12 answers

What do you do working as an intern in a CPA firm?

Updated New York, New York

I got an internship at a CPA firm, but am very nervous to start something so professional. Thus, I was wondering as an assistant/intern what would some of the usual and main responsibilities be at the CPA firm? #accounting #internships #accountant #cpa #quickbooks #career-details

12 answers

Kellie (Kinsella)’s Answer

Updated Chicago, Illinois

Hi Esther,

Congratulations on your internship! How exciting! I currently work at a PwC, a CPA firm and was once an intern as well. Every CPA firm is different, so your tasks will probably vary based on the type of firm you are working for. Usually you have a direct supervisor who will be responsible for communicating your tasks who will walk you through what you need to do. Some expected tasks could be reviewing financial statements, tying out financial statements to supporting documentation, re-performing calculations, making copies, counting items, and so much more! Whatever task you are assigned, I think one of the best things you can do to be successful at your internship is to take great notes when people are giving you tasks, ask good questions if things don't make sense (a lot of it won't at first!) and communicate your progress regularly. The best part is, CPAs work in a regulated industry, so your work always has to be checked by someone else before it is considered final!

Peilei (Rebecca)’s Answer

Updated New York, New York
Hi Esther, Congratz! I I think these are the things I'd typically give to my interns. 1) Rollforward prior documentation - you would copy and paste last year's documentation to this year's audit software(workpaper). It's important for you to read through the documentation and understand what was done last year and do not just simply copy-paste. Make sure you use "comment" function in word and shift F2 in excel to track your questions, so you can consolidate your questions and ask the questions when the person is available. 2) Footing/Cross-footing of a financial statement - this means to add/subtract numbers across(cross-footing) and vertically(footing) to ensure that the subtotals are correct 3) Confirmation Template Preparation - you will be asked to be prepare paper confirmations using the standard the templates, you will input the client info. onto the template
Hi Esther- Congratulations on your getting your internship! There are several factors that could impact your internship experience. For example, what firm you are interning at, what practice area/industry group you are placed with, the team you are assigned to, and whether it is during a busy time of year. I did an internship at PwC on a tax partnership team and was able to do work that a tax associate would do, such as helping rollforward workpapers used to prepare tax extensions, prepare K-1s for the partners, and various other tasks. It was a lot of work but I learned a lot! I would say don't be afraid to ask questions! Everyone was likely in your position at some point, and asking questions will make your internship more valuable. Good luck!

Joel’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas
Esther, Congratulations on a great opportunity. I can certainly understand being nervous in starting out at a new job. One thing to keep in mind is that most companies with an internship program have set up the program to train interns on the job and not necessarily rely on the interns' prior experience. In my experience working with and coaching tax interns at PwC, the most important things an intern can do is to have a good attitude and be willing to work hard and learn. We expect our interns to make mistakes, it's part of the learning process. Best of luck with your internship and please don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions.

Rachel’s Answer

Congrats! I've interned under a very small CPA and then later at PwC. The two experiences were very different. I noticed you hash-tagged quickbooks, and I worked with that at my first small internship. Much of my job was updating clients' quickbooks accounts and printing reports; quickbooks is pretty easy to use, and it was really more of a bookkeeping internship than an accounting internship. When I interned at PwC I did much of the same tasks I'm doing now as a Tax Associate: updating workpapers in Excel, updating things in the tax software, printing things, reviewing things, etc. My PwC internship was certainly more challenging than my bookkeeping internship, but I really appreciated that honestly. It was a great way to experience what actually working full time would be like since the tasks were so similar. Anything your job asks you to do will likely be fully explained when you're asked to do it, and I'd suggest taking a lot of notes when people explain stuff. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions! People appreciate it when you do, and it's certainly better than spinning your wheels trying to figure it out or doing it wrong and fixing it later. Hope this helps!

Reyna’s Answer

Updated Indianapolis, Indiana


Congratulations on the internship offer! This a great way to gain exposure to a broad range of experiences. When I was an intern at PwC, I worked on various engagements. As a result of this, I had access to different team environments, cultures, and work experiences. This allowed me to gain an understanding of not only auditing/accounting but also experience the transition from college to the real world.

Note that duties and responsibilities as an intern, vary based on the size of CPA firm. However, as noted in other responses, some of the responsibilities done as an intern are financial statement tie-outs, lead schedules, roll-forward prior year documentation. Also, responsibilities vary based on the needs of engagement teams. For instance, some interns may do inventories or even be exposed to walkthroughs. Good luck on your future career and whatever responsibilities you are given take advantage of the learning opportunity that each task offers. Coaching received from anyone will greatly impact your future work ethics, and career as a whole. Best wishes!

Christina’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

Hi Esther! Congrats on your offer! Interned with PwC and within finance departments of other large firms. Many of the other comments already here definitely describe what I did during my internships. My best piece of advice for you beyond the actual work that you will be given is to learn about the company and get to know the other people that work there. If you are offered a full time position, you should feel comfortable knowing enough about the company and its employees to make an informed decision! I knew nothing going into my internships, so just be prepared to learn and ask lots of questions. Best of luck!

Erica’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

Hi Esther,

Congratulations on receiving an offer for an internship!

As most of the previous comments have noted, an internship really depends on the firm you are going to and the field you are entering (i.e. tax, audit). In general, what I would say is that you should ask as many questions as you can or have to make the experience worth it. If you are doing an internship in a field (i.e. tax or audit) you will be get the opportunity experience the job you will be doing when you get offered a full time position. Its a great experience and it will help you really decide if this is what you want to do for a career.

Good Luck and enjoy it! Meet as many people as you can.

Victoria’s Answer


Congratulations! Working at a CPA firm is a great start. Depending on the line of service you're joining (i.e. tax, assurance, consulting, etc.) your work will vary. I did a summer internship in assurance. I dealt with clients directly and performed audit procedures to provide an audit opinion on their financial statements. Interning is the best time to explore new things and build new relationships. Don't be shy to ask your seniors, managers, and partners about their experiences and why they enjoy their work. Good luck and have fun!

Anthony A.’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia
Hello Esther. Although I have not seen interns in CPA firms, I expect they would be most helpful (from firm and individual benefit pov), to be involved in the audits of client. Obviously, you will be assigned tasks that will allow you to learn from the basics, such as testing internal controls processes by documenting the process, selecting a sample size to test and commenting on the reliability of the process; inventory counts; validating balances such as accounts receivable and payables with confirmation letters, etc. All of these tasks will be helpful in understanding the audit process and the role of an auditor in certifying the financial statements of companies. Especially if you want to become a CPA. Good luck
Hi Esther, All of the above comments are great. I would like to add that your internship will be quite different based on whether or not you have a summer or winter internship. Typically winter internships will be much more busy. However, I think a winter internship would be most beneficial for you in preparing for a job. Winter internships are sometimes hard to do as you may be in school, or have other commitments. This was the case for me, as well, so I was a summer intern. My internship was still extremely beneficial, but I would recommend a winter one if possible. I hope this helps, best of luck! Haley

Mallory’s Answer


Hi Esther - Congratulations on your internship! I agree with those above that have responded on what an intern does on a day-to-day basis. Most CPA firms also hold various events for interns (social events, community service events, CPA exam preparation events, etc). I would highly encourage you to attend any and all intern events that are hosted by your firm. The events are not only fun but they are a great way to connect with your peers and those that work at the firm. I met a few of my career mentors and closest work friends during my internships at events hosted by my firm. The events are a great way to see the side of the CPA firm that is not client facing and to learn about the culture / people. Best of luck!

Jodi’s Answer


Hi Ester!

Congrats on landing an internship at a CPA firm! That is wonderful news. I interned with PwC (a big 4 accounting firm) a few Winters ago, and it was a great experience! Generally, interns are expected to come to work on time, with a professional attitude, and with a willingness to learn! Most of the training occurs on the job so you don't have to worry about having prior knowledge. As an audit intern, I helped my senior associate on low risk testing areas of clients financial statements, as well as cash confirmations. You learn a lot about the client and the industry you are working in during this time as well. You should ask a lot of questions as well! Best of luck!

Hi Ester - Congratulations on the internship! I agree with all of the other responses of tasks you will be performing on a day-to-day basis. However, most CPA firms also host various events for their interns as well (social events, volunteering events, CPA exam education events, etc). I would highly encourage you to attend all intern events (if possible based on your client work) to connect with your peers and the employees at the firm. Making connections is one of the most important (and fun) parts of an internship. Ask questions and be an active listener. Good luck!

Max’s Answer

Updated Tampa, Florida

Hi Esther! This is a great question! Going in to your first professional job can be a scary but great experience. When I interned in 2016 it was a life changing experience! I went from a college student working in a junkyard in the summer to a public accountant.

In my experience as an intern, your responsibilities are to learn! Be an infinite learner! I cannot truly explain the tasks your going to be working on but I would just say go in to the office everyday with a great attitude, ask as many questions as you can to learn about what they do, how they do it, and ways to improve the processes they do. If you go in to your internship with this mindset I believe you will succeed and do an amazing job.

I would suggest as next steps to email the people you've been connecting with at the firm and try to get some insight on what you'll be working on and how to prepare. Also you can as them about how they got to where they are so you can learn more about the people you will be working with.

Best of luck!