Date posted: 29/09/2016

Forget photocopying, your intern could be your future CEO

In Brief:

  • Today’s accounting graduates are digital natives who can offer real value to business.
  • Young leaders can provide technical expertise, unique perspectives and a passion for change.
  • Recruiting an intern can be a low-risk way to find potential future employees.

In an age of continual disruption, many accounting firms face a fast-moving market of rapidly changing expectations and demands. The best of today's young leaders can provide not just technical expertise, but also a unique perspective and passion for enacting change to ensure your business thrives.

One of the best ways to establish a working relationship with young leaders is by taking the opportunity to offer them an intern placement while they are still studying.

Australia's workforce is changing. It is becoming more diverse1, digital2, global and connected3. Social media proficiency and an innate understanding of automation will be key skills in this 21st century workplace.

Today's accounting graduates are digital natives who can offer real value to business.

The ambitious students who lead the pack aren't thinking last-minute about their career. They've been planning for years.

Future leaders?

Recruiting bright young graduates has been a time-honoured way to refresh a firm's talent pool. The next obvious step, particularly in a highly competitive market, is pre-graduation recruitment, as internships can build a powerful bond between these future leaders and your organisation.

The 2016 PwC Global CEO Survey (AIESEC cut) of young leaders found that although most millennials don't plan to stay in one workplace long-term they also have a strong preference for employers whose values match their own4, which an internship can establish.

You might remember your own work experience as comprising rounds of mundane filing and photocopying. But today's interns have higher expectations and could offer far more value to their prospective hosts.

Research published in the Journal of Education for Business5 found that successful internships rely on good communication around tasks and clearly-defined expectations around challenging assignments, with reasonable time frames.

Interns also want ongoing feedback, mentoring, exposure to other parts of the business, and respectful treatment.

The Fair Work Ombudsman encourage employers to offer training, development opportunities and workplace mentoring for interns.6

Benefits on both sides

If that all looks like a lot of work: you're not looking at it right. Properly done, engaging an intern can deliver some valuable extra hands when you need them most.

Providing an intern with on-the-job training means you get the chance to help your newest staff member learn your systems and processes.

If you're open to suggestions, your intern may even come up with effective ways to streamline that workload by working more efficiently or using technology. Mentoring a bright young intern can give your own senior staff members a good development opportunity and the ability to trial their own management skills.

Seamless selection

Despite the clear benefits of running a workplace intern program, many employers find the task of recruiting interns a significant barrier.

The Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) Achiever Programme gives employers a fee-free* opportunity to choose from a pre-screened talent pool of potential interns.

By recruiting hundreds of eligible students direct from universities, the programme offers participating organisations access to a huge range of possible interns.

The marketing and recruitment tools used by CA ANZ to attract and assess tertiary students means participating organisations have access to resources typically utilised by larger organisations with access to more robust HR functions.

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

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SOURCES

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census: Multicultural, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/Media%20Release3
2. http://www.nbnco.com.au/blog/business/transforming-australias-future-workforce-with-digital-technology.html
3. CEDA 2016, Global networks: transforming how Australia does business, https://www.ceda.com.au/CEDA/media/ResearchCatalogueDocuments/PDFs/28469-GlobalNetworks_researchreport.pdf
4. PwC 2016, The 19th Annual Global CEO Survey - AIESEC cut, Tomorrow's leaders today, https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2016/additional-insights/tomorrows-leaders-today.pdf
5. Miriam Rothman 2010, Journal of Education for Business, Lessons Learned: Advice to Employers from Interns, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3200/JOEB.82.3.140-144
6. https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work/work-experience-and-internships