The Subtle Art of Sarcasm: Why candidate professionalism at virtual workshops is ‘overrated’

By Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA
Feb 11, 2022
Photo credit: Aitormmfoto/

Watch out, people. I’m starting this year off HOT! 

We have ventured into this new year of 2022, and it is leaving a lot of us feeling those 2021 vibes. While I remain optimistic “the best is yet to come” in both this decade and our careers, I recognize that times are still difficult

Rather than providing a few suggestions on how candidates should be engaged at the Virtual Module Workshop (VMW), I decided to write a list of reasons candidates should not fully participate in their weekend workshop session.

1. My virtual candidate presence does not matter 

Huh? They are a person on a screen. Therefore, my actions in the quasi-virtual environment do not represent “me”. They just represent virtual me. The thing is, who you present yourself to be, is who you are. 

Or, in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn,  

“Wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking right now, that’s what’s on your mind.”

My question to you is, who are you, and where do you wish to go? Make sure that person shows up to the module workshop, virtual or otherwise. 

2. There are no repercussions for not participating 

Well…that’s not exactly true. Your Session Leader has strict guidance from the School both in the number of hours you participate and the quality of those hours. Both thresholds must be met; otherwise, they have no choice to give you a zero for the VMW participation grade, which is worth 10 percent of your overall grade. This is a friendly reminder to keep your eye out for exam eligibility by week, as missing 10 percent of the overall points makes it much more challenging, potentially impossible, to earn the right to write your in-person or virtual module exam

3. Module workshops don’t help with exam prep 

Not exactly. While the VMW is not a straight “exam prep” workshop, the content covered in the workshop is the same examinable content you may see at your module exam. 

4. Module workshops don’t cover assignment set content 

Whoops! Same as #3 above, the content in the VMW, Assignment Sets, and Module Exams all come from the same module section in the Competency Map. In plain English: the workshop, when utilized appropriately, can indirectly and directly prepare you for the module exams. Still not feeling like you are getting “enough” from the workshop? Ask questions! Help out your peers! Test your understanding in a low-stakes environment. Your investment of time and energy will pay dividends before you know it. 

5. Module workshops do not lead to connections, jobs, or future opportunities

While CPA PEP is not a job placement service, it does get you in front of current and future CPAs. You never know which connection may land you your next job or awesome mentor. 

In summary, my suggestion is clear. I suggest you show up as the same incredible human you are and the CPA you aspire to be, regardless of the venue. Yes, our virtual selves are tired, and yes, our beds are often mere footsteps from our desks. I implore you to fight that urge and make the most of your twelve hours that weekend. Absorb knowledge, put yourselves in an excellent place for smashing that module exam, and proceed to the next stage in your CPA journey, all the way to the CFE and beyond. 

You’ve got this!

Do you have feedback on this post or a question you’d like answered by an experienced CPAWSB educator? Please contact your facilitator or send a question to the General Topic in the Candidate Discussion forum. 

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB and a Senior Instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.