Thrown Into the Deep End

Real-World Experience: Survey Finds Professionals Felt Unprepared for Work after University

TORONTO, July 28, 2015 /CNW/ - University students may be heading back to school soon, but they won't find everything they need to know for their jobs in their textbooks. In an Accountemps survey, more than half (60 per cent) of accounting and finance professionals said they felt only somewhat prepared for their first job after graduation; another 15 per cent indicated they were not at all prepared.

Respondents were unready for their first professional jobs in multiple ways. Almost half (47 per cent) of those surveyed indicated that the knowledge they gained in the classroom didn't translate to their position. Forty-three per cent said they felt ill-equipped to handle office politics.

Accounting and finance professionals were asked, "How prepared were you for your first accounting or finance job out of university?" Their responses:

Very prepared


Somewhat prepared


Not at all prepared



Respondents who said they were somewhat or not at all prepared were also asked, "In what ways were you unprepared for your first accounting or finance job?" Their responses*:

Knowledge gained in classroom didn't translate to the job


Didn't know how to handle office politics


Lacked technology skills or software knowledge


Had inadequate functional accounting skills


Had inadequate soft skills




*Multiple responses allowed.

"While a formal education is the necessary foundation for a career in accounting, there are certain skills that are best developed through hands-on workplace experience," said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. "By taking the initiative to find opportunities, such as internships or temporary work assignments, students receive not only practical familiarity with the working world but also the chance to build their resumes and broaden their networks."

Hunnam-Jones encouraged students not to focus on specific roles or employers, but rather to recognize the value of any on-the-job training. "Spending time in a professional environment allows you to learn first-hand how to interact with different colleagues, project types and leadership styles. In doing so, you ultimately gain a more marketable skillset, as well as a better idea of where your interests lie and how to maneuver your career in that direction."

Accountemps offers five tips to help students prepare for their first jobs out of school:

  1. Join student and trade groups. Participating in an industry organization will help you expand your network. Look for opportunities to take on a leadership role; your involvement will enhance your visibility.
  2. Seek internships. Tap your school's career center to identify internships in your field. You'll gain hands-on expertise and technical knowledge.
  3. Get connected. Stay in touch with key advisors, professors and internship managers. These contacts can be a resource even after you graduate and speak to potential hiring managers on your behalf.
  4. Consider temporary work. Staffing firms often have assignments for which students or recent university graduates may be a match. You can gain work experience, meet prospective employers and learn about different companies -- all while earning an income.
  5. Give back. Look for volunteer opportunities that align with your professional goals. For example, if you're an accounting major, offer to help a local nonprofit with its bookkeeping.

About the Research
The online survey was developed and conducted by Accountemps. It includes responses from more than 300 accounting and finance professionals in Canada.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 340 offices worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at Follow @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

SOURCE Accountemps

Image with caption: "Beyond Book Smarts (CNW Group/Accountemps)". Image available at:

For further information: Naz Araghian, 416.865.2140,

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