Accelerating a Career During Slow Times

Accelerating a Career During Slow Times

By: coopcom
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Accelerating a Career During Slow Times

By: Caroline Wakelin, SFU Business Co-op Coordinator

If you call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) during tax season chances are a Co-op student from Simon Fraser University will be answering your questions. CRA hires up to 70 SFU Co-op students each year, with many of those positions in the Client Services Division; a department whose primary role is to answer questions from the public at tax time. Business Co-op student Abid Shivji is one such student and he credits this Co-op work experience and a shaky economy for redefining his career direction.

Abid entered the Co-op program a year ago with a clear goal in mind: to gain work experience which would help him obtain his CA designation after graduation. However, since that time unemployment for youth has risen from 6.99% to 13.5% (BC Stats March 2009 Labour Report) thanks to a global economic downturn that has caused massive layoffs, flooding the market with downsized but highly skilled workers. Young people like Abid, who are about to enter the job market, are now forced to compete for entry level jobs side by side with these seasoned workers. It's not difficult to figure out who would be the preferred candidate in an interview situation.

Job uncertainty is one reason Abid is contemplating switching career directions. The second reason is he's really enjoying his time at CRA and wants to stay. The work environment is friendly and supportive and there are plenty of opportunities for advancement. In particular, Abid is thinking about participating in the Auditor Apprenticeship Program which trains university and college students to become auditors with the CRA. The program takes 12 months and at the end apprentices are appointed to auditor positions at a starting salary of $52,000, which is well above the provincial average for a new business grad. As an extra bonus, a year as an apprentice and two years in the subsequent auditor position satisfies the Professional Level Experience standard for the Certified General Accounting designation. Which means Abid would achieve his goal of obtaining an esteemed accounting designation after all.

University enrollment increases in a downshifting economy, as people race to retrain while waiting for the economic tide to shift. Adding Co-op to their academic studies allows students to keep one foot in the work place which not only gives invaluable job skills, but like in the case of Abid, opens up opportunities they might not ever have thought of or had access to.

Beyond the Article

Find out more and apply to join the Business Co-op Program.

Read more about other Business Co-op Students & Alumni.

Posted on October 30, 2010