AIR Program Helps Select Poole Accounting Undergraduate Students Jump-start their Careers

Although she hasn’t yet begun studies for her Master of Accounting degree, Shefali Bhalla has already completed the first step in her post-graduation career  an internship. Thanks to the Accounting Internship Recruitment (AIR) Program sponsored by the NC State Poole College of Management’s Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) Program, Bhalla spent the summer of 2017 working at EY, a Big Four accounting firm. The experience was so good for both Shefali and the company that she accepted EY’s offer of a full-time position following her anticipated 2018 MAC graduation.

The AIR Program—designed for top NC State accounting undergraduate students who plan to apply to the MAC Program—helps students secure internships for the spring or summer during or after their senior year. The program also includes one-on-one professional coaching from Sara Concini, assistant director of career services for the Jenkins MAC Program, support with resume development and a mentoring program in which each student is matched with a MAC alum.

“The AIR Program is an opportunity for students to get ahead of the game and build a solid foundation for their professional career,” Concini said. “These internships are basically an extended interview. When students get in there, do the work and prove themselves, they have the opportunity to receive a job offer before starting graduate school, with the position beginning after graduation.”

“Interns usually receive intense mentoring from someone in the firm, have a lot of opportunities to shadow colleagues, and typically work on and present a project to senior management,” said Concini.

Bhalla’s internship with EY Advisory was multifaceted. She worked on risk analysis, SOX control testing and internal audit. She also did community service alongside EY colleagues, attended social events and participated in team building exercises. “The firm places a lot of importance on the people you work with and they want to get to know you,” Bhalla said. “I developed good relationships with people at EY.”

Sheldon Roberts, a fellow Jenkins MAC student, said that knowing he has a job secured at BDO following graduation is a weight off his shoulders that will allow him to focus on his studies in graduate school. “In my (AIR) internship, I learned a lot about what I should expect going into a public accounting firm,” he said. “It gave me a grasp of academic things I should focus on during my master’s program.”

Roberts said the structure of the AIR program was a tremendous support. “Having Sara work with me on my resume and practice interviewing was great,” he said. “The networking was really valuable. My mentor, who played a big part in my getting my internship and job, had a lot of good advice and helped me understand what to expect from the interview process.”

Sarah Tegen, a campus recruiter at EY, said that the AIR program does an excellent job of preparing students for the professional world. “EY has had a strong partnership with the Jenkins MAC Program for many years,” she said. “We continue to come back year after year to find great talent.”

In fact, 96 percent of the 52 students in the 2016-17 AIR Program received internships through the AIR recruiting process, and EY hired nine. “If interns have a great attitude and perform well, our intention is to hire them full time when they graduate,” Tegen said. “We treat them like they are staff and they respond very well to the challenge.”

“NC State does a really great job at providing opportunities for students to get exposure to firms at an early level through the AIR program,” she said. “They are ahead of the curve in being able to support students in offering what firms are looking for to meet their hiring needs.”

Written for the Jenkins MAC program by Michele Lynn.

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