Joanne (Year 1)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
Something I wish I knew earlier is the importance of networking and creating meaningful connections and taking advantage of mentorship programs that can lead to professional development or even job referrals. This is especially important since a major advantage of the University of Waterloo that contributed to my choice is the well-known co-op program. It allows students the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience in their field that they wouldn't be able to have in the classroom. However, with the co-op program, the application process can take quite a lot of time and work. Networking to build connections, getting involved to build up your resume and actually applying and interviewing all add more on top of your regular work load. Don't be afraid to join clubs and meet new people!
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
Before starting university, I was already leaning towards pursuing accounting and the AFM program offers the opportunity for an accelerated Masters program as well as a direct path towards a CPA designation. The program also offers other specializations and a path towards the CFA designation. Unfortunately, in the first two years, you don't really get any electives and all your courses are picked for you. This could be good if you're indecisive but it also doesn't really allow you to explore different interests early on. The AFM program had a reputation of being full of "snakes" or students who are two-faced, but for the most part, it's not really like that. Upper-years are always willing to answer questions and just want you to succeed. They were once in your shoes too.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience at university was getting bubble tea with my friends. It's a nice way to take a break from studying and clear my mind. In pandemic times, it's also a nice way to see friends despite the social restrictions.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst experience in university was the final weeks of my second term. Not only was I studying for upcoming finals, I also had a few final group presentations to complete for various courses. This was particularly annoying as due to the pandemic, some of my group members were in other timezones, making scheduling a huge pain and often forcing me to have to wake up early or stay up late.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
As someone who considers themselves introverted, the hardest part of my program is the social aspect. Networking is something that I struggled with as I didn't really know what to ask or talk about. After participating in networking events and info sessions, I was able to practice this skill and started to build confidence. Additionally, there were quite a few group projects. Something important I learned from this was being able to balance getting to know your teammates and actually working. Getting to know your group mates is great and befriending them is even better as you're more likely to enjoy the work if you're working with people you enjoy being around. However, it's also important to not get distracted and make sure you steer the conversation back to work-related before you get sidetracked for too long.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
My favourite course so far has been AFM 132 Introduction to Business Stages as it gave a general overview of business and allowed exposure to many aspects of business, such as entrepreneurship, marketing and human resources. The course was also relatively easy and the professor and TAs were all super friendly and helpful.