KPMG’s Innovative Internship Program: Nurturing Young Talent in Accounting

In a bid to reshape the perception of accounting careers and combat the industry's talent shortage, KPMG has introduced a groundbreaking summer internship program that not only pays handsomely but also equips young minds with essential skills and insights into the world of accounting. This initiative is not just about earning a stipend of $20 to $22 an hour; it's about paving the way for a diverse and vibrant future in the field.

Seventeen-year-old Autumn Kimborough, a rising high school senior from Flossmoor, Illinois, is among the many students who have been fortunate to participate in this pioneering program. Despite admitting that accounting wasn't her passion, Kimborough's enthusiasm for her well-paid summer internship at KPMG was palpable. What sets this opportunity apart is the added value it provides beyond monetary compensation: a $250 wardrobe allowance, business etiquette training, transportation, meals, and a chance to interact with mentors who actively guide her development.

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KPMG's Community Impact Director, Jennifer Flynn, revealed that this initiative marks the first time the Big Four accounting company has extended its summer internship program to high school students. The three-week program aims to break stereotypes associated with accounting, attract younger generations, and build a strong talent pipeline for the future of the industry. With over 200 teens benefiting from the program's skill-building tools and mentorship, the impact is far-reaching.

While the accounting field has long suffered from misconceptions of desk-bound monotony, KPMG's internship program strives to dispel these notions. As Autumn Kimborough expressed, her perception transformed as she discovered the dynamic and people-oriented facets of accounting, including the potential for travel and meaningful connections.

Yet the industry is not without its challenges. Long hours, demanding deadlines, and negative stereotypes have caused a decline in interest, with recent graduates turning towards fields like investment banking, consultancy, and data analysis. Moreover, the rigorous requirements for a CPA license have also deterred potential accountants.

To address these challenges, other accounting businesses and nonprofits are following suit by targeting high school students to ignite their interest in the field. The Deloitte Foundation, Urban Assembly, and Outlier.org have introduced innovative programs to provide exposure to accounting at an earlier age. These initiatives not only help diversify the industry but also ensure that the next generation of accountants is well-prepared and well-equipped.

Elena Richards, KPMG's Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, acknowledged that accounting might not be seen as the most exciting career choice. However, through initiatives like the summer internship program, KPMG is working to change this perception by showing young talents that accounting offers diverse opportunities and a rewarding path.

Studies consistently show that the lack of diversity within the industry acts as a deterrent to potential accountants. With only 2% of CPAs being Black and 5% Hispanic, despite ample job prospects, it is evident that a more inclusive approach is required. KPMG's efforts, along with those of other organizations, demonstrate a commitment to making the field of accounting accessible and appealing to individuals from all walks of life.

In a world where innovation and adaptability are paramount, KPMG's forward-thinking internship program sets a remarkable example. By offering substantial stipends and comprehensive training, the program is not only nurturing young talents but also reshaping the future of accounting, one diverse and dynamic accountant at a time.