Gaining soft skills: first work term perspective

Photo of Ceanna smiling outsideCeanna Aranha (she/her), a third-year Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) student, shares what her experience was like working at one of the Big Four accounting firms, KPMG, and how this co-op term has helped strengthen her soft skills and career knowledge!

Ceanna recently completed her first co-op term at KPMG as a Staff Accountant, where she worked primarily in auditing and taxing. For the first two months, she focused on doing audits for clients in the technology sector, like software companies. “Auditing is more like teamwork," says Ceanna. "Each person gets their task every day, and we go through all the financial statements of the company and use all these key performance indicators and different measures the company has, as well as the audit software where we input all the numbers and sort of go through everything. Then we have a session with the client where we can ask them questions where we feel like there could be any chances of a discrepancy, and then we give them a final report.”

For her final two months with the company, her projects shifted from working on audits to filing taxes. She worked on taxations in the Global Mobility Services department, where she helped with filing taxes for clients worldwide!

How do you think working at KPMG has helped with your personal development?

“Working at KPMG has really built my personality and has made me an all-rounder because of the opportunities we are given at the firm. Even as interns, they make our work equivalent to the full-time employees. It has not only built my soft skills, but it has also enhanced my knowledge because I learned so much about the career opportunities available in the business field.”

“KPMG, being a worldwide recognized company, has given us a lot of workshops and training so that we are more future-oriented and can become good leaders in the future. They give importance, immense support, and growth opportunities to pursue any professional designations in Accounting or Data Analytics, which is why I'm really grateful to them.”

What kind of soft skills did your co-op help you develop?

“Mainly, I felt like it helped me with communication and collaboration because I worked with a lot of new people every day and learned so much with them. Also, setting up meetings with clients and talking to them really built on those skills.”

“I feel like it also helped me with my leadership skills because just working on different team projects and getting the idea of how my seniors trained me and sort of how I could train others was really nice as well. These skills helped me pick up more volunteering positions when I got back to university. So, all of this was nice in a way, and it built my confidence overall.”

Ceanna mentioned two key competencies for the future of work; communication and collaboration. Learn more about these competencies in the Future Ready Talent Framework (FRTF).

Photo of Ceanna smiling while standing outside at nighttime.


How did you manage working with your deadlines?

“I think time management was key to handling the deadlines. [...] I set my goals every day and made sure I knew what tasks I had ahead of time, so like a to-do list. Because auditing is so busy, and that was the busy season time, I used to prioritize my work based on what was most important to what was least important. Whenever the manager gave me something, based on the urgency, I still worked on it and made sure I had time to do it properly and give them my best work. Mainly setting goals and ensuring I kept my time limits for each task.”

What is something you learned on your co-op work term that you will take with you moving forward?

“Something I learned that I would incorporate taking forward is being very open and not being afraid to talk to new people. Because, in your work life you come across different people from different sectors, who are so much more senior to you. Just being very open and networking with them is a nice way to get to know others, as well as to seek advice from them, which could be handy in the future. We never know, these connections can help us secure a job in the future. So, this is something I would take moving forward.”

What’s next for you?

“I'm looking forward to my next co-op term with them [KPMG] again, in a different field. So, auditing different types of clients compared to what I did in my first co-op term. Also, leaning towards the industry I look forward to working in in the future, which is finance, in terms of work experience. I also look forward to pursuing my CPA designation in the future.”

As Ceanna continues her work at KPMG, she is interested in exploring more of the advisory and consulting services offered by the firm. She also hopes to work in the financial services sector upon her return to the company.

  1. 2023 (57)
    1. November (6)
    2. October (5)
    3. September (4)
    4. August (6)
    5. July (6)
    6. June (6)
    7. May (4)
    8. April (4)
    9. March (9)
    10. February (3)
    11. January (4)
  2. 2022 (58)
    1. December (4)
    2. November (4)
    3. October (5)
    4. September (4)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (4)
    7. June (7)
    8. May (4)
    9. April (9)
    10. March (5)
    11. February (4)
    12. January (4)
  3. 2021 (39)
    1. December (4)
    2. November (5)
    3. October (4)
    4. September (4)
    5. August (6)
    6. July (6)
    7. June (6)
    8. May (4)