Maximizing the CPA Canada in-depth tax course year 3 project experience

What does it take to get the most out of the Year 3 project in CPA Canada’s In-Depth Tax Course? We spoke to a few of the students with winning results to find out.

The In-Depth Tax Course’s Year 3 project brings together students and requires them to apply the skills they’ve learned over the multi-year program to develop and solve a comprehensive case study. Here’s what a few of the grads with outstanding projects had to say about what they’re taking away from the experience.

Connecting and having fun

It’s obvious that students are fans of the cumulative Year 3 project for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s a great way to connect and network with other students from different tax-related backgrounds — and from across the country. In-Depth grad Scott McCamis, now a tax lawyer at Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP, found his group members were easy to work with despite geographic distance. “We were in two different provinces and had no problems working remotely by phone and email.”

Others liked the case study format of the project and the wide range of tax topics students are expected to include. Karl Mikelsons, now a tax consultant at General Mills, noted that the breadth of tax topic coverage in the project “made it clear that tax issues are often related and require a lot of thought, planning and discussion to come to a satisfactory resolution.”

Plus, as several grads noted, it’s fun! Because students are encouraged to make the case studies engaging, there’s room for creativity. This year, one group borrowed their case study characters and events from a popular sitcom.

Relationships are key

A common theme shared by many In-Depth alumni is that, beyond the technical skills, it’s the teamwork and networking skills that really help in completing the Year 3 project effectively — and in getting the most out of the In-Depth course as a whole. Ilia Korkh, now an associate at EY Law LLP, said that the best takeaways from the Year 3 project — and the entire course — are the relationships you build with other tax professionals and “the understanding you gain from the experiences of people who work in various aspects of the field.” McCamis echoed these comments, noting that aside from the technical skills, a highlight of the experience was “working with other professionals, especially when each group member brings their own strengths and perspectives in approaching a case.”

How to get it right

In terms of advice for in-coming students, grads had plenty of tips. But it was effective communication that stood out as essential to achieving outstanding Year 3 project status. Year 3 winning-group member Mikelsons advised that incoming students “lay out expectations on how much work they think they can put in to the project, as soon as they begin forming their group. And ensure they also keep employers, family and friends in the loop on the time commitment required in completing the project.”

Korkh reiterated the importance of engaging communication, noting that this is not only vital in completing the Year 3 project, but also in providing tax advice to clients. “When putting together our assignment, we made sure to have some fun and come up with an amusing and somewhat entertaining story,” he said. “In the same manner, when communicating tax advice to clients, there’s a need to do it in a manner that will engage your audience and provide them with more than just a dry narration of the technical rules.”

It’s clear that the skills and experience acquired through the Year 3 project leave students well prepared with not only the technical skills, but the ability to build relationships and communicate as effective tax professionals. Mikelsons is confident that it’s these skills that will make him a better professional in the long-term. We can’t help but agree.

Year 3 project winners

CPA Canada congratulates the following nine In-Depth students on their outstanding Year 3 projects:

  • Kelly Delanoy, Delanoy & Co. LLP
  • Yevgen Glushko, EY
  • William House, KPMG Law LLP
  • Ilia Korkh, EY Law LLP
  • Diem Luong, EY
  • Scott McCamis, Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP
  • Karl Mikelsons, General Mills
  • Chantelle Moffit, MNP LLP
  • Jacqueline Vernier, The Great-West Life

Find more information on the In-Depth Tax Course.