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My Capstone 1 module workshop just wrapped up few hours ago. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I debated writing a post on this right away. It was a struggle to stay productive after as the 2-day weekend workshop was live with multiple activities (including a short presentation with your group). Most of us worked all week (right after month-end for me) so to add on another 2 full days of “work” meant we were more tired than usual.

RELATED POST – CPA Capstone 1 – Tips on How to Do Well

However, I thought I would write a post on what to expect at the Capstone 1 workshop as I think it will be beneficial to those of you taking Capstone 1 in the future (or even at the same time as me).

Read all of my CPA CFE posts here

What Are You Supposed to Do Before the Capstone 1 Workshop

Read the Capstone 1 Case & Submit Your Pre-Work

I can’t stress this enough but for the sake of everyone’s weekend, please read the Capstone 1 case at least once. Personally, I skipped and skimmed several sections as the 59-page case on waste disposal was probably one of the driest materials I have read. However, I was confident that I had a high-level understanding of what was going on in the case. I was also lucky enough to be able to discuss with several of my friends who I went to college with as we are taking Capstone 1 together. During my reading, I paid attention to the strategic and operational issues as requested (as it formed the pre-work you had to submit on D2L).

You see, the pre-work itself was not going to make or break your module workshop grade. It was also evident by how quickly it was marked without feedback that it was more for participation marks. However, I stressed the importance of reading the Capstone 1 case at least once because you don’t want to be THAT person in the group. The person who did not read it and as a result, not able to contribute meaningfully. I was lucky that all of my group members, including myself, have read the case. We were able to check off half of the work required for Week 1 submission (the Friday following the workshop weekend). By the time we enrolled in Capstone 1, we would have completed 4 PEP modules and be only a few months away from CFE. You don’t want to neglect your responsibilities.

Review the Module Pre-Work Checklist

I am going to admit that I did not do everything on the module pre-work checklist. Aside from the case reading and issues identification, the remaining tasks were either quick (e.g., have a copy of your DiSC profile), repeated (e.g., watch The CPA Way video) or non-mission critical (e.g., read the 30+ pages Candidate Guide Addendum). My suggestion is to pick and choose the tasks you can complete prior to the workshop depending on your workload and schedule. If you can’t complete all of them in time, you can always come back to the checklist and tackle them slowly instead.

(Virtual Workshop) Sign the Candidate Agreement

Since my workshop was online via Zoom, I had to sign the candidate agreement electronically. I received the email with the 6-page document to read before I sign the agreement exactly a week before the workshop. If you are also taking the Capstone 1 workshop online, make sure you watch out for an email from CPA about one week before the workshop.

What Happens on Day 1 of the Capstone 1 Workshop

Capstone 1 Overview & Team Work

The theme of Day 1 of the Capstone 1 workshop is an overview of Capstone 1 and teamwork. For my workshop, there were 3 groups of 5 candidates with one facilitator. After an overview of Capstone 1 itself, we spent the remaining day on several activities with our group members (which will be your group throughout Capstone 1). None of the groups met prior to this (the group assignment was only announced a couple of days prior to the workshop) so the activities were mostly interactive and short.

Preparation for Group Presentation on Day 2

After lunch, the facilitator did a presentation on effective team presentation strategies. This was followed by our last group activity of the day which was to prepare for the 10-minute (2-minute each) group presentation the next morning. We were given an actual Capstone 1 report from previous years and asked to present on that. It felt weird at first as we all had no idea what we were talking about. However, as I will discuss in the later section, it went better than expected for all groups at my workshop.

How My Capstone 1 Group Prepared for the Group Presentation

We understood the importance of balancing the quality of the presentation and also avoiding over-preparation. Since we all had a long day after a workweek, we accomplished the following during the time we were given at the workshop without meeting up after:

  • divided up the parts (e.g., introduction, agenda, strategy #1, strategy #2, expansion, conclusion)
  • exchanged contact information
  • started a Google Slides and added everyone as collaborators
  • decided on font, font size & themes
  • set out some expectations (e.g., no reading off of the case, make sure your slides are consistent with others) and decided on the length of each person’s oral presentation (we just did it equally and assigned 2 minutes each)

What I found beneficial at this stage (and definitely so throughout Capstone 1) was to be aware of the team’s strengths and weaknesses as early as you can. We have previously discussed our DiSC profiles already (an activity before lunch) and have already noticed some of us were perfectionists and some tended to go too fast-paced (I am guilty as charged). Being aware of the different styles helped set the team’s expectations.

What Happens on Day 2 of the Capstone 1 Workshop

Group Presentations

We spent the entire morning on group presentations. Even though there were only 3 groups whose presentations were supposed to be 10-minute long, various issues have caused all of them to be longer than 10 minutes. On top of that, the other two groups were expected to ask questions and provide feedback after every group’s presentation. The facilitator was also responsible for giving constructive feedback on the presentations.

Group Work Time for Week 1 Submission

We had a short lecture on The CPA Way shortly before lunch. After lunch, it was time for the groups to work on their own again. There are both individual and group submissions due on Friday following the workshop.

Individual

  • module workshop survey
  • academic honesty quiz

Group

  • team agreement
  • team project plan
  • team project schedule

Depending on how your group decides to divide up the work, you might or might not have to meet again before the submission deadline for the group tasks. For my group, we were able to get most of the team agreement done, assigned parts for the project plan and finished up with week 1 of the project schedule. We set up a time to meet again a couple of days before the submission deadline and after we have had a chance to work on our assigned parts.

My friend’s group was able to get all of week 1’s submissions done during the workshop while everyone (except for my friend) did not even read the case in my other friend’s group. It really depends on how your team dynamic is. However, do not be afraid of setting up expectations if you are worried. We are all professionals here and should be expected to act accordingly. After all, your group can pass without you passing.

What Happens Immediately After the Capstone 1 Workshop (Week 1 of Capstone)

As I have already mentioned, my group is meeting up again before week 1’s submission deadline. We plan on finishing up all of week 1’s submissions with some of us tasked with reviewing parts of the final submission before handing it in. The work we are all assigned to do before our next meeting required at least another read-through of the case. This would be perfect as we also decided to discuss which parts of the case we are interested in. Since my group consists of people with different strengths and working knowledge (e.g., tax, assurance, finance), it is expected that we will have preferences on which parts we want to do.

My Capstone 1 Goals

Now that I have gone through the module workshop and gained a better understanding of the actual mechanisms of the 8-week module, I have the following goals for myself:

  • commit to working on my parts as scheduled and attend all meetings
  • not fall behind on my CFE reviews (completely optional as many don’t start CFE prep this early)
  • group goal: finish the Part 3 submission the weekend before the deadline (due date is the day after Canada Day)

RELATED POST – CPA CFE 2021 Study Plan – 5 Months Before CFE

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