Trial and error: finding your passion through co-op

Hannah Teetzel (she/her) is a fourth-year Math and Business Administration student. In her blog, Hannah discusses finding her passion through unique co-ops, learning from all her experiences and the importance of being there for one another in the workplace.

Hannah's co-op journey:

Hannah Teetzel headshot

Work term one: At the Secretariat, Hannah worked as an accounting intern with the damages and forensic investigations team. Her role was very research heavy as she engaged in a lot of quality checking of reports and entry-level work.

Work term two: Hannah’s second work term was at BDO. Here, she helped with small business valuations. Coming from a huge legal firm to a smaller team helped her refine her valuation skills and become more familiar with processes.

Work term three: At Framework VC, Hannah worked as an accountant. Since it was a startup she wore many hats, taking on marketing work and designing slide decks for investors.

Work term four: Hannah returned to the Secretariat for her final eight-month co-op term. As a final work term student, Hannah was given increased responsibilities and even met with the lawyers and clients regularly. She got deeper into the model-building process and helped plan events which help the community.

Q&A with Hannah:

What challenges did you face during your co-op terms?

“Not beating myself up during the co-op process. My first work term was during the summer of COVID and I remember really feeling bad when I didn’t get a co-op. A few of my peers got positions through their pre-existing connections but I didn’t get one.”

“People should realize that this is normal and they don’t need to worry too much about it. If you’re in a position where you can take a role that you’re unsure about, remember that it’s only four months. In the grand scheme of things, you can do anything for one term. You’ll learn a lot more on the job than by doing nothing.”

“My aunt always tells me to cast my net wide because then you catch as much as you can. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find a co-op, but at the same time work really hard and utilize your connections.”

What has been your biggest learning from co-op?

“When you go into co-op, you need to realize that you don’t know everything. I am a perfectionist and this was a challenge in a new environment. So, going into the working world, I was a little shell-shocked because everyone knew so much more than me. It was very nerve-wracking. But it’s important to remember that the reason that we’re in co-op is to learn.”

“The reason we’re there is so people can help us extend our learnings further. My boss at BDO used to say, “It’s better to talk to someone than to grind your gears”. It can be frustrating sitting there for an hour, working hard to break through a problem. It’s okay to go to your boss and say, “I don’t know what I’m looking at and I need some help.” You’re not there because you know everything, you’re there to learn.”

What advice do you have for someone looking for their first co-op?

“I’ve gotten a lot of insights from my sister who is working in campus recruiting. If it’s your second time applying and you haven’t necessarily bettered your resume from the first time, try taking a course. For math students, Wall Street Prep has amazing financial modelling courses to help you grasp how to use Excel. Just taking a course or doing something on the side to better yourself always helps.”

“Another thing is to put yourself out there and take risks. Email people, say hello, introduce yourself and go to events. I remember in my first year, I didn’t really apply myself. What really helped my résumé was putting my small business on it, I could showcase transferable skills from other ventures. Add anything that shows your willingness to learn and take risks. People who have passion and show that drive can be taught.”

What did you really enjoy about the culture at Secretariat?

“It was a workspace where deadlines are unavoidable - to both lawyers and clients. What I like about the culture here is no one man is left alone. There are often times where we work later hours simply because the work needs to get done. We’re always there for each other and we’re always willing to lend a helping hand.  It made me feel like I was part of a family. I knew people have my back and were more than willing to help when I needed it.”

Hannah Teetzel standing in front of Secretariat logo


What do you do to stay organized?

“My calendar is my best friend - it’s synced to all my devices, so I’m notified about everything. Every morning when I wake up, I also write a to-do list. Being a part-time student, and working part-time at the Secretariat, I have two different schedules to juggle. Having everything in writing for me to look at really helps.”

“I always connect with the person I am working with at the beginning and end of the day. At the beginning to discuss what needs to be done, at the end of the day I make sure everything was done.”

What’s next for you?

“A lot of travel, for one. My partner and our best friends have planned a big graduation trip. I’m also working towards some professional designations. I want to get my Certified Business Valuation designator first and then work towards my Certified Public Accountant certification. I’m excited to return to Secretariat as a full-time employee and expand my learning. I’m constantly reading and listening to podcasts to extend my career and live my personal life.”

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