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updated: 1/9/2014 8:25 PM

New type of accounting internship enters its 3rd year

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Lisa Chester

Six Competing Firms Work Together With Proven Success

It takes time, talent and resources for today's youth to establish a solid foundation. For a student about to enter the workforce, an internship that focuses on education and real-life experience is essential. This is what six Chicago-area CPA firms thought when they agreed to be part of the Accounting Intern Scholarship Program (AISP). The program begins its third year in June 2014.

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AISP is the brainchild of Allen Bolnick, CPA and member of Weltman Bernfield LLC. He wanted to create a way for small to midsize accounting firms to give back to the community, recruit high-caliber students and raise awareness of their profession and their firms. Bolnick brought the idea to members of his monthly CPA roundtable in early 2012. As a result, several firms now work together to provide a comprehensive eight-week program showing what life is like in their firms.

This internship is not about cheap labor for the firms. Billable hours are not the goal.

AISP gives students the opportunity to work with professionals, develop contacts in the accounting field and experience different work environments. It exposes them not only to hands-on learning, but also to business networking and client interaction.

AISP is a well-rounded program, designed to provide a broader view of the accounting industry than a classroom allows.

"We put together an actual training program to teach the interns what they need to know to succeed at firms like ours or in similar environments," explains Bolnick. "A large part of our industry is about building relationships, and that is part of what AISP provides."

Weltman Bernfield (Buffalo Grove), Brown Kaplan + Liss LLP (Evanston), The Hechtman Group Ltd (Skokie) and Porte Brown LLC (Elk Grove Village) have been part of AISP since its inception.

BIK & Co., LLP (Palatine) joined for the 2013 session. Horwich Coleman Levin, LLC (Chicago) becomes the sixth member of the group for the 2014 session. Additional firms have also shown interest.

AISP accepts eight to ten interns for the summer session. The interns spend time at each participating firm and meet dozens of professionals. Upon successful completion of the program, each intern receives a $2,500 scholarship paid directly to their university. So far, six of the interns have found employment with the participating firms after graduation.

Visit the AISP website, www.AccountingISP.com, for a full description of the program, eligibility requirements and application form. The application deadline for the 2014 session is Jan. 31, 2014.

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