3E Accounting Singapore Virtual Interviews & Increased Internship Opportunities
Interns were among the first casualties when Covid-19 disrupted businesses in March 2020. Business owners went into emergency mode to focus their energies to either revive revenues or cut cost. As a result, they cancelled most of their internship opportunities. To support young Singaporeans, 3E decided to increase our typical intake of 1 intern per year to 7. We took in 3 interns for our accounting department, 3 interns for our technology department and 1 intern for our digital marketing department for the first half of year 2020. We expect to take on 5 more interns for the second half of 2020 in Singapore to reflect our corporate priorities for growth.
3E wanted to increase the employability of interns by giving them real life working experience when other firms were retreating from the internship market. We selected our interns from the local universities of National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). They were paid a standard allowance of $1,000 to $1,200 per month for the 2 months of internship.
Let’s look at the experience of Tham Zhe Wei, our first accounting intern this year from the National University of Singapore. Zhe Wei is our typical intern. She is a second year Accounting student from NUS and did well for her ‘O’ Levels’ Principles of Accounting with her natural flair for numbers.
3E Accounting posts these internship opportunities on our university partner’s internship portals for application. We expect the interns to learn the actual situation of working in an accounting firm. We only expect 2 basic characteristics from our interns:
- Basic Technical Competence
We assess their enthusiasm through the interview and their basic technical competence through a short quiz before the interview. We don’t set a hard time limit, but they are expected to complete it within 1 hour.
The quiz contains 4 sections of questions requiring short answers. Section A reveals the character of the candidate containing 3 questions such as goals setting and accomplishments. Section B contains checks on work ethics, communication skills and ability to work well with colleagues and clients in difficult conditions.
Section C tests the intern on their accounting technical skills such as double entry for depreciation and localized accounting knowledge such as salary entries with 20 questions. For Section C, we only want answers that the candidates are sure of; as it reflects the criteria for accuracy in accounting.
Section D contains 6 questions on GST application in different situations. Regardless of the result of the quiz, 3E will interview the candidate to have a holistic understanding of the candidate.
During the 30-minute interview, 3E will ask a series of questions regarding the background of the candidate, the motivation to choose to account as a career, the reason for choosing 3E Accounting and other relevant questions. As this would be an 8 weeks internship, we are looking for candidates who can express enthusiasm and positivity in answering the questions. We are looking to select candidates who can eventually fit well with the team. It is not what you say, it is how you say it.
For the selection, our ideal candidates had demonstrated strong technical expertise in their quiz and displayed enthusiasm during the interview. We will typically select the candidate within 1 week of the interview. Our senior manager, Desmond Ng, will interview and select the candidate in 1 round of interview. Before Covid-19, it would be a physical interview. After Covid-19, we adapted and changed to a Google Meet interview.
Both our senior manager Desmond and intern Zhe Wei had a preference for the physical interview as it helped them to pick up body language. However, they are adaptable and accepted the virtual meeting.
After the candidate had been selected, we will arrange for the first day to start with an onboarding session. During this 30-minute onboarding session, the intern will be introduced to the team, learn about the background of the job, the work to be done, have their questions answered and manage their expectations.
As part of the first day orientation, Accounting interns will learn via a series of accounting and tax training videos. They will also get themselves familiarised with various checklists and templates used in daily work. Accounting interns will be assigned real entry level jobs that are suitable for their level of competency. They will be equipped with a computer laptop with Windows 10, Office 365 and accounting software installed to support their internship experience. We will assign them tougher jobs after they had proven their competencies gradually.
Their first assignment would be to do bookkeeping for dormant companies that have only expenses. In this piece of work, their first real hurdle would be to learn how to record transactions based on receipts/invoices and bank statements, which is usually not taught in school. Next, they will learn to prepare tax computation. These will typically be learned within half a day under the guidance of the team.
Thereafter, they will work on “Emerging SMEs” with less than 100 transactions per year with both incomes and expenses. Our interns are expected to clear these 2 types of companies within the first two weeks with dedicated supervision. Thereafter, they are expected to work independently for the next 6 weeks to contribute to the company. Interns will have the opportunity to be exposed to various accounting software such as MYOB/ABSS, Xero, QuickBooks, Financio, SMECEN.
|Period||Work Time||Expected Work Outcomes|
|Day 1||30 mins||Familiarity of Internship Scope of Work: |
Onboarding Video Call
|Day 1||3.5 hours||Learning through a series of accounting and tax videos and familiarisation of checklists and working templates|
|Day 1||4 hours||Learn bookkeeping and tax processes for Dormant Company|
|Day 2 & 3||16 hours||Practise with Dormant Companies until the work can be completed within 2 hours.|
|Day 4||8 hours||Learn bookkeeping process for Emerging SMEs and learn the compilation of financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cashflow Statement, Notes to Accounts etc)|
|Day 5||8 hours||Learn the preparation of tax computation for Emerging SMEs.|
|Week 2||40 hours||Continue to practise with Dormant Companies and Emerging SMEs and their income tax calculations under close supervision.|
|Week 3 to 8||240 hours||Continue to contribute to 3E to provide accounting and tax services to Dormant Companies and Emerging SMEs.|
As efficiency is our core company value, we expect our interns to complete their assigned tasks within strict and reasonable time frames in the last 6 weeks. If they are competent, the manager can direct the supervisor to provide additional higher-level tasks to the intern on a discretionary basis.
Our intern, Zhe Wei, found the internship experience to be helpful as it helped her to experience the difference between academic and work environment. Her working hours are the same as our full- time staff from 9 am to 6 pm and her time was well spent. In her first month of internship, she had been a good addition to the team.
Despite Covid-19, 3E had been able to expand on our internship experience as we are willing to embrace technology and have a consistent system of working to enhance productivity. Externally, 3E is dedicated to helping Singaporeans to succeed as part of our corporate social responsibility. Best of all, if the interns proved themselves during the internship, they could be assured of a potential job opportunity and be hired after they complete their studies.