Extracurricular experiences key for SFU Beedie grad starting full-time job at Grant Thornton
May 19, 2023
Hailing from a family of business owners, Harman Chhina was exposed to the world of business at an early age. Witnessing his father’s small business and seeing various relatives engaged in their own entrepreneurial ventures sparked his interest in the field. This early exposure ignited a passion within him to understand the intricacies of business operations, management, and strategy.
Chhina will graduate this summer from SFU Beedie with a concentration in accounting and HR and will embark on a full-time job as an assurance accountant at Grant Thornton in the fall. As Chhina reflects on his academic journey, he recalls the transformative experiences that shaped his path and led him to pursue a degree in business administration.
When Chhina joined SFU Beedie in the fall of 2018, he was uncertain about his career path and the specific area of business he wanted to specialize in. However, the vibrant and dynamic environment at the business school quickly captivated him. He was astonished by the multitude of opportunities available to students and the huge potential for personal and professional growth.
Chhina concentrated in accounting and human resources, which were areas that resonated with his interests and goals. “In high school, I took accounting classes which generated my interest for the field,” said Chhina. “During my studies at SFU Beedie, I learned more about the CPA designation and how having this credential can open up many career opportunities.”
A pivotal moment in Chhina’s academic journey was his co-op placement at BC Housing, where he gained exposure to the auditing field of accounting. This experience solidified his decision to pursue internships in public accounting, ultimately leading him towards his career choice of accounting.
Chhina’s involvement in student clubs and extracurricular activities played a crucial role in shaping his SFU Beedie experience. He actively participated in organizations such as the SFU Human Resources Student Association (HRSA), SFU JDC West, CaseIT, and Enactus SFU. In HRSA, he held various leadership roles, including Member Relations Coordinator, VP of Finance & Operations, and ultimately serving as President during the 2021–2022 term. Chhina’s participation in these clubs allowed him to enhance his skills, develop meaningful connections, and gain valuable experiences that could be transferred to the workplace.
The impact of Chhina’s extracurricular involvement extended beyond personal growth. When seeking co-op work terms, hiring managers consistently expressed interest in his student leadership roles, asking detailed questions about his experiences. It became evident to Chhina that his extracurricular involvements made him stand out in the talent pool and demonstrated his ability to balance academics with practical experiences. Notably, his leadership experience in HRSA played a pivotal role in securing prestigious internships at global companies such as EY and Grant Thornton, ultimately leading to full-time employment opportunities.
“Getting involved is the way to make the most of your SFU Beedie experience,” said Chhina. “I owe a lot of my co-op and full-time job successes to my extracurriculars as, without them, I would not have been able to explore my interests, develop key skills, and gain a wide breadth of experiences to discuss during the recruitment process.”
Reflecting on his SFU Beedie experience, Chhina highlights two key moments that left a lasting impression. One was when HRSA won Student Organization of the Year and Event of the Year at the 2022 BASS Celebration Gala for their exceptional work in leading an organization of engaged students and organizing the annual pillar networking event and case competition, Spring Soirée x Envision. This recognition validated the efforts of Chhina and his team, reinforcing their impact on the SFU Beedie community.
The other standout experience was his participation in SFU JDC West as a case competitor. The energy and excitement throughout the competition weekend showcased the strength and influence of the JDC West community across Western Canada, and winning the 2023 School of the Year award was the icing on the cake, leaving Chhina with unforgettable memories.
Throughout his journey, Chhina gleaned valuable takeaways from his SFU Beedie experience:
“Take the time to explore your interests so you can decide what you want to do in the future,” said Chhina. “Everyone finds their own success at different times, so don’t compare yourself to others and run this marathon at your own pace.”