CPA Campus Ambassador Insights: How showing up made me stand out!

By Alana Palu, CPABC Douglas College Campus Ambassador

Photo from the Burnaby Board of Trade

The other day, while replying to one of my friends on Instagram, she said something that inspired me to write this post. I haven’t talked to this friend of mine in a while and was curious to know how she was doing on her last month of pregnancy. I asked her how she was feeling and how the baby was treating her. She asked me about school and work, and what she said next really stuck with me. Her exact message was “How are school and work going? You will get an awesome job after your graduation, you are popular on LinkedIn!”

After what she told me, I started to reflect on two things:

First, am I popular on LinkedIn?

And second, what did I do different to get where I am now?

I found the answer and it turns out to be quite simple: I showed up.

I don’t have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business. Although I was excited about the opportunity to go back to school to pursue a career I wanted, I had little knowledge about the accounting world. I knew I had to learn more. The first opportunity I had to inform myself was a year-and-a-half ago when CPA came on campus to talk about the program and the education required to become a Chartered Professional Accountant.

I was in my first semester at Douglas College and I asked some of my friends, who were taking introductory accounting courses, to go with me to the CPA information session, but I had little success. So, I ended up dragging another friend from a finance course to go with me instead.

The information I learned that day was important, but I also understood why I couldn’t convince my friends to go with me: it wasn’t crucial to attend the information session at that time. I could have waited until my third semester and it would not have changed anything in terms of becoming a CPA faster. However, by showing up to that event, I met my first two contacts at the Douglas Commerce and Business Association (DCBA): Ian Tecson and Daniel Wenzek. I was immediately curious to find out more about the club and how to become a volunteer.

I decided to join the DCBA by submitting an online application and was lucky enough to meet Katia Abondati, who was the treasurer at the time. She later referred me to work on registration for the March 2018 Accounting Night. The event leader of that event happened to be Ian Tecson, who still remembered me from the info session back in 2017 and gladly gave me the opportunity to work on his event.

After that, I volunteered at a few other events, led another accounting night, and finally became the DCBA treasurer after Katia left. Shortly after, I was elected to be the CPA campus ambassador for Douglas College and landed a job at the college career centre. I strongly believe the DCBA and CPA experience played a big role in their decision to hire me.

Being involved in the club has been a true blessing. Some of my activities to date includes leading events, giving oral presentations, inspiring students and attending a gala event together with the Douglas College president and directors.

Going back to my reflection, I can say that all my LinkedIn posts to date are somehow related to the volunteer work I do either for the DCBA or CPA. I truly believe that what differentiates me from other student right now was the simple decision I made almost two years ago to show up at that information session.

So why is showing up so important?

Showing up is essential to get exposure to opportunities. I got the opportunity to take two courses without even being registered, just because I showed up on the first day of class. I’ve heard of people who got hired simply because they showed up at the company’s office with their resumes.

I often get asked by students how they can volunteer and become involved in the club. My answer is always the same: we hold two bi-weekly meetings, just show up!