A Day In The Life

Hi everyone,

As I was considering programs, I remember wondering what my life might look like as a MPA student at UT. Well it’s hectic to say the least. Here’s a peek in on my day, Monday, October 12th.

5:45am – Wake up. I caught a break this morning and got to sleep an extra 15 minutes. My mom is a teacher and I ride into town every day with her, but thanks to the holiday (Columbus Day) traffic was light.

And this was a good day!

6:45am – Leave home. This is always hectic, mostly because our chocolate lab doesn’t understand the concept of personal space.

7:30am – Get to campus. I like being here early-it gives me a chance to read whatever novel I’m currently on (I’ve been reading 1-2 books a week lately).

8:00am – Financial Management for MPAs with Professor Rao. There are a lot of other MPAs in this section and he does his best to engage us at this early hour.

9:30am – Work. I have a pretty great job! I’m the Marketing Student Assistant in the Accounting Department. This day in particular I worked on blog posts, editing write ups of my conversations with PhD students, taking pictures for student profiles, and figuring out how to best highlight our faculty’s excellent research.

One hot afternoon in September I ran around campus with a tiny foam finger to take pictures for Instagram.

12:30pm – Lunchtime. I try to wait until after work to eat, but that doesn’t always happen. If I’m not eating at this time I can be found doing work in the MPA lounge or running at Gregory.

1:00pm – Homework. I spent time working on a case that’s due tomorrow in Assurance (Professor Bradshaw) and on Intermediate homework that’s do Friday (Professor Chen). Trying to get out ahead, or at least stay on track, can be very difficult especially while recruiting.

I’m still awed by the beauty of this campus. Hook ‘em!

3:30pm – Managerial Accounting with Professor Laux. Our section is on the smaller side, but pretty amazing. I love that all of our learning in this class is tied directly to case studies.

4:45pm – Leaving Campus. I lucked out today and was able to get a ride home with my mom. I usually have to take a bus, which can take 45-60 minutes depending on traffic.

5:00pm – Run errands. It seems like being an adult is a constant, endless to do list.

6:15pm – Wind down. By the time we got home it was time to eat, feed the animals, and walk the dog.

7:15pm – More Homework. I revised my case study to be more concise in my statements. Writing for business school is very different from writing for media.

Who could reasonably be expected to work in such conditions.

9:00pm – Relax. This is my one hour a day (ok sometimes 2-3) where I watch some of my shows that have been piling up on the DVR.

11:00pm – Sleep. Collapse into bed.

Then wake up the next day and do it all again :)

What Is Your Favorite Podcast?


Here is my list:

Freakonomics – “A podcast explores the hidden side of everything.” You might have read the book Freakonomics. If you like the book, then this podcast is for you (even if you do not like the book, still give it a try).  This podcast is about challenging your assumptions of things we take for granted. Just like the icon, what you think is an apple may actually be an orange.

Question of the Day- Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner and entrepreneur James Altucher spend ten to fifteen minutes discussing variety of topics from “how to start conversations with a stranger”(which I find enormously encouraging at recruiting events) to “why people say clichés.”

TED Radio Hour- every episode has a theme and collects several related TED talks that depict the theme from different perspectives. For example, the most memorable theme for me was How We Love. The speakers’ perspectives include big data in online dating, neurological research, and sibling bonding. In addition, speakers are interviewed on the show and provide background on their talks.

Masters in Business- I did not study business nor spend a lot of time to read about it, and I appreciate every chance to learn more about business informally. Every week, Bloomberg View columnist Barry Ritholtz has a conversation with people who shape markets, investments, and business. This podcast exposes you to topics like finance, economics, marketing, international affairs, regulatory agencies and environments, among others. If you would like to know more about the insider trading case? Mark Cuban offers his perspective in an episode.

If you are interested in any of these podcasts, you can find them online or through podcast apps on your smartphone.

When you want to check email every three minutes

check email often_highlighted
Ignore the number shown next to All Inboxes… I literally see “Updated 3 minutes ago” a dozen times per day

During the recruiting season, it is very tempting to check emails and see if I get first-round interviews, replies for thank-you letters, invitations to events, second-round interviews, offers or not. I am often surprised by the “updated three minutes ago” message that shows up on my screen, so I refresh and update again. As a result, my phone usually dies by midday. But more importantly, my productivity level drops because I no longer focus on the task at hand. It takes longer to produce lower-quality work.

Human are curious animals, especially for things with high stakes. How do we make sure our curiosity does not ruin our productivity? My answer is to learn to live in the present by practicing meditation. In my experience, meditation helps me to focus and combat temptation of checking emails more than necessary. By teaching you breathing techniques, guiding you through the practice, and introducing you to others who struggle to concentrate on one task at time, meditation practice group may help you improve your focus.

At UT, there is a weekly, free “Mindfulness Meditation Group,” which meets from 12:15 pm to 12:50 pm every Tuesday on the fifth floor of SSB (Student Service Building). You do not even need to stay for the whole session. Drop by someday and see if it works for you.

Applying for the CPA

Almost all of us in the MPA program would probably end up taking the CPA exams at one point or another — some of us sooner while others later.

My experience taking the CPA for the very first time was nothing short of exhausting. However, I figured that the following tips would be applicable to all of taking the CPAs soon or later:

  1. Apply early. The Board of Accountancy can take a few weeks to process your application. It is fine to start your application even before your Bachelor’s completion shows up on your transcript, because they will need to process your data before doing anything else.
  2. Apply for review courses. I used Becker, and they were nothing but helpful to preparing me for the CPA. The courses are long, and workload is tremendous, but I can assure you that it will all be worth it.
  3. Select your dates as soon as you can. When you finally receive your Notice to Schedule, remember to do so ASAP!! The good days and times will run out in a heartbeat. Who would want to be stuck in peak hour traffic right before the exam?
  4. Do not procrastinate. Preparing for the CPA requires a minimum of 15 hours per module (a minimum of 5 modules per exam). So it is in your best interest to get them all done in steps, rather than cramming 75 hours worth of work in a few days.

With all that said, to all of you taking the CPAs. Good luck!


Hiking in the Hill Country

As I have stated previously, Austin is a place where you will not be content to stay indoors. I took advantage of the fact that the coming school week is (a bit) more relaxed to take a quick trip up to Georgetown, Texas to hike part of the San Gabriel River Trail. In total, the trail is 28 miles around Lake Georgetown, and I completed a more reasonable 2.5 mile hike on the Cedar Breaks Trailhead to Crocket Gardens and Falls. When the lake is at a higher level (which I have never seen), the falls will empty into the water. For now, the water runs off into a dry ravine, however the view is still worth the trek.

IMG_2713The views of Lake Georgetown are pretty fantastic as well. After spending most of my time sitting indoors studying the past few weeks, this was much needed time spent soaking up the sun and clearing the mind.

IMG_2720It is also weekend option that is easy on the wallet. Admission to the park is $4.00 per car (and up to six people) for the day. The grad student budget life is real y’all.

The Austin area has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor recreation that I cannot wait to explore.  On my list currently is a quick trip to Mount Bonnell, a day trip to Longhorn Cavern State Park and another visit to Enchanted Rock. We are having close to record high temperatures in Austin this fall, so I am hopeful the weather will hold out for a few weekend trips in November as October is pretty overwhelming with school and recruitment.

IMG_2701My quick morning hike was a great reminder to take breaks from the stress of the program and enjoy the unique opportunities presented by the Austin area.

MPA Student Life Blog