Date posted: 04/12/2018

Natalie Lonyai on what it’s like being a CA student representative

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Each year, university students are selected to become Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand student representatives. More than 100 student reps are expected to be recruited in 2019. One of their goals is to teach their peers about the value of pursuing a career in accounting and to inspire them to one day become Chartered Accountants.

We speak to current 2018 CA student rep Natalie Lonyai about the skills she's acquired, the opportunities she's been afforded and the awesome people she's met through the experience.

For Natalie, the opportunity to become a student rep came three years ago when she made a call to Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand during the first semester of her degree at Curtin University.

"Becoming a CA student rep is one of the best things I've ever done."
Natalie Lonyai.

"I knew I wanted to be a CA after I graduated, the opportunities it presents line up perfectly with my future goals - international travel and exposure to diverse industries and complex problems - so I called to ask if there was anything that I could do at that time to set myself up for doing the CA Program after my undergrad."

The person she spoke to recommended that she consider becoming a CA Student Representative, and so she did just that! Natalie has recently finished her undergraduate degree and has a graduate role lined up at PwC next year. She plans to undertake the CA Program and aspires to one day join the board of a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to animal welfare or female representation in the industry.

Natalie Lonyai

Natalie Lonyai at the World Congress of Accountants 2018

Becoming a CA student rep may give university students the tools to build the soft skills and resume they need to be job ready once they've graduated: "I believe being a CA student rep definitely makes you more employable," Natalie says.

The role of student rep affords students with the opportunity to attend events of every size, from university social events to industry conferences. CA student reps can also benefit from introductions to industry contacts and access to experts for advice to help them kick-start their careers.

Giving presentations to other students, promoting accounting as a career path and running stalls at various fairs and exhibitions are just some of the fun activities that CA student reps can get involved in. Natalie says these activities helped to improve her interpersonal and communication skills.

Natalie Lonyai on campus

Natalie Lonyai running a stall on campus

"We often do lecture visits, typically for first-year accounting units - generally, these students are unsure about the major they've selected, if they've selected one at all, so it's a great time to provide information on all of the opportunities that a degree in accounting can bring. I usually mention some of my personal experiences with internships and vacation programs, and I've had numerous students approach me afterwards to ask for more information or express their interest in doing something similar to what I've done."

The CA student rep initiative is also an opportunity to make new friends. Natalie says she's met some awesome people during her time as a student rep that she otherwise wouldn't have - including one very important friendship that ultimately led to her and her friend establishing the Curtin Accounting Association (CAA).

"At my very first CA event, I met a girl who's still one of my best friends today, and we started a club, being the first and only accounting-focused student society at Curtin University," Natalie says. "The club has grown so much more than we expected over the years and we're so proud of the success we've had." Natalie says becoming a CA student rep can influence the way ambitious professionals of the future approach their early careers. From being introduced to potential employers at events to learning tips and tricks for success from some of the more experienced representatives - the role helps students discover ways to get ahead before they even graduate.

"If I hadn't become a CA student rep, I wouldn't have even known about most of the opportunities available to me as it's not something that's brought to your attention as a student - and changing that also been a goal for CAA. If I didn't make that call in my first semester, I wouldn't have met so many great people, started CAA, attended interesting programs or undertaken the internships. And if I didn't do those things, I probably wouldn't have a graduate job to go to next year," Natalie says. "It sounds cheesy but being a CA student rep has definitely changed my life!"