Unique Type of Accounting Internship Enters Third Year

Six Competing Firms Work Together With Proven Success

It takes time, talent and resources for today’s youth to establish a solid foundation. For a student about to enter the workforce, an internship that focuses on education and real-life experience is essential. This is what six Chicago-area firms thought when they agreed to be part of the Accounting Intern Scholarship Program (AISP). The program begins its third year in June 2014.

AISP is the brainchild of Allen Bolnick, CPA and member of Weltman Bernfield LLC. He wanted to create a way for small to midsize accounting firms to give back to the community, recruit high-caliber students and raise awareness of their profession and their firms. Bolnick brought the idea to members of his monthly CPA roundtable in early 2012. As a result, several firms now work together to provide a comprehensive eight-week program showing what life is like in their firms.

This internship is not about cheap labor for the firms. Billable hours are not the goal. AISP gives students the opportunity to work with professionals, develop contacts in the accounting field and experience different work environments. It exposes them not only to hands-on learning, but also to business networking and client interaction. AISP is a well-rounded program, designed to provide a broader view of the accounting industry than a classroom allows.

“We put together an actual training program to teach the interns what they need to know to succeed at firms like ours or in similar environments,” explains Bolnick.  “A large part of our industry is about building relationships, and that is part of what AISP provides.”

Weltman Bernfield (Buffalo Grove), Brown Kaplan + Liss LLP (Evanston), The Hechtman Group Ltd (Skokie) and Porte Brown LLC (Elk Grove Village) have been part of AISP since its inception. BIK & Co., LLP (Palatine) joined for the 2013 session. Horwich Coleman Levin, LLC (Chicago) becomes the sixth member of the group for the 2014 session. Additional firms have also shown interest.

AISP accepts eight to ten interns for the summer session. The interns spend time at each participating firm and meet dozens of professionals. Upon successful completion of the program, each intern receives a $2,500 scholarship paid directly to their university. So far, six of the interns have found employment with the participating firms after graduation.

The application deadline for the 2014 session is January 31, 2014.

AISP featured in “Accounting Today”

Accounting Today featured AISP in its August 2013 issue with the article Firms Create a New Kind of Internship. In the article, Samiyah Siddiqui, a UIC Master’s of Accounting student who recently completed her internship, was quoted as saying:

“At any internship, you learn the ropes, do a project and it’s the end. This is so far beyond it — they’re not asking us to do anything or produce anything for them but completely teaching us how to be an accountant.”

The 2013 AISP Wrap Up; Interns Say “Thanks!”

The 2013 AISP session ended on Thursday, July 25, with an afternoon of fun networking at Arlington Park. Representatives from the five participating firms were able to talk with the interns in a relaxed setting about life after the internship. Many were also introduced to some of the intricacies of horse racing.

After receiving a certificate of completion, each intern was asked to say a few words about their experience this summer. Each one expressed their sincere gratitude to everyone involved

After receiving a certificate of completion, each intern was asked to say a few words about their experience this summer. Each one expressed their sincere gratitude to everyone involved

After watching a few races and trying to figure out how best to make a $2 bet, everyone gathered for a few closing words from Allen Bolnick, member, Weltman Bernfield, and from each of the interns. The overall sentiment from each of the interns was a big “Thank You!” to everyone involved. They were grateful for everything they learned, as well as for the time commitment everyone made.

Commencement1

 

Here are some excerpts from “Thank You” notes received from a few of the interns…

“I have never seen or heard of any internship that even compares to the AISP! I learned more in 8 weeks than I feel I would have in an entire semester at school. I was amazed by all the time and effort the staff willingly put in. Everyone was willing to help and answer our questions. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience!” – Samiyah Siddiqui

“I wanted to once again thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Accounting Intern Scholarship Program. I learned more than I ever could have imagined by participating in this program. [The] personal interest in both the success of the internship and each of the interns made my experience that much more enjoyable. I hope that this program will last for many years to come because it truly is a one of a kind experience.” – John Bagnuolo

A Day at AISP

During their time at AISP, the interns have had educational sessions, practice sessions, job shadowing opportunities, and visits to some of the clients of the participating firms. They’ve also done some hands-on work for the clients under the supervision of firm accountants.

Job Shadowing

The interns spent a lot of time with different accountants at each of the five firms in order to see what an average day is like.

AIPS-Fraud-Presentation-Larry-Elisco

Larry Elisco, CPA, member, Weltman Bernfield, presents a seminar on Fraud and Embezzlement in Business.

 

Interns Thoughts on AISP

The interns have completed over half of the Accounting Intern Scholarship Program. Here are some of their thoughts on what they’ve experienced so far:

“I really like this internship program because it gives me the opportunity to learn about different fields of accounting in theory as well as in practice. All of the participating firms are extremely nice and helpful. Their staff accountants and partners make my shadowing experience very interesting and beneficial at the same time.  I also learn a lot every day about many types of accounting software used by contemporary accountants as well as alternative cloud services.  I would certainly recommend this program to all students who want to get a feel of what the real accounting world is.”

–Julia Svechnikova

“I have been enjoying AISP so far. My favorite part has been the shadowing at the clients and firms. The training has also been very well done to bridge the gap between what is taught in school and how it actually looks and works when applied with real clients. The large QuickBooks and Engagement practice problem sets were also a good way to incorporate many things we had learned in the training sessions that we had.”

–Joshua Vishoot

“The internship program has been a vastly positive experience thus far.  I am able to apply what I’ve learned in school as well as what I’ve learned in the training sessions to the real world.”

–Kyle Miller

2013 AISP Interns Get to Know the Sponsoring Firms

The 2013 AISP started today (June 4, 2013) with an orientation session at Ravinia Green Country Club. After receiving a general overview of the curriculum for the eight-week program, the interns took part in “speed meeting” where they moved from table to table to talk with staff members and partners from the participating firms. This format allowed the interns to learn about the firms–and for the firms to learn about the interns–in a more intimate setting.

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AISP 2013 starts June 4th

We’re less than a week away from the start of our 2013 Accounting Intern Scholarship Program (AISP). Ten interns were selected from the 60 completed applications we received.  Four women and six men comprise the final group. Schools represented are UIC-Chicago (3), University of Ilinois (1),  University of Iowa (1), Augustana College (2), Eastern Illinois (1), Illinois State (1) and University of Colorado (1).  Learn more about AISP.