Langara Alumni who visited us on campus at event such as Alumni Talks, share their stories and inspiration. Included below are stories from Alumni who graduated from the Accounting programs.
For updates on these Alumni and where their career journeys have taken them, visit their LinkedIn profiles.
It is fulfilling to continuously learn a complicated topic in an ever-changing landscape, find ways to explain it in simple terms, and help clients save money, all while doing something I am passionate about.
Title: Manager, Tax
Company: Crowe MacKay LLP
My goal was to become a tax professional that could help my friends, family, and myself pay less tax. I enjoy learning and being challenged. It is fulfilling to continuously learn a complicated topic in an ever-changing landscape, find ways to explain it in simple terms, and help clients save money, all while doing something I am passionate about.
I worked on campus to facilitate my learning
Aside from focusing on my studies, I worked on campus to improve my skills. I mentored my peers through being an accounting tutor, Peer Supported Learning Leader, and marker. Other than that, I worked part-time at a tax preparation company during the tax season.
Practice interviews help with your nerves
A strategy I liked was to apply for more jobs than necessary and structure it in a way that your least preferred jobs come first for you to practice. These interviews help with your nerves, and since the jobs are in the same industry, many questions, especially behavioral ones, will be repeated. Try to observe how the interviewer reacted to your response, and then adjust accordingly. The worst-case scenario is you will not get an offer or a second interview, but you can treat it as a step toward improving your future. On the other hand, the best case would be receiving a job offer! Accounting firms often agree to keep offers open until a certain date, so you do not have to accept them right away.
Be proactive and get started on the process early. As someone who is new in Canada, step up and assume each job application as a practice so that you will feel more comfortable since employers ask similar situational questions.
Accounting firms usually start accepting applications for jobs and interviews around the same time. Some resources I suggest checking out are the Langara Accounting Club, accounting clubs from other post-secondary institutions, and CPABC. You will need to update your cover letter, but your resume and transcript could likely be reused for each application.
It is never too early to start networking and connecting with more people.
Your social capital is important in the business world. The majority of new hires, especially with short turnaround times, are from referrals. You never know who will become your employer, employee, client, customer, etc. in the future. Therefore, the first day of your career started the day you enrolled at a post-secondary institution, so it is important to keep that in mind and be proactive with your career.
Do not focus too much on only one event. There are a lot of opportunities to learn and experience the culture. Also, do not be afraid to be vulnerable and let people know your situation. Be open, because you do not know when an opportunity will present itself.
This story was written in the Fall 2022 semester. See Adrian's LinkedIn for updates on his career journey.
It is so important to network because it can connect you with potential job leads, a mentor, or mentee.
Title: Corporate Accountant
Company: Coal Island Ltd.
Industry: Asset Management
My career goals were to get my designation, and move into a senior role within an organization which I have achieved. I am now at a point in my career that I have a fulfilling career where the company that I work at supports and provides the flexibility I need to enhance my skills, take on more challenges, and be available to my baby.
Always have a targeted cover letter in job applications.
My job application strategy was to always have a targeted cover letter. I would take skills that would directly match to the skills listed in the job description, and line them up side by side and say you are looking for these, and these are the skills I have so there was no arguing that I would make a great fit for the company.
Network and get involved!
Always network! Get involved within groups of like minded individuals, volunteer your time, and those that would help you develop skills, and give guidance for where you want to go next.
Networking is getting to know the people around you, what they do, but also how they can better enhance your life and vice versa. It is so important to network because it can connect you with potential job leads, a mentor, or mentee.
Be prepared to show how your weakness is your greatest strength.
Ease the pressure off yourself, the interview is not just about getting to know you. Keep in mind you are interviewing them, listen for clues about the culture, are you being interviewed by your potential supervisor, what are the vibes you are getting, and does it fit with your moral compass and align with your personal values.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Christine’s LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.
Highlight your skills when answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” question.
Title: Account Manager
Company: Malaspina Consultants
Industry: Business Consulting
My current work allows me to participate in all accounting processes, from bookkeeping to reviewing financial statements and preparing reports for Controllers and Chief Financial Officers (CFO) for public companies in the office. The diversity of our clients’ industries has given me the opportunity to learn and gain more experience in a variety of fields. My next step is to get expertise in the mining and investment industries and to become an Assistant Controller.
Understand the company’s values.
My job application strategy was to research the company, understand its values, and verify if it aligns with my goals and skills. Also, find the best way to apply for the position, whether it’s better to apply through LinkedIn or the company’s website. Lastly, check if there is someone you know at the company that you can connect with to learn more about the company, and if there is a possibility they can help you in the process of applying for the position you want.
Networking is a collective effort to improve knowledge.
Networking is professionally connecting groups of people brought together by similar interests to help each other strengthen their businesses. This is important because it is a collective effort to improve knowledge and expand the business.
Highlight your skills when answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” question.
During interviews, I usually briefly state the strengths of my experiences that are aligned with the position’s requirements and highlight my best skills needed for the position.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Fabiane's LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.
Don't be the only one in the company who knows what is going on financially, be prepared to bring the "story" with you and tell it in senior management/board meetings to help with better decision making.
Title: Director of Accounting
Company: Magnum Projects
Industry: Real Estate Marketing
I’ve always wanted to be the ultimate decision maker in the finance department and sit on Boards of Directors for NPO boards. I’ve achieved my goals by being the Controller with UAPICBC and later on Director of Accounting with Magnum and sitting on the boards of Dunbar Community Centre and BC Borstal Association. I enjoy having a direct impact on business operations and being a storyteller of the financials. I also started my own CPA firm in 2021 with the hope to sharpen my business acumen and create value by boosting profitability for my clients.
Each financial statement tells a story about the company.
On a higher level, each financial statement tells a story about the company and the year. Is it debt heavy? Is there too much cash not being re-invested? Is it accumulating losses over the past few years? Is it liquid (enough asset to cover its liabilities)? You will find answers by calculating some ratios. On the operational level, people without a financial background look at the financial statements without understanding what it means to their department/team. When you break down the financials and apply the cost allocation method you learned in Management Accounting course, you will see what the biggest profit/loss driver is. From there, you can advise the senior management to allocate 80% of the company resources on the 20% profit drivers that make up majority of the company revenue, not the other way around. That's the general idea, the 80%/20% rule varies for different companies. For the loss drivers (projects that are not self-sufficient), it is worth conversations with senior management to review resource allocation and plan on cost reduction. Don't be the only one in the company who knows what is going on financially, be prepared to bring the "story" with you and tell it in senior management/board meetings to help with better decision making.
Apply for jobs that you only meet 60-70% of the job qualifications, the remaining percentage represents opportunities for growth.
The interview is a selling process. You are selling your personality, your experience and skills. The more you do it/review it, the better you are at it. One question I love – “what’s your biggest weakness?” How you convey that message is important. To me, it is not “weakness,” it is something I am trying to be better at. My current answer to that question is “I’m currently working to be more patient, meditation and journaling is my daily practice to make that happen and I’m seeing progressions.” You are not going to know exactly how to do everything in that job posting, so have some examples of how you are a quick learner.
I have always see myself as a company.
I always see myself as a company and establish visions, missions and mini KPIs (community involvement, entrepreneurship, career progression, compensation package, and donations etc.), to track my progress. I review them quarterly to make sure I’m on the right track. When my company does my performance review, I always see it as a two-way street. I would ask myself what my vision and missions are and if my role fits into my vision and missions. Does the company have room to facilitate the growth I expect in the timeframe I set for myself? Always ask for a better title/compensation package – you will never get what you don’t ask for. Even if you did not get what you asked for, by getting the rejections early on helps you pivot your path quickly and be on to your next goal.
Also, as a student, do as many Co-op terms as possible. I was had two part time jobs as cashier and sales associate when I was full time studying in Langara, my biggest dream/ambition at the time was “find an office job that allows me to sit down to do my work.” When I heard about Co-op, the level of support and the amount of preparation the Co-op & Career Department has for its students amazed me. I told myself “I’m not going to leave Langara until I find an office job”. Over the years, I have heard a lot of stories about how students graduate into unemployment, I always wonder if they did any Co-op? From each of my Co-op placements I was extended offers for permanent position, so I was not worried about unemployment when I graduated. The experiences accumulated before I graduated allowed me to focus on career growth rather than find a stable job when I graduated.
However, if I knew I was going to open my own practice, I would probably go into public practice. It's very challenging (and time consuming) to complete the CPA experience requirement through EVR (Experience Verification Route for industry accountant) comparing to PPR (Pre-approved Route for firm accountant). I do not regret the path I took as the compensation and work life balance I got in industry was better than my peers in public practice, I do think you will learn a lot more by working in a pre-approved accounting firm and the experience reporting would be so much easier. So, this is the suggestion I would give to students who are planning their CPA journey.
This story was written in the Spring 2023 semester. See Vivian’s LinkedIn for updates on her career journey.