Company-Sponsorsed Summer Leadership Programs: Are They Effective in this Environment?

February 19, 2010

=This is my guest blog post for www.gurconnect.com (posted 2.18.2010)

For the last five to ten years, national accounting firms have embraced sponsoring and hosting week-long summer leadership programs for rising sophomore and junior college students. As hiring has slowed due to the recession, do these programs continue to offer a return on their investment and are they worth it?

The purpose behind the programs, for the most part, is for students to gain unique insight into the accounting industry, a better understanding of the firm hosting the event and to develop leadership skills. The programs, though different for each company, usually run for one week during the summer and include working in small groups as well as interaction and networking with company professionals and other students.

But in these economic times, companies must show a direct benefit to the bottom line for a program to continue to receive funding. “Every year we run a cost-benefit analysis and based on those results our firm’s leadership has continued to focus on, fund and grow our Leadership Adventure,” says Amy Thompson, campus recruiting director for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). “This program is a critical part of our overall recruitment strategy.” Since almost all PwC’s competitors offer a variation of this type of program, competition is tight for recruiting top talent to the program and in turn, to the firm. Of the 214 participants in the 2009 summer program for PwC, 80 percent received an offer for an internship. This is an important step in the hiring process as most full-time offers are made after an accounting student has participated in an internship. Of those who participated in an internship, 92 percent accepted full time offers.

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