Date posted: 15/08/2017

Achiever Program Success Story: Tatarelli Consulting

Ernie Tatarelli’s boutique tax and financial planning firm internship program has been remarkably successful.

In Brief:

  • The Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) Achiever Program helps firms recruit tertiary students studying business, commerce or accounting.
  • The program matches interns with participating employers.
  • Intern mentorship can become an important part of your staff’s own professional development.

Just how valuable are interns? For Ernie Tatarelli, they’re an integral part of his team - and he couldn't be happier.

"We've been involved with the Achiever Program for over ten years," says the Adelaide-based Chartered Accountant and CA Accredited Financial Planning Specialist.

During his twenty plus years of running a boutique practice, Ernie previously recruited graduate accountants and occasionally hired final year students as interns. "That became a challenging exercise for a small practice without an HR person on board," he says.

"When Chartered Accountants introduced the CA Achiever Program, we realised it was a perfect fit to help us to recruit undergraduate accountants."

He has a dozen staff - most of them Chartered Accountants - and also has an intern working part-time, via the CA ANZ Achiever Program.

Employer participation in the CA ANZ Achiever Program is free*. Students apply through a central portal and complete a series of assessments and a video interview, and employers are allocated students that meet their specific requirements.

Ernie liaises with his local Achiever Program representative and outlines the type of candidate he is looking for.

"Our practice has a tax and financial planning dual specialisation and we try to differentiate candidates that would fit into our team," he explains.

It's an approach that has paid off hugely. Three of his current professional staff, started out as interns in the firm and a senior member of his team has now been employed for over 10 years following their internship.

"The Chartered Accountants body acts as a recruiter, doing the attraction and selection process on our behalf and allocates suitably qualified candidates for a short-term placement at our firm," Ernie explains. Typically an intern starts at the firm with a two to four week placement, giving Ernie a chance to monitor and review the candidate's performance.

"If we see some merit in their contribution, we typically extend their placement for several months. Sometimes we invite them to continue for a few days a week, accommodating their University timetable."

Interns are offered ongoing work if there are staff opportunities, and if the intern has shown an ability to make a contribution.

"I remember my first work experience was spent mostly at a photocopier, but internships are not like that now," Ernie says.

"In the early days, we provide them with training opportunities on real client experiences, starting with basic accounting duties like preparing simple tax returns or small business financial statements, the normal duties of a graduate accountant working in a large or mid-size firm," he says.

Interns are gradually given more challenging assignments depending on how quickly they can master the work.

Senior staff will mentor the intern, a task that becomes an important part of their own professional development.

"For those who continue to perform well, we'll continue a part-time arrangement until they complete their studies and then we may offer them full-time employment," Ernie says.

* Student Participants should be remunerated fairly and, as a minimum, in accordance with all laws and relevant industrial instruments. As stated in our Achiever Program Employer Guidelines.