Getting your first job after university can be a challenge! We sat down with business student, Samantha Potter, and Craig Marsden at Traction on Demand, to learn how the ISI grant program helped Sam develop her accounting skills and become the point person for the company’s new accounting software.
Tell us a bit about your project
Craig: As a finance intern, Sam took on Traction’s day-to-day financial tasks. She’s been with us two terms, and going into a third and final term with us before going back to school.
Sam: For most of my internship we were implementing expense reporting software. It’s the biggest project that I took on, and continued the admin for it it after it was implemented, for the whole company of 500+ people.
Had you worked as an accountant before and what are you studying?
Sam: This is my first accounting job. I previously worked in a clinic as a receptionist–I was doing some bookkeeping tasks for them. I am currently studying business as an undergrad at the University of the Fraser Valley.
Any success stories?
Sam: A lot on my part! I would say the learning experience was so much more than I had ever expected. I had never expected to do an internship — I fell upon it from my friend Sam (another Sam) who worked here before.
Working in an accounting dept with a supportive team has taken what I learned from school and made it so much more meaningful. We’re not just reading a textbook and memorizing– I’m making real decisions.
As far as successes, I went from having almost no knowledge of any business processes, to now being able to help our accounts receivable accountant make decisions for their new collection software. I had the opportunity to sit in meetings with potential vendors and ask informed questions.
Now if my controller asks for a journal entry, I can do it myself, without as much help as when I first started. I’m so much more confident in becoming a professional accountant one day–I wouldn’t feel that way if I hadn’t been in this internship.
Did you get support and mentorship along the way?
Sam: I would say that the whole team was extremely supportive. They’re very busy with all the expansion going, but they make time to answer my questions and train me from scratch with little background knowledge. In my first three or four months, people were constantly available to answer questions and walk me through processes. It’s a small team, but everyone is very good at sharing the load and accommodating each other when we need to.
Why did Traction on Demand apply for the ISI grant?
Craig: We love that the grant is flexible, it encompasses lots of roles and has few restrictions, and you accept international students. Even the whole application process is online.
The amount of paperwork for grant applications can be quite a lot. The grant is pretty self explanatory, with straightforward, basic questions.
We’re too big right now for the Tech Co-op grant, but we’re expanding incredibly. We still need help in this aspect–we have a massive payroll, so every penny counts. Even for a large company a small grant makes a difference.
How did hiring a student help your startup?
Craig: Our CEO, Greg, is a huge advocate for bringing in young, new talent into the company. After our interns go back to school and graduate, they often have a full-time job lined up for them. In fact, 70% of our interns here come back as full-time employees.
Our previous intern completed a year internship, then worked part time while he was in school. When we recognize talented workers we try to help them stick around.
Why would you recommend other students take an internship?
Sam: I definitely recommend it–especially in degree programs where a co-op isn’t mandatory. It’s not stressed how important real world experience is while you’re in school. If I focused on just getting through school first then getting a job, I wouldn’t be nearly as prepared for the workforce.
Craig: Where to do an internship is important–you have to make sure you get the right skills to help you in your career. We have a non-traditional office environment, it’s not like “here’s the process and learn it”, it’s like, “make it better” or even, “we don’t have a process, what do you think?”
If you can fit in, and you’re smart, we can always teach you. It’s culture, intelligence, then skills. That’s our hiring philosophy here. We’re so happy to support talented students like Sam in their careers, and in turn have them grow with our company.
Interested in applying to the ISI grant program? Applications are open. Apply or learn more:Hire a student