So you’re studying to be a certified financial planner, financial advisor, budget analyst, accountant, actuary, or credit analyst. Congratulations — those are all great careers. Working with money can be a satisfying, and yes, even a lucrative way to earn your own living.

These fields can all be pretty competitive, however. You’ll need every advantage you can get to land a fantastic job right after graduation. Why not stack the deck in your favour by getting your feet wet even as you finish up your studies? Here are a few ways you can do just that…

Land an Internship

Even if your educational institution doesn’t require internships, consider one anyway. Many of them are paid these days, even if you won’t make a fortune while learning the ropes, the experience you’ll gain will be invaluable.

Experts recommend that you look for internships in smaller companies, whether it’s a CPA’s office or a financial advisory firm. It’s likely that you will be able to get more hands-on financial experience there, as well as working directly with the pros. At some larger firms, you could get stuck in a back room somewhere, doing grunt work.

Volunteer to Help Family Members

Chances are good that your relatives, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, and grandparents, could need some help with financial matters. Here’s a great opportunity to put your skills to the test and do a good turn for someone you care about.

Maybe your grandparents are considering a reverse mortgage (pro tip: start with the free calculator found here). Your parents might be on the verge of retiring, but need some help with their 401(k) or IRA. Is your older brother about to invest in a small business? Look over his loans and business plan for him.

It’s a smart move to do these favours well in advance, then ask one of your professors or mentors to look them over to make sure you’ve done everything by the book. Once they sign-off your work, you can hand the numbers over to your family members with confidence.

Prepare Friends’ Tax Returns

If you’re setting your sights on a career as a CPA or an Enrolled Agent, consider working out an arrangement with your friends. You’ll do their taxes in return for — well, whatever they have to offer! Bartering can be fun, but more importantly, it will take some of the pressure off you.

Doing a variety of types of taxes is your best bet, simply for the breadth of experience it will net you. But start small, with a few simple returns for good friends.

Again, be sure to have these returns evaluated by a practicing accountant or tax specialist, or ask your friends to double-check them against their own tax software. That way, if you’ve made any serious goofs, your friend won’t end up paying for it — or worse, audited!

Closing Thoughts

Setting yourself apart from the crowd is a great way to get a leg up once you start to look for a job. Having experience like this, doing tasks you’ll actually be involved in once you’re employed, can help boost not just your resume, but your confidence as well.

Have you interned anywhere? Do your family members come to you for financial advice? Share your experiences in the comment section below!