Meet Caroline Almas:
Caroline Almas is a senior Accounting co-op student at the University of Guelph in her fifth year of studies. Her first co-op work term was spent at MNP in the Assurance and Accounting Group, and she enjoyed it so much that she returned for her following three work terms, noting that “The practical, hands-on skills that I learned are invaluable, I made some great connections, and I now have a much better idea of the opportunities available in my industry and what I would like to do once I graduate.” Caroline shares with us what her role has been in co-op, how she and her employer adapted to working from home, and the impact that co-op has had on her academic and career journey. When sharing her story, Caroline added “To anyone considering co-op, my advice would be to go for it… you won’t regret it!”
Where was your most recent co-op work term and what was your role?
“My degree has included four work terms, and I spent each one working as a CPA Articling Student at MNP in the Assurance and Accounting group.”
Was your role affected by COVID? If so, how did you and your employer adapt to the conditions?
“I was in the middle of my last work term during March 2020 when the initial lockdown happened. Everyone in the office, including the co-op students, had to take their equipment and work from home. It was particularly challenging because we were in the middle of tax season and had to quickly switch from a mostly paper-based system to all electronic within a week or so. It was hard not being in the office with my co-workers, but everyone made it work!”
What skills did you develop while in this work term?
“Co-op was definitely one of the most challenging, but also one of the most rewarding, experiences I've had during my university degree. I can't begin to list all the different things I learned during my co-op experience, but I would say problem-solving, communication, and technical skills are some of the most valuable.”
“First, being tasked with working on real-world, messy, ambiguous problems was so different than the types of problems we were presented in classes, and it really forced me to learn to think in different ways. The opportunity to work and build relationships with many different clients also improved my ability to communicate effectively and in a professional manner. Finally, throughout my work terms I was exposed to a variety of different accounting and tax software programs, and I think being able to work efficiently with these programs will be a real asset going forward!”
What is your favourite memory from co-op?
“We had a lot of fun in our office, but one of my favourite memories was the pumpkin carving competition we had on Halloween!”
“I also loved getting to be part of such an incredible work environment! From my very first day, everyone was so kind, encouraging, and willing to help in whatever way they could. Even though I started out knowing nothing and I made tons of mistakes along the way, everyone made me feel like a valuable member of the team!”
Why did you originally register for co-op?
“The main reason was that I knew having a combination of academics and practical work experience would help me to stand out from other candidates when I graduated and started looking for my first job. The chance to earn some money to help pay my university expenses was an added bonus!”
What would you like to do when you graduate and did co-op help you come to that conlusion?
“That is a tough question, because there are so many diverse career options available in the accounting industry. I would like to get my CPA, and then after that I think I would like to focus on the small business sector. I have always been interested in cooking and food, so working with restaurants, hotels, or bakeries would be a lot of fun!”
“It was mostly the exposure I had to different types of work and businesses during my work terms that helped me come to that conclusion. I did compilations, reviews, audits, and tax preparation for a number of different clients including a public company, various small and medium-sized businesses, and a non-profit organization. Having that variety of experiences really helped me get a sense of what I enjoyed and found the most interesting!”
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
“A huge thank you to all the staff at Co-operative Education & Career Services for their hard work that make the co-op program possible!”