The inspirational internship programme of the ICAS Foundation
Young people are putting their talents into professional practice with the help of the ICAS Foundation, reports Alec Mackenzie.
With such fierce competition in the graduate jobs market, an internship is no longer an optional extra for prospective CAs looking to boost their CVs.
For students from disadvantaged communities, these opportunities can prove challenging to secure, which is why the ICAS Foundation, the institute's charitable body, includes internships as part of the foundation programme to help facilitate socially inclusive access to the profession.
The start of the academic year in September saw 30 new ICAS Foundation bursary recipients embarking on studies in accountancy or finance at university. There are now 60 students receiving mentoring and financial assistance through the foundation programme and each will also require support in securing a paid internship during the summer breaks.
How businesses and firms can help
ICAS is inviting firms and businesses to open their doors to young people hungry for work experience by providing paid internship positions, giving them a much-valued source of income and professional insight.
Among those already offering internships through the ICAS Foundation are Scott-Moncrieff, Consilium Chartered Accountants, Henderson Loggie, Baker Tilly, Tesco Bank, ICAS, Edinburgh Airport and Martin Aitken & Co.
Anna Wright, an accounting and finance student at Edinburgh University recently completed her second internship with Scott-Moncrieff.
"Everything I've done here has been cleverly planned around my degree and it really sets you up for the academic year ahead,"
She goes on to explain, "Last year I worked on a rotational weekly programme, spending time in public sector audit, commercial audit, and the business advisory groups. It gave me a broad perspective of how each department worked."
This summer, Anna focused her attention within the commercial audit team, gaining useful knowledge for future studies and her new role as finance manager for student-led consultancy service FreshSight. The group seeks to find strategic solutions to improve the social environment of communities and help third sector organisations become sustainable businesses.
She says: "It allowed me to get a good grip of the subject, meaning when I go into third year at university I'm prepared well in advance. Being at Scott-Moncrieff really reminds you of the goal you're working towards outside of the classrooms and lecture halls. It keeps you on track."
Anna receives financial and mentorship support from Scott-Moncrieff through the Alan Donaldson scholarship, established in memory of the firm's former partner.
'Putting theory into practice'
Fiona Barrie, HR and training administrator at Scott-Moncrieff, says: "You learn the theory at university but it's nice to see that put into practice. We saw what the ICAS Foundation offered as a great opportunity for a student and a great opportunity for the firm to see them grow with us."
Echoing that sentiment is John Watson CA, chief commercial officer at Edinburgh Airport. He welcomed Edinburgh University student Connor Girvan into his team over the summer period.
"Our internship programme is partly about giving back to the community and bringing on talent but we get a real business benefit from it too."
"The key to getting value out of the internship relationship is to be prepared. They're given projects that suit their skill sets and they can walk away having delivered something that is implemented in the business and something meaningful for their CV. Interns can also bring a fresh set of eyes that we can learn from in a very complex airport business environment."
For Connor Girvan, the experience of working with the commercial and financial teams at Edinburgh Airport has been extremely fulfilling.
He says: "It's been really good. The best thing is the working environment. A lot of the people in the finance team have studied either through ICAS or bodies such as CIMA, so it's great to hear their experiences of the professional exams as well.
"What's struck me most is that everyone is very proactive. That rubs off on you and whatever work you're given you want to do it to the best of your abilities."
Support the ICAS Foundation
If you think you can support the work of the ICAS Foundation by providing an ICAS Foundation Internship, visit the website for further details and to apply, or contact Linda Jamieson, Head of the ICAS Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ICAS Foundation is a registered Scottish charity: No SC034836.
Make a donation to the ICAS Foundation
This article appears in the October issue of The CA.