THE SCOOP ON UNPAID INTERNSHIPS › THE UNFORTUNATE REALITY is that many internships come with no paycheck attached, and that might leave you feeling a bit exploited. Volunteering at a nonprofit is one thing, but being taken advan- tage of by a moneymaking enterprise is quite another. Although there’s no denying the financial difficulty presented by a summer or semester of unpaid work, in many cases the internship will provide a value that goes well beyond dollars and cents. The experience might be its own reward, and so could the possibility to add an elite name to your resume and the opportunity to rub INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS If you’re a foreign national studying in the U.S., your internship pos- sibilities might be limited. Accounting certifications, includ- ing the coursework required to obtain a CPA license, vary widely from country to country; 150 hours of undergraduate coursework are required in the U.S. International students also need to get proper work permits in order to accept internships. (Information on different types of educational and work visas is available at J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, a govern- ment website: http:// j1visa.state.gov/.) The largest public accounting firms are generally able to sponsor interna- tional students for work authorization, but smaller outfits generally don’t have the resources, so these companies are unlikely to hire inter- national students as interns. If your uni- versity arranges co-op programs, you might be in luck: Because co-ops are part of the curriculum, the school might handle the task of obtaining the necessary papers for foreign students.
Getting Your Ideal Internship: Accounting 8 WETFEET INSIDER GUIDE CHAPTER 1 THE BIG PICTURE CHAPTER 3 GETTING HIRED CHAPTER 4 NAVIGATING YOUR INTERNSHIP CHAPTER 5 REAL INTERN PROFILES CHAPTER 6 FOR YOUR REFERENCE CHAPTER 2 THE SEARCH you know about the internship, the better you’ll be able to gauge what lies ahead. Fear: Without a paycheck, I won’t have anything to show for the time I spent there. Reality: If you’re doing an internship for academic credit, your school will play a role in ensuring your tasks will meet clear requirements for learning and enrichment. However, if you’re setting up an intern- ship on your own, be sure to ask probing questions in your interview about the sorts of tasks you’ll be given, the projects you’ll be expected to complete, and whom you’ll report to. Find out if you’ll have the chance to spearhead an idea of your own and have the ability to walk away from the experience with a tangible product that represents your work. Fear: They’ll stick me in a broom closet and forget about me. Reality: In many cases, the reason a company will engage interns is that there’s real work to be done. If you can’t be sure this is a case, lay the groundwork for a productive internship from the get-go. An educational plan is a must because it will set the benchmark for the skills and enrichment you want to acquire. Arrange for
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