After pursuing an education in the arts, including a Masters of Art History from the University of British Columbia, Laura embarked on a mission to become an “art star”. In pursuit of her dream, Laura worked various full and part-time contract jobs to fund her personal performance art practice. Her income was often erratic and unreliable for many years. Eventually, this life started to wear Laura down, and she realized she needed to make a change in order to provide herself with a better life.
Looking For Change
Laura set the intention of starting over from scratch. She went through a systematic decision-making process she says was immensely helpful for making such a tough choice. She made two lists, one described everything she wanted in a job and the other was an inventory of all of her skills and strengths.
Having struggled with job insecurity as an artist and activist, Laura knew that she wanted to never face unemployment again, so her first list included things like “part of a professional order” and “something every organization needs”. The list of things she was good at included being organized, negotiating, and managing money. With these lists in mind, Laura spent time researching online, and finally decided on a new life as an accountant.
It wasn’t easy for Laura to get back into the learning groove. She didn’t have many resources to rely on when she enrolled in the undergraduate commerce program at Concordia but what she did have was lots of hard-learned punk wisdom. Translation? She knew how to make something out of almost nothing.
Laura used the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) to borrow interest-free from some small RRSPs she had saved, waited tables part-time at a worker’s coop restaurant and then applied for a small amount of student loans to make up the gap. But within 6 months she was able to impress one of her professors with stories of her experience teaching in anarchist free-schools, landing herself a position as a teaching assistant.
Meanwhile Laura feverishly researched and applied for scholarships, more than thirty within her first year. This process of hunting for scholarships is usually overlooked by students but Laura’s experience shows that it is worth the effort. Laura received a $20,000 scholarship, later discovering that she was one of only ten applicants, and that some scholarships aren’t even handed out in certain years because nobody applies for them at all.
Near the end of her undergrad, Laura was offered a job with the Montreal office of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the most prestigious public accounting firms in the world. It was a huge opportunity – only 50 candidates were chosen out of more than 1000 applicants that year. The competition amongst her classmates had been fierce and the opportunity was so prized that Laura was willing to try to fit in with the generally conservative culture of being an auditor at a “Big Four” firm.