Office Hours: Learn about Careers in Accounting with Grant Thornton

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On August 24th, we hosted an Office Hours online chat with Grant Thornton to answer your questions on how to become a successful student and new grad candidate. Check out our conversation!

TalentEgg
Hey students and new grads! Welcome to our Office Hours with Grant Thornton! My name is Akemi and I’ll be moderating our chat today.

Over the next hour, we’ll be taking your questions on how to join the Grant Thornton team-all you need to do is click on the chat box, put in your name and start submitting your questions for Grant Thornton’s egg-spert recruiters!

And now without further ado, I’d like to welcome our guest experts from Grant Thornton! Why don’t you all introduce yourselves?

Krista Lamkey – National Talent Attraction
Hi Everyone! My name is Krista Lamkey and I am the Manager, National Talent Attraction Team for the firm. I have had the opportunity to work with teams across Canada to hire talent at all levels of the firm! I’m very excited to be here today.

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!

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Hello! My name is Debra Nixon and I am the Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada. I am new to the Grant Thornton Family as I started in July of this year. My role gives me the opportunity to meet so many interesting and dynamic people; I am responsible for hiring students and experienced hires! It is an absolute pleasure to be here to today and I happy to answer any of your questions.

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario
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!

Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate
Hey everyone! Thanks for joining us today. I’m Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate. I joined Grant Thornton back in May and have been mainly focused on campus recruitment. Looking forward to hearing all of your questions!

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi! I’m the National Campus Consultant for the 2016 recruiting season and I will return to our assurance group this coming winter.

TalentEgg
Thank you so much everyone! Here’s our first question.

Hopiny, a Schulich Business student at York University asks:
“Within Assurance, how many industry specializations are there? Can we choose a specialization we prefer after we’re hired?”

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi Hopiny, within the assurance team in Southern Ontario, the industry specializations are broken down in the following categories-financial services, professional services, asset management, real estate, IT, manufacturing, distribution, food and beverage, mining, not-for-profit, independent owner managed businesses, and you will be able to choose your preferred specialization after your first year. We like our staff to have a wide range of experiences across the four main categories before choosing.

Duaa, a Biology major with a specialization in Accounting at the University of Toronto asks:
“What are the requirements needed to apply for a summer internship at Grant Thornton? Is it four months long? When and how can students apply?”

Blair Thompson – Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Duaa. Yes most summer internship/co-op terms are 3-4 months. Most of our offices post for summer student positions in January and early February, so I encourage you to keep checking our Student Career’s site during that time period: http://www.grantthornton.ca.

Hopiny, a Schulich Business student at York University asks:
What CPA service lines are available at Grant Thornton?

Krista Lamkey – National Talent Attraction
Hi Hopiny. We can hire directly into all service lines, but usually we only have positions available in Tax and Assurance.

Sanjeth, a student at the University of British Columbia asks:
“What are the distinguishing factors in choosing a career in Tax and Audit? Are there unique skill sets associated with each of them that set them apart?”

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi Sanjeth, it comes down to what you truly want and like. In both Tax and Audit, you will be facing clients and providing advice. If you know that Tax is where you want to take your career, then go right ahead with it so that you can begin your in depth tax courses as soon as possible. However, if you are unsure, I recommend that you start with audit and transition to tax later on as it may keep your doors open. Full skill set requirements are included on all of our job postings so my recommendation would be to visit our careers website and check out our current opportunities to learn more!

Kevin, a student asks:
What are some tips/strategies (ie keywords) or trends (ie specific resume format) that you’ve noticed on successful applications?

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario
Hi Kevin. We want to see a well-structured resume that highlights all of your skills and attributes. We want to see academics, work experience, education, extracurricular and community involvement. We don’t just focus on one area we look for a well-rounded resume.

Justin, an Accounting student at Brock University asks:
“What are some examples of independent and group tasks that co-op students need to complete during their work term?”

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi Justin. In each engagement you’ll have independent and group tasks. You will independently complete your assigned section with the support of your team when needed, and that will fit in with the rest of the field work to complete the engagement. You will be working with the team to ensure all tasks (big or small) are completed, and ensure that you are there to help out where needed. Vice versa, when you need assistance or advice, your team will also be there to work it out with you.

Rafena, a graduate asks:
I graduated in 2014. Would I still be eligible to apply for ‘new graduate’ positions?

Krista Lamkey – National Talent Attraction
Hi Rafena, thanks for joining us today! We would encourage you to apply to any position you are interested in via our careers website! You are eligible to apply to any position you are interested and the campus team would be reviewing your application to determine next steps accordingly!

Abdulrehman, a Business Management and Organizational Studies student at Western University asks:
“Are there any information sessions happening at Western University from your company any time soon?”

Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate
Hey Abdulrehman. Unfortunately, we are not hosting any information sessions at Western University. We do visit a lot of schools during the year, however we are unable to get to all of them – as much as we would like to! We try to reach out to students in other ways, such as this Talent Egg session. And we hire students from all schools, not just the ones we are able to directly visit. If you have any additional question and want to reach out – don’t hesitate to contact us through our social media pages! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a great way to keep in touch throughout the year.

Chriscelle, a Human Resources Management student at York University asks:
“How can a recent graduate increase their chances of landing a recruiter role within your company?”

Krista Lamkey – National Talent Attraction
Hi Chriscelle. As a recent graduate, the best thing you can do is to network. We do have an excellent team of in-house recruiters and at the moment do not have any openings but I would encourage you to visit our careers website to set up a job alert so you are automatically notified when a new position becomes available!

Shannon, an Accounting student at Mohawk College asks:
“What types of jobs are available for new graduates with a few years of experience?”

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi Shannon, after you have completed your first few years of service you will be provided with the opportunity to gain exposure into other service lines if this is something you are interested in via secondments. We also encourage our team to stay to update with current openings via our internal careers site and to let their coaches know which areas they are interested in. When an opportunity arises, you can submit your application and take your career in many directions!

Neal, an Accounting major at Redeemer University asks:
“What are the most important qualities for a prospective co-op student to have?”

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Hi Neal! Good question! Grant Thornton takes great pride in seeking out very unique and special Co-op students! We seek individuals with high academic achievements, confident relationship builders, students who are committed to pursuing the CPA designation, and individuals that can demonstrate the ability to analyze, and articulate complex data. At Grant Thornton we are committed to providing our students the development and mentorship required to assist in the completion of their academic growth and we look for individuals who show an aptitude for an ever changing environment.

Michelle, an Accounting and Financial Management student at the University of Waterloo asks: “What are the current opportunities available at Grant Thornton on the advisory side?”

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario
Hi Michelle. The majority of our new grads and co-ops are hired into the Assurance [Audit] stream, we look at this as great way for those starting out to learn the business and build a solid foundation of accounting skills. From their employees can look into other service lines they have interest in such as Advisory and look to explore a career in that sector. Within Advisory we have different branches such as Consumer Insolvency, Corporate Finance, Forensics & Dispute Resolution, Recovery & Reorganization as well as others. For more details on our services I would encourage you to visit our website.

Henry, an Accounting and Law double major at Ryerson University asks:
“What do you look for on resumes when looking at potential recruits?”

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Great question, Henry. What sets you apart? Grant Thornton is a firm full of dynamic and unique individuals. Of course we seek applicants with academic excellence, we also take great value in community involvement; as it is a large part of who Grant Thornton is, and we love to see individuals with the same passion! Show us how you balance work, school and extracurricular activities! Make yourself shine on your resume as it is your story.

Hopiny, a Schulich Business student at York University asks:
If you are going to describe the culture in one word, what would it be?

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Hi Hopiny, you have great questions! I would use the word ‘Family’.

Shahir, an Accounting student at York University asks:
“How would you describe the company culture at Grant Thornton?

Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate
Hey Shahir. Grant Thornton is all about “the people” – whether it be the employees working at the firm or the clients we serve. I only recently joined the firm back in May – and I can say I was welcomed with open arms. There’s an open door policy that was very evident right from the start – I never felt hesitant about reaching out to anyone for help or guidance. The people I work with make coming into work every day that much more enjoyable – there’s definitely a good balance of work hard play hard.

Max, a Biology major at Queen’s University asks:
“As a 4th year undergraduate student who is not in the commerce program, what is the best thing I can do in order to work for your company?”

Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate
Hi Max! If Accounting is something you are interested in pursuing, it’s never too late to upgrade your courses to meet CPA requirements. Always keep an eye on our current openings to see if anything pops up that meets your skill set. It’s also important to network! Keep an eye out for opportunities like this, as well as campus events to get to know Grant Thornton employee’s and learn about opportunities with the firm.

Alisha, a Business Administration student at the University of Guelph asks:
“Does Grant Thornton hire new graduates in each of its branches?”

Blair Thompson – Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Alisha. The short answer would be no. Many locations take students on each year, especially in larger markets such as Halifax, Toronto, St. John’s or Vancouver. Others may take a CPA student every 2nd year, or when a need arises depending on hiring needs locally.

Michael, an Accounting major at York University asks:
“What would make a student application stand out among other candidates?”

Blair Thompson – Atlantic Recruiter
Great question Michael. I’ve reviewed 1000s of resumes over my six years at Grant Thornton and this can be a hard question to answer as everyone’s work history, background and merits are different. I encourage you to try and keep your resume fresh by stepping out from pre-formatted and templated formats, while maintaining an easy to read format and layout. We have a lot of information about what Grant Thornton offers our students along with other information relating to the firm on our Student’s Career website (http://www.grantthornton.ca)- information from this website may give you more insight into the kind of hires we are looking for at Grant Thornton and in turn help make your application stand out!

Adrienne, a student asks: 
Do you ever hire interns for full time positions after their placements?

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario
Hi Adrienne. Yes we do hire some interns into full-time roles. It’s a great way for us to learn about students we are looking to hire; it also gives the student a chance to see if Grant Thornton is the place for them

Kevin, a student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology asks:
“What are the main differences between successful and unsuccessful applications?”

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario
Hi Kevin. We look for individuals who have well-rounded experiences. We look for candidates with success both in and out of the classroom. Academics are important to us when looking at application but so is seeing involvement in the community and the participation in extracurricular activities and clubs.

Kushal, a student asks:
“What advice would you give to a shy person going into an interview?”

Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate
Hi Kushal. There are things that you can do prior to the interview, as well as tips to remember during your interview to help you succeed and stand out. Make sure you’re going into the interview feeling prepared – taking an interest in the firm and communicating why it aligns with your personal interests will stand out to the interviewer. We really want to see your personality shine through. Coming into the interview prepared will also help you feel calm and confident! Body language is also very important in any interview – things such as eye contact, good posture and appropriate body language are little things you can do to demonstrate your confidence. We also have a wide selection of free eBooks now available on the Grant Thornton website – there are a few titles that relate to interview skills and graduate job search that you should check out! They would definitely be helpful.

Mariam, a Commerce student at the University of Toronto asks:
“As a recent graduate, how can I network and connect with your firm outside of information sessions hosted at universities?”

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Hello Mariam. We understand the difficulties of starting your career, finding the right firm and gaining the audience of a desired employer. One of our favourite methods to meet our local students is through our “Office Visits.” This is a fun and engaging way for our students to gain an inside peek as to what it’s like to work for Grant Thornton. Though our website Grant Thornton’s employer page we advertise in each of our local areas the opportunity to apply. This will give you the chance to meet our family, tour our office and gain meaningful insight into the “day to day” of our business, not to mention it is always a great time!

Nicholas, a student asks: 
How can I gain a competitive advantage in the interview process when I don’t have much work experience?

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Hi Nicholas. Many students have the same concern when it comes to minimal work experience. Employers respect that due to your age and stage in your career work experience may not be the number one highlight on your resume. Care for your community through volunteer work and aiding in programs is a very positive attribute. Involvement in extra-curricular activities highlights your ability to be a team player and shows commitment, as well as the ability to balance your academics and your personal life. Life is about balance and work history is only one aspect of who you are in the eyes of a potential employer.

Assif, a Commerce student at Ryerson University asks: 
My question is-can you tell me a little bit about the coach development program? Can you provide any examples as to how it helps associates reach their potential?

Blair Thompson – Atlantic Recruiter
Hi Assif. Insightful question! I am currently going through the coach development program myself at GT and I’ve been assigned a Partner from a different region then my own, which adds to the interest! I don’t have any examples, as the coaching program is confidential in terms of participation and guidance but I know from my experience that its helped me work through roadblocks in my development and help me see the bigger picture both in my personal and professional lives.

Komal, an Accounting student at York University asks: 
Hi, I am a 3rd year York U BAS Accounting major and would like to know more about the summer internship programs with Grant Thornton. When do you start interviewing?

Krista Lamkey – National Talent Attraction
Hi Komal, depending on the needs of the business units we will hire for summer positions from time to time outside of a formal summer internship program per say. These are posted as required on our careers website so I recommend that you set up a job alert so you are automatically notified when a new position becomes available.

David, a student asks: 
What does Grant Thornton offer that other accounting firms don’t?

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi David, Grant Thornton offers a lot, but two things that stands are the people you work with and the experience we offer. Whether we’re talking about our staff or clients, we have great people to work with. We have a wide range of clients that allows you to see full files to gain the best experience. We also encourage our staff to take on different types of clients in order to gain a well rounded experience before specializing, and from my knowledge, not every firm offers that.

Kevin, a student asks: 
How many applications (approximately) do you consider per job posting?

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Ontario
Hi Kevin. All application are reviewed by the recruitment team. We are always looking for the best candidates so we don’t put a number on how many applicants we are going to review for a posting.

David, a student asks: 
How flexible is it to switch between different specializations at Grant Thornton? For example switching between tax and assurance. Also is there a rotational program at Grant Thornton?

Blair Thompson – Atlantic Recruiter
Hi David. At Grant Thornton we encourage our team members ensure their People Manager and Scheduler are aware of any interests (e.g. types of client work, working in different offices, service-lines). We like to give our people different opportunities as they come up. Currently I have a couple of our Assurance Accountants spending time in Tax and Advisory this summer to gain experience and new skills.

David, a student asks: 
What are the most popular events for the employees at Grant Thornton.

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Hi David. I’d say the most popular event for employees would be the CFE party that we throw for the CFE writers. We throw a big party where everyone in the firm is invited, and it generally (all the time) takes place at a local bar. We also have a summer social that each office will do, Toronto office had there’s on a boat cruise around the Toronto islands last month where the staff were able to enjoy food and drinks on the water! Feel free to check out our Facebook Page- Grant Thornton LLP Canada.

TalentEgg
We’re almost at the end of today’s Office Hours! Before we wrap things up-do you have a final piece of advice for students and new grads hoping to join the Grant Thornton team?

Krista Lamkey – National Talent Attraction
Thanks everyone for joining us today! We really enjoyed having the opportunity to chat with you all today! Be sure to visit our Careers website in the coming weeks to view our campus postings and submit your application! We look forward to connecting back!

Blair Thompson – Atlantic Recruiter
Thank you all for taking the time to chat with us today! So many great questions, I really enjoyed the conversation. Enjoy the rest of your time off this summer before classes start again in September!

Brittany Copeland – Campus Associate
Thanks everyone for joining today’s chat! It was great connecting with everyone.

Michael Tam – National Campus Consultant
Thanks for having me today! There were some great questions being asked today, please check out our social media and career website for more info. The one piece of advice I’d like to give is, don’t give up! The whole job hunt process isn’t easy, but take to the time to assess if your application efforts are working (what is working, and what is not), make adjustments to your efforts and keep going! Good luck to you all!

Spencer Sanders – Talent Attraction
Thank you everyone for coming out today! Just remember when you’re going through the job application and interview process to be yourself!

Debra Nixon – Talent Attraction and Orientation Consultant for Western Canada
Thanks for coming out! Great questions! Enjoy the rest of the summer! Best of luck to you all!

TalentEgg
Wonderful! And that’s it for today! Thank you so much to our guest experts from Grant Thornton for joining us and thank you to our audience for being a part of our Office Hours with Grant Thornton. Make sure to bookmark our Office Hours page to sign up for future live online Q & A sessions with Grant Thornton and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest updates on how to hatch an egg-citing career in accounting!

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