September 2010 - Posts
I suppose there's not anything wrong with being a gofer, or a dogsbody,
but there's no doubt that there's this precious moment of complete disillusionment when a young business graduate finds himself fetching a dozen lunch orders at Petit Four
Each brutally customized by the sadists known as his co-workers.
In the name of "researching the human condition," I decided to be posh and get myself some food there too. I ended up observing the poor schmuk placing a lunch order so large, it clearly had to be his company's idea of a hazing ritual. From a distance he looked like the typical suit coming down for his Fancy Power Lunch, but up close you could see the naive youth.
"Work hard, follow these orders. Climb the ladder Monty!"
As enlightening as my research was - conclusion, he really should've called ahead with his crazy order - I did want lunch, and the one person ahead of me wasn't getting any service at the cash.
Fortunately the lunch rush was fast approaching, and Petit Four wisely opened the second cash for the lady in line ahead of me. Once she managed to get her credit card to stop declining itself - I got to pay for my own order, with cash of course. I was done, and the Kid was still finalizing his order.
I saw the order-sheet.
Indecipherable scribbles from a good dozen or so people on a piece of paper that definitely wasn't the official PDF ordering form. I stopped paying close attention as my friends showed up with their own food from the Discount Asian and Gourmet Burrito places, but I could've sworn the kid ran off without the order. Perhaps to get clarification, who knows.
Poor guy. Hope he didn't come down from one of the Big Accounting Firms upstairs. They're typically less evil, and the staff are less likely to sport the Look at Me Power Suit.
But somewhere in the downtown core of Toronto a board-room full of people were no doubt impatiently awaiting his return, while my food came out promptly. The advantage of ordering for just yourself!
The key message? My sandwich from Petit Four had Bacon Bread and Beef. It was, predictably, awesome.
The techie in me is a little surprised they don't have a pure online ordering process. The realist that has seen the insanity associated with setting up anything online, as well as the tight margins and limited resources on hand in small businesses like restaurants, however, knows that such a toy is still a pipe dream for the average restaurant.
I may have just stumbled upon another Brilliant Idea for someone with some decent coding skills who wants to flip out a smart little idea into a successful product. Watch it turn into a UFE case idea for 2012 or 2013.
"You, CA, have been hired by LunchExpressNow.com, to assist the owner rollout her new business venture. An accomplished computer programmer, the success of her online ordering system for lunches in Calgary is set to expand across Canada with potential for growth around the world. You will be helping her consider the financing considerations for the expansion as well as the tax implications from opening in new jursidictions. Attached are three proposals for funding the new version of her program as well as minutes from your interviews with the Founder as well as her two university friends who have helped run the business since it started in their shared dorm room at the University of Alberta..."
My running gag is turning an ordinary scenario in the office into the start of a mock UFE case, if you hadn't noticed by now.
Note: This random rant inspired by getting food while putting in
a long day at work devolved into the start of a UFE case so subtly I
felt a warning was in order. But after adding this text to the top I felt it spoiled the "flow" so I moved the warning to the bottom of the article, where it will not really "warn" anyone except those who enjoy reading articles backwards. So, if you're that guy, you've been warned.
If there's anything Chartered Accountants excel at, it's more than just numbers. It's unsolicited design critique.
Your alumni are in shock.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers has completed their rebranding as of yesterday, and people who work for, used to work for, or simply associate with PwC are scratching their heads at the rebranding that just came through.
Before we get to the colours, check out the video on their home page. Let me know how hard you cringe.
It's great fun to watch the senior executive at the 0:55 mark stating that PwC
is "building relationships, enhancing value". Their new slogan is "Building relationships, creating value."
The caption on the
screen even says "creating value."
I'm curious to know: did they want to be "cool" and show a related word for "creating," or did they goof, have him record the wrong line, and decided to go with it anyway and hoped no one would notice?
I mean really, how are they trying to position themselves?
Then there's the matter of the colours.
The colours children, the colours!
I'm going to limit my comments mostly to expressions of disbelief. And those of others: as one Big Four person remarked, "now they look like a defunct tech company's logo".
If you really want to geek out, you can get a sample of the other website colour system by right-clicking the webpage, and viewing the "background image." You'll see this.
The most painful(ly earnest) thing about these re-branding efforts is the amount of crazy newsletters, memos and contests that accompany a change like this, to convince everyone to buy in.
The CICA in Canada did their own rebranding thing and had a reason for every colour they chose. Really, there's a reason they went with blue, gold and grey. Plus the green that makes a quasi-plus sign. You can only imagine the careful thoughts and really deep thinking that went into the design of this colour scheme.
I do applaud anyone who's bold enough to try something risky that makes them stand out - as the saying goes, "any publicity is good publicity," at least in show business. I'm curious to know what you think about all this. Feel free to leave a comment weighing in with your thoughts. It's probably easiest to drop in on this discussion.
As promised in my last post, I can share with you some personal thoughts regarding how I prepared my cover letters and resume. It obviously worked for me, because I got hired - partially on the strength of my unusually long cover letter, weighing in at two pages. It also "worked" for me in the sense that I'm still at the firm, enjoying my job a half decade later - wow, a half decade - and I continue to encourage people to join, if they're into the Chartered Accountant in general, or the CISA in addition to that if they want to work in my particular specialized field.
Before I get all deep and philosophical about getting into this line of work, I recognize that you may just want a quick technical answer. If you want that, google "resume guide" or "cover letter guide" - I'm sure you'll find something useful.
You'll even get some more "technical" thoughts below the illustration, but first some thoughts for people wondeirng what they're getting themselves into.
AuditLand is a place where you will feel like some sort of paramilitary business person, as you'll feel like - or be told to feel like -you're on some suprt-important losing touch with friends and family for at least a quarter of the year during busy season. As an aside, this busy season usually does not coincide with the April tax filing deadlines for most CA students - you'll quickly learn about this misconception and, depending on your sense of humour, either grow to love or hate people's misunderstandings about what you do.
Go read the external blog posts for further details if you enjoy reading about other people's whining about their tedious desk jobs. I hold little sympathy for people working long hours at desk jobs, given the amount of abject horror and sheer physical pain people suffer around the world. We really are the lucky ones, and you need to remind yourself about that. And if you don't, perhaps your company will have extra tickets to hear the life story of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to kick you in the pants.
This brings us back to the situation of people who find themselves facing a massive writer's block when they apply for their CA student position.
You want to display enthusiasm about the job you're applying for. How else will you get in? So ask yourself - why do I want to work there? Though the learning, sundry perks and long-term opportunities are valid reasons to want the job, those are all ornaments.
Do you actually want to do this? Do you even know what you're applying for? Have you considered your other options? Is this really the "dream job" you've been hoping for - or is that the phrase you use in every single cover letter you copy and paste to fifty companies in a dozen different industries?
Figuring out the answers to those questions will bring you closer to composing a decent cover letter.
Given the personal nature of this sort of introspection, a stranger can't truly help you. But you're not alone. You - hopefully? - have friends and family who know you well, perhaps better than you know yourself. Speak with them. Ask them what they think about the line of work you're applying for. They may give you insights you hadn't considered. They may even try and talk you out of it. Don't dismiss negative responses. Weigh them carefully. If they're recognizing something you hadn't considered, you may reevaluate whether you even want to bother applying. Of course, their arguments may also be silly - cue the image of the clingy boyfriend or girlfriend who is afraid of "losing" you.
If this sounds a little too deep for a silly little job application, remember this: you will end up devoting over 2000 hours of your life every year to the company you end up working for. And that's not counting any significant overtime
Make sure it's a committment you're interested in making, and willing to see through to your next goal in life.
After reading the surprisingly extensive wikipedia article on the topic, I realized I no doubt shamelessly abused my poetic license to break the advanced logical meaning of the word iff. This is the price you pay for attempting snappy headlines. In my oblique defense, I did take in fact get to attend this luncheon honouring Beverley McLachlin - the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Pity I only had my BlackBerry handy to take the photo instead of my SLR. Such is life.
On a more technical level, consider the following: you shouldn't
kill yourself adding an unreal level of polish to your resume. Make it
good, make it professional, and enough get people to proof-read it
until you've hit then point where you're sure you excised any
embarassing typos. Note that this is where having friends studying in
language-related fields who you met in frosh week, rather than
segregating yourself exclusively among those in Commerce or Accounting,
will end up saving you from your sloppy writing.
Keep that in
mind if you're a first year. Just because you won't study with people
doesn't mean you shouldn't hang out with them. They'll probably be more
fun to spend time with when all your other "classmate-friends" are
freaking out about their upcoming Stats and Finance exams, or the
latest impossible accounting case study.
It's come to my attention that students at some schools are drilled into believing that the 1-page resume is where it's at, and they'd be fools to do otherwise.
This is, of course, complete and utter nonsense.
It's like being extremely hungry after hiking up a mountain and stopping at just one delicious burger, when there's a second one available, ready to sate your hunger.
Of course, that analogy can be painfuly stretched to answer the question, "so when should I stick to one page?"
The answer is simple: if you only have one page of valuable information to share, just stop there. In other words, if you're full after one burger, eating a second one would be silly.
If you lack part-time jobs, have very few extra-curricular activites, and otherwise have a very "skimpy" resume, then one page is of course more than enough.
People asking me this question, however, are typically applying for a job at a Big 4 firm where they'll typically become a CA or CPA student.
The competition for openings is fierce. Yes, you'll normally need to score some strong referrals - even if they're from the recruiters you meet at the September recruiting events.
But those won't take you very far if your cover letter and resume are both weak. If you're considering cutting out a section of accomplishments and
skills to avoid going past the one page mark, don't. Include it. Remember to catalogue all the Good Things you've been doing, either as personal development or for the Benefit of Society. These are things you'll want to include on your resume - unless
you write something insane, it'll be to your benefit.
We'll get into a bit more detail on these recruiting topics in the next post.
It's now completely awesome because now I know it pisses some people off.
Thank you Ask a Manager for making my retail experience even better. There's nothing like knowing more than one language to make life more interesting.
The post is about someone working in retail who doesn't like it when people confer about their purchasing decision in a second language prior to making their decision.
No doubt this is an entirely rare case of stupid we've encountered - as most intelligent people respect the fact that half the fun of knowing other languages is having the ability to speak in a 'secret code' of sorts - but it doesn't make it any less funny.
Totally unrelated photo this time - except for the fact it's about something equally crazy: why was this man transporting gas canisters into the service elevator next to the re-opened Marche restaurant at BCE Place? Just a little odd, no?
This does inspire me to try and become more fluent in more
languages. Speaking of being fluent in languages, recruiting season is
Look forward to recruiting related posts to supplement the good discussions taking place at MyCAsite