AIM Conference for students puts spotlight on the chartered professional accountant career

York University’s AIM 2016 Conference attracted students from a wide array of academic disciplines interested in learning about becoming a chartered professional accountant (CPA).

The theme for this year’s student-led conference was “Aim to Inform, Involve & Inspire.” Open to students in all programs and all years of study, the event brought together students, CPA professionals and recruiters. In its fifth year, the conference demonstrated how professionals with the CPA designation can drive their careers towards a variety of industries in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and beyond.

The AIM group at the conference
The AIM 2016 group at the conference

CPA Ontario Board of Ambassador representatives Sobia Ali and Alamgir Khandwala organized this event in collaboration with the Atkinson Professional Accounting Association and hoped to attract students who are inspired, motivated and committed to being leaders. Both Ali and Khandwala are students in the accounting stream of the Bachelor of Commerce program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

“Our students constantly impress me with their innovative pursuit of educational and career opportunities,” said Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who welcomed the delegates. “It’s inspiring to participate in such a dynamic conference, created entirely by students, and to see the growing interaction between them and top-tier industry representatives, right here on campus.”

Approximately 800 students have attended AIM since its inception in 2012, with over 150 students participating this year.

Impressed by the event, TD Bank Group’s SVP and Chief Auditor, Kelvin Tran, said “York University students have a bright future ahead of them. Investing time in important conferences like AIM will pay dividends over time.”

“AIM plays an essential role in helping us provide an unparalleled educational experience for the business leaders of tomorrow,” said Ali. “It provides an avenue for students and motivates a high level of interaction between them and our corporate guests. This conference is a stepping stone to experience a corporate world at your own home university — York.”

Over 30 industry professionals were present at the networking reception. Representatives attended from the Big 4 accounting firms, in addition to commercial realtor CBRE, Grant Thornton, the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, Procter & Gamble, Suncor and Walmart.

“AIM gives students an opportunity to hone their skills in an environment where they will be comfortable amongst their colleagues, friends and industry experts,” said Khandwala, who serves as a student senator at York. “The relationships that we, as students, build with industry professionals at AIM frequently evolve into invaluable mentorships. These connections help us succeed in pursuing our professional and personal endeavours.”

York students participating in the conference had an opportunity to network with professionals
York students participating in the conference had an opportunity to network with professionals

In addition to networking with recruiters and interacting with dozens of CPAs from a range of industries, students participated in interactive workshops and presentations, heard from keynote speakers from top firms, learned in detail about the CPA designation from CPA Ontario representatives, and discovered ways to shape their careers.

“I’d like to see students find their passion and pursue it,” said Khandwala. “I cannot emphasize this enough: students need to capitalize on every opportunity they see because leveraging these opportunities will bring forth more opportunities in the future. Every bridge they build will bring them a mile closer to their goal.”

The AIM 2016 Conference, held on Nov. 18, was sponsored by the CPA Ontario Board of Ambassadors, CPA Ontario, Grant Thornton, Canadian Management Consultants, York’s Atkinson Professional Accounting Association and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.