Gillian Graves, BPR Co-op Student
Chantel O’Brien is beaming, and with good reason. The fourth-year business student will graduate in May 2014 and already she has been offered a full-time job with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the “big four” accounting firms.
“If you had told me four years ago that I’d be working for an accounting firm when I graduate, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Chantel said.
After high school Chantel left her hometown of Windsor, Nova Scotia to study public relations at the Mount. “I had done competitive public speaking with 4-H and thought I might become a speech writer.” However, as it turns out, Chantel enjoyed her introductory business course the most and decided to switch programs.
For her first co-op work term, Chantel decided to keep her mind and doors open, applying for a range of positions. “I ended up getting an accounting job with PwC and loved it, even though it seemed to be the most unlikely choice for me.”
Chantel did three co-op work terms with PwC in Halifax. She says that with each four-month work term, she grew as an employee. “In my first term, I was not as confident in my work. I gained confidence in my second term and in my third term I was able to take on a major project and manage it from start to finish.” Chantel adds that working for a variety of superiors helped her develop her skills. “I was able to work for different managers, vice presidents, and I even worked for partners. Their constructive feedback really helped me learn on the job.”
Chantel has been hired to work for the accounting forensics department as an associate. “Forensic accounting combines law and investigation with accounting. It involves looking into corporate frauds, money laundering or misappropriated funds.”
Although Chantel has been busy during co-op and academic semesters, she still makes time to contribute to the Mount and the larger community. Chantel got involved with the Mount’s Business & Tourism Society in her second year. She became the communications representative in her third year and co-president in her fourth year. In addition, she served as the business administration representative on the Co-op Student Advisory Council.
Chantel is also highly involved outside the Mount community. In 2012 Chantel was appointed to the province’s Youth Advisory Council and attended the International Cyber-Bullying Summit in Prince Edward Island. She has also been appointed to the Board of Directors for HeartWood, a community organization rooted in outdoor leadership.
Chantel credits co-op with enabling her to find her career and secure her job. “If I hadn’t gone through co-op, I would have never been exposed to accounting as a career. My three co-op work terms gave me a full year of experience with PwC. Having this real work experience makes me feel sure I’m in the right career.”