Skip to main content

The WSCPA will be closed Monday, May 27th in observance of Memorial Day.

Mastering the Art of Networking: A Guide for Accounting Students

June 22, 2023

by Benjamin Warren

As an accounting student, you're likely aware of the significance of networking in today's competitive job market. Building connections with accounting firms not only increases your chances of securing internships and full-time positions but also provides valuable insights and mentorship opportunities. Let’s explore the best ways for accounting students to network effectively with accounting firms, allowing you to pave a path toward a successful career in the field. 

  1. Attend Accounting Events and Career Fairs
    Accounting events and career fairs are goldmines for networking opportunities. Research and identify accounting-focused events in your area, such as conferences, seminars, or workshops, like the WSCPA Small Firm Fair held every fall. These gatherings provide a platform to interact directly with professionals from accounting firms, recruiters, and potential employers. Prepare yourself by researching the attending firms beforehand, developing insightful questions, and creating a polished elevator pitch to introduce yourself effectively.
  2. Join Professional Organizations and Accounting Student Groups
    Joining professional accounting organizations and student groups offers numerous benefits, including access to accounting resources, mentorship programs, and networking events. Organizations like the Washington Society of CPAs (WSCPA), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), and National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) provide platforms for networking with professionals and peers. Professional organizations can also open doors to internships, job opportunities, and guidance from experienced individuals. 
  3. Utilize Online Networking Platforms
    In today's digital age, online networking platforms have become invaluable tools for connecting with professionals in the accounting field. LinkedIn is a prime example. Create a strong LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills, academic achievements, and career goals. Actively engage with accounting-specific content, join accounting-focused groups, and reach out to professionals for informational interviews. WSCPA members also have access to Connect, an online platform that connects members to each other and valuable resources. Student members have the opportunity to join student-specific groups, like Coffee & Conversations, to schedule informational interviews with professional members, and the CPA Exam Accelerator group is an excellent place to get tips and strategies for taking the CPA Exam. 
  4. Build and Leverage Relationships with Professors
    Developing meaningful connections with your accounting professors can be immensely beneficial. Professors often have vast networks and can introduce you to professionals in the field. Attend office hours, ask insightful questions, and participate actively in class. Express your career aspirations to your professors, seek their advice, and inquire about potential networking opportunities. Additionally, they may be able to recommend you for internships or provide references for future job applications and scholarships like those provided by the Washington CPA Foundation
  5. Seek Internship and Mentorship Opportunities
    Internships are exceptional networking opportunities and provide first-hand experience within accounting firms. Research and apply for internships with accounting firms, as they can lead to full-time job offers upon graduation. During your internship, demonstrate your dedication, ask for feedback, and establish relationships with colleagues and supervisors. Moreover, seek out mentorship opportunities. A mentor can provide guidance, support, and valuable connections throughout your career. 
  6. Attend Firm-sponsored Events and Workshops
    Many accounting firms host events and workshops aimed at college students. Keep an eye out for these opportunities and actively participate. These events provide a chance to meet professionals in a more informal setting, learn about the firm's culture, and showcase your interest in their work. Remember to prepare thoughtful questions and engage in meaningful conversations that leave a lasting impression. 
  7. Develop Strong Communication and Soft Skills
    Effective networking goes beyond exchanging business cards; it involves building meaningful relationships. Develop strong communication skills, including active listening, clear articulation, and professional etiquette. Remember to follow up with professionals you meet, expressing gratitude for their time and insights. Cultivate your soft skills, such as teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving, as these qualities are highly sought-after by accounting firms.

 Networking is a vital component of a successful accounting career and the WSCPA is your one-stop shop for all things networking. With various networking opportunities, such as the Small Firm Fair, our Connect online community, members’ receptions and volunteer events around Washington State, professional development workshops, and much more, you can create a robust network of connections.  With dedication, preparation, and persistence, you can unlock incredible opportunities and propel your accounting career to new heights.

Benjamin Warren is WSCPA Manager of Pipeline Initiatives. You can contact Benjamin at bwarren@wscpa.org.