Source: Domenico Loia from Unsplash (2017) [Note: My set-up is quite similar though without the pretty plants]
Why am I writing this and why are you reading this?
On March 13, 2020, I waved goodbye to my friends after talking about how we would see each other in 3 weeks once schools reopened. However, in the blink of an eye, I graduated high school and completed my first year of University all online.
The eyesight that I was once proud of, now required a thick pair of lenses to see the letters I am typing on my screen right now. Although the pandemic took away many things from me, it gave me the chance to explore new topics and interests that I once did not pay attention to.
The increased use of social media and news platforms allowed me to discover how everyone’s experience of the pandemic differed greatly (and how extremely grateful I am to have parents that took the pandemic very seriously). Moreover, I finally understood the importance of sharing your experience with others, and thus why I am writing this blog.
My Experience: My first co-op during the pandemic
As the first year was coming to an end, all Waterloo Engineering students were scrambling to find a 4 month co-op term to gain experience. After an extensive and quite stressful search, I finally found peace by getting the chance to complete my first co-op work term at AMLB CPAs and Consulting. Luckily, the co-op placement aligned with my career goals and future aspirations, and I accepted their offer without any hesitation.
Over the past four months, I have had the chance to work as a Business Analyst that specialized in Processes and Applications. The experience and skills I have gained from this placement are countless. From learning how to write detailed yet concise emails for clients to network with an industry professional in Australia, I was tremendously content working at AMLB CPAs and Consulting.
When I was signing my contract, I wondered the impact a first-year engineering co-op student would have in an accounting business. Honestly, at that time, I thought, “Not much, I will probably complete my 9 am – 5 pm day without much joy, attend a couple of meetings here and there, and that’s it”. Nevertheless, I was so wrong and I am glad I was wrong! The opportunities I had to make a difference at the business were limitless.
About half of my responsibility working at AMLB was to help streamline their onboarding and cloud bookkeeping processes. Although creating step-by-step process templates in Karbon, creating video guides, and automating certain tasks may sound mundane, the positive change I had contributed to made me extremely satisfied and joyful.
Moez Bawania, my mentor and my supervisor, was using the client on-boarding process I had streamlined, he had mentioned that “this usually takes me weeks to get done, but this happened so quickly because of the checklist that you developed.”
The positive change I was able to bring at AMLB CPAs and Consulting did not end here. My other responsibility at AMLB was to support a consulting project with our non-for-profit client. The purpose of this project was to help our client convert to cloud-based accounting software and simplify and optimize their financial processes. As a Management Engineering student, I was better equipped for this role as I had several skills and knowledge from my courses that supported my contributions. In the end, I was able to utilize and develop my skills in project management, problem-solving, process mapping using Miro, and communicating with clients. In addition to this, the contentment and the positive reactions from our client made me love my job even more!
While working on both of these projects, I had the opportunity to meet my amazing coworkers and get to know them better. Their positivity, encouragement, and diligence really inspired me to always give my best. A huge thank you to Ally, Moez, Miya, Krunali, Iana and Charmie for always sharing your kind thoughts with me, providing support and making this journey even better!
In summary, not only was I able to make several contributions to the business, but I also had the opportunity to grow as a person, student and employee thanks to AMLB’s investment in further developing my skills and interests.
My Reflection: Did I achieve my goals?
So at the end of my experience, did I achieve my goals while working at AMLB CPAs and Consulting? The short answer is yes!
A part of my decision to join Engineering was to reduce the stress I would get from English in high school. Soon after, I realized I cannot run away from this dreadful subject. Now determined to improve my communication and writing skills, it became a deciding factor when applying to co-ops.
During my interview for AMLB, I recall asking a question at the end to Moez, “what do you expect your staff to learn or have experienced by the end of the co-op term?” He answered, “the ability to effectively communicate with other team members and clients.”
Throughout this co-op term, I learned that by achieving my goal, I would be able to host more effective meetings, clearly communicate with clients through email and convey my ideas to make a positive difference in the business.
My Approach: My desk setup, my gear and my resources
Desk Setup / My Gear:
- Lamp: I would say this is an important purchase as working on your laptop in the dark can cause eye strain.
- A Monitor and Laptop: I would suggest two screens if you can afford it and have the space for it as it really helps when you are taking notes during meetings or working on tasks that require research.
- Laptop stand/fan: My mac would often overheat a lot due to the high temperatures in my room, therefore I invested in a cheap external fan to ensure my laptop would not malfunction during video calls.
- A Headset: As I had other family members working from home as well, I found it helpful to have a headset to avoid disturbing the others.
- Noise Cancelling Headphones: By following the advice in Cal Newport’s Deep Work, I use these headphones to signal my brain and switch to my “Deep Working” mode.
- Keyboard and Mouse: This prevented me from sitting in uncomfortable positions that could lead to a sore back. Thank you to AMLB for covering the expense of this purchase.
- Work To-Do List: I used AMLB’s project management system, Karbon to create my work to-do list. (For Karbon Users: I liked to sort my to-dos by work items)
Personal To-Do List: I used Notion to keep track of my to-do list as it is simple as writing it down in your notebook.
- Personal CRM: I created a personal CRM database in Notion to keep track of my ever-growing Network thanks to Moez and Ally.
- Book List: Thank you to Moez and other professionals I spoke with that recommended these amazing books.
- Youtubers – Jeff Su & Ali Abdaal: They provide some excellent tips and tricks on how to use our everyday applications more efficiently. Also, they provide excellent advice on how to write emails, give interviews and structure your professional portfolio.
If you would like to discuss any of the content above or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed and learned a lot from my experience as a Business Analyst at AMLB CPAs and Consulting!
Office Desk Picture: https://unsplash.com/photos/hGV2TfOh0ns