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CPA Ontario’s Success with Campus and Student Engagement

The team at CPA Ontario are made up of the brightest educators, thought leaders, regulators, advocates and providers. They go the extra mile and often take measures to protect the public interest by ensuring their CPA members meet the highest standards of integrity and expertise. Additionally, CPA Ontario provides pathways to the profession for aspiring accountants from around the world, and engage in their community as responsible corporate citizens.

However, when it comes to the accounting profession and specifically the CPA designation with regards to the kinds of careers it can lead to, there are still many misconceptions regarding the industry. CPA Ontario has many resources that dispel these myths about CPAs working with excel all day or being stuck in a cubicle, and host their biweekly information sessions where students can learn more about how the CPA can lead to a successful career in business.

Anyone can register here: https://www.cpaontario.ca/become-a-cpa/post-secondary-student/events to attend an information session and learn more about the future of accounting, finance, general business, and how the CPA can help anyone reach for their dreams.

Keep reading to learn more about how CPA Ontario solidifies their initiatives in campus engagement, diversity, equity and inclusivity, and how they successfully navigate connecting with students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CPA Ontario’s Support for Student Community Engagement

At CPA Ontario, they hold a lot of pride in their Post-Secondary Ambassador Program (PSAP) and Board of Ambassadors Program, especially regarding the strong community of students they have fostered. The CPA Ontario community has explored careers in business, built relevant skills that employers are looking for in successful candidates, and have connected with key employer stakeholders.

Their Post-Secondary Ambassador Program and Board of Ambassador Program have been successful ways for us to engage student voices in their space. Additionally, their Board of Ambassador representatives act as an advocacy and advisory group for their recruitment team, which ensures they keep their pulse on student needs. In terms of creative ways to get CPA Ontario’s message out, they try to meet students where they are at; whether it’s through a new series of Instagram lives and takeovers, or by hosting their Live @ the Drive-In movie night (with lots of popcorn of course). As CPA Ontario moves towards a hybrid of in-person and virtual, some of these tactics may change, and so now CPA Ontario is asking themselves new sets of questions on how to continue to support student career paths.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in the Accounting Industry

At any organization, DEI and related initiatives should mean that all people should have a seat at a table, and that their voices are heard. It was important to the CPA Ontario team last year that their online programming continued to drive inclusivity, making their events accessible to wider audiences geographically and representationally.

At CPA Ontario, events are frequently hosted throughout the year. To name a few initiatives, they partner with agencies to reach new audiences, hold events specific to niche groups, and ensure all their participants are made aware that accommodations will be supported.

3 Key Insights Into Campus Recruitment and Student Engagement with CPA Ontario

Trend 1: Students have no shortage of aspiration, for themselves or for the world. Yet, they are easily discouraged by the realities and threats of post-academic life.

So, they ensure that they don’t ever shy away from the tough conversations whether it be in a recruiter’s presentation or panel discussion with CPAs. The CPA Ontario team addresses the fears students’ have about the future of AI, work-life balance, and others in open discussions, so students feel equipped when they begin their careers.

Trend 2: The next generation of students will be going to be looking for more flexibility and the ability to have influence/make an impact in their future careers.

So, they highlight the many diverse career paths that their current CPAs are in so students can envision themselves in similar paths. Through their programming, they also share how CPAs reimagined their careers to create their own unique paths, to inspire students who aspire to do the same. They also provide forums of discussions and facilitate opportunities for students to connect with these professionals to form their own relationships.

Trend 3: Employers are finding there are human skills gaps when hiring new grads.

So, they provide training in important human skills like leadership, responsibility, personal management, and emotional intelligence to name a few. As CPA Ontario is also a regulator, it is important to the recruitment team that they are equipping future CPAs to be valuable leaders, employees, and entrepreneurs.

The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effect on Campus Engagement

The pandemic resulted in the CPA Ontario team doing things differently. They had to reimagine their offerings to provide enhanced online experiences. For example, their Employment Connections Career Fair which was once limited because it was held in Toronto and in-person, can now have any number of students across Ontario attend.

The most rewarding aspect has been the feedback from their post-secondary students who have thanked us for the online community of students they built, during a time that many of them felt very isolated at home. The CPA Ontario team gave students a space to connect with each other, gain new skills, and meet CPAs, all while having fun!

The most challenging aspect was probably at the beginning of the pandemic when the team would ask each other how they would do all that:

  • What platforms would they use?
  • What would the tone and cadence of their virtual spaces look like?

They had a lot more questions than they did answers, but they were quick to not get stuck in their questions and begin making moves. It was trial by fire, but the CPA Ontario team strongly believes they have come out victorious on the other side!

Community Involvement: How To Attract Top Millennial Talent Beyond The Job Description

When you’re in competition to recruit top student and grad talent, their decision may come down to what you have to offer outside of their day to day job.

Most companies today are involved with community initiatives in some way, shape, or form. However, most recruiters tend to focus on the benefits that are directly linked to the role when promoting their career opportunities to students and grads. It makes sense, because things like salary, benefits, and experience are all things at the top of a student or grad’s checklist.

However, these aspiring professionals are looking for an organization that is more than just a well-known brand. When it comes down to the wire, and your choice candidate is making a selection between two top companies, your company’s community involvement can go from being a small perk to your trump card.

Why they’re looking for more

They’re informed

Students and grads know that looking for the right employer isn’t just about making the highest salary or working with the biggest names. They are looking for a well-rounded package that can offer them a variety of experiences that will benefit them in the long run.

Every recruiter wants their candidates to do research on the company that they’re interviewing for. But it’s equally important that the information that they find will set you apart from the competition, and present your company as a unique and valuable place to work.

They’re passionate about their causes

It’s no secret that with the ever-growing presence of technology, millennials are more connected than ever. From smartphones to tablets, students and grads can access the latest information and create personalized news feeds at the push of a button. As a result, they are constantly forming and expressing their feelings and opinions.

Because of this heightened awareness, the majority of students and grads today have attached themselves to a social cause. They are more active in the community than ever, and they aim to use their qualities and skills to instigate change in the world.

Did you know: 43% of Gen-Yers said that they’ve helped out a non-profit organization to expand their skill-set for their professional careers.

They want to work for a company that reflects their values

Experienced campus recruiters know that workplace culture is one of the most common inquiries students and grads make during an interview. Millennials are all about personalizing – whether they’re tailoring their Pinterest boards or their coffee orders, they want every aspect of their lives to reflect their authenticity.

Selecting their careers and the organizations they work for is no different. Working for a company that doesn’t share their values will lessen the appeal for them.

“The community involvement component is excellent. Many students are attracted to the opportunity to give back to their communities, so the fact that you make it part of their experiences is great.”

    – Master’s student, University of Toronto

“A huge part of student motivation is making them feel like they’re making a difference.”

    – Third-year student, Bishop’s University

“Volunteer work is another great way to involve students in the work world so that they feel valued and excited to be a part of a team that gives back.”

    – Fourth-year student, McMaster University

How to appeal to these qualities

Any employer would want the above qualities in a new hire. The question is: how do you attract these graduates to your organization? Company culture is a huge factor when millennials evaluate their career options. Here are some simple things you can do to make your company stand out.

Ask them what their passions are

During the hiring process, it’s important to pay attention to who the candidate is outside of their professional experiences. If you make an effort to show that you’re not only interested in them for their degree and job experiences, you are more likely to create a stronger rapport with them.

Take a look at their application documents or LinkedIn profile, and get to know what they do in their spare time. Take a look at the causes that they’re involved in, and ask them about it during the interview. You’ll find that students and grads will respond passionately about their work, and appreciate the fact that you took the time to find out.

Showcase your company’s community efforts

Many students and grads will likely be pre-occupied with company information pertaining to the specific role and department that they’ll be applying to. Even though they’re not consciously looking for information about your company’s community efforts, it’s important to make sure they see it and remember it.

Be sure this information is accessible, and prominently shown on your company’s website. Bring these aspects up during a campus recruitment session or an interview when a candidate mentions their past volunteer roles or the causes they support.

Remember: millennials think of their careers as an extension of their identities – not just a way to bring home the bacon. Show them how the role they’ve applied for fits them beyond the job description, and the ones who accept the job will likely do so with a stronger commitment to the company.

Discussion: Do you believe that volunteer and community experience always makes for a better candidate?