All posts by allisonguttenplan

CPA Exam Update + More

As the semester is quickly coming to a close, I thought I would give another CPA exam update and describe the end of the semester.

So I took my first section of the CPA exam, and I won’t sugar coat it – it went pretty badly.  It was my first section and it definitely helped me learn what I did well and what I didn’t do well.  I definitely need to change my study method for the next one.  Doing more practice questions is key, as I concentrated more on learning the material than practicing questions.  I also need to realize that the tests are pretty hard and requires probably more studying than I put into it.  For the next section, I plan on doing more practice questions throughout my studying to make sure I am on track and that I don’t feel as unprepared on the day of the test as I did for this one. Continue reading CPA Exam Update + More

Update: CPA Exam studying

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to give a quick update on my process of studying for the CPA exam.  Last time I mentioned this, I was planning on taking the exam at the end of February.  Due to my lack of commitment to studying, I had to move my date and I am now taking it in two weeks.  This is my first section of the CPA exam and I will admit, I’m pretty nervous.

I spent most of my spring break studying for this exam so now if I don’t keep up with it, I keep reminding myself that I wasted my spring break then.  So far I am about half way studying with this section and definitely need to pick up the pace.

The problem I have been having is that now that classes are back in session, I tend to worry more about my homework than my CPA studying.  That is good because my classwork is “due” first, but then again, I cannot neglect my studying.  I also started a new class this half of the semester, which has added to my workload.  Nonetheless, I need to get back on track with my studying so that I don’t waste all the time I’ve studied by not being prepared.

My advice, then, is that when you start studying for the CPA exam, you need to be committed to it and follow a schedule. Otherwise, it will fall by the wayside and will seem to always be a concern on your shoulders.  I will keep you all updated on my studying and exam process as it continues.

On another topic other than CPA exam studying, the new class I started this half of the semester has been good so far.  It is called Studies in Auditing and since I will be going into auditing after graduation, I hope the class will be very useful.  So far (in the two classes we’ve had), I’ve definitely learned more about auditing and the profession.  I look forward to our discussions about technical topics as well as current issues in the auditing profession as it is all quite interesting to me.

Please leave comments or questions about the CPA exam, my new auditing class, or anything else you would like to know!

Why I Chose MPA

UT Austin ribbonIt might be nice to get a perspective on why each of us chose to come to the MPA program.  I will give you my top 3 influences in my choosing the program, which may help you make you make a more informed decision for yourself.

1. The #1 rating – I know some say this is not the most important thing about the MPA program, and they are right, but it was definitely an important factor in my decision.  As others have expressed as well, I did not think I was going to be accepted into the program. It was more of a “reach” for me, but I figured why not?  I was more heavily considering all the other schools I got into because I figured it was a more realistic approach.  In the back of my mind though, I said to myself that if I got into UT, I would have a much more difficult decision to make.  That situation did come about and I did indeed have a tough decision.  Knowing that MPA is ranked the #1 graduate accounting program is a great distinction, but it is also indicative of all of the amazing opportunities that are available to MPA students.  I looked into why it is ranked that way, including the faculty, the career services, curriculum, and other factors.  These all showed me that the ranking was legitimate and the program is taken seriously.

2. Austin – When I mentioned to people I was considering coming to Austin, all I heard was, “Oh I hear it is so cool there!” or “Everyone loves it there!” or “Why are you going to Austin?”.  Besides that last point, which I think was just friends wondering why I was going all the way from New Jersey to Texas, everyone’s excitement over Austin got me so excited.  I came to visit in March before the program started, and got a feel for Austin.  Now, having lived here for a while, I can see why everyone loves it.  The vibe from all the people and all the activities really make it a unique place.  I trusted those people who told me that Austin is awesome, and I am glad that I did because they were right!

3. Variety of Courses – This was more of a detail that helped me distinguish the MPA program from other schools’ Master of Accounting programs.  I knew that since I was going to be in external audit for my full time job, I thought I would be on the Financial Reporting and Assurance Track at UT.  Then I looked into the actual courses I would have to and be allowed to take in that track.  I was so surprised by the amount of audit and more general electives that were offered, including internal audit, IT audit, government accounting, and standards in auditing.  Since I came into the program with the room to take a lot of electives, I definitely capitalized on this opportunity by taking interesting electives.  Also, a subset to this is that as an MPA student you have the opportunity to take courses abroad during the summer.  I did not study abroad as an undergrad so this seemed like an amazing option that I planned on taking advantage of.  (I am going to Hong Kong this summer and am very excited!)  Also, the courses given while abroad include topics geared towards international business and international accounting standards, which in this global economy, are very useful subjects.

I hope this helps you understand why I chose the program and can give you some insight and help for making your own decision.

Please leave comments or questions below!

Not Just Your Average Number Cruncher

I thought I would take a minute to talk about one of my classes again.  This time I am not so much in fear of the class, as I am enjoying it!  My business communication class is turning out to be very useful and practical for my life and career.  We are learning about writing, speaking, and interpersonal communication skills – all KEY skills to being successful in an accounting career, and pretty much any other career for that matter.

Some of the assignments so far include memo writing and revision, presenting in front of the class, and learning how to work with various personality types.  Even as I am writing this blog, I am thinking about some of the tips and tools to write more effectively (most notably, the SEC recommendations issued in the “SEC Plain English Handbook“).  When writing a memo, (which I anticipate writing many as an accountant), it is important to be clear and concise.  More importantly, you must know who your audience is and direct your writing towards them.  A memo directed to the CEO versus one directed to lower level staff may have a different tone and different information because who its intended audience is.  The SEC guide shows many more suggestions for how to write and communicate most effectively. Continue reading Not Just Your Average Number Cruncher

A different perspective…

If you read Melissa’s post from a couple of days ago, she spoke about the MPA: Building Connections event about an introduction to recruiting.  I was also at the event but on the other side – helping the 3rd year MPAs practice recruiting by posing as a recruiter and giving networking advice.  It was pretty fun doing this! I got to talk to the students and get to know where they were in the recruiting process and what their interests are in the accounting profession.

The funny thing is that I also learned a lot from this event.  It had been a while (at least 6 months) since I was at a networking/recruiting event and I was a little rusty on my skills.  Listening to what Michelle Polkinghorn and others had to say was a great reminder of the small details that make you stand out from others, as well as great refresher on the conventions and etiquette of business interactions.  Mainly, it was fun talking to the 3rd years and sharing my experiences with them.  I was able to talk about my internship experience, what I liked and what I did not like, and then relate that back to them and to help them take advantage of their opportunities.

If any 3rd years (or anyone else for that matter) have questions about recruiting or networking tips, the people at career services are experts in that area.  In addition, I would be happy to share my  thoughts with anyone about my experiences in networking, both in a recruiting sense as well as in a general sense.  Networking can definitely be tiring, but it is also very fun, so enjoy it and take advantage of meeting new and exciting people!

Please leave comments or questions below.