Office Hours: Learn How to Hatch Your Accounting Career with Grant Thornton

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The Accounting industry offers students and graduates a wide array of potential careers, with roles ranging from Advisory Services to Forensic Accounting. Interested in what questions students and grads like you are asking about this eggs-citing industry? Check out this week’s Office Hours!

On June 22, we took your questions and spoke with an expert team of recruiters at Grant Thornton to gain some insight into this thriving industry. Over the course of the hour, we addressed your inquiries on everything from the perfect resume to career advancement opportunities. If you weren’t able to attend this edition of Office Hours, we’ve provided a full transcript below. Let’s get cracking!

TalentEgg
Hello everyone, thanks for joining us for Office Hours! My name is Lauren and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

If this is your first time attending Office Hours, I’ll explain how this works. Over the next hour, you can submit your questions for Grant Thornton through the live chat box. Our guest eggs-perts will be answering as many of them as they can, so please be patient if your question doesn’t get answered right away.

If you pre-registered for our event and submitted an advance question, your inquiries will be answered shortly. Of course, if you have additional questions you’d like to ask, you can still submit them live at any time during the event.

Before we get started, let’s introduce our guests from Grant Thornton! We’ll be speaking with Krista Lamkey, a Manager of the National Talent Attraction Team, Blair Thompson, a Regional Talent Attraction & Orientation Consultant, Spencer Sanders, a Regional Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant, Alex Martin, an Assurance Accountant, and Paul Peterson, Senior Manager of the National Talent Attraction team, all at Grant Thornton. Krista, Blair, Spencer, Alex, and Paul could you share a bit about yourselves?

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Everyone! My name is Krista Lamkey and I am the Manager, National Talent Attraction Team for the firm. I joined Grant Thornton in April of 2015 and have the privilege to work closely with the various recruiting teams across Canada since joining the team. I am really excited to be here today and to answer your questions!

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Everyone! I’m Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter with Grant Thornton. I’m responsible for Campus and Experienced hires in Atlantic Canada. I’ve been with GT for close to 6 years and I’m excited to be with everyone today to answer your questions!

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Hello! My name is Spencer Sanders and I’m the Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario. I’m responsible for hiring students for our campus roles as well as for hiring experienced candidates across Ontario, and I’m very excited to be answering your questions over the next hour!

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi! My name is Alex Martin and I am a first year accountant and CPA student at Grant Thornton in Halifax. I have spent a majority of my time in the assurance practice of our firm but have some experience in tax and working with local businesses. I am excited to have the opportunity to answer some of your questions today!

Comment From Paul Peterson
Hi my name is Paul Peterson and I’m a Senior Manager, National Talent Attraction and am responsible for the firm’s recruitment strategy across Canada.

TalentEgg
Thanks Krista, Blair, Spencer, Alex and Paul! Now to get things started, here’s our first question.

Vijeyta, a Business, Accounting and Marketing student at Sheridan College, asks:
“How does your organization support post-secondary students looking to get their ACAF designation?”

Comment From Paul Peterson
Hi Vijeyta. At this point in time, we are only exploring the applicability of incorporating ACAF graduates into our existing business model. As of today, we do not have a formal program that incorporates ACAF graduates. We have a few employees enrolled in the program and are closely examining their training and experience and how ACAF graduates could be pertinent in a firm-wide context.

TalentEgg
Noman, a student at the University of Guelph, asks:
“What is the best way to join Grant Thornton? I am not a co-op student and my school doesn’t have any liaison with Grant Thornton, but I admire your company and would love to learn about opportunities to work with your team.”

Comment From Paul Peterson
Hi Norman, We appreciate the fact that there are excellent students in both co-op and non co-op programs. And we hire many students each year from both streams. While we visit students at about 35-40 universities across Canada each year, there are many schools that we are unfortunately unable to visit. That’s why we try to connect in other ways, like this on-line chat session. But each year we hire many new graduates from schools that we are unable to visit. We seek out the best talent, irrespective of the school you attended. The best way to join Grant Thornton is to inform yourself about the firm, decide if it’s the right fit for you and, if it is, apply on-line to our open positions. The majority of openings for new graduates come available in late August/early September. You could set up a job alert on our careers site to receive automatic email notifications as new openings become available. In addition to our website, another way to learn more about the firm is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

TalentEgg
Marina, a Public Accounting major with a minor in Economics from the University of Toronto, asks:
“As a recent new grad, how can I start my career in an Accounting-related field?”

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Hi Marina, the best thing you can do is to network as much as possible! Try to attend as many events as you can and be sure to reach out to organizations you are interested in joining. Getting to know the people is an important step in deciding which firm is the right fit for you. Be sure to stay up to date with current opportunities and set up job alerts so you are automatically notified when new roles are posted that match your education and experience.

TalentEgg
Eman, a student at York University studying Finance and Business Economics asks:
“Where are all the places that I can find entry level job accounting job postings?”

TalentEgg
Great question, Eman! You can always check Grant Thornton’s employer page on TalentEgg to find new career opportunities that are tailored to students and new grads.

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Eman. Offices that have hiring needs for co-op and CPA positions can vary each year, so I encourage you to check our Student Careers section in August/September for our student positions.

TalentEgg
Saad, a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Alberta, asks:
“What does it take to be a top employee in your company? Are there opportunities for quick career advancement at Grant Thornton?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Great questions Saad – GT’s “top talent” employees are diverse. They have varied personalities, backgrounds, skillsets, etcetera. Some common traits are:

  • Genuine care for our clients demonstrated by getting to know their specific needs and servicing them to help them be as successful as possible
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills
  • Keen skills and work ethic
  • Self-awareness, initiative and willingness to invest in one’s own growth and work with the firm to achieve mutual benefit

Career advancement is strongly supported at GT. We are keen to grow, support and retain our next generation of leaders. There are structures in place to allow a fair and diligent approach to promotion/growth/development. Our approach is personalized as we believe each team member has a unique path to achieve their aspirations. Advancement opportunities are available quite quickly, especially at junior levels (typically an accountant is promoted in 2-3 years, given that performance is good and depending on the time of year that they joined).

TalentEgg
Rahul, an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at Wilfrid Laurier University, asks:
“When should I start looking on firm websites for job openings in general?”

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Hi Rahul. We typically post the majority of our new graduate opportunities late August. They will be posted on our careers website so be sure to set up a job alert so you are automatically notified!

TalentEgg
Carmen asks:
“In your personal experience, why have you loved working for Grant Thornton, and why did you choose to work there in the first place?”

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi Carmen! One of the main reasons that I love coming to work for Grant Thornton is the culture that we have here, both with your colleagues as well as the clients that we work with. Everyone has a similar mindset of balance between work life and social life that makes for a wonderful place to work. I feel that all staff here are very good at providing a variety of experiences for younger students and new hires which keeps the day-to-day job interesting and fun!

TalentEgg
Diyana, a student in Business at Humber College, asks:
“Does the Accounting field have job opportunities in other areas, such as Marketing, HR, or even Creative Design?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Diyana, thanks for joining us today! We have a wide variety of positions here at the firm! Be sure to visit our Careers website and set up a job alert if you are interested in a specific type of role!

Want to connect with Grant Thornton? Find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

TalentEgg
Hi Diyana! You can find Grant Thornton’s Career Page here.

TalentEgg
Barbara, an International Studies and Modern Languages student at the University of Ottawa, asks:
“How does one stand out amongst others with similar experience and education?”

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi Barbara, There are many ways to stand out amongst the crowd! I would encourage you to make connections in your local business community and attend networking events put on by your university, student networking events, etc. It also pays to be a well-rounded individual and have experiences outside of the classroom as well such as volunteering, social clubs, etc. that you would be able to apply to the job and culture here!

TalentEgg
Jafrin asks:
“Can students apply for jobs at GT while they are in their last semester at school?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Jafrin, that’s a great question! We strongly recommend that you apply to positions while you are in your last year if you are looking for a new grad opportunity. We post most of our new grad opportunities in mid to late August for the following year.

TalentEgg
Rishav, a graduate from McMaster University with a degree in Accounting, asks:
“Compared to when you started working in Accounting, what candidate qualifications have remained the same and what has changed?”

Comment From Paul Peterson
Hi Rishav, One of the things that has changed from years ago is today there is a realization that this is a relationship industry and that your ability to make and build meaningful business relationships is among the most important aspects of the business. It’s viewed today as a people business. Years ago it wasn’t viewed by everyone in that same light.

TalentEgg
Timothy, a BBA student at Wilfrid Laurier University with a major in Accounting, asks:
“What is one of the biggest reasons people choose to stay with Grant Thornton long-term?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Timothy, there are many answers to this question but a constant for myself and others is our People! I’ve personally been with Grant Thornton for almost 6 year and I’m excited for the next 6! We work in an environment where our people are our biggest resource and we want to work with successful, likeable and very talented people. But don’t take my word for it, my other colleagues would say the same, this year for the 9th year in a row, Grant Thornton was listed as one of Canada’s Best workplaces by the Great Places to Work Institute (and we continue to increase in ranking :)).

TalentEgg
We’re halfway through #OfficeHours, which means it’s time for a poll question! Make sure you submit your remaining questions so that they are answered in our remaining time.

What are you most egg-cited to learn about today?
  • Application and interview tips (30%)
  • What a day in the life at Grant Thornton is like (10%)
  • Entry-level job opportunities (50%)
  • Certification and qualification questions (10%)

TalentEgg
Shubham, a Business Administration student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, asks:
“What are some effective activities to participate in outside of work to develop professionally?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Shubham, my best advice would be to attend as many networking events as you can! Making connections early in your career is essential to building meaningful relationships long-term and really can help you in both your current and future career! Check out local workshops on topics that interest you and see what’s going on in your community!

TalentEgg
Sohaib, a Business Administration major with a specialist in Accounting at the University of Toronto, asks:
“What’s the best way to engage a recruiter on LinkedIn if you are looking to start your career in public accounting?”

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Hi Sohaib, That’s a great question. As you can imagine recruiters get inquiries from many aspiring students. When you engage a recruiter let them know why you are interested in joining the company and the skills you can offer. Your introduction shouldn’t be more than one paragraph.

TalentEgg
Anna, a student at Humber College, with a major in Bachelor of Commerce Accounting, asks:
“What kind of tips and training does Grant Thornton provide to new hires?”

TalentEgg
Hi Anna! Thanks for your egg-citing question. You might be interested in this article about the ways Grant Thornton supports new grads.

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Anna, Grant Thornton provides a lot of support to help you prepare for the CPA. We support our student by giving them paid days off as well as supporting them financially (modules and CFE). To help you prepare for the CFE we have developed a week long training course with Densmore! Another huge advantage is our formal and informal CPA mentorships in the firm, CPA students are aligned with a People Manager to help navigate on-boarding through the firm and as well as CFE mentorship and other great mentorship opportunities within the firm as well.

TalentEgg
Vincenzo, a student at Humber College pursuing an Accounting-Advanced Diploma, asks:
“In a company like Grant Thornton, will I have the chance to apply the skills I have developed using programs such as Quickbooks, Sage Accounting, and SAP databases?”

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi Vincenzo, Yes of course you can apply those skills! In our IBG (Independent Business Group) practice, clients often use more “off-the-shelf” accounting software like Sage and Quickbooks as you mentioned, as it can be cost-effective way of organizing their accounting records. SAP databases I know for a fact as well is the software used by the government out here in Nova Scotia and some larger companies with complex accounting systems will choose SAP or other database software which will allow them to better customization and reporting. All in all these skills would be able to be applied to many files that we work on here at Grant Thornton.

TalentEgg
Rajib, an Accounting student from the University of Windsor, asks:
“How does a graduate with minimal experience get a job with a firm? Is either hard calling or sending CVs to all firms a good idea, or is there a better way to find a job?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Rajib, the majority of our new grads are hired into the Assurance [Audit] stream here at Grant Thornton. To submit your application you will need to visit our Careers website and complete the online application. We typically request that you include your resume, cover letter and transcripts as part of the application process.

TalentEgg
Chelsea, a CPA student with CPA Ontario, asks:
“What is your advice to a CPA student on landing an interview with an established company such as Grant Thornton? What types of job opportunities does Grant Thornton offer CPA students?”

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi Chelsea, My main advice for you to land a job with Grant Thornton would be, as cliché as it sounds, to be yourself. We seek intellectual individuals who have well-rounded experiences outside of the classroom, and can work well not only with others within the office but with clients as well. My advice would be to showcase to our hiring team through recruiting sessions, and in your cover letter and resume, what you can bring to the table in addition to your school experiences, and can contribute to the culture that we and our clients love here at Grant Thornton. As for the job experiences that we can offer to CPA students, I think we do a really good job of providing students a well-rounded view on all the work that we complete. They really allow you to move around to the areas of our business based on your interests and want you to experience as much as possible as it builds on your knowledge for the next file. Grant Thornton also has an international reach, which has allowed students after getting their designations, to go and work with the firm abroad which is also an exciting opportunity.

TalentEgg
Dot, a major in Business Management with a minor in International Business at Lambton College, asks:
“I have a postgraduate certificate in Business Management-International Business and would love to pursue a career as an auditor. What are my chances at getting an entry-level role? (I have a B.Sc in Accounting)”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Dot, that’s a great question! We hire for a variety of types of roles and levels here at the firm. Based on the specific requirements the Recruiters will review all applications and assess them against the these as well as the specific attributes that the Hiring Manager is looking for in the successful candidate. Be sure to visit our site and submit your application for any position you are interested in!

TalentEgg
Vaishy, an Accounting major at the Schulich School of Business, asks:
“What does a stand-out resume look like to you?”

Comment From Paul Peterson
Hi Vaishy, A stand out resume would be able to focus on what makes you different from your peers, what you have to offer that others might not. Some cool things that I’ve recently include a word cloud to highlight key skills.

TalentEgg
Karthik, an Accounting and Financial Management student at the University of Waterloo, asks:
“Why would someone choose Audit, Tax or Advisory roles to specialize in? How do you know which area is right for you?”

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi Karthik, When you start off at Grant Thornton, most of us are hired into the audit practice as this provides us with a good foundation for our accounting skills. From there after working through our designations, there is an option to move around and choose the practice that interests you the most. I have found that with experience and from working on different files over the past year, you better solidify the area of accounting that interests you the most.

TalentEgg
Qahir, an Economics major with a Specialist in Accounting at the University of Toronto, asks:
“Can you tell me if there’s a difference between how many job opportunities one would have if they got a BA in Economics and then their CPA as compared to getting a BComm in Accounting?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Qahir, Thanks for your question, in terms of applying to a student CPA opportunity with Grant Thornton, as long as you have a degree and the pre-entry courses for CPA Canada, then it wouldn’t matter for in terms of the degree requirements.

TalentEgg
Luba, a student at Humber College studying Commerce Accounting, asks:
“What attributes do you look for in applicants? What stands out on a resume?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Luba, at Grant Thornton we look for well-rounded candidates. Here is an article from GT on what makes a great GT candidate. You can read the article here.

TalentEgg
Dawn, a student at Seneca College with a Bachelor of Commerce International Accounting and Finance, asks:
“How can I get a CPA mentor? I am attempting to become a CPA and have completed everything except the last few modules and the final exam. I am currently working as an office manager/bookkeeper, but I do not believe it will count for the experience requirements.”

Comment From Paul Peterson
Dawn, It’s likely that you’ll have to contact the CPA for a complete answer because I can only speak to how our mentors are assigned. I wouldn’t want to make a statement on behalf of the CPA. We assign a mentor that signs off on people’s work and monitors that they are progressing as they should be in the CPA program, including receiving exposure to work in all the right areas. We also assign another internal mentor that is focused on helping people prepare for and pass the CFE.

TalentEgg
Priscilla, a Queen’s University Commerce student, asks:
“What job opportunities are available for students who’ve recently graduated?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Priscilla, that’s a great question! We post new opportunities all the time here at the firm. Please ensure you visit our careers website and set up a job alert so you are automatically notified when a new role is posted that matches your interests and skillset. I would also recommend that you try to connect with as many of the local team members as you can by coming out to any campus events we host at your school!

TalentEgg
Robert, a Specialist in Public Accounting, with a minor in Economics at the University of Toronto, asks:
“What is the best way to network with potential employers?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Robert, I would encourage you to check with your university accounting society has any upcoming networking nights with CPA employers. Additionally, most cities usually have business networking societies (some geared towards the student and young professional crowd) that would provide an excellent opportunity to network and expand your circle!

TalentEgg
Izu, a Masters of Economics student at the University of Toronto, asks:
“Is an Accounting degree a requirement to join Grant Thornton?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Izu – An accounting degree is not a requirement, but completion of pre-entry courses for CPA and a degree is a requirement for our CPA student positions.

TalentEgg
Brice, a student at SAIT studying Accounting, asks:
“How do you view the new CPA ACAF program? Would you hire a student who completed a diploma and has an interest on the ACAF?”

Comment From Paul Peterson
Brice, The ACAF program only very recently went from being a pilot program offered by CPA Canada to one that is active. We have a few internal employees who are currently enrolled and we are assessing their training and overall experience, and its applicability to our current business model. Admittedly, we are attracted by the notion of students graduating with sound practical experience in some core tools that are widely used throughout our firm, specifically CaseWare and IDEA. The answer to your second question really depends on what we observe from the first few individuals who complete the program. We are currently exploring the idea of recruiting students and experienced professionals who have chosen to complete their ACAF, but I anticipate that any formal firm wide decision would not likely be made until later this year or in 2017.

TalentEgg
We only have a few minutes left of Office Hours. Remember, we’ll be publishing a transcript of this discussion on TalentEgg so you can refer to your questions and answers.

TalentEgg
Shuvendu, a student at Brock University, asks:
“My marks are subpar but I have a strong involvement in extra-curricular activities. I have also demonstrated great leadership and customer service skills in my current job. Will I be considered as a strong candidate when I apply to Grant Thornton?”

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Hi Shuvendu, It’s hard to say without looking at your transcript and resume. Extra-curricular activities and community involvement are important but so is the academic standing of our candidates. I would encourage you to apply and allow us to review your application.

TalentEgg
Urooj, a Commerce student in Accounting at Humber College, asks:
“What is the hiring process like at Grant Thornton, especially if they’re looking to get CPA training?”

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Hi Urooj, that’s a great question! The first part of the process is to ensure that you submit your application via our Careers website. After we have had a chance to review your application we will be sending out Digital Interview invitations to candidates. The Digital Interview process is something we’re really excited about here at the firm because it allows us to learn more about our candidates than we can find out just from your application! Following the digital submission we will be inviting candidates into our offices to formally interview with members of our Campus team.

TalentEgg
Saba, a student at Ryerson University, asks:
“If I have a minor in Accounting, is that enough to get an entry level job at Grant Thornton? If not, what can I do to better my odds, academically and outside of school?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Saba, depending on the role I’ve hired new team members without any formal accounting schooling, but not the norm for recent graduates. If you are looking for a CPA position with any firm there is a base of accounting courses you will have to complete via university or through your regional CPA institute, prior to hire. Course information can be located on CPA’s website. There are many ways to gain accounting related opportunities outside of the traditional employment scope – volunteering and interning with Not-for-Profits or during CRA Tax clinics in your local community are examples of these and it never hurts to be involved in your community.

TalentEgg
Stephanie, an Accounting student at York University, asks:
“How does someone starting in an entry-level position successfully merge the gap between what is learned theoretically in university and what is done practically on the job?”

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Thanks Stephanie, During on-boarding Grant Thornton has a host of training programs for our new CPA students to ensure that everyone is on an equal footing when starting their career with Grant Thornton. University and College accounting classes offer very practical and relevant base information to help connect and transition the technical side of our business and with our training programs we can ensure that our students are successful in their on-boarding with GT. From my perspective the larger challenges that student’s face when joining the workforce after their post-secondary education is the transition to work-life from student-life and balancing a full-time position with the challenges of studying and maintaining a balance.

TalentEgg
Wajiha, a specialist in Accounting with a major in Economics at the University of Toronto, asks:
“Can you please describe a day in the life of a Grant Thornton intern?”

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Hi Wajiha, Average day during my time as a co-op usually started by setting out a schedule of the timeline in which my files needed to be completed, completing financial statements for a variety of local businesses and working with my managers to make sure that we are delivering the best client service. Between engagements, there were many events that allowed me to spend time with other staff members at the firm from all levels and see a more social side of them and the firm.

TalentEgg
Parul asks:
“Where should I search for taxation jobs?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Parul, all of our current opportunities are listed on our Careers website at www.grantthornton.ca/careers! Be sure to set up a job alert so you are automatically notified when a new position is posted!

TalentEgg
Muhammad asks:
“In what way does Grant Thornton give back to the community?”

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Hi Muhammad, that’s a great question! Our teams are extremely involved in their local communities! Our Facebook page really captures how our teams get involved to make a difference! We also have the Grant Thornton Foundation which supports a number of charitable organizations!

TalentEgg
And that concludes this session of Office Hours. Thanks for your questions everyone!

We’d like to give an egg-stra special thanks to our guests from Grant Thornton. We certainly covered a lot of ground over the past 60 minutes.

Krista, Spencer, Blair, Alex and Paul, do you have any final advice to give our students and grads?

Comment From Krista Lamkey
Thanks everyone for joining today! We had a great time and encourage you to visit our Instagram account at @grantthorntoncareers to learn more about what life is like at the firm and to stay up to date with our current opportunities!

Comment From Spencer Sanders
Thank you everyone for joining today’s chat! It’s been great answering your questions today!

Comment From Blair Thompson, Atlantic Recruiter
Thanks so much for the questions everyone – it was great to connect.I encourage everyone to take a look at GT’s social media accounts (Twitter/Instagram/Facebook and LinkedIn) for more tips and information on what it’s like to work at GT. Feel free to add me on LinkedIn if you have more questions!

Comment From Alex Martin, Accountant
Thank you so much for taking the time today to get to know us here at Grant Thornton! My parting advice for those of you that would be try to get involved in all aspects of your business community! It was connections there from my co-ops, volunteer activities and relationships established during recruiting events that helped land me my position here at Grant Thornton. Experiences beyond the classroom I found are as important as the grades that you earn. Feel free to add me on LinkedIn! I would be glad to try to help answer any questions or have further discussions about Grant Thornton and what is like to work here. Thanks again!

Comment From Paul Peterson
Thank you to everyone for your questions.

TalentEgg
Be sure to look out for future events on our Office Hours page as well, and find career opportunities, articles, and more on the Grant Thornton employer page.

 

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Ready to start your career? Check out Grant Thornton’s Employer Page for more information!

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