The first step to the milkround




For students that are not yet directly involved in the milkround process there are still a number of opportunities to gain experience of what graduate trainees’ work involves on a day to day basis in various areas. Furthermore the earlier a student begins to prepare for the milkround process the less pressure and stress that will arise.

There are several paths for pre milkround students to gain an insight into the real world accounting practices. These include;

  • Co-Op/Placements (depending on your college course);
  • Summer internships;
  • Case study days; and
  • Insight days.


These are typically 6-12 month placements which give students an excellent opportunity to determine what a first year trainee’s work will be like on a day to day basis. Obviously the opportunity is only available to students whose course provides such a route (these are typically four year courses with the penultimate year spent on placement).

The choice of your placement is important and should be given careful consideration. Using the placement to either rule in or out (both are probably equally as valuable in my opinion) a certain area can be very valuable when it comes to deciding which route to choose during the milkround. While on placement, regardless of what area you are based in, make sure to leverage your position and try to arrange (either individually or in a group if there are a few placements interested) a talk with some trainees in other departments that you may be interested in.  Contacting the HR department or the graduate team may be the best first step to initiate this.

Summer Internships

For students without a placement opportunity a summer internship is an excellent way to gain firsthand experience in an accounting firm. All the large accounting firms have internship schemes which typically run for 8-12 weeks during the summer months. Applications for these positions typically open once the milkround process is complete – generally around December or January. The internship places are typically for penultimate year students in the summer prior to entering their final year. For younger students the programmes available are discussed below.

As with a placement the internship can be invaluable at ruling in or out certain areas before you come to the milkround. Furthermore the internship will give you the leverage to talk to trainees from various departments to get a feel for the work involved in each.

Below is a list of some of the accounting firms that offer internship opportunities;

Insight Days

These days are typically for first and second year students interested in accounting but who would like to get more information on what is involved on a day to day basis. Over the course of a day students are introduced to the firm, the different business areas within the firm and some firms even provide work shadowing opportunity to follow a trainee for the afternoon in the office.

Although primarily for younger students many firms also offer places on these events to students who were not successful in applying for internships or placements. This is mutually beneficial as it keeps the firm in contact with students for the next milkround process and also provides students who may not have had the opportunity to experience an internship to find out more about each area of business before they go through the milkround process.

Coming into the milkround without any practical experience of accounting can limit your ability to make an informed decision as to which area you are best suited to. The earlier in your college life you begin to attend firm talks and presentations, begin to build your CV and become proactive at asking questions etc the more informed you will be when it comes to making that decision.

The following firms all provide insight days;






Case Study Competition

Another pathway to gaining experience in the world of accountancy is through case study competitions. Some firms are now offering these competitions, where you and three teammates assess a real world case study and compete against other teams from various universities. For the winning team(s) the rewards can be significant incluing trips to international stages of the competition and/or internship placements at the firm for the following summer. This is a relatively new concept and consequently it is not offered by every firm but it nontheless provides and excellent route for students to put themselves on a firm’s radar by impressing at these events. Opening dates for applications are typically around September each year.

The following firms offer a case study competition;




Given the number of opportunities available for the above positions in comparison to the milkround itself the competition for such roles is huge. Notwithstanding this there are numerous benefits of even applying for such roles regardless of whether you are successful or not. These include;

  •  you are exposed to the online application medium that many firms use for their milkround application;
  •  you are forced to create a CV tailored to the role (something which many students may never have done);
  •  it forces you to think in the milkround mindset of what transferrable skills you have from your experiences and how can you showcase  them in an application form; and
  • for many it will give you the experience of formal business interviews for the first time (if your application is successful).

Planning on applying for internships? Read my post