In the ever-changing industry of professional services, student talent has become a strategic way for many organizations to seek innovation and fresh perspectives. BDO Canada has consistently integrated Dalhousie business students and grads across its many teams. Three BDO Canada leaders – Josephine Wieczorek, Senior Manager, Assurance, Jalen Sabean, Senior Manager, Assurance, and Erica McCurdy, Partner, Assurance, shared their perspective on BDO Canada’s 14-year track record of hiring students and recent graduates from Dalhousie.
BDO Canada is a leading provider of assurance, accounting, tax, and advisory services. The firm recently celebrated over 100 years of excellence, operating from 113 offices nationwide with a team of nearly 5,000. BDO is committed to the personal and professional growth of its teams and this dedication has been recognized through multiple awards, including Canada’s Top 100 Employer. This people-first approach aligns with Dalhousie’s work-integrated learning programs that prepare students for the professional world. BDO’s commitment to nurturing talent is evident in its long-time relationship with Dalhousie, particularly through the Commerce Co-op and Management Internship programs. The firm’s Atlantic offices have consistently hired students and graduates from Dalhousie since 2010, expanding this practice to offices in Ontario and Quebec in recent years.
“Dal students come to BDO with a high-level of professionalism and a willingness to learn and grow their careers,” says Josephine. “A majority of the students we hire return to BDO for multiple work terms, stay connected to the firm throughout their time in school through social events and frequent touchpoints with us, and truly become part of the BDO team.”
Jalen explains that continually hiring students for work terms provides BDO Canada with the ability to help them hone their skills and prepare to enter the firm full-time after graduation. “This has a positive impact on the services we offer to our clients as it also allows us the opportunity to provide continuity in the teams that service our clients and include our co-op students in the building of client relationships.”
“We believe in developing the potential of today’s top talent and tomorrow’s rising stars, allowing them to make extraordinary things happen,” adds Erica. She recognizes Dal business students and grads for their high level of professionalism, willingness to learn, and growth mindset. One such grad is Wesley Herrett, a Commerce Co-op alumnus who joined BDO in 2017 and has since moved from Junior Accountant to Manager.
“I believe that the Commerce Co-op program gave me a head start after graduation in a few ways,” says Wesley. “I was better able to understand how business professionals approached their jobs and interacted with colleagues in a professional setting. Doing 15-20 interviews with professional services firms every four months was great practice for when the time came to apply for a permanent position after I finished at Dal. When I joined BDO as a Junior Accountant in 2017, one of the things I learned very quickly in public accounting is that the more hats you are able to wear, the better.”
Outside of the recruitment process, BDO Canada also recognizes the importance of engaging with students and grads one-on-one beyond the application and interview to build connections and relationships with potential candidates. One way their team accomplishes this is by attending and sponsoring networking events and information sessions.
“Meeting students face-to-face outside of the job application process, such as by attending events like Dal Business Networking Night or our recent ‘Get to Know BDO Halifax’ Open House, is crucial for several reasons,” says Josephine. “Interacting in person allows us to establish a personal connection that goes beyond a resume or online application. It provides a deeper insight into a student’s personality, communication skills, and interpersonal abilities, which are often difficult to assess solely through written materials. For the student, it humanizes the recruitment process and helps them see the real people behind BDO, fostering a sense of trust and familiarity. It can also help students gauge our company culture, values, and work environment to see if BDO aligns with their career aspirations and values.”
She goes on to explain that active participation in campus events reinforces BDO’s commitment to the local academic community by enhancing their brand’s visibility and reputation among students and faculty. “In addition, it allows us to network with students who may not be familiar with BDO and have not initially applied, but demonstrate exceptional potential and enthusiasm for a career with us.”
Overall, through these interactions and events, and through their recruitment, BDO Canada has found their experiences with Dal business students have kept them coming back to the school and its business programs time and time again.
“Initially, we want to say that we would not recommend other employers considering Dal, as we would like to keep the top talent for ourselves,” says Erica. “But all jokes aside, in our experience with Dal business students, we have seen consistently strong candidates with a good sense of professionalism, time management, communication, problem solving, and willingness to learn. They are also eager to share their experiences with other students and have a good understanding of the CPA profession. Their professors, coursework, and the co-op program do a great job at preparing them for the needs of our firm. This is apparent when meeting at events, during the interview process, and throughout their careers with BDO.”
Interested in hiring a Dalhousie business student or recent grad, or learning about funding programs? Contact our Employer Development team:
Cindy Ryan, Employer Development Manager
Lauren Shaw, Employer Development Coordinator
Joseph Habchi, Employer and Funding Services Specialist