Sprinting toward success

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I want to begin by saying that the person I am today is very different from the person I was back in first year. Everyone grows throughout their time at university in one way or another but my growth is radical in one specific area – NETWORKING!

Second-year me would see a Professional Skills Development Program event with the word “networking” in it, and run in the other direction.

Everything about a networking event would make me feel uncomfortable.

The awkward handshakes, the forced conversations, and what I like to call the ring of death: a representative from x company, surrounded by a semi-circle of anxious students wanting to stand out and be remembered in the hopes of securing a job, sounded as attractive to me as an optional exam.

I am glad to note that I moved away from that mindset last year when I began to realize that networking was a skill that needed to be practised. To do that, I would go out of my way to attend as many events as possible to strengthen what was a weakness for me and meet new people in the process.

I am grateful because I was offered a full-time position at KPMG because of the fantastic networking reception at the Emerging Accounting Professionals Conference (EAPC) last year.

Fast forward to a year later and I am a careers assistant at the Department of Management, assisting Meghan Tamane and Cloveth Smith in the Professional Development Learning Centre with putting on the EAPC event.

This year the event started with UTM alumni and MNP partner, Keith Kwan, who emphasised the importance of living life by finding what gives you personal satisfaction and pursuing that.

As he showed a picture of himself driving a red Lamborghini convertible, he mentioned that his hard work made the dream of riding in his dream car a reality.  From that, I understood that hard work and having fun are two sides of the same coin, and that in life you will enjoying the latter because of the former.

Then Professor Abraham Iqbal moderated a panel with industry representatives where conversation ensued about student life, recruiting, and trends impacting the industry. I was able to ask my burning question about technologies currently disrupting the accounting industry such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and big data. The reps answered how they were implementing different variations of the aforementioned technologies in their work.

It was amazing to see how creative accounting could be if you allowed yourself to embrace innovation.

Students who completed the Get Ready for Accounting workshop were invited to the EAPC Networking Reception, where they were able to interact with the panelists and an additional 20 reps over hors d’oeuvres. The ratio of students to reps was approximately 3:1, such that everyone got some personal time with the individual they wanted to connect with and learn more about.

Overall, the night resulted in a lesson learned for me.

A year can make a world of a difference if you take actionable steps to overcome your fears. Who knows, maybe you will see me at EAPC as a rep in a few years.    🙂

Sarah Girgis,
University of Toronto Mississauga, Class of 2019
B.Comm. Accounting Specialist, Economics Major

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