Putting the “I” in iBBA: Caitlyn’s Story
Caitlyn Bertone is finishing her final term in the iBBA program and has done amazing things during her time at Schulich. Focus, passion, perseverance and a little courage have landed Caitlyn a diverse and exciting portfolio, and a full-time job waiting for her when she graduates.
We asked Caitlyn to write about her experiences and successes from three major pillars of her Schulich education: choosing her Accounting specialization, traveling to France on exchange, and serving as Schulich’s Women in Leadership co-president.
Caitlyn Cassandra Bertone, 2016 iBBA Candidate
I’m a fourth year iBBA student specializing in accounting in pursuit of the CPA designation. My journey here at Schulich has been challenging yet highly rewarding. Whether spending five months abroad in an unknown city or leading a highly accomplished executive team, Schulich has taught me that it is crucial to step outside your comfort zone and reach further.
Choosing my Undergrad Specialization
Accounting caught my eye back in first year when I had an outstanding professor (Beppino Pasquali) for my first accounting class, ACTG 2010. He always brought real world situations into his lectures that completely captivated me.
That summer, after spending 5 weeks in an intensive French-speaking program in a small town in Quebec as part of the Explore Program, I decided to aim for an internship in accounting for the remainder of the summer term.
I reached out to a sole practitioner and he took a chance and hired me. Before I started, he told me that if I was not able to complete the work fast enough or well enough, he would have to let me go. Needless to say, I was terrified for my first day and decided to bring my accounting textbook with me in my car, just in case!
Thankfully, I didn’t open that textbook for the remainder of the summer and was given a job offer to continue working for him as I returned back to school in September. My manager and I have formed such an incredible relationship and I continue to work for him to this day. He was one of my biggest supporters when I applied for positions at the Big 4 accounting firms and was incredibly proud after I landed two offers. This upcoming September I will be starting full-time with Ernst & Young.
My Exchange Experience
Bordeaux, camembert, tarte au citron meringuée ….If food was a passion prior to exchange, it became my life in my five months in Paris! But besides divine French patisseries and restaurants, you could also find me walking through extravagant cathedrals, staring at timeless castles or traveling on a plane to my next European destination. Those five months were a spiritual, eye-opening experience for me. Exchange taught me that life is your own journey and you need to make choices that ultimately are right for you. I was reminded to fill my life with things that I love and to whole-heartedly pursue my dreams.
My Journey with Schulich’s Women in Leadership (WIL) Association
WIL was the first club I joined back in my first year at Schulich. I fondly recall walking up to the booth, meeting the Co-President and knowing this was where I was supposed to be. Something inside of me knew that would be me one day – the Co-President of WIL.
But before serving as WIL’s Co-President, I served as the Chair of WIL’s High School/Undergraduate Mentorship Program in my second year. The program connects undergrads with female high school students, with the objective of empowering them to be leaders and to have the confidence to pursue their goals. I keep in touch with many of my mentors and some of the high school students. I am touched to have had an impact on the students and mentors, but most notably, this program was so personally rewarding.
Now, in my final year, I’ve reached my goal of becoming WIL’s Undergraduate Co-President. Working with my team continually inspires me. We have amazing WIL members, and I can’t say enough about my Co-President, Alexandra Artamonova, who is dedicated, intelligent, and a constant source of amazing ideas. This year, we introduced the Woman of the Month and Woman of the Year award, as well as many improvements to our monthly events and our two mentorship programs:
1. The High School/Undergrad Mentorship Program; and
2. The Graduate/Undergrad Mentorship Program, which pairs MBA/Graduate students with a WIL undergrad member to help them achieve some of their professional goals.
Our membership base has more than doubled this year and includes students from both Schulich’s grad and undergrad programs. When we’re all together at our events, you can feel the room radiating with energy and positivity. The amount of work, sweat and endless meetings our team puts into WIL is incredible, but it’s all worth it!
Caitlyn’s Top 5:
Words of Advice to Young Professionals
1. Surround yourself with individuals who believe in you. Listen to and cherish them.
2. Do hot yoga.
3. Reflect on who you are and what you want to do. Know what your values are. Never compromise them.
4. Commit to your responsibilities 110%.
5. Be brave.