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Writing Portfolio

This first piece is the executive summary from the trend analysis assignment.  I was proud of how that assignment turned out.  The summary itself was written very quickly to replace a previous summary that did not truly reflect the content of the report.  This piece reflects my ability to read something and succinctly summarize its’ contents under pressure.

 

This report is the analysis of the trend towards B corporation certification.  B Lab, the non-profit organization leading this movement sets high standards of social and environmental standards, to unite progressively minded organizations.  B corporations have seen study growth on a global scale since their initial inception in 2007.  Their popularity has come from a desire to move beyond the bottom line as the sole purpose of business and become more inclusive of all stakeholders.  The effect of this movement has been positive and is contributing to its continued expansion.  The reader is encouraged to look beyond this analysis by exploring the many recommended resources.  This report strives to present the impressive growth of this business model and emphasizes the importance of preparing yourself for a business environment that values true social change.

 

Second, I have decided to include my response to a discussion post regarding discourse communities.  In this instance, I am responding to the post of a peer with whom I share the discourse community of accounting students at Fleming College.  I chose this post because it showcases my ability to absorb the writing of another and provide feedback that could assist them in building on their content.  I reinforce my point by citing specific examples.

 

Andrea, you did a great job introducing our discourse community.  You captured our goals, demographics, mechanisms of communication, and accounting specific jargon very well.  You have certainly made it clear that accountants share vocabulary that make it difficult for the outside world to understand what we are talking about.  However, much of the terminology you introduced could be applied to any accounting program.  Can you think of anything more specific to our class?  My first thoughts are some of Dale’s rules.  For example, Dale’s rule of inventory, “if we don’t have it, we must have sold it.” My point is that our norms for classroom communication in the accounting program vary due, in large part, to our unique experience with our instructors.  They have shaped the way we talk about accounting in ways that make our discourse community at Fleming different from others and I think that is something worth exploring.

 

Third, I present you with a blog post.  This post highlights my ability to be reflective in my writing.  I am particularly proud of this post because it summarizes my experience entering school as a mature student and reflects on the time I have spent at Fleming.  It also sets up my remaining blogs by acting as an introduction to a series posts that examine the experience of an accounting student entering the current job market.

 

After an extended hiatus, my blog contributions have returned with a new focus.  Rather than discussing my current employment, I’ve decided it would be more productive and worthwhile to write about where I’m headed professionally.  This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I will talk about my experience as I transition from one job to another.  Today, we began with a look at my return to school.

The accounting program at Fleming College is not my first post-secondary education experience.  I’ve been a student at Trent University off and on (mostly off) for years.  At times, when I realized I was going to drop out again or when I questioned where a degree would take me, I would often browse the programs offered at Fleming to see if anything jumped out at me.  I would usually investigate a few things and then decide that pursuing something completely different was a bad idea.  This was because it appeared as though it would be too much of a time commitment or too much of a departure from what I was already studying (French and history).

Late in the fall of 2015, I was browsing the Fleming course calendar once again and I noticed the accounting program for the first time.  I found the course content to be interesting and decided to investigate the job prospects that would be available if I were to enrol.  I was encouraged by the availability of employment for people with accounting backgrounds, but even more pleased with the variety of employment available.  The idea of being able to chart multiple career paths made this field even more appealing and so I decided to apply.

By the time I applied it was already December and the program started in January, so I was a little nervous that the application might not be processed in time.  I felt particularly bad for whomever had to go into storage to find the paper copy of my high school transcript from 2002.  Somehow everything came together and after spending the holidays thinking it over, I decided to accept Fleming’s offer into the accounting program.

Although I did do some research before enrolling, signing up for Fleming did feel like an impulsive decision at the time.  I’m single, own a house, and had just bought a new car.  So, I have financial obligations and no one to fall back on.  I was going to have to continue to work full-time which I knew would be challenging on top of a full-time academic schedule.   I was also concerned with the fact that I am a mature student.  I asked myself how I would connect with what I assumed would be much younger students.  On top of all this, I had a long history of dropping out of school and was worried that I would end up leaving, as I had done so many times before.

My concerns were overcome early in the program.  On the first day, I quickly realized that there was a great range of ages among my peers and I didn’t stick out as I feared I would.  I was able to juggle my work and school schedules and was even doing well in terms of grades.  By the end of the semester, I hadn’t missed a class and had an average of 97%.  Evidently my behaviour had changed and I was feeling very confident that I would be seeing this program through to the end.  This made me more optimistic about the future.  I became more curious about where I was going to end up professionally and how best to get there.

The following blog entries will look at what I’ve found out what I will do once I leave Fleming, trends in the accounting field, and an experience I had taking part in an accounting case competition.

 

Still a lot to learn

This semester, I was fortunate enough to be able to represent Fleming at the 2016 Ontario College Accounting Case Competition.  The competition took place at Humber College’s downtown campus on Saturday, March 25th.  Twenty-two teams of three students from thirteen Ontario colleges took part in the day long event.  The way it works is teams are place in room with a case that presents a scenario with a dilemma that requires a solution.  Teams are given two hours to examine the case, determine a course of action, and create a presentation for a panel of judges.

The competition allows participants to pool their knowledge in determining not just the quantitative aspects of the scenario, but the qualitative aspects of any actions proposed as well.  Working under pressure; creating and giving a presentation; and networking with peers are just some of the advantages of taking part in the competition.  On top of all the experience to be had, transportation, a night in a hotel, and all meals were covered for by Fleming.  It all sounds great, but I had absolutely no interest in going.

The competition required knowledge of subjects that aren’t taught until third year, which put me at a disadvantage. It also required a great deal of preparation and practice, in which I was not interested in investing any time.  Worst of all, I was going to have to take a weekend off work.  I approached this experience with a great deal of negativity and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I had an amazing day.  I think a lot of the negativity I was experiencing had to do with the anxiety I was feeling about the pressure of performing in an environment in which I was not comfortable.  Once my team had completed our two hours in lockdown with the case and given our presentation we felt amazing.  We were very pleased with how we performed and all agreed that we would take part in future competitions should the opportunity present itself.

Aside from the more obvious intended learning experiences of the competition; I came away with a great deal more.  I learned that I should be open to new experiences.  Something that I thought I already was.  I also learned to better recognize my true reason for feelings of trepidation when in situation where I am not completely comfortable.

I came away from the competition with greater confidence, appreciation for my program coordinator, and an appetite for new experiences.  Including the university version of the competition when I’m at Trent next year.

Trends in Accounting

A major consideration when entering a new field of employment should be current and forecasted trends.  The trend analysis assignment in COMM 202 got me thinking about this and I decided to do some research about how the accounting profession is changing and what it is expected to look like in the future.  I found a great deal of helpful information in Andrew Marder’s article, 5 Accounting Tech Trends for 2017 and will refer to it throughout this post.  I will be looking at how these trends will affect my approach to the industry and what I can expect my future workplace to look like.

Not surprisingly, accounting professionals are expected to make greater use of technology in the future.  Accounting and spreadsheet software have already simplified many tasks and reduced the number of hours once required to complete complex calculations.  Advancements in technology are expected to streamline the process even further.  For example, instead of having to hand in receipts and invoices to a bookkeeper for data entry, you will soon be able to simply scan the item with your mobile device.  The software will be smart enough to make all the required entries in your books quicker and with greater accuracy than your bookkeeper could.

Another major shift is the movement from desktop based accounting software to cloud based software.  As Marder points out, using the cloud: requires less upkeep, offers better security, and gives you and your clients better access to financial data (Marder, 2017).  Greater accessibility and utilization of technology that can take care of the bulk of quantitative work will free up a lot of the time that accountants could previously use to rack up billable hours.  Marder believes that an increase in free time will push accountants will take on a role resembling that of a consultant.

This was a sentiment echoed by Robert Gauvreau, a local accounting firm owner, in a talk he gave to my accounting class.  He explained that the industry is shifting away from billing clients based on the hours spent crunching numbers for them.  Instead, there is more a focus on charging clients based on the value-added benefit you provide to their business through advice and consultation.  This means that greater interaction between accountants and their clients will be necessary moving forward.

That is encouraging news for me.  Until now, almost all my work experience has been in the restaurant industry.  I felt that I was at a disadvantage because my experience as a server did not provide me with what I had perceived to be relevant experience in the field of accounting.  I now see that my years of customer service experience will be an asset in many accounting positions.  I have spent over 15 years building and maintaining relationships; resolving issues; and providing excellent customer service.  Based on current trends I believe that this is something that future employers will be looking for.

By looking at the trajectory of the accounting industry I have better prepared myself for my future career.  I now know where I need to focus my education to meet the needs of employers.  But, more importantly, I’ve learned how to market myself and my experience to potential employers.  Looking at trends has made me more confidant in my ability to sell myself upon entering the job market.

 

References

Marder, A. (2017, January 25). 5 Accounting Tech Trends for 2017. Retrieved from Finance Software: http://blog.capterra.com/5-accounting-trends-for-2017/

What Next?

In my last entry, I discussed my experience re-entering the academic world as a mature student pursuing a diploma in accounting.  This post will look at the options that are available to me know that I am coming to the end of the program.

When I first started school in January of 2016, the options available to someone entering the accounting field seemed like an overwhelming haze in the distance.  With so many avenues to pursue, it was difficult to pick a direction.  Should I start looking for jobs immediately after graduation or spend more time in school?  With a 2-year diploma in accounting, job prospects are limited.  You could find work as a bookkeeper or in a junior accounting position, but the possibility for growth is limited without more education.  I have somehow developed some ambition in my time at Fleming and decided that this wasn’t good enough for me.  I decided that I would either need to enrol in the third year of the accounting diploma or utilize the transfer agreement between Fleming and OUIT and go back to university.  Attending OUIT would mean travelling to Oshawa which made it a less attractive option.  Just as I had decided to stay at Fleming for a third year and then re-enrol a Trent University, a new transfer agreement was announced.  Trent now recognizes the 2-year diploma as the equivalent to doing your first two years at Trent.  This means upon graduation I can enter the third year of Trent’s business administration program.  This was great news and became my plan almost immediately.

A university education is essential for reaching senior positions in the accounting field. In 2016, Canada’s various accounting bodies merged into one creating the Charted Professional Accountant designation.  To earn a CPA designation a university degree is required.  This helped cement the fact that to be able to advance I would need a degree.  Spending time in university will also allow more time for me decide what type of work I would like to do exactly.  Finance, manufacturing, government, and public accounting all have their pros and cons.  I look forward to being exposed to more information about these various paths to help me determine what direction I will take.

I’m not as focused as would like to be, but I do feel as though I have some direction and that it will become more clear to me in the next year or so.  I take comfort in knowing that although I still don’t know where I want to end up, I now have a better idea of how I’m going to get there.  As strange as that sounds.

Reflections of a Mature Student

After an extended hiatus, my blog contributions have returned with a new focus.  Rather than discussing my current employment, I’ve decided it would be more productive and worthwhile to write about where I’m headed professionally.  This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I will talk about my experience as I transition from one job to another.  Today, we began with a look at my return to school.

The accounting program at Fleming College is not my first post-secondary education experience.  I’ve been a student at Trent University off and on (mostly off) for years.  At times, when I realized I was going to drop out again or when I questioned where a degree would take me, I would often browse the programs offered at Fleming to see if anything jumped out at me.  I would usually investigate a few things and then decide that pursuing something completely different was a bad idea.  This was because it appeared as though it would be too much of a time commitment or too much of a departure from what I was already studying (French and history).

Late in the fall of 2015, I was browsing the Fleming course calendar once again and I noticed the accounting program for the first time.  I found the course content to be interesting and decided to investigate the job prospects that would be available if I were to enrol.  I was encouraged by the availability of employment for people with accounting backgrounds, but even more pleased with the variety of employment available.  The idea of being able to chart multiple career paths made this field even more appealing and so I decided to apply.

By the time I applied it was already December and the program started in January, so I was a little nervous that the application might not be processed in time.  I felt particularly bad for whomever had to go into storage to find the paper copy of my high school transcript from 2002.  Somehow everything came together and after spending the holidays thinking it over, I decided to accept Fleming’s offer into the accounting program.

Although I did do some research before enrolling, signing up for Fleming did feel like an impulsive decision at the time.  I’m single, own a house, and had just bought a new car.  So, I have financial obligations and no one to fall back on.  I was going to have to continue to work full-time which I knew would be challenging on top of a full-time academic schedule.   I was also concerned with the fact that I am a mature student.  I asked myself how I would connect with what I assumed would be much younger students.  On top of all this, I had a long history of dropping out of school and was worried that I would end up leaving, as I had done so many times before.

My concerns were overcome early in the program.  On the first day, I quickly realized that there was a great range of ages among my peers and I didn’t stick out as I feared I would.  I was able to juggle my work and school schedules and was even doing well in terms of grades.  By the end of the semester, I hadn’t missed a class and had an average of 97%.  Evidently my behaviour had changed and I was feeling very confident that I would be seeing this program through to the end.  This made me more optimistic about the future.  I became more curious about where I was going to end up professionally and how best to get there.

The following blog entries will look at what I’ve found out what I will do once I leave Fleming, trends in the accounting field, and an experience I had taking part in an accounting case competition.

Knife!

In some environments hearing a person yell the word “knife” may give you cause for concern, however, in the restaurant industry it is just one of many exclamations used to simplify communication between coworkers.  In this case, “knife” is shouted to let everyone know that someone is walking around with a sharp object and you had better pay attention to avoid be being stabbed.  One word warnings are just one part of the discourse community shared by restaurant workers, hand gestures, short forms, and endless jargon are also employed.

Although somewhat transferable, the language used by this community does vary between restaurants, but is always developed and used with the goal of creating an efficient and safe experience in a fast-paced environment.  The uninitiated do not always embrace the terminology of their new workplace, often because it does feel silly at first, but they quickly join the program after an incident occurs.  For example, failing to yell “corner” while rounding a blind thoroughfare and ending up wearing a plate of spaghetti.  Some of our communication may even be misinterpreted as hostile if witnessed by someone from the outside.  For example, a manager locking eyes with a server from across the restaurant and following it up by making a throat slitting motion with their finger.  While a restaurant patron might find this scene horrifying, the server on the other hand will often receive such a gesture with glee because it means they are “cut” and are now free to go home for the night.

Having worked in the restaurant industry for over 16 years, I look forward to the opportunity to share my reflections on the importance of a common language between coworkers.  As well as exploring the dynamics of the interactions between back of house, front of house and management