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University: University of Toronto, Canada
School: 'Udha E Shkronjave' Cambridge International School, Tirana, Albania
Cambridge IGCSEs Accounting, Chemistry, Computer Science, English as a Second Language, ICT, Mathematics, Physics
Cambridge International AS & A Level Accounting, Law, Mathematics
Future plans: To start work in an international accountancy firm, build a consulting career and become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
At school, how did you decide which Cambridge International subjects to study?
I chose subjects from a variety of fields in order to develop a better understanding of what interested me most, and what I wanted to pursue when I went to university. I made sure to explore my options and compare my performance in different courses, to find out the subjects in which I excelled.
Did your Cambridge International studies help you choose your degree course?
When I initially started my Cambridge International courses I wasn’t sure what degree to take at university, even though I was interested in a range of fields. My Cambridge studies had a profound influence on my eventual choice of degree, especially Cambridge IGCSE Accounting and all my Cambridge International AS & A Levels. Accounting was unlike any subject I had taken before and the course sparked my interest in business and in pursuing a degree in business administration.
How did your Cambridge International A Levels support your application to the University of Toronto?
I believe that my high grades helped my application to the University of Toronto. Also, my Cambridge International AS & A Levels earned me three transfer credits, for Accounting, Law and Mathematics. This was a huge help as it meant that I had already covered some of the course material before I began my first year of university study. For example, my transfer credit for Cambridge International A Level Mathematics gave me the opportunity to skip the ‘Calculus for Management’ course if I wanted. However, I chose to take the course since I had already done the preparation for it (as part of my A Level) and thought it would serve to boost my Grade Point Average (GPA) for my first year.
Did your Cambridge International studies give you other advantages?
In terms of content, I found that I had already covered most of the material in my Financial Accounting course (delivered during my first semester) during my preparation for Cambridge International A Level Accounting. My Cambridge International studies also gave me the skills I needed to tackle those university courses which demand a lot of reading - the Cambridge International A Level Law syllabus was great preparation for this type of course.
Why did you decide to travel from Albania to Canada for your degree?
Canada offers some of the highest ranked tertiary education institutions in the world that provide students with an internationally recognised education. I believed that studying in Canada would provide me with more opportunities in terms of my future career because of the high quality and reputation of the country’s degree programmes.
How are you finding life in Canada? Is it as you expected?
Living in Canada has been a very exciting journey. Apart from enjoying the lifestyle of a university student, I have also been introduced to a variety of cultures by meeting people from different backgrounds who have come to Canada from all over the world. Building relationships, and learning from each other, has been one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of living here. Although I had heard about Canada's diversity I was still surprised to experience it first hand.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your university studies?
The pandemic meant that I had to acquire additional study skills to help me excel in a virtual learning environment. Some of these changes were actually beneficial, such as recorded lectures, while others were more challenging especially online examinations. Not being able to meet my classmates and professors in person also meant that I had to go the extra mile to build relationships within the university community. This involved going to virtual networking events, taking part in case competitions, joining clubs and making sure to ‘visit’ professors in virtual office hours.
Why have you decided to stay in Toronto to start your career, and what are your long term plans?
While at university I became familiar with the Canadian job market and what I needed to do to achieve my career goals. I also attended networking events, and met employees and executives from a variety of companies in Toronto, to gain a better understanding of different work environments and company cultures. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to stay in Toronto, and in fact I’ve recently been offered a job with the Canadian branch of a leading international accountancy firm. My long term plan is to develop a consulting career and obtain my CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) qualification. Right now, I am exploring different aspects of consulting to find the area which suits me best, and eventually I would like to gain a managerial position where I could lead a team and manage projects.
Would you recommend Cambridge qualifications to other students considering university?
I would strongly recommend Cambridge qualifications to any students considering continuing their education after secondary school. Not only are Cambridge International courses incredible preparation for academic study, but they can also help shape your interests and identify your passions, vital if you are uncertain about your future direction.