Name: Natalie Allen
Hometown:Long Beach, California
MPA track:Financial Reporting and Assurance
Class status: First year, tMPA
Graduation date: May 2018
Why did you choose the MPA program?
The prestige of UT’s accounting program motivated me to apply. Though, the deciding factor was the endless resources offered to the MPA students. From career and academic advisors to frequent interaction with diverse groups of prospective employers.
What do you look forward to most about your MPA experience?
Being able to take unique and interesting classes and forming friendships with my peers and professors.
What have you been doing since you received your undergraduate degree?
I interned in the finance and accounting department at a biotechnology company and then proceeded to start my graduate degree.
What led you to accounting?
My dad is an accountant and urged me to try out an accounting class when I was in the middle of switching majors. I liked the numbers and the rest is history.
What advice do you have for students interested in the MPA program?
Figure out if accounting is something you’re willing to spend a lot of time on. It’s not always so clear as debits and credits and can be frustrating when there is so much to learn in the field.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The football stadium!!
Where are your favorite places to go and favorite things to do in Austin?
The Salt Lick BBQ in Dirftwood. It’s a BBQ joint not far from Austin, about 30 mins away. The grounds have such a charming, friendly feel and the food is absolutely delicious.
A few weeks ago I had a friend come and stay with me. She had never been to Texas. As a matter of fact, this was her first time in the states (She’s from Wales). I was excited to show her some southern hospitality. I was making my list of things to do and I knew I had to take her on a tour of campus. I couldn’t introduce her to the wonders of Austin, TX without showing her one of the largest universities in the state.
She arrived on Friday and the first thing we did was walk to campus. As we made our way, I quickly tried to figure out which places I wanted to show her. I knew I had to take her the tower because it’s one of the main staples of the university. And, I had to show her McCombs since I was in the business school. But, where else should I take her? The more I pondered where we should go it dawned on me how many places on campus I truly loved.
After going to UT for four years, the excitement of being at the university had begun to wear off. Now that I’m a senior I take a lot of things about the university for granted. When I first got here, I walked around campus in awe. UT is such a huge place. It was overwhelming. Each new building I entered as a freshman held a new undiscovered gem. Now that I’ve been here awhile I’ve lost the feeling of excitement I used to get. It is such a normal part of my life that it’s lost it’s flare. But, walking around with my friend a few weeks ago brought back some of the energy I used to feel. As I gave her a tour, I was able to see UT through her eyes. In the spirit of the UK, I must say the University of Texas is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.
To be honest, the tour made me a bit melancholy. My time at UT is coming to an end. I’m so glad my friend came in town to help remind me how lucky I am to not only be part of an amazing program, but also go to a school with a fantastic campus. As MPA’s were lucky we have a fifth year here. During my next year and a half, I’m going to try and spend sometime enjoying the places that have brought me some of my best memories.
Anyone who knows me knows I love organization. I get excited about buying planners and stationary (I am indeed a nerd). I know that other people do not find the same joy in planning. Warning: if you are that person, this article will be painfully boring for you.
Currently, I’m using four planners/calendars: Google calendar, a planner for recruiting, a planner for schoolwork, and a planner for my extracurricular activities.
Recently, I was introduced to something called bullet journaling. It is “a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.” I found this concept intriguing because I already keep a journal and a planner but not a combination of the two. I decided to try it out. Here are some examples of bullet journaling:
- Bullet journaling is extremely time consuming. It is a sketchbook, planner, and journal all rolled into one…. which means it takes 3 x as much time as a regular planner if you want to make it pretty like the ones I found above. However, if you already do all of these three things separately, it may actually be a time saver because everything is in the same place.
- It is extremely helpful for habit tracking and goal-setting. I now have small and large goals set for myself in a week, month, and year that are carefully organized (they existed before, but were kind of taped on sticky notes in various locations).
- Bullet Journaling is good for the individual that…
- Has a prolific amount of to-do lists floating around
- Like goal-setting and habit tracking
- Enjoys handwriting things
I know that as the semester gets busier, I may not be able to keep up a bullet journal and may revert back to my prior planner/Google Calendar system. For now, it is a welcome form of goal setting and planning. If you’re interested, here’s a helpful article from Buzzfeed to get you started.
The MPA program at the University of Texas is number one for a reason. The faculty is amazing. The research being done is innovative. And, the students are brilliant. But, sometimes being around such greatness can be a lot of pressure. The environment is very competitive even with the comradeship fostered by both Longhorn and McCombs school spirit. Everyone around you worked hard to get to where they are and they continue to work hard to get to where they want to go. On top of all that, there’s an expectation of excellence within the MPA program. It didn’t reach #1 for nothing! While accepting the challenge will be great for any students future career, it can be stressful. I’m going to share some strategies I use to manage the stress.
Every night I try and get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. I take this especially serious before I take exams. Some students will try to tell you they only need 4-6 hours of sleep and they feel alright. But, getting the doctor recommended amount of sleep not only keeps you sharp and focused, but also decreases your stress levels. Being tired can make you irritable and less ready to take on challenges during the day. If you’re tired before all of your classes it’s going to be difficult to pay attention. This will eventually catch up to you when its time for exams.
Working out has two benefits. If you do it regularly, it gives you more energy throughout the day. It can also serve as a great stress reliever on your most frustrating days. If there’s a big event coming up that I’m worried about, I’m more adamant about exercising. Working out burns some of the energy I would’ve put towards thinking about my anxieties.
This last tip is a bit corny, but it really works. I’m always looking for ways to optimize my performance. But, it can also lead to a lot of stress because of all of the pressure you are putting on yourself. In my apartment I have a mason jar that I call my “happiness jar.” At the end of everyday, I force myself to write down three to five positive things that happen to me. It reminds me to not only focus on the long term goals, but to enjoy the present.
Stress isn’t always negative. It’s a great motivator and is very helpful when solving difficult problems. But, it shouldn’t be a constant thing. So, next time you’re feeling stressed try one of my tips.
Like most good college students, I want good grades. A wise man once said, “pain is temporary, GPA is forever”.
This semester, I’m struggling. My grades aren’t bad but they aren’t where they’ve been in the past. I’m taking on more challenging classes, more hours, and more nonacademic responsibilities (Is this what being an adult feels like?). I’m used to being a 4.0 student, and this semester, I will no longer have this beautiful, perfect GPA unless some miracle happens(thanks, MPA). I am not meeting my own high expectations.
I spent the first half of this semester living in fear of these grades and numbers ruining my life (My internal thoughts: Oh no! No one will ever hire me because I didn’t make all A’s. What if I ACTUALLY “fail” and get kicked out of iMPA? Then no one will hire me. I’ll have to live in my parents’ basement ).
All of this fear mongering, courtesy of my own brain, made me forget why I was taking these classes in the first place. To learn.
My dad is a professor, and he’s always harped that the reason why we get an education is to… well, be educated. The reason I’m taking all these classes isn’t so I accumulate a number that defines who I am. The reason I’m taking these classes is so that I learn valuable skills that I can apply in the future. I need to remember that I actually enjoy this stuff.
Ever since this epiphany, I have been trying to ignore the grade and focus more on learning and retaining the knowledge I’m receiving. I’m going to need it. So far, it has made my experience much more enjoyable and much less stressful. Hopefully, the good grades will just follow. If not, that’s okay. I will die happy knowing that I learned the necessary skills I need to succeed in the future.
A wise woman (me) once said, “GPA is temporary, learning is forever”.