Office Hours: Career Advice From The Grant Thornton Team

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On Wednesday, May 21st, TalentEgg hosted another egg-ceptional Office Hours with the team from Grant Thornton!

Working together to answer your career questions, four members of the Grant Thornton team shared their career-hatching insights with TalentEgg-ers like you!

If you missed the live event, you can read the complete transcript below:

Elias (TalentEgg):

Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Elias and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.
Our eggs-pert guests today from Grant Thornton are:

● Adam Melnyk (Human Resources Consultant)
● Sumira Duggal (Talent Attraction Specialist)
● Julie Gellos (Human Resources Consultant)
● Ryan Coles (Human Resources Consultant)

Over the next hour, you can share your questions about career opportunities at Grant Thornton, learn about different student and grad roles and get tips for successfully hatching your career. You can start submitting your questions now!

Adam, Sumira, Julie and Ryan, could you please tell the audience a bit about yourselves and what you do at Grant Thornton?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Hello! My name is Sumira and I am the Talent Attraction Specialist for our Alberta business units. My primary responsibility is to find talented people, like yourself, and pair them up with career opportunities. I also manage and execute our annual campus process and related events. We all look forward to answering your questions this afternoon!

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Hello my name is Adam Melnyk and I assist the Grant Thornton offices in South Coastal BC (Vancouver, Langley, and Victoria). I’ve been with the firm for three and a half years and have been through campus recruitment 3 times. It’s always an exciting process where I get to meet the best and brightest in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Hello everyone, my name is Ryan and I am one of the Human Resources Consultants for our Nova Scotia offices. I am based out of our Halifax office and I am responsible for campus recruitment for our 11 Nova Scotia offices. I am quickly approaching 2 years with the firm.

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Hi everyone! I’m Julie and I work in the Southern Ontario business unit as the HR Consultant, supporting the assurance practice.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great! Let’s kick things off with a few questions that were submitted in advance.

Fatima, an Accounting student at York University, asks:

What skills and qualifications do you look for in a recent graduate?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Thanks for the question, Fatima. Grant Thornton really looks for a total package but I can appreciate how confusing that statement is for students. What I look for is someone who is confident in themselves and who I would feel comfortable representing the firm to our clients, that person comes in forms.

I truly believe a diverse group of employees works best together. A diverse team offers more perspectives to our clients who come from a variety of industries. More perspectives offer more solutions!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Needhi is completing an Accounting degree at Western University, and asks:

As a graduating student, I want to work with firm support of professional and personal goals, so how does Grant Thornton encourage leadership apart from professional assignments?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Hello Needhi, thank you for your question. Leadership can be displayed by volunteering with local charities and taking initiative to be involved within the community. Grant Thornton supports professionals by encouraging involvement in extracurricular and voluntary activities which help build leadership qualities. In addition, there are a number of different internal committees that you can join that will give you the ability to hone your networking and leadership abilities.

Committees such as our Young Professionals Group and our Social Committee encourage working on networking, business development and project management abilities. Our Professional and Executive Development Program is based around developing and growing strong leadership abilities. Our coaching, mentoring and formal evaluation programs are constructive ways to get instant feedback to grow as a professional daily.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-cellent!

Maokss:

How would you advise an applicant (graduate) that wanted to work in a different region of the country? For example, I am in Toronto, but I saw a job posting that I was interested in PEI.

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Great question. You can see all of our opportunities on our Campus Recruitment website and in the Jobs section of our profile on TalentEgg, and can apply for any opportunities you see. That being said, you will still want to ensure that you attend any recruitment events in your local area.

Make sure you make it known that you are interested in opportunities in specific locations during the event and our people can make the necessary referrals. Also, you will want to highlight your location interests in your application, cover letter, etc.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Great answer, Ryan! Let’s take another question that was submitted in advance:

Jenny, a Math/CPA program student at the University of Waterloo, asks:

What is one thing you love the most about working at Grant Thornton?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

I know it is cliché but I would have to say the people! I have traveled to all of our 11 offices in Southern Ontario and our people are great across the board.

I love working with intelligent and professional people who genuinely care about one another and their communities!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-cellent answer, Julie!

Samay Luthra:

Is accounting experience necessary to be considered for a position with GT out of University?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Not at all Samay. General work experience while attending university is something we look for and it doesn’t have to be accounting specific. Customer service positions are a great indication of someone’s ability to interact with the client.

It’s nearly impossible to gain public practice accounting experience while in university unless a student is in a co-op program. A well balanced resume with volunteer and work experience is what we are looking for.

Cameron Orr :

If there is no GT recruitment team for a specific university, how is one able to contact their potential recruiters for advice on how to stand out from the crowd? – 4th year UOIT accounting major

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Hi Cameron, I would suggest contacting a local recruiter. If you are interested in Southern Ontario roles, you can get in touch with me.

If you are not sure who to contact, start with your local office and they can re-direct you.

Elias (TalentEgg):

If you’re just joining the chat: welcome!

Zaman Dubey:

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your roles at Grant Thornton?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Hi Zaman! The biggest challenge that a new Accountant who starts with our firm would face is the initial transition from being a student to a professional. Being able to apply the theoretical knowledge of school to our client files is no easy task.

Thankfully we have a wonderful teams that assist new Accountants with their on boarding, training and answering any and all questions. We try and make the transition into the workforce as smooth as possible.

Elias (TalentEgg):

If you’re submitting your questions now – great! The team from Grant Thornton is going to answer as many of your questions as they can during this session.

Let’s take a look at some more questions that were submitted in advance!

Umar, a BBA student at the Schulich School of Business, asks:

I started my own business last summer and was just wondering whether firms like Grant Thornton value entrepreneurial skills in a candidate. If you do, how can we show it on a resume to optimize our chances of getting an interview?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Hi Umar, Yes we do. We are looking for people who can become future business advisors to our clients so an entrepreneurial skill set is something we do value.

On your resume, you should include what you are currently doing for your business highlighting client relationships, ability to manage, etc., and also a summary of what you did to start up your business.

Amanda Siedzik:

The number of non-traditional training offices in industry is rising. How does GT stay competitive and continue to attract students (or plan to continue) despite growing interest in opportunities in industry? – Queen’s Graduate Diploma in Accounting student

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Great question. Grant Thornton has enjoyed tremendous success in providing students with what they need to succeed in obtaining their professional designations or even getting valuable experience to grow their careers.

With Grant Thornton, our people see a variety of clients, industries, different files and engagements. The variety of the work along with being on the forefront of accounting is really what differentiates us from many industry opportunities.

Catherinelywong:

Thanks for all the helpful advice!

Earlier, Ryan recommended attending the ‘local’ networking events. If you are on co-op in another province (i.e. Alberta/Ontario) during the fall semester outside of your ‘home’ province (B.C.), besides attending those events, how may the recruiting and selection process be different?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

Good question. You need to reach out to the local university career centres and Accounting institutions.

In BC there is one full day for all National firms to attend. Students are aware of this event months in advance and I would encourage the student who is in the co-op to book the time off work to attend this crucial networking day.

Elias (TalentEgg):

This seems like a great time for our poll!

Why are you attending Office Hours with Grant Thornton?

• I want to learn more about the hiring process ( 51% )
• I have a question about career opportunities ( 27% )
• I’d like further insight regarding your culture( 16% )
• I’d like to know more about career progression ( 5% )

Great participation so far. Let’s have a look at a few more questions that were submitted in advance!

Harsh, a student at the University of Waterloo, asks:

I really enjoy being involved in the community and taking on volunteer opportunities. What sorts of opportunities will I have at Grant Thornton?

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

In the South Coastal BC office we take pride in volunteering with the Breakfast Club once a month. This allows 4 employees each month to serve breakfast to an elementary school in the Vancouver area. I recently attended my first Breakfast Club morning and really enjoyed it. The students were friendly and I felt really good knowing that those students weren’t going into class with hunger on their mind.

Any volunteer initiatives are welcome to be presented to the social committee to get Grant Thornton employees involved.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Cameron, an Accounting student from UOIT, asks:

Before applying for a staff accountant position (upon graduation in 2015), is there anything you would suggest getting involved with over this summer, to get recognition &/or better prepared for recruitment this fall?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Great question! There are a number of things that you can get involved in to “beef up” your resume. At Grant Thornton we are big advocates for “Making a Difference”, in fact, it is a huge mandate at our Firm. Volunteering is a great way to get experience, show leadership skills, and take initiative.

At a university level, make connections with your accounting or commerce clubs and become a member. There are many firms and industry employers who hold mock interviews, information sessions, and different events on and off campus; the accounting club is a great way to get the information on how you can participate in those events. Scout summer positions in the Jobs section of our profile on TalentEgg to see if there are any accounting-related positions open to students. Often larger firms/industry employers will offer summer opportunities to students so their permanent staff can take vacation.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Here’s a video on Grant Thornton’s profile on TalentEgg that features a number of Grant Thornton team members! Be sure to check it out: http://bit.ly/1nbNAmY

Needhi Danak:

What kind of assignments will I be engaged in during my first couple of years at Grant Thornton? Are the audit assignments completed in teams, and if so how large are the teams?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

In your early years, you will be on various audit assignments in different industries.
Our team size depends on how large the client as we have diverse clients and the engagement times tend to be shorter so that you get to see a good mix of files.

Kevin Li:

How does GT differentiate itself from other companies in terms of its culture?

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

We are definitely an open and inviting culture and we like to say that we work hard but we also play hard! At Grant Thornton, we are definitely ready to do whatever it takes to help each other be successful and at any time you can approach anyone, regardless of their position, and they will answer any questions you may have or help you in any way possible.

We also take the time to celebrate our successes and throughout the years we certainly have had a lot to celebrate. Grant Thornton’s culture is widely known and has even been recognized by the Great Places to Work Institute as a Best Workplace seven years in a row. Not many other places can boast that!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-ceptional discussion! With regards to learning and growing at Grant Thornton, check out this video on their TalentEgg profile: http://bit.ly/1kDcbyG

Layton:

Could you share some tips for preparing for an interview?

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Great question! I will send you a brief list of the important factors. Firstly, do your research on the company, have a few key examples in your mind that you can apply to different questions, be authentic and candid in your interview. We want to get to know the real you.

Make sure that you are confident when you give answers, even if you are nervous. You can practice answering interview questions in the mirror and really push yourself to make sure you are answering the question fully. Really understand why you want to work with “Firm X” and try and project that enthusiasm towards the interviewer.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Jacob, an Accounting and Political Science student at Western University, asks:

What kind of clients and what industries would I have the opportunity to work with?

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

We have a wide range of clients in various industries such as financial services, manufacturing, mining, professional services, real estate, construction, hospitality and not for profit to name a few! As a student, you have the opportunity to get exposure to different industries to get a feel for what you like.

You can work with your coach or local scheduler to get a diverse mix of work and exposure to different industries.

Elias (TalentEgg):

Fantastic! There have been some great questions and equally great answers today.

Before we wrap things up, let me remind everyone of the next two Office Hours chats with Grant Thornton’s team! Sign up now and reserve your spot:

I’m attending on July 15th
I’m attending on August 12th

That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours!
And of course, a big thank-you to the team from Grant Thornton for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions.

Adam, Sumira, Julie and Ryan, do you have any final comments?

Ryan Coles (Grant Thornton):

Thank you everyone for all the great questions and best of luck during campus recruitment!

Sumira Duggal (Grant Thornton):

Thank you all for your insightful questions! I wish you all the best in the upcoming campus season. We will speak to you all on July 15th!

Adam Melnyk (Grant Thornton):

I want to thank everyone for attending this information session! I look forward to meeting some of you this recruitment season.

Julie Gellos (Grant Thornton):

Thanks for all your great questions! Looking forward to the next chat!

Elias (TalentEgg):

Egg-cellent! To learn more about Grant Thornton, check out their profile on TalentEgg (http://talentegg.ca/employer/grant-thornton-llp/company-profile/) and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@GTCanadaNewGrad) for insider info.

Thanks again for joining us today, TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter (@TalentEgg) and Facebook (facebook.com/TalentEgg) for upcoming Office Hours events!

Layton:

Thanks for the great advice!

Mike:

Thanks for scheduling this! 🙂

Kevin Li:

Thank you all!

ArthurChung:

Thank you so much !

Guest:

Egg-cellent chat! Thanks!

Guest:

Thank you for the advice.

AndrewSaulLopez:

Very insightful! Thanks!

Shonna Grunzeweig:

Thank you for all the advice!

Needhi Danak :

Thank-you for your time!

Zaman Dubey:

Thank you so much for all the advice!

Joanna:

Thanks!

Joshuasunga:

Thanks so much!

Catherinelywong:

Thanks, have an Egg-cellent day!!

Stella:

Gotta check out the recruitment fair in my province! Thanks!

Guest:

Awesome info. Thank you!

Ray Da Prato:

I learned so much today. Thanks guys!

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