Near the end of February this year, I took on the responsibility of a co-op student from the York Region District School Board. As a co-op placement, their time was at no cost to me. I was very hesitant initially since there were as many bad experiences I’d heard from other employers as there we good experiences. I told the high school counselor that was looking for placements that the student would be treated the same as any adult looking for a full-time position. That meant a full interview after I reviewed the resume, and a police criminal check was required. This was not going to be a body that filled a chair 4 afternoons a week. I needed a fully committed worker with an aptitude for numbers and willingness to learn and work. The learning part included QuickBooks, an introduction to Personal Tax Returns and dealing with clients in person and on the phone. As we were going into tax season, there was no time available for someone who wasn’t committed to their success and that of the business. What I didn’t anticipate were all the things The Montana Group would learn from our co-op student, itemized below in 6 points.
Pavi, a high school student, started as my co-op student in February and finished near the end of June. He came each day on time, dressed professionally and eager to work and learn. He accepted each task with an open mind. He looked at his projects in a logical manner and asked intelligent questions.
One of my staff requested extended time off during the summer which gave me the opportunity to hire Pavi full-time for the months of July and August. He continued to impress me and the other staff and clients.
Just before he left I asked him what he enjoyed most and his reply was bank reconciliations. There’s a feeling of satisfaction knowing you’ve entered all the correct numbers and you’re rewarded with balancing. You really need to be a numbers person to understand the satisfaction we get when this happens! What didn’t he really like – the monotony that sets in after hours of data entry, which is to be expected with a very active and knowledge-seeking mind.
So what were the 6 things I learned from Pavi?
- No matter the age, an inquisitive mind seeking knowledge is a wonderful asset.
- His Excel skills were better than ours, and we use the software daily so we shouldn’t assume that exposure make us experts.
- Just because we’ve done something the same way for a long period of time doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best way now. We should always review and question and not become complacent.
- Make sure Social Media conveys the message. On a number of occasions he pointed out to me that the wording could be improved to convey my intent and how they related to the business.
- He confirmed my long standing belief that QuickBooks is easier to learn and use than Simply Accounting. He was taught bookkeeping using Simply Accounting software.
- Always look at the big picture. He came to us wanting accounting, bookkeeping and tax experience. He doesn’t want to become an accountant. He wants to own his own business eventually and knows the skills he took away will better equip him to be a successful business person.
We already miss his strong work ethic, sense of responsibility and very dry sense of humour. He’s agreed to come back to work part-time when we need him if he’s available. We wish Pavi great success as he completes high school and moves on to University. And, he’s only applying to the best business schools!
If you’ve had a good or bad experience with a co-op student, I would like to hear from you. Don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog too. Remember, these co-op students are our future business owners and leaders. It would be good to support them and ourselves with their hands on learning experience.
Until next time,