Working at LiveCA: A Co-op Student's Account

My name is Angus Cao, a 3B Co-op Accounting and Financial Management Student at the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance.

For the past 4 months, during the busy tax season we accountants all know and love, I was working for LiveCA as a ‘Cloud Accountant.’ LiveCA was introduced to me as a completely paperless, digital, cloud-based accounting firm that operates chiefly online. I am sure you can understand my initial apprehension at the concept while my classmates were getting jobs at traditional firms. Nevertheless I received an offer and I took the plunge in accepting it.

Now, 4 months later, I’m here to tell you why I loved every second of working at LiveCA.

The Culture

LiveCA is in a very special place. The culture is akin to that of a start-up, team-focused and value-oriented. There is an absolutely incredible effort by the management to involve everyone in major decisions that affect the firm. I recall distinctly on one occasion, when the firm was interviewing and debating between two potential candidates for a new hire. Everyone had had the chance to work or speak with the two candidates during their trial work days with LiveCA.

What I was blown away by was when Chad invited me to a call with the other CPA students and asked me what my opinion on the candidates was.

Imagine that: this firm that I had been working for, for less than 2 months, was asking me what I thought about candidates’ answers to interview question or how well they integrated into LiveCA’s culture. While there were doubtlessly some reservations about my opinion, I truly felt like I was part of the LiveCA team and that my view on the matter was both desired and necessary. That’s how LiveCA’s works- it strives tirelessly to seek those that would fit into the growing culture, while simultaneously making its team feel like a second family.  Pardoning the pun, it took me no time at all with LiveCA to feel ‘right at home.’

Work from anywhere eh?

The Technical Learning

As a co-op student, I am constantly looking for employment opportunities that will provide me with technical skills and training which will be helpful to me in my future career. One of the worst things that can happen for a co-op student is to be stuck at a boring, repetitive job doing menial tasks and learning nothing for 4 months.That didn’t happen at LiveCA. At LiveCA I learned a lot of the tax stuff you might expect a co-op student to learn: filing T-slips (T4s, T5s) and preparing personal tax returns (T1s).

But I also got the chance to tackle other projects. Things like preparing an S85 Rollover or helping out with an income tax audit were the types of unorthodox jobs I had a chance to experience. And all I had to do was ask. That’s a re-occurring theme with LiveCA – the managers were happy to see my constant interest in learning more and taking more on, and provided me with the opportunity to do so.

The Team

It’s a cliché at this point to praise your team or how much you love the people you work with. But you can’t help it when it’s true! As I said above, working with the LiveCA team is like having a second family.Despite the whole team being in different time zones and sometimes continents, everyone meets up at the start of the week over Skype. Individually, managers are checking up with CPA students on a weekly basis, but will often have informal Skype calls if the need arises.

I myself never felt like there was a lack of support, despite not ‘meeting’ a single person for most of the 4 months!  If I needed help or didn’t understand how to do something, the CPA students were all willing to lend an ear. Aside from that, if my manager was busy, I could always feel comfortable asking another one.

Nothing says team like trampoline dodgeball.

Going beyond just work, LiveCA embraces technology as a way to connect the team. Whether we’re just chatting about “sending glitter to your enemies” on Slack or discussing the newest Game of Thrones episode in Google Hangouts, it was really easy for me to get comfortable with everyone.

And there’s no greater proof that we love each other than when the CPA students composed and sang a parody of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song for Shelby!

The Conclusion

Working with LiveCA these past 4 months has been an absolutely amazing experience for me. Inspired by LiveCA’s culture of team-focused excellence and taking the technical skills that I have learned here, I feel much more confident and have a much clearer vision of the type of company that I want to work with next.