No worries. Prior to EY, I did my first two co-op terms in industry, and two other co-op terms at a mid-sized accounting firm.
In comparison to the mid-sized firm...
-The social atmosphere was a bit nicer at the mid-sized firm, since everyone knew everyone. In EY Toronto, our tower probably has hundreds (if not thousands) of employees, so people tend to be a bit more reserved - no one really says "hi" to one another. Doesn't bother me though.
-There's a lot more social events at EY though - townhalls, post-townhall socials, counselling family team building events.
-Busy season at the mid-sized firm was hectic.... we worked a lot of hours, which arguably were comparable to what I work at EY (maybe a bit less). The only difference is, at the mid-sized firm I had many different clients to work on whereas at EY, I'm working on one giant client.
-In short, the switch wasn't too bad (in terms of "busy season hours").
In my opinion, accounting is great field to travel - there are not only opportunities to travel while working at your home office (different clients can be in different locations), but there are also opportunities to do short-term (a few months to a year) and long-term (more than one year) secondments abroad. Also, the CPA designation is internationally recognized so after writing a few local certification exams in places like the UK, Australia and parts of the US, I believe you can freely practice in those places.
I can't comment too much on Waterloo as I don't know a lot about the school. Both Brock and Waterloo seem to be pretty similar at this point in time: both have established co-op programs which all Big 4 firms hire from, they are both CPA accredited, and they both have post-graduate diplomas/Master of Accounting programs. The two main differences are tuition (look into tuition after first year at both schools) and the fact that some people may favour Waterloo's program since it's been around a bit longer.
Personally, I loved the environment at Brock. There was the opportunity to get involved with different competitions/clubs within the business school, and in general people were really outgoing and friendly.
I don't think automation will be a major blow to the audit profession. On the flipside, I think that the automation that occurs within our clients' operations will create a larger demand for auditors. As auditors, we are around to ensure that our clients are following pre-determined rules. Because the business world has gotten so complex, there are more rules to follow. And because there are more rules to follow, more audits must be conducted.
Within audit, the human element cannot be replaced by automated procedures, because - at the end of the day - we can't place 100% reliance on automated procedures. Humans are needed to check computer-generated work to ensure it is correct.
I also read somewhere that the demand for auditors will grow 11% in the next 10 years. So I wouldn't worry too much about automation! :)
Check out my first blog post as a yconic Digital Brand Ambassador - it's about study tips for accounting exams!
I'm from Ontario, and I was a bit weary of going out-of-province to do any post-undergraduate CPA preparation. I know the CFE is a national set of exams (and the GCPA program gets you to the CFE), but I was still apprehensive.
Also, I want to potentially go into part-time lecturing - I need a masters degree for this.
Looking into it though, it looks like the GCPA program is only for public accounting - you can't focus on finance or performance management with it.
I just logged into my Goodman Portal and the message from the Grad Admissions Team regarding my transcript pre-assessment was still there: "Currently the average accounting average for students admitted for January 2016 is 83.13%."
Various universities (including Brock, McMaster, Guelph and others) also have Post-Graduate Diploma Programs that will let you skip various modules/electives. So that is another option! And worst comes to worst, the module route is decent as well - most people go this route, and firms (I assume) should be really accommodating to study needs.
Busy season really depends on your service line:
-Assurance is roughly from December to March
-Tax is roughly from late January to April
-Risk Assurance is roughly September to January
I'm working in Risk Assurance until April 2017, and I work about 55 hours per week during busy season. How busy you are (and when you are busiest) really depends on the nature of your clients (and how many clients you are handling). I'm working on one large client, and we are busiest from late October to early February.
I've heard people in Assurance and Tax work way more hours than people in Risk Assurance (which is where the 60-80 hours you specified probably came from).
I'm not really sure when acceptances begin, but I received mine in late February. For a Big 4 co-op placement, networking is key. You have to attend as many events that the Big 4 host/sponsor (on-campus, onsite, at competitions/conferences) as you can. The number of people who get Big 4 placements vary annually, but I can tell you that not everyone who wants a Big 4 placement gets one - you really have to strategize/work for it.
Marks-wise, I would say an 80%+ average would be sufficient, as long as you have no negative outliers (e.g. 90s in all your classes, but a 60 in a key accounting class). If you do significantly better in your non-accounting classes than your accounting classes, this may also hurt your chances.
That being said, I've seen people with less-than-stellar grades get Big 4 placements - but they're the ones who are good speakers/networkers.