"My advice to any student coming from any background: step out of your comfort zone, get involved, challenge yourself, set your goals, and never give up on them."
Coming from a construction background and never having the opportunity to work in an office environment, I knew that I had to get involved early. In my second year, I became a participating member of the DeGroote Accounting Association (DAA) attending as many events as possible including the prestigious CPA Night (which was then known as CA Night). I stepped out of my comfort zone, tried my hand at networking and applied to a few positions but did not hear anything back. From that day onward, I set my goal to being recruited by one of the Big 4.
In my third year, I attended CPA Night with more experience, a higher level of comfort, and a higher level of confidence. I re-applied to a few of my favourite firms and was very fortunate to advance into the final-four applicants for a position. The recruiter I had built a relationship with knew I was applying for the Commerce Internship Program and she guaranteed me an interview for when I applied. In my first four months, I was a McMaster Student Union (MSU) Maroon Representative and received a promotion to Athletic Co-Chair, which was where I received my first exposure to leading a team and taking on a higher level of responsibility. My second term was spent applying for internships and though I was not as fortunate with the company from my guaranteed interview, I treated it as a valuable learning experience to keep trying harder. I joined a Fraternity and increased my network drastically as I was introduced to Greek Life, I continued attending my several MSU and DAA events on top of my intramural teams, and I participated and finished in fourth place at FPC 2014 with my incredible team.
"I took every opportunity I could to learn from my mentors."
As the jobs for internship began slowing down, I began reaching out to my network. I did not want to settle for a job I felt was not challenging. During the beginning of the summer, a parent of a very good friend of mine had mentioned their potential interest in taking an intern and after a short interview and a trial run, I began my internship for a small Credit Union downtown in Toronto. Working out of the corporate office and having the opportunity to work with and learn from so many officers, I took on an ever-increasing amount of responsibilities across several departments. While I was on my internship, I purchased a DAA membership again specifically to catch up with the various network connections I had at CPA Night and I found the ease and tranquility in talking to catch-up and maintain those relationships opposed to networking with the intention of trying to be stand out and be recruited. Throughout the first term, I became an executive member of my Fraternity in addition to helping found chapter for a social entrepreneurship club, Enactus McMaster. In the second term, I completed my position with the Fraternity and was very fortunate to receive a position as Tax Clinic Coordinator and Third Year Rep for the DAA. During the summer I received the opportunity to switch into the position of Fast Pace to the Case (FPC) Co-Chair, which I currently hold now. I was elected into the role of President for Enactus McMaster shortly before I received my FPC position.
As my internship ended, I made sure to maintain all of the incredible connections I made at the credit union as they became an extension of my family. In September, I attended my fourth official CPA Night and navigated my way through the room with a high degree of confidence and energy, To reflect on my progress from second year is incredible. Did it pay off? Yes. I am endlessly happy, humble, and grateful to say I have in fact secured my position with a member of the Big 4. My advice to any student coming from my background: step out of your comfort zone, get involved, challenge yourself, set your goals, and never give up on them.