Experience or no Experience? That Is the Question. . . .

Gaining Accounting Experience While in College

Having the proper degrees and certifications is essential, of course, for aspiring CPAs and finance professionals. Knowledge is power; continued education pushes you further in your career, providing advancement opportunities. However, nothing quite beats experience. Obtaining your CPA license requires at least one year of accounting or finance experience in addition to your bachelor’s degree.

Plus, some firms prefer candidates with on-the-job experience for particular roles. This fact poses a problem for college students upon graduation. You need experience to land your dream job, but you can’t obtain experience without working in the first place. While this dilemma proves challenging, there are several ways to gain experience in accounting and finance while still in college. Understandably, gaining real-life accounting experience while in school ensures a hefty workload. But it also solidifies your career goals while setting you apart from other candidates.

How to Get Accounting Experience While in College

Land an internship

Internships are undeniably the fastest, most effective way of gaining accounting experience in college. Talk to your career advisor or campus career services department for available internship listings at local firms. Internships may or may not be paid. However, both provide class credit and look fantastic on a resume. Additionally, it’s common for internships to become job offers after graduation!

Strengthen Your Skills

Experience doesn’t just “happen” on the job. Your college years are an ideal time to jump-start your professional development, refine your soft skills, and start honing your expertise. Constantly expand your knowledge and experience. Be consistent in your studies. Take advantage of leadership opportunities on campus, personal development courses, and industry-specific conferences. Emphasize refining your people and soft skills. 


Volunteer opportunities abound for aspiring accountants and finance professionals. A simple Google search may reveal numerous local nonprofits and charities. Reach out and ask about possible volunteer opportunities to assist them with bookkeeping or other financial needs. The American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) also provides volunteer opportunities here.

Apply for an Entry-Level Position

Plenty of entry-level positions don’t necessarily require previous accounting experience post-graduation. Instead, these let you build some experiential knowledge as you live out the day-to-day of an accounting and finance professional. Some of these positions include—

  • Bookkeeper. 
  • Bank Clerk.
  • Accounting Assistant.
  • Tax Preparer.
  • Accounts Receivable Clerk.

These are also perfect opportunities for “getting your foot in the door” at companies where you see yourself long-term.

Build a Network

Don’t underestimate the importance of building a solid network of mentors and professional connections. Networking paves the way for job opportunities and mentoring from seasoned professionals in the field.

Finding new job opportunities to match your levels of expertise and knowledge can be challenging. At the Robert Joseph Group, we combine our years of experience to help top-tier candidates like you find the top-tier job opportunities they seek. Contact us today to begin your next steps.