internships are “a way to help create a pipeline of top talent,” notes Hayes MacArthur, co-partner-in-charge of EisnerAmper’s human resources department. “It’s not just a way to get work done.”
“Each year we do from 200 to 300 interviews to select about 40 interns, who are paid,” MacArthur says. “We hire the strongest interns from the best programs.”Each educational institution has its own procedure for processing interns, he adds. “Some have career placement posting systems,” MacArthur explains. “We attend 50 campus events, including career fairs, on-campus interviews, and presentations, as a way to connect with them.”
The law firm Mandelbaum Salsburg – which has offices in Eatontown and other MIDJersey towns – has had good experiences with law interns, according to Steven Adler, co-chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. It’s like a “three-month interview for both sides,” says Josh Gorsky, who did a summer internship at Mandelbaum while he was a student at Seton Hall University’s School of Law.
In September 2015, Gorsky joined the firm as an associate.
CREATING AN EFFECTIVE ROLE
A good internship will expose a student “to a variety of assignments,” according to Thomas H. Martin, CPA, managing partner at Klatzkin & Co., a Hamilton-based CPA firm. “We expose our Interns to the same type of work that beginning full-time accountants are exposed to. It is a great learning opportunity for them.”
Point Pleasant resident Deirdre O’Donnell started at Klatzkin as an intern, and today is a staff accountant there.
“I definitely gained a better understanding of what a career as an accountant would really be like,” says O’Donnell, who graduated from TCNJ in 2014. “From Day One, I was given real jobs and projects to work on, not just busywork.”
She offers some advice to interns: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As both a former intern and a current employee who often works with the interns, I can confidently say that your coworkers would rather take the time to answer your questions up front and help you, than have to correct your mistakes because you didn’t bother to ask for help.”
How to Find Interns at Local Universities – by Liz Sandler
“We work with companies of all sizes that are interested in hiring Rutgers students,” says Amanda Choo, Experiential Education Coordinator at Rutgers’ University Career Services in New Brunswick. “Companies can reach out to someone on our Employer Relations Team to learn more about getting involved. We offer a free place for employers to post positions and additional
recruiting services, including an on-campus interviewing program.”
Rutgers “strongly encourages and supports” employers who pay for work experience, regardless if it is being done for credit or not, she adds. “The most common method of paying interns is offering an hourly wage. Should an employer choose to not pay interns, the company should be sure that the positions are in compliance with Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
After interning, Rutgers graduate Liz Sandler had a job waiting for her at Paladin, a professional staffing firm in New York City. She graduated in May with a degree in Communication with a concentration in Strategic Public Communication and Public Relations, and a minor in Human Resource Management and Sociology.
“I’ve been working at Paladin on a paid internship since June 2015,” notes Sandler, who completed a variety of internships. “I would say within the six internships I’ve had I have learned the basics of marketing, public relations, and communications. Within my two latest roles, I have focused on recruiting and email marketing.”
Implementing Your Own Internship Program
Career centers at educational institutions can help you to identify students and design a good internship program.
- Consider what you’re trying to achieve. A well-designed internship is a kind of road test for you as well as the student.
- Keep the student’s schedule in mind, and accommodate his or her classes, or do the internships during the summer or winter break.
- Consider paying wages to your interns. In 2014, publishing giant Condé Nast reportedly settled a class action lawsuit for $5.8 million, agreeing to pay back wages to thousands of interns who claimed the company denied them minimum hourly wage payments. The federal Department of Labor often cites a six-part test that was derived from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Walling v. Portland Terminal Co.