Final Austin Recommendations

In no time at all, my final exams for Advanced Accounting and Ethics will be over and my time as a tMPA will be complete. The past year has been incredible (and busy!) and I couldn’t depart without leaving the blog with some final Austin-area suggestions:

Pacha – This is my #1 go-to spot for breakfast/brunch. The pancakes are unparalleled and the space is cute and funky. Service can be slow on weekends since pancakes are made from scratch and the kitchen is small.

Sandy’s – This place has been around since 1945 and is hopping on weekend evenings. The burgers, fries, and custard-based shakes are worth checking out. Sandy’s is a hop and skip away from Zilker, so you can plan to go after a picnic or a dip in Barton Springs Pool.

Barton Springs Pool
Tacodeli
 – There are tons of taco shops in Austin but my favorite has to be Tacodeli for the selection and awesome queso. Sadly, it is only open for breakfast and lunch. If you are craving tacos in the evening (and why wouldn’t you be), try Las Trancas.

Crown and Anchor – This bar is close to campus and has a good selection of beer and bar food. On Sunday evenings, games of pool are free.

Violet Crown and Alamo Drafthouse – These are my two favorite theaters to catch a movie in Austin. Violet Crown is downtown on 2nd Street and Alamo has several locations around town. Both theaters serve food but Alamo takes things to the next level with servers that come right to your seat.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum – If you’re an MPA student, you know Charles Umlauf’s work because Umlauf sculpted The Family Group in front of McCombs. The Umlauf is a beautiful space with a rotating indoor exhibit, and a permanent collection outdoors. I highly recommend a visit.

Thank you for reading. I wish the best of luck to the MPA class of 2017 and beyond.

When a 4-Hour Flight Turned into 24

You might have heard the phrase, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” What I learned from my prolonged and exhausting trip last week while traveling for an AICPA workshop is my attempt at making a cup of tasty lemonade.

My original plan was to fly from Washington DC to Chicago to Austin. I would be arriving around 10 pm on Saturday and the next day I could study for a Monday exam. Everything was great.

But it did not go like that, at all. I ended up arriving in Austin at 10 pm on Sunday night and cramming at the last minute before the exam.

plane was delayed

What happened was the flight from Washington DC to Chicago was delayed, so I did not catch the flight from Chicago to Austin. The flight was rescheduled to 11 am on Sunday and I end up staying in Chicago for one night. Next day in front of the gate, I found out the rescheduled flight was cancelled. After calming myself down, I called and booked the earliest flight available, which was on Monday afternoon. When I asked the agent for a hotel voucher, she said there was none but she offered to fly me from Chicago to Nashville to Dallas to Austin, arriving at 10 pm on Sunday. Weighing costs and benefits, I went with the latter choice (already thinking like an accountant!).

Things I learned:

  1. If you are traveling for a job interview, keep the interviewers’ contact information handy (both in your phone and on paper), in case you need to inform them unexpected delays.
  2. Always be nice and calm when talking to agents (especially when you wear a longhorn shirt). Being mad at them does not mitigate the problem. First of all, delays and cancellation are not their fault. More importantly, your emotional arguments could distract them from finding the optimal solution for you.
  3. Be firm on your rights. Know your rights and the company’s obligations in unexpected flight delays or cancellations. Reading the company’s official website or 3rd party forums could be helpful.
  4.  Technical side: download the documents you want to review on the laptop when you have internet, in case you cannot find access at the airport. Also, buy a portable battery charger for your phone. Outlets can be hard to find and you might forget your phone in the charging station.

The bottom line: prepare for everything, expect nothing.

Jumping Right In

Hi y’all! My name is Karin Schultz and I’m a Louisiana native that came to the MPA program by way of New York and California. I’m currently enrolled in two summer courses with about 30 other tMPA students gearing up for the fall semester. I’m happy to say that I’ve survived my first three weeks of class, including a Financial Accounting test and a Tax test! In our short summer sessions we have our second tests in both courses coming up this week.

Tax Present
We even got a present our first day of tax!

Coming into the program I wasn’t sure what to expect: I took my prerequisites at a local California university, and honestly, they weren’t very challenging. Being out of a rigorous academic environment for two years had led to some mental shock that can be best described using phrases such as, “Will the ratio of 10 chapters of reading/5 hours of sleep=coffee?” and “I’ve been doing my taxes wrong all this time.” Both professors, Lendecky (but please, call him Brian) and Holbrook, are excellent; they take time to explain things that students don’t understand and have office hours multiple days a week for us to come ask our ever mounting questions.

While these classes are pushing me to get my mind in shape, I’m already finding areas of accounting that appeal to me. This is fantastic, given that recruiting starts in less than a month! Three weeks from now I’ll be meeting with faculty, classmates, and recruiters as I try to figure out where I want to be when I graduate. I’ve heard it’s a wild ride, but this intensity is part of what drew me to the MPA program. I want to learn with the best, from the best, and be recruited by the best. (In case you didn’t know, my use of “best” is warranted.) In my short time on campus I’ve even learned a little phrase that will make you friends wherever you go:

Tower

Hook ‘em Horns

Unexpected Opportunities in the tMPA Curriculum

As I near the end of my tMPA career, I have been reflecting on three unexpected opportunities that the tMPA curriculum has brought my way.

email_nite_400W_iStock_000022788611Large1. Writing – Often when people think of accountants, they think of number crunchers. However, accountants of all types encounter plenty of writing in their professional careers in email form, report form, and everything in between. As such, the MPA curriculum incorporates quite a few writing assignments to get MPAs ready for the real world. My Ethics course (BGS 381L) this summer session has ten journal assignments and my Fraud (ACC 383K.4) course last summer session had three written cases. So to the incoming and prospective students out there, sharpen up those Word skills and get ready to hone your prose–you’ll need more than Excel to get through the MPA. Luckily Microsoft Office is sold at the UT Campus Computer Store in the Flawn Academic Center (FAC) for a steep educational discount.

2. Guest Speakers – I had no idea just how many opportunities I would have to interact with a wide range of guest speakers in the classroom such as Mack Brown, a former FBI agent, and of course several public accounting and industry professionals. The MPA Distinguished Speakers Lyceum provides the most obvious opportunity to encounter speakers, however, most of my classes also had speaker presentations. These presentations are a great opportunity to mix up the day, gain insight, and network.

3. Group Projects and Presentations – In our careers, we will likely work on countless teams. Numerous group projects are woven into the MPA curriculum that allow MPAs to work on both our team and presentation skills. School is a great opportunity to work on these skills before heading off to full-time employment.

In sum, not only has the tMPA curriculum developed my “hard” accounting skills, but it prepared me holistically for the workplace through writing assignments, guest speaker interactions, and group projects and presentations.

MPA Study Abroad – Buenos Aires, Argentina

I personally never thought I would go on a study abroad trip. So much planning, I thought. Money, time, and uncertainties all made a study abroad experience seem infeasible. Would I get the credits I need to graduate? Would I lose an entire Summer that I could be taking other classes or interning instead?

Fear not, the MPA Study Abroad Program (SAP) got you covered. The five-week SAP is a well thought out program to suit those needs specific to an MPA student.

MPA students who want to take part simply need to fill out a short form to be entered into a raffle for the program (with different country/city as home base). This year the options were Prague, Paris, and Buenos Aires. Each participant had their own reasons of choosing the location, but I chose Buenos Aires, Argentina, to become a better Spanish speaker and learn Latin American culture in person. Once you’re selected into a program, the program coordinator and your program liaison will contact you with further directions specific to the location.

The SAP experience takes into account that the MPA program has a stringent course requirements, so the classes abroad consist of two graduate level courses that every MPA needs to take. It only takes up the first half of Summer so those who plan on taking Summer session 2 will not have a problem. This year in Buenos Aires there was an internship position starting a week after the last SAP class.

And to top it all, it was the best experience imaginable.

I loved the experience more than I thought I ever could. Each weekend our SAP crew planned personal excursions (on top of paid-for-excursions planned by your liaison) to visit all around the country. From Buenos Aires, our crew visited (among others): Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Salta (salt flats), Iguazu Falls (7 natural wonders), Perito Moreno (one of the few growing glaciers), Mendoza (the wine-capital of the world), and Ushuaia (southernmost city of the world).

I recommend future students plan to study abroad trip with the MPA program. Te prometo que jamás te vas a arrepentir.

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La Estancia – Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Iguazu Falls – Misiones, Argentina
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Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
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Perito Moreno Glacier – El Calafate, Argentina

 

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