How the Fellowship Program has Prepared me for uncertainty and risks

Monday, March 1, 2021
by Zareen Z., AFM student

Learning and receiving support and guidance from various alumni

When I started school at the

Photo of Zareen Z
University of Waterloo, I would have never imagined that I’d undergo an entire program change and come into the field of accounting and finance from electrical engineering. Switching into an entirely different faculty, along with having to undergo an intense, competitive transfer process, was definitely a challenge that my high school self would have been sweating just thinking about it. I was never one to take risks and deviate from traditional routes. However, my decision to switch programs proved worthwhile, as it made me more confident in stepping outside of my comfort zone. This specific trait has proven helpful in my academic career as I find that it opens more opportunities than I may have initially expected.

Flash forward to (thankfully) getting into the Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) program, I learned about the Fellowship Program. While the program offered amazing opportunities, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was set out to be successful within it – connecting with an Honouree sounded daunting, the responsibilities seemed way too important, and in general, self-doubt creeped in. However, forcing myself to remember how far I had come within my university career so far, I submitted an application, leading me to where I am now.

Not only has the Fellowship Program genuinely aided me in improving many of my soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, and even leadership, but it has allowed me to form long lasting meaningful relationships with other peers and mentors. These alumni were in my shoes just a few years ago – so seeing what paths they took in helping them reach where they are today, is not only inspiring but also motivating as a current student. Through various conversations with different Honourees, they continually talked about the concept of uncertainty you can plan out your life as much as possible, thinking you’ll end up in a certain field, position or job, however you never truly know what opportunities the future has in store, and most times you find yourself doing what you would have never imagined – I’ve experienced this first hand, from switching into an entirely different program, and it only makes me wonder about what will happen in a few years time. Furthermore, hearing the alumni talk about how grateful they are to have taken the risks they did, such as going from graduating within an accounting role and entirely switching over to finance, or building up their own start-up when they had thought they would continue working at a Big 4 firm post grad, reaffirms my now evolved mindset of how risks should ACTUALLY be taken – sure, sticking to a traditional route is the safer option, but that limits us from other potential opportunities and experiences. Thankfully, the Fellowship Program and the various interactions with alumni and mentors, has prepared me for uncertainty and further fueled my curiosity in being able to take risks, and I’m truly excited to now see what the future holds!