It’s hard to believe that this is the year us tMPAs graduate! Some students will finish in May, some in July, and others in August and Spring Commencement is less than four months away. Last week, Spring Semester kicked off and it has been great to see everyone back on campus again after taking off five well-deserved weeks to renew and refresh.
One of the trips I took this past month was to Big Bend with four other tMPAs. Big Bend is a national park in West Texas, about a 7-8 hour drive from Austin. We arrived on a Tuesday and departed that Friday. We were car camping for two of the nights, but on Wednesday morning, we put on our packs and hiked up to the South Rim. The ascent was challenging (switchback after switchback while carrying a heavy load that included all of our water for the entire trip) and it took us 6 hours. Once at the top, we found ourselves at the edge of a 2,000′ cliff. Clouds blanketed the still landscape and we had the place to ourselves. Over the next 13 hours, we were able to catch both a breathtaking starry night sky and a magnificent sunrise.
I can’t help but draw parallels between the hike and the MPA experience. While “in it,” the end seems far off and out of reach. At times, it can be difficult to keep up ones motivation or remember look around and appreciate the view. Luckily, we have people surrounding us who are going through the same journey (as well as those supporting us from the outside), constantly lending encouragement and a helping hand. In the end we get there together, to the top. And the view is going to be spectacular.
There are a few things that we all learn through our experience in this program. Some of those things being Financial Accounting Concepts and Research and GAAP, and others being things worth laughing about. I prefer to laugh at those things.
In an attempt to post less than 1,000 words, I’ll post each of these topics on its own. Consider this Part 1.
So, you’ve joined the program, and that’s about it. You’ve received acceptance and you kind-of know how to dress for orientation (more on that later), and you show up for said orientation and are handed a binder that contains everything you need to know inside of it. Everything is laid out for you, and all you need to do is choose. Choose what kind of accountant you’d like to be. No, really, it’s okay, just choose your track.
I think this moment frightens everyone. Sure, most of us probably have some idea of which track is the least appealing to us, but how on Earth are we supposed to jump right in and choose which direction in which we’d like to develop our accounting careers? The information provided about each track is great, and I think most students who end up in the MPA Program are receptive to statistics, and those are helpful also.
Here’s what you’ve probably already learned, that new 3rd years will be learning for years and years after you: this is not a make-or-break decision. This is not like the faction-choosing ceremony in Divergent. Your blood does not commit you to one track for life. While it’s a good idea to do some research on your own and really consider what your personal goals and interests are for your future career, your initial choice is really more of a place-holder until you either confirm it or decide to change it. I don’t know many students who have had a hard time doing this in time for recruiting season. I did it right before recruiting season. We are exposed to so much information and so many resources and professionals with personal experiences to share in our first semester of our 3rd year that it’s hard not to form an idea of which area of accounting best fits us individually. MPA career consultants are also incredibly helpful. No need to fret. You are not going to be factionless. (Last Divergent reference, swear.)
I’ve never been one for New Years Resolutions, but this year I’ve come back from Christmas break inspired. The pace of last year’s summer classes caught me off guard, and I never reset before diving into fall semester and recruiting. However, Christmas break gave me a chance to veg and catch my breath, and now I’m ready for both school and extracurricular goals!
A huge goal of mine last year was searching for a job I wanted, then going and getting it. I still can’t believe how quickly the process flew by, but there it went. Now, I’m trying to get back into good habits to make life in Austin a little easier and to prep myself for the working world again. First, like everyone else, I want to get in better shape. This is more of a need than a want for two big reasons. One, exercise is extremely important to both physical and mental health, and two, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I signed myself up for a few of road races (including the 3M Half Marathon and Cap 10K), and I really don’t want to be that guy in the back of the ambulance at Mile 5. As a result, I’m starting to take better advantage Gregory Gym across from McCombs and trying to consume less Starbucks and Chick-fil-A at the SAC. (I’m so basic.)
Since I’m beginning to panic now that I know I’m leaving Austin in just six short months, my second big goal is to take better advantage of the city. I’m double dipping on this goal because I also want to take my wife on more date nights, thanks to the suggestion of my wonderful co-workers in Career Services. Therefore, I enlisted the help of Austin Yelp and Austin Eater for great suggestions on places to go. Goodbye to getting in better shape!
Additionally, some goals will not change. Of course, I still want to do well in school. Also, we are planning awesome events for spring recruiting that I want to make sure are exceptional. I guess that’s the thing that has surprised me most about this program: Despite how challenging the coursework is, I have always been inspired and encouraged to do more, and that’s exactly what I’ll do in 2015!
It’s almost the holidays!
Beyond wonderful time with family, I always look forward to ridiculous amounts of pie, turkey, potatoes, and cookies. However, this weekend, I was thinking of Thanksgiving and how lucky we all are to be in this wonderful country. I started wondering what makes this country so great, and I realized that the first Thanksgiving embodies what is so special: We all pitch in to help each other out.
As we all know, the Pilgrims would not have survived without the Native American people. The Native Americans provided food for the Pilgrims to survive the winter. Thankfully, Americans have made not only a habit but a culture of pitching in. Therefore, I want to encourage everyone to help others as well!
Without a doubt, one of the best parts about being an accountant is job security—every company needs us. This also means that every non-profit and organization needs us too! There are unlimited opportunities to help the people around us, and the holidays are a great reminder to do so. Therefore, I charge us get involved however possible, whether giving back to the MPA Program, serving food to the homeless, helping underprivileged folks with their tax returns, volunteering as an organization’s treasurer, or any other way we can help other human beings.
This Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for all the times we’ve been helped, and let that inspire to get involved and lend a hand ourselves!
In my previous post, I highlighted some perks about being an MPA wherein I focused on tangible goodies like laptop rentals, nameplates, and the lounge. However, there are many more reasons that I am proud to be an MPA, namely the constant and varied opportunities to learn new things outside of the classroom. Specifically, I have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with accounting professors during cookie breaks and faculty lunches hosted by the MPA Office in their conference room. At cookie breaks the office provides a delicious variety from Tiff’s Treats, established in 1999 by two UT sophomores from their dorm room oven. For lunches, an assortment of sandwiches from Jason’s Deli is provided. Though yummy, the focus here is not on the food, but rather the interaction with the faculty.
Most recently, I joined Professor Michael Granof for lunch, wherein he discussed his background (he has been at UT since the 1970s!) and current projects including his position on the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). Dr. Granof relayed stories of sitting in deliberation for hours on end with his fellow board members, discussing a new standard. At the beginning of his tenure in 2010, he initially found the proceedings quite tedious. With some time, however, he found the gradual and detailed conversations to be not only useful but necessary. Standards setting is a high-stakes and complex process with nuances and implications that should be given fair and thorough thought. Each board member brings a unique viewpoint to be considered and in the end, a unified compromise must be made. Dr. Granof remarked that at first it was difficult to let go of objectives he held dear to his heart and make such compromises but in the end, one “cannot let the perfect stand in the way of the good.” This sentiment struck a cord with me as its application certainly extends beyond the GASB board room and into our every day lives. Dr. Granof certainly got me thinking and I look forward to attending another cookie break or lunch at the office soon.
On a completely unrelated note, one of my most recent Austin adventures was to Allen’s on South Congress. I was considering making my Texan-hood official with a pair of cowboy boots but didn’t bite the bullet this time. I will definitely be back if not to seal the deal, to ensconce myself once again in that velvety leather smell. I suggest you check out this Austin staple and their 4,000+ boots on display.