At GEMinar 3, the GEMgirls were asked to set a personal goal and develop a “plan of attack” to achieve it. Without a second thought, I decided my goal would be “gaining professional development and insights into the workplace”, specifically in finance, as it is my main career aspiration. As for my “plan”, one of the things I wrote down was gaining experience through an internship. Little did I know, two months later, my plan would turn into reality.

In April 2019, I had the opportunity of attending a GEM workshop hosted at Burgundy Asset Management, a reputable firm on Bay Street. I had been anticipating the seminar as its theme “Careers in Finance and How to Pursue Them” piqued my interest. Despite the slim chance of me landing an internship at such an established investment firm as a high school student, a voice inside me urged me to try. After all, at previous GEMinars and workshops I have attended, I had always encountered friendly professionals and an open-minded, welcoming environment. After communicating with the GEM staff, who kindly encouraged and supported me, I approached the recruiting manager at Burgundy. To my amazement, that small act of stepping out of my comfort zone sparked a series of surprises, and eventually led to a summer internship at Burgundy Asset Management. 

While I was already inspired at the workshop after learning about the finance industry and tackling a mock case study, being on the job entailed much more. The kindness of the staff, the growth-centric company culture and the incredibly supportive environment fuelled my curiosity for learning and the confidence to push my limits. Aside from developing a vast array of employable skills, I was able to challenge myself with technical reading materials and applying these concepts to my own projects. I had the chance to speak with numerous professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences in areas of finance, such as investment analysis, accounting, auditing, investor relations and counselling. Through hearing their stories and exploring my own interests by completing different tasks, I had realized a genuine passion for financial analysis. The idea and procedure of investigating the financial, business and managerial characteristics of different companies highly intrigued me, and I am very glad to have found a clearer direction going into my last year of high school. The skills I acquired and refined during my internship will largely help me as I progress in my learning and professional pursuits. I now have greater confidence and courage to further my studies in commerce during my post-secondary education and look forward to more educational and career opportunities to enhance my abilities.

While talking with the staff at Burgundy, many reiterated the importance of mentorship (including the CEO himself!), most of whom received constructive and often pivotal advice from their mentors on their career direction and personal development. I am very appreciative of having built a meaningful connection with my GEM mentor, as well as the mentors I had the fortune of meeting at Burgundy Asset Management. 

Thinking back to GEMinar 3, I would have never known that I would be able to achieve my quite ambiguous and ambitious goal. On top of many other things I was able to take away from this past year in the GEM program, my first-ever internship opportunity was yet another surprise that GEM has provided me. Beyond appreciative for this incredible learning experience, I am certain that my summer at Burgundy Asset Management will continue to impact me throughout my journey of self-discovery.