Learning to adapt to unpredictable environments

kristenphanFrom office to home, the new working reality amid COVID-19

To prospective UWaterloo students, I would like to share a recap of my Winter 2020 co-op experience as one that was very unexpected, yet valuable. The skills I developed as a student in the AFM program prepared me for the new working reality during my first work term. Two and a half months into my co-op term at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a GST/HST Auditor, the COVID-19 situation evolved, and the CRA began planning for a transition to working remotely. I am thankful that the CRA took the necessary steps in providing support and resources to keep employees and the community safe and I prepared to begin working remotely from home. Change is inevitable and these unprecedented times provided me with an opportunity to adapt to those changes. From a sudden change in the work environment and a major shift in work responsibilities, I learned to adapt to the new norm.

One of the main goals of GST/HST compliance audits were physical check-ins and constant communication with registrants at their physical locations. However, as a result of the lockdown orders set out by the province of Ontario, it was not possible to continue regular audit procedures. All audits were halted within the organization along with many other operations, as the CRA shifted its focus to aid in the COVID-19 support and fulfilling their vision of “putting people first”. Since my team was deemed non-essential, we were instructed to engage in online training material that focused on personal development and the CRA’s Values. My work responsibilities changed but I was able to strengthen my skillset through guided training. With the support of my team and the constant communication during weekly updates, I was able to remain accountable strengthening my skills as a prospective professional through leadership-focused training.

Because of the opportunity the CRA gave me, my first co-op work term was a truly valuable experience as it brought upon many changes and challenges. I learned that the most valuable trait an employee can offer is the ability to adapt to unstructured or unpredictable environments.

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