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There are plenty of opportunities out there for those wanting experience in the accountancy profession, ranging from a couple of weeks to something more long-term. With the wide variety of student and graduate work opportunities out there, it can be difficult to navigate your options. The summaries below have been put together to help you identify what you should be doing, and when.

Graduate Jobs

Also called: graduate scheme, graduate programme

Graduate jobs are the number one reason that people go to university – to get a job that requires a degree. This has become the foundation of entry-level recruitment in many professions, with many larger employers creating structured training programmes to both entice and induct new graduates.

Graduate programmes in many industries have a dual focus of developing talent and initiating recruits into the corporate culture, which typically lasts a year or two before promotion. Training can take longer in professions where members are required to achieve chartered status.

Most graduate scheme intakes take place in September following graduation, with the application process opening – and often closing – during the preceding autumn term. For the most competitive professions and prestigious companies, the application window can close as early as October – so it is worth keeping an eye out for vacancies here.


Also called: industrial placement, year in industry, sandwich year

Placements are most associated with engineering or business-related disciplines however, there are also placements to be found with many employers within the accountancy profession. Although placements are a compulsory component for many courses, this is not the case for all.

Prior to their final year of study, many students spend between six and twelve months in industry, working full-time and get fully paid for it. Approximately 36% of the employers listed in this guide offer placements. Participants are generally required to complete a project and submit progress reports to their university during the placement year.


Also called: work experience, Easter/Summer internship

Accountancy firms are increasingly making a point of opening their doors to penultimate year students. Almost 28% of the employers listed in this guide offer internships.

Employers often run internships in a bid to source the best candidates for their graduate programmes, which is why the majority are aimed at students in their penultimate year of university. They last between six and twelve weeks, and usually take place over the summer. Many who finish an internship programme are fast-tracked through the graduate application process, or even offered a job outright.

In addition to bolstering CVs and boosting employability skills, interns can expect to be paid for their work. Perhaps most importantly, they allow you to try your hand at a profession or company before you make the decision about where to start your career.

Given all of this, it’s unsurprising that places on internships are fiercely competitive. As is the case with graduate jobs, some recruiters fill their internship quotas in autumn, though many often recruit into February. Either way, it is recommended that you apply as early as possible.

Insight Days

Also called: open day, insight week

Insight days are relatively rare, with only 6% graduate recruiters making a point of opening their doors to first year students, inviting career-focused candidates to spend a day (or week) learning about the inner workings of their organisation. The focus here is more on the company than the profession, but attendance at an insight day is still very much a form of work experience and should be listed on a CV accordingly. Events like these are most commonly found over holiday periods – Easter in particular – with students advised to apply at least a month in advance

School Leaver Schemes

Also called: school leaver programme, apprenticeships

School leaver schemes are programmes that you can join straight out of school. Over half of the employers in this guide offer school leaver schemes. They offer training and, in many cases, the chance to gain a professional qualification while you are earning. These schemes vary in length and content, but they usually offer the chance for you to gain work experience with real clients whilst you are being trained. This means that you will quickly be brought up to the same educational level as a graduate entering the profession, but you will already have relevant experience working within the company and will have interacted with their clients. Effectively you have the chance to ‘learn while you earn’.

School leaver schemes usually last between 4-6 years and give you a real insight into your chosen profession. If you know what you want to do, a school leaver scheme could be the ideal way to get there straight away without spending more time in education.

The Job Finder section of our website provides details on the types of job opportunities offered by each employer. Alternatively, visit our website to find out which firms are currently recruiting.

Types of work

Who should apply?
How long does it last?
When does it generally start?
Graduate job

Or graduate scheme, graduate programme

Finalists and graduates 1-2 years for corporate training programmes; 3+ years where professional qualification is required September

Or industrial placement, year in industry, sandwich year

Those seeking a placement year as part of their degree 6-12 months Penultimate year of university

or industrial placement, year in industry, sandwich year

Students in penultimate year of study 4-12 weeks Easter/Summer

Or open day, insight week

Undergraduates, particularly first years 1-5 days Easter/Spring
School Leavers

Or school leaver programme, apprenticeships

School leavers – Some schemes accept leavers who have finished their GCSEs, others prefer candidates to have A levels or an equivalent 4-6 years September

About the Author

  • Name: Accountancy Careers
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