100+ Students Annually Experience On-The-Job Immersion into the Public Accounting and Management Consulting Profession
SOUTHFIELD, Michigan — With renewed interest nationally on using internships as a career starter or re-starter in a down economy, Plante Moran, one of the country’s largest accounting and business advisory firms, is reflecting on its decades-old internship program and recommitting to the program’s purpose and ideals.
“When looking back on the internship program, we are really looking forward,” notes Plante Moran Managing Partner Gordon Krater, CPA. “That’s because so many our former interns not only join the firm full-time, they often emerge as firm leaders. When we look at our internship pool, we are not just looking at college recruits but at the future of the firm. That’s why the internship program is always undergoing review and updates. We need to maintain the integrity of the program to offer challenging work to high achieving, high potential students.”
On average, 94 percent of the firm’s interns get full-time employment offers after graduation, and nearly 100 percent accept. In reviewing the current partner roster, more than one-third of Plante Moran partners had internships with the firm, including several former and current firm partners. Krater says there’s a good reason for that.
“When interns ‘grow up’ with the firm, they tend to maintain the idealism of firm philosophies and incorporate them into their supervisory and mentoring approach,” explains Krater. “This keeps the firm’s rich traditions and heritage alive as staff members pass on beliefs and values from one generation of P&Mers to another.”
The Plante Moran internship program dates back to the early 60’s, when local accounting students worked in the firm’s proofreading department to review financial reports. The program has since grown into an important part of the firm’s college recruiting efforts, and for decades has been a firm wide initiative aimed at recruiting top college and university candidates in the fields of accounting, taxation and, more recently, finance and computer information systems. Annually, more than 100 students experience a three-to-four-month competitively paid internship where they are exposed to professional work in their field of study as well as Plante Moran in general. The latest round of interns will begin their internships on June 14 in firm offices in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois and will be with the firm until the end of August.
Plante Moran’s program is hailed among students as well organized and designed to give a real life view into the public accounting and management consulting profession. Interns are assigned to work on a variety of client engagements to get a genuine feel for the profession and what life is like as a full-time staff member. Interns are also encouraged to meet with clients and tour client facilities to get as sense of how Plante Moran’s contribution impacts a client business.
“As an assurance intern, I was given the opportunity to go into the field and perform real audit work, not just sit behind a desk or get people their coffee,” said Staci Tobe, former Plante Moran intern and Michigan State University student. “I also appreciated the firm’s open door policy. I never expected to be able to walk into a partners’ office and seek advice, but Plante Moran encouraged it.”
Krater continues that interns are treated like first-year staff.
“We have a saying here for interns and entry-level staff: ‘the only cup of coffee you’ll fetch is your own’,” says Krater.
Accordingly, interns receive feedback from their managers and are evaluated against the same competencies as full-time staff. This gives them a sense of how they’re doing and what they can focus on for improvement and growth. The interns are also surveyed midway through the internship process and at the end of the internship.
“Our goal is to constantly improve our program. While intern exit interviews are important, the immediate value comes during the mid-term interview. We can’t change our interns experiences after the fact, but if something needs adjusting (let’s say they’re not being exposed to enough variety for example), interviewing them at the midway point gives us an opportunity to make necessary modifications to ensure their internship experience is valuable,” offers Krater
Plante Moran’s internship program includes an Intern Summit, a two-day, off-site meeting focused mainly on team-building and including outings and community service projects such as Habitat for Humanity or packing food for Feed America. As part of the summit, a formal presentation is given by interns on lessons learned during their internship. The presentation requires not only reflection, but the need to prepare a professional speech for a discerning audience. It’s one just one more real life opportunity that’s all in a day’s work for a Plante Moran intern.
About Plante Moran
Plante Moran is among the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting, and wealth management services. Plante Moran has a staff of more than 1,600 professionals in 21 offices throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois with international offices in Shanghai, China; Monterrey, Mexico; and Mumbai, India. Plante & Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work.