Making the most out of your electives

Tuesday, February 15, 2022
by Sakaria, AFM student

How elective courses helped me develop coding skills, improve my grades, and solve problems in the workplace

Photo of Sakaria

As my journey in Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) comes to an end, I have been reflecting on all the elective courses that have helped shape my experience.  Early on, I approached elective classes with caution, seeking out courses that wouldn’t threaten my cumulative average. However, this was the wrong approach since electives are designed to help students discover their interests and compliment or deepen their exploration of accounting, finance, and business in specific areas. I did not come to this epiphany until I took my first computer science course. Yes, I found the class hard, but more importantly it was rewarding and immediately beneficial. This experience inspired me to take AFM courses that incorporate coding into the subject matter and coursework requirements. 

As a result, I took AFM 344 (Introduction to Business Analytics), AFM 415 (Foundations of Data Mining), AFM 417 (Business Applications of Social Media Analytics) and AFM 416 (Predictive Analytics) along the way. These electives have helped me further my skills in coding in R and Python and given me a chance to work on fun projects. For example, in AFM 417 we used R to scrape Twitter and Reddit text posts to determine if a topic has negative or positive sentiment over a period of time. Ironically these courses have increased my average much more than the original “bird” course. The reason being I was interested in the content more than I was in getting a high mark.

These courses were also crucial in helping me secure and excel in my co-op work terms. During a work term at Transport Canada, I used Python to help my team automate rail and air productivity indicators. Like in any organization, source data files are ‘noisy’ and prone to errors, as they are often updated manually and include not enough or not entirely the ‘right’ data. I was able to automate source file updating using Python, saving the team time and ensuring the process was consistent and free of errors. 

If I can give my first-year self any tip, it would be to look at the descriptions of elective courses to see if the material speaks to my interests and could help me on my work terms. Had I done that, I would have picked more courses that align with my interest in data science and business analytics. If I were in first or second year right now, I would definitely pursue a secondary Career Specialization in Business Analytics.