Nina Petinglay sitting on a cushion in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre's Immersion Studio.

From baking to the Big Four: Nina Petinglay’s journey in accounting

International student from the Philippines makes the most of her MRU experience

Nina Petinglay’s advice for her fellow international students is simple yet powerful: get out of your comfort zone. From the Philippines, Petinglay is in her third year of Mount Royal’s Bachelor of Business Administration — Accounting program. And there is no doubt she takes her own advice to heart as her educational journey has been filled with embracing new experiences and seizing every opportunity that comes her way.

Family played an important role in helping Petinglay choose Mount Royal. Her father was the first to suggest studying abroad and many of her extended family members already call Calgary home, including her aunt who is an MRU nursing alumna.

“She mentioned how MRU class sizes are small so you get to talk with your peers and professors. It’s the same way in the Philippines,” Petinglay explains. “I really enjoy it because I don't have to feel anxious or nervous when asking questions. That was the biggest deciding factor.”


A sweet path to accounting

Petinglay’s entrepreneurial spirit came to light in highschool after her father decided to buy an oven. “No one was using the oven, so I thought I may as well bake some goods! But then my mom told me there were too many brownies and cookies in the house,” she laughs.

This led Petinglay to start selling her baking to friends at school. From there, a small business was born that would ultimately help fund her Visa application and part of her first year costs at MRU.

Nina Petinglay and her friends at a lake in the Rocky Mountains.


Studying business was a logical next step for Petinglay, who says that accounting in particular was an area she wanted to learn more about. “Accounting is the language of business, it’s an important skill to have,” she says, adding that she also enjoys interpreting numbers, making it a very fitting choice.

Breaking into the Big Four

All business majors at MRU give students the option to apply for the Co-operative Education (Co-op) program, which involves alternating classroom learning with terms of paid work experience. Co-op begins with a preparation class that covers skills for resumés, cover letters and networking. From there, students are invited to industry networking events and have access to a job board where they can start to apply for work positions.

“I didn’t actually know how to network before. ... After my first recruitment event, I realized these are industry professionals that I could be working with one day!’”

In her signature style, Petinglay entered the program ready to make the most of every opportunity. “I didn’t actually know how to network before,” she admits. “After my first recruitment event, I realized these are industry professionals that I could be working with one day!’”

And for Petinglay, that’s exactly what happened. At a networking event for Deloitte, one of the Big Four global accounting networks, she was able to connect with members of the audit team and was later hired on as a staff accountant.

“Getting a sense of what a busy audit and tax season looks like was a learning curve, but you learn within the job,” she says, adding that the first-hand experience also helped her better understand the system and gain more technical skills.

The eight months of work experience Petinglay has earned through her Co-op at Deloitte will count towards her future Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) designation. The connections she has made also open up more opportunities for full-time employment after graduation.

Nina Petinglay at the Mount Royal University Cougars' Crowchild Classic hockey game.
Nina Petinglay and other international students in Mount Royal University's International Student Centre.


Being supported and giving back

Thinking back to the start of her MRU journey, Petinglay credits the International Student Support Centre (ISSC) for helping make her transition as easy as possible, including pre-arrival emails filled with resources and events that helped her meet fellow students. “Having that type of support is really important, especially for someone who hasn’t been in Canada before,” she says. “The events allow you to connect with other students and build a network in a fun way.”

Wanting to give back, Petinglay began volunteering with the ISSC and has now transitioned into a full-time role where she advocates for the space, organizes events and provides support for incoming international students.

Petinglay is also active in the Bissett Accounting Student Society (BASS), helping to bring awareness to the club as well as attract and retain student members. Drawing from her own experience, Petinglay is able to speak to the benefits and processes of volunteering and the Co-op program.

“I try to spread the word about how business students have a lot of opportunities out there waiting for them,” she says.

“Having that type of support is really important, especially for someone who hasn’t been in Canada before. ... The events allow you to connect with other students and build a network in a fun way.”

A truly Canadian experience

In addition to her studies, work and volunteering, Petinglay has also been busy immersing herself in Canadian experiences, including seeing snow, trying poutine and going to the Calgary Stampede. One of the things she enjoys the most about Calgary is living close to mountains, and she'll sometimes head to nearby Kananaskis Country or Banff with friends to explore, hike and snowboard.

While she is not immune to feeling homesick, Petinglay has discovered a couple strategies to get her through.

“Calling my parents every now and then is a huge help and meeting close-knit people who I can actually open up to is a good foundation to have.” She adds that the adjustment phase can take time, and that’s okay.

While she is only half way through her degree, Petinglay is excited about the opportunities that lay ahead, from working towards her CPA designation to planning out her next entrepreneurial venture. No matter her future path, there is no doubt that she will continue to follow her own advice and always aim to step out of her comfort zone.

“You'll never know what the world has to offer until you get out there.”

Be ready for the future

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