For young graduates and budding accountants just starting out in the industry, it’s a dream to be able to slap the name of a celebrated and well-known international firm on the old résumé. And while it might be hard to gain full-time employment at a corporate juggernaut, you can always begin your journey by applying for an internship.
Knowing how to get an internship is the first step in advancing in your career. Remember: if a future employer at an accounting firm sees an iconic name on your resume, they’ll be impressed, amazed and perhaps starstruck.
Unfortunately, though, while you may possess the acumen and the will to cultivate your skills, it can be hard to get your foot in the door in some of these places.
So, where does a financial mind begin?
Well, set your sights high by considering KPMG, a global network of organisations offering audit, advisory and tax services. This is the Dolce & Gabbana or the Rolls-Royce of accounting, and there is no better way to ignite your career than by landing a KPMG internship.
Do you want to get your foot in the door? We’ve compiled this guide to help you get an internship.
1. Know the basics
When you’re searching for internship opportunities at KPMG, it’s important to first learn if it’s right for you and that you’re eligible to participate in any of its summer and winter initiatives, which typically run from January to April or June to September. By knowing the basics, you’ll ensure that you’re not wasting your time, which could be better spent navigating the fun world of internships.
There are basic requirements for its undergraduate, graduate and pre-NYSC programmes. You need to be under 24 (or 26 for their graduate programme) with an interest in building careers in consulting. It’s important to possess strong communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills.
On the technical front, you must have credits in five subjects, including mathematics and English, and a second-class upper degree grade in any field for UK and US schools. Also, for the undergraduate programme, you need to have completed the second year of a university programme, while for the graduate internship, you need to have enrolled in a postgraduate degree programme. If you’re signing up for the pre-NYSC programme, meanwhile, then you’ll be required to hold one class of degree.
In addition to attaining career development, community leadership and global experience, you also receive quite a few perks and benefits. You’ll be the envy of your friends who are interns at fashion magazines and who need to deal with a real-life Miranda Priestly.
Here’s what you can anticipate:
- an average annual salary of $45,263 (or about $24 an hour)
- life insurance
- vacation, sick and personal paid leave
- team-building experiences
- opportunities to work on individual projects
- paid travel
2. Find the right role
Because KPMG is a vast organisation that has offices, internships and opportunities across the globe, there’s always a role for you, whether you’re an undergraduate student or an MBA graduate. There are all sorts of positions to take advantage of, including software engineer, risk consultant and chartered public accountant (CPA).
If you’re unable to find the right opportunity on job boards or its Campus webpage, then you should be on the lookout for KPMG staff members who appear on university campuses, professional conferences and career development events. Also, in an automated world, you can stand out from the crowd by directly contacting an HR professional at KPMG with a sublime cover letter and an in-depth but concise résumé.
Just remember to perform some spring cleaning on your résumé, cover letter and social media profiles. How many instances have there been of young people losing opportunities because of ridiculous tweets and Facebook posts? Far too many!
3. Complete rigorous testing
For each of the three types of internships, there will be different types of tests and interviews. For this section, we will concentrate on the testing, and the interview process will be in the next section.
There are two main testing formats for the undergraduate internship.
The first is the online application form. This can be found on the company website and provides basic information about yourself such as your academic background, relevant employment experience and work history.
The second is an online essay assessment. Once your application has been viewed, you will receive an email that contains an essay question that essentially focuses on the core values of KPMG. You will be required to complete the essay and then return it to the HR team. The purpose of the essay is to determine if you share values with the organisation.
In addition to an online application form, the graduate internship will consist of two tests: an aptitude test and a situational judgment test (SJT).
The aptitude test is an examination that looks to understand the candidates’ basic comprehension, overall acumen and skills for the job or internship in question. It is a graduate management admission test (GMAT) that uses various analytical, reading, writing, quantitative and verbal questions.
The SJT is designed to find out how you will grapple with a diverse array of scenarios that might transpire within the KPMG workplace on a day-to-day basis. You’ll be given a number of scenarios and responses, and it is up to you to determine which answer fits the situation.
The pre-NYSC internship also includes an online application form, aptitude test and SJT.
It should also be noted that, depending on the jurisdiction in which you’re applying for an internship, you might be required to undergo a personality simulation testing.
4. Pass your interview
Now that you’ve filled your application form and the managers are pleased with your test results, you will go through the most intimidating aspect of the hiring process: the interview.
Cue the horror music! Indeed, what is more frightening than answering questions in front of a bunch of suits?
The interview stage is the same for all three internship levels:
- Telephone interview: You’ll be contacted through email for an appropriate time to contact you regarding a pre-scheduled telephone interview. This will be completed with a recruiter who will assess your competence and ask you questions about your résumé.
- First interview: The first round of in-person interviews will involve what is called an assessment centre, which consists of performing tasks and participating activities with other applicants to gauge your suitability for the job and if you should graduate to the next round.
- Second interview: The second round will lead to an interview with a handful of senior team members, who range from management to partners. They will try to get to know you, ask a series of questions and then find out if you understand KPMG’s mission.
- Third interview: It might seem intimidating beforehand, but the final round is a one-on-one interview with a senior manager or senior partner and is more like a conversation. This aspect consists of you asking questions and getting satisfactory answers.
As CareerAddict’s star author Joanna Zambas suggests, it’s important to utilise the STAR technique when answering questions for such world-renowned entities:
- Situation: outline a recent challenge you had at work or school
- Task: explain what you needed to resolve and what had to be achieved
- Action: explain what you did to solve the problem
- Results: describe what happened by the end of it all, whether you were successful or if you fell short
5. Get an internship offer
You have finally gone past the finish line! Congratulations! It’s time for a celebration!
Once that is over, though, you will play something called the ‘Waiting Game’. Within five business days of your intense testing and interviews, you’ll receive a response, either an offer or a rejection – but we think it will be an internship offer!
If the recruiter has not contacted you after a week, then it’s important to reach out to them and find out the status of your application. Also, if it is a rejection, then there is no harm in trying again for the internship after a year!
Many critics say that internships are exploiting youth, accusing companies of taking advantage of interns. Is this true? Whatever your stance is, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to internships – you just need to know where to look and how to protect yourself.
A 2018 survey listed KPMG as the top internship programme around, topping giants like Google, Facebook, Thomson Reuters and NASA. Researchers said that KPMG earned its distinction by maintaining high conversion rates, establishing a programme that provides interns to establish their own internship and giving young people the chance to travel around the globe. It also helped that the average hourly wage for KPMG interns is quite competitive.
If you’re given the opportunity to intern at KPMG, drop everything and grab the chance immediately! Whether you’re hanging off a cliff or you’re in the middle of your wife’s delivery, do what you can to be a KPMG intern!
Are you thinking about interning at KPMG? Perhaps you’ve already completed one of their programmes and would like to share your experiences with us? Join the conversation down below and let us know!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 3 August 2014.