The Importance of Experiential Learning

Hanning Cai It’s no secret that the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is one of the best of its kind in the country. The Accounting and Financial Management program (AFM) and the Master’s of Accounting programs offer so many courses in accounting, tax, financial management, and more. The large variety of courses is what I loved the most about SAF. It allowed me to select courses that I was most interested in and learn about specialized topics. This was vital to my success in the Common Final Examination (CFE) because it allowed me to develop the competencies I needed. However, at the end of the day, I believe it was really my co-op experiences that helped me most.

Co-op allowed me to put in to practice what I was learning. During my educational career, I found that after a period of time the knowledge that I learn in school fades, but actually being able to apply what I learn in real-world situations (like on co-op work terms) helped me remember those concepts permanently. Thereby when the exact same concepts appeared on the CFE I had no fear of my ability to perform them accurately.

For my work terms, I spent a lot of time focusing on personal and corporate tax. I had to learn how to prepare tax returns, audit tax provisions, write tax memos, and conduct research into the Canadian Revenue Agency and the Income Tax Act. Once I realized that tax was something I was really interested in, I began to take all the tax courses I could during my time in my undergraduate and master’s to help me succeed. Now, I work full-time in corporate tax at KPMG and looking back, those courses were extremely helpful. I plan on sticking with tax, and I want to go through the in-depth tax program offered by CPA Canada in order to obtain a senior tax position eventually. It’s important to note that I never would have known this if it were not for SAF courses, co-op, and my success on the CFE!

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