When ULethbridge student Ashley Drought (BMgt '22) wanted to see if her accounting major was the right fit for her, she turned to co-operative education to help her test-drive an accounting career. How did it turn out? Well, we hope the fact that Ashley is graduating with a Bachelor of Management with a major in accounting doesn't give too much away. Learn about Ashley's experience and the lessons she learned about stepping outside of her comfort zone below.

Please tell us a bit about your experiential or work-integrated learning. What were your biggest takeaways from participating?

In my third year of university, I decided to step a bit out of my comfort zone and get some real experience in accounting through co-operative education. I wanted to get a better feel for the accounting career path to see if I wanted to continue with it going into my final years of university. It was definitely worth it because I was able to see where all my hard work was leading me to. It's one thing to go through all the classes, but it's another to actually see what you've learned play out at work. Co-op is a great opportunity to talk to people that have been where I am right now and listen to their stories of how they ended up where they are. My last big takeaway from co-op was realizing just how much I'd be learning on the job. Going from the classroom to an actual job can be a pretty big learning curve.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

Choosing one experience as most memorable is hard because so many things can happen over a period of five years. However, one that stuck out to me was in my second year. I still felt like I was new at university and just getting to know people, but I took part in this charity jump into a big pool of really cold water. Not only was it nice being part of a charity fundraiser put on by university students, but everyone there was very welcoming and it didn't feel like anyone didn't want to be there. Definitely, something that I can look back on and smile.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

I would say that you can get so much more out of whatever it is you're doing if you do things that go outside your comfort zone. In high school, I would have never thought I'd get involved as much as I did at university. But that's what made my time at university so much better– talking to professors, being part of a club, taking advantage of events that the university put on and let's not forget the free food. This is something that I think I'll apply going forward in my life. Not just doing the bare minimum but going even just a little bit beyond and doing something I might be intimidated to do. For example, right after my final year of university, I decided to go on a solo backpacking adventure, that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing back in my first year.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

Now that I'm done university, I will be starting a career as an accountant where I will be able to put some of the things that I learned to work and get an opportunity to help people along the way. I also don't plan for the learning to stop here. My goal is to take advantage of workshops and books and just continue to learn about things that interest me.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

To anyone who is just starting out at university, I would say that having extra commitments on the side like clubs, sports, work and extra classes, is good, but remember to be aware of what your capacity is. Doing all those things can be beneficial and fun, but you still need to give yourself time to recharge because burn-out is real. Being aware of what your capacity is ahead of time can help you know when to say no to extracurriculars so that you can manage to balance all of the things that you already have going on. Also even though you are at university to learn, it is still important to take some time to have fun.

Congratulations Ashley!

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