Internship As a Beneficial External Learning Environment: A Survey and Case Study of Accounting Interns and Employers

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Internships provide a unique opportunity to students in various fields of study; students are provided a practical learning experience in their chosen future profession which the traditional classroom does not provide. The School of Accounting at Grand Valley State University recognizes the value of an internship experience for our students. We have invested the time and resources into developing a high quality accounting internship program which is recognized by both the community employers and students alike. The accounting internship program is in a constant state of continuous improvement which led us to conduct a survey, and case study centering on this internship program (i.e. our study). Our study focuses specifically on accounting internships and emphasizes the importance of utilizing these internships as a valuable addition to the traditional classroom experience. It includes the results of surveys answered by several accounting interns and employers within the public accounting industry. In addition, it includes a case study of three differently situated students who participated in the program: a traditional undergraduate student, a traditional graduate student, and a nontraditional graduate student. Each offers a unique view regarding why the internship program was a vital educational learning experience which enhanced past and future course work. Also, the students critique their experience and offer suggestions for program improvements. Lastly, our study includes the benefits received by both an educational institution and employers from sponsoring and developing an internship program.


Keywords: Accounting Industry, Internship Learning, Case Study, Survey, Undergraduate Education, Graduate Education
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Internships As a Beneficial External Learning Environment


Lara Kessler

Assistant Professor, School of Accounting
Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Currently serving as an assistant professor in the School of Accounting at Grand Valley State University teaching financial accounting and business law to undergraduate and graduate students. I have a J.D. from Vanderbilt University, School of Law, and a Masters in Accounting from Grand Valley State University. I have also served as an attorney in the United State Air Force. I am an active mother of two children and enjoy reading, traveling, and family activities as well as improving my teaching abilities.

Dori Danko

Instructor, School of Accounting
Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Currently serving as a tenured instructor and interim director of the School of Accounting. I have been with Grand Valley State University for ten years and administrated the internship program for over eight years as well as the advisor the our honorary chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an international accounting organization for honorary students. I teach financial and nonprofit governmental accounting to undergraduate students. I have over seven years of industry experience in public and private accounting. I enjoy exercise (running and weightlifting), reading, and participating in my family activities. I have two children ages 10 and 7.

Rita Grant

Associate Professor, School of Accounting
Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Currently serving as an associate professor in Grand Valley State University's School of Accounting. I have been teaching for over twenty-five years and have taught a multitude of subjects within that time. Presently, I am teaching financial, intermediate, and international accounting. I coordinate the study abroad summer programs for Grand Valley's Seidman College of Business as well as participating in numerous service activities related to curriculum. I am active within the community and enjoy traveling, skiing, and family time.

Ref: L09P1027