Meet Leahnae Morton-Richardson, a third-year Bachelor of Commerce Co-op student majoring in Accounting. Originally from Bermuda, Leahnae came to Dalhousie for the positive learning environment and the beauty of Halifax.
Last year, Leahnae completed two co-ops at EY. “My connection to EY began in 2021, when I graduated from high school and was awarded the EY Gil Tucker Scholarship. Aside from the scholarship itself, the award allows recipients to return to the firm for work terms while completing an undergraduate degree.”
During her first co-op at EY, Leahnae worked as an Audit Intern. “One lesson I learned would have to be it is ok to say you don’t know. More often than not, your supervisor will be happy to help. Not only this, but you also learn a lot during the process, allowing you to work more independently going forward.” As an Audit Intern, Leahnae frequently worked on tasks that were analytical. She shares that one strategy that helped her manage tasks of this nature was to turn to pen and paper. “Don’t underestimate the power of a notebook! I used a notebook regularly to write out all of my assigned tasks and deadlines, and this was super helpful because it gave me a full picture of everything on my plate, so none of my tasks fell through the cracks.”
After successfully completing her first co-op, Leahnae was welcomed back to EY last fall. During her second co-op, she worked directly under her senior manager and was given more freedom and autonomy over her work. “Having increased autonomy during this co-op helped me deepen my technical skills, as well as my problem solving and overall confidence.” Leahnae says that she was given more challenging and rewarding projects, was exposed to new areas of auditing, and even got to lead several internal team meetings. “Overall, I found my second co-op much more challenging but also very rewarding due to the new opportunities for professional growth.”
When reflecting on her work terms, the skills Leahnae is most pleased to have learned so far are communication and perseverance. “Communication is everything, whether communicating updates to my supervisors, speaking with EY teams in other countries, or communicating directly to the audit client. I always ensured my communication was timely and professional. During my second co-op, I had increased responsibility and more autonomy, and many tasks were new to me. While completing new tasks, if a challenge arose, I was able to persevere because my problem solving skills kicked in.”
For her third and final co-op this summer, Leahnae would like to remain in public accounting, since that is where she plans to launch her career after graduation. “However, later on in my career, I would love to get some international exposure, outside of Bermuda and Canada. I really enjoy travelling and experiencing new cultures so I believe international work experience would be very enriching in this sense. It will also afford me the opportunity to meet new professionals, navigate new working styles, and hear new perspectives.”
For students wanting to return to their co-op employer, here is Leahnae’s advice for you:
- Network and build a positive rapport with your team members. If you can leave a positive impression on your employer, it is more likely they will welcome you back in the future.
- Take your time to produce high quality work, rather than rushing to completion. Focus on producing high quality work during your first co-op, as this shows your commitment to your tasks and your attention to detail. It also allows you to display professional qualities that will help position you for opportunities in the future.
- Take advantage of services offered by MCS. They are right at your fingertips.