It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year, especially for students. Finals are over, another semester under the belt, and the stress is gone! For all those who are hanging around Austin after finals time, here are some great holiday ideas to get rid of that finals hangover!
Trail of Lights If you have never been to this, it is definitely a MUST. Austin brought this holiday light show back in 2012 after a few years of being unable to fund the cost. It is at Zilker Park until December 22nd. In addition to the incredible lights and displays there are also food trucks, music, and hot chocolate along the walk!
Free Carriage Rides at the Domain If you find yourself shopping at the Domain on Friday or Saturday evenings from 5:30-9:30 be sure to stop by Dillards or Macy’s where there will be a line of people waiting to catch a ride in a horse drawn carriage! The Domain also has a 40 ft Christmas tree that would be great for taking pictures! (aka selfies)
Mozart’s Coffee Shop This well known coffee shop has not only great coffee but also great dessert, live music, and a light show! It is a great place for a date, friend date, or date with yourself and a good book. You can also pick up a quick Christmas gift there if you have any friends or family that have a love for excellent coffee!
The Driskill This old hotel is a great place for an evening out on the town! If you go by during December 16 – 17, 2015 there will be a live string quartet, decorations, and treats from 5 to 7 p.m. Don’t pass up an opportunity for some free fun at this fancy place! For more details you can visit the website.
Be sure to celebrate the holidays Austin-style at some of these local places before you leave. You never know where you will end up when you graduate so make the most of your time while you are still here in Austin!
Let’s all be real for a quick second. As third and fourth-year MPAs, we hear all kinds of rumors and gossip about internship experiences. We never know who is exaggerating and who is telling the cold, hard truth. Well I cannot speak for everyone in what I am about to say, but I am going to go through some things I heard before my internship and tell you whether my experience has proven to live up to these stories or not.
1. You are going to have 80 hour work weeks consistently and pretty much not have a life outside of the office. FALSE. There 25 other tax interns in the office I am in (PwC Dallas) and I have yet to hear of someone putting in more than 60 hours. And this is our busy season. As an intern, you may or may not be hitting overtime, but even if you are, keep in mind that you are compensated for that ($$$). Yes, you may have a weekend where they will ask you to stay, but this is not usually every weekend.
2. You are competing with other interns and therefore the other interns will not help you since you are the competition. FALSE. You are going to become really close with your intern group. In fact, I recommend considering this as a factor when making your decision on where to sign for your internship. I originally tried to go to a smaller office in Denver because I thought I wanted to be in an environment where I was the only intern. NO. That would have absolutely sucked. I have become extremely close to the interns here. We bond over our random work assignments that none of us have a clue on sometimes and we also help each other ALL THE TIME. In fact, I would say they are the first people I go to if I need to know how to do something. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am friends with each of the 20 interns in my office. I know all of there names, groups they are in, and where they sit.
3. You will be taken out to lunch and dinners a lot. TRUE. So very very amazingly true. There is no limit to the amount of food that is available during your internship. The other day, we had Pokey O’s brought into the office which is this great place that makes homemade ice cream sandwiches. It was AWESOME.
4. You are not going to have a desk. FALSE. You will have a desk. You may have a conference room if not a desk but guess what? Conference rooms are even better because they have the best view. So come on people, why keep spreading the rumor about not having a desk?! Do you think they are gonna put their interns on the floor or in a corner?? Because nobody puts baby in a corner.
5. You will be meeting tons of people, clients and coworkers. FALSE. Actually, this one is perhaps the most surprising. You would think that you would be interacting with lots of people everyday to complete your work but actually most of the work is independent work. Someone will show you how to do the task you are given and then you are left to finish it on your own. I kind of wish there was a day where they literally took you around to meet everyone. I have taken it upon myself to meet different people in the office. In fact, word of advice here, when I need help on assignments, instead of going to the same person every time, I jump around to different people just to have an excuse to meet them.
6. There are happy hours every week. TRUE. (kind of). There is not always a paid happy hour every week but I can promise you that the intern group will plan to go out every Friday and Saturday. Because, hey, we are all in it together, right? RIGHT! So make it a point on your internship to be the one who creates happy hours for the group or to organize a lunch. Trust me, everyone will love you for it.
Bitcoin is the world’s new, mysterious virtual currency. I first learned about Bitcoins in an article assigned to my tax research class regarding IRS’s treatment of them for tax purposes. Bitcoins have become increasingly popular since they were first created in 2009 by an anonymous person. Created by users, Bitcoins serve as a reward to users that solve complex mathematical problems in code, also known as mining. So users mine Bitcoins, similar to the way a person would earn money. Interestingly, I have a friend who actually mined a lot of Bitcoins and then turned around and sold them on the market at a pretty high profit. This was interesting to me because as college students we are always looking for a way to make some quick money to pay for our weekends out in the greatest city ever (ATX). Well if you know how to mine data, maybe Bitcoins are of interest to you!
Lots of questions arise from Bitcoins, though. How should our government classify bitcoins? Are they a currency or are they an investment in property? If they are a currency then the IRS can tax them as ordinary income but if they are an investment then they will be taxed as capital assets. So what does classify a currency? Most importantly, it has to be backed by a government, which Bitcoin is adamant about not doing. Bitcoin wants to remain independent of banks and governments. Bitcoin wants to avoid all ties to make the use of Bitcoins simple, inexpensive, and universal. So where is Bitcoin headed in the future? Lots of businesses are now accepting Bitcoins as payment. How would you like to pay your tuition using Bitcoins? Well if you attend The University of Nicosia in Cypress you can pay for books, living, and school using them!
For all of the college students out there interested in unique ventures, keep an eye on Bitcoin! You may find that it is a good investment.
Can it really be the end of the semester already?! Time flies when you are having fun and that is exactly what the recruiting semester as an MPA is, FUN! As the semester comes to a close, I realize I have had such a great experience recruiting and have learned so much more about all of the firms. I have been taken to all sorts of different restaurants, venues, etc. around Austin that I have never been to, all due to recruiting events.
I last left off talking about interview week. Well after interview week, you get your callbacks inviting you either for an office visit or maybe just inviting you to recruiting events. Each firm has a different process as far as when they schedule your office visits. They are really good at communicating this with you and are always available for any questions you may have. After you get the callbacks, you start getting invited to one event per firm per week until your finals period. Be prepared to be busy!! I suggest keeping all of your options open, recruiting with as many companies as you can, but be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. School is just as important as finding the perfect job (since you need to graduate to even start your job!) so really think about your schedule before moving forward with recruiting. Once you start attending recruiting events, you sort of find your niche. You will be recruiting with the same group of students usually for each firm and you will start seeing the same recruiters at each event every week, which helps you make new friends both with recruiters and students. Then after all of the events, you will have your office visits! If all goes well, after your office visits you may receive an internship offer. The decision is never easy, but as long as you go with your gut you will end up where you are suppose to be!
I hope you guys have enjoyed reading my recruiting process as much as I have enjoyed going through it. Third year MPAs usually do one of three things during the summer after their third year: industry internship, summer school, or study abroad (sometimes study abroad and summer school together). I will be doing a full semester of classes this summer. I hope that everyone had a great semester and that your summer is filled with good times!! Oh, and good luck on finals! 🙂
The crazy week of interviews and pre-interview dinners is past and somehow I have managed to survive. How did I survive you ask? Was it nonstop coffee and late-night studying? Was it doing my hair/makeup everyday (which I usually do not do)? Was it dressing business professional nearly everyday of the week despite the hot, muggy temperatures outside? YES. Despite all of this, it was also an incredible experience. Yes, I admit, it was scary being interviewed by partners consecutively but I feel so much more confident now. And who doesn’t like getting treated to steak dinner every night for a week? No complaints there.
The firms will host a “pre-interview dinner” each night before your interview with them the next day. The dinners will be at a nice place or hotel downtown, such as the Omni or the W. They are usually catered with amazing food and also may include a fun event, such as casino games and a short presentation. At these dinners you will get a chance to speak with your interviewer. This is extremely helpful because it will help you feel more relaxed for the interview the next day. If you can make some good conversation with this partner at the dinner, the same good vibes are sure to carry over into your interview the next day. Also, please do not forget about etiquette at these dinners! You may be nervous and forget which forks and knives to use (hint hint….I did that) but that is OKAY! Remember that nobody is perfect, and you are bound to make a few mistakes here and there. Focus on what you can do to make recruiting successful (clean clothes, good sleep, etiquette) and forget about the stuff that is out of your control (redness, sweating, whatever!). Just keep smiling and know that they really do just want to get to know you!
The interviews were my favorite part of the whole week. I am not sure if I am comfortable with one-on-one interactions or if I just had really good conversations but either way the interviews went better than I expected. I am definitely the type of person that gets nervous and shows it, so my first piece of advice is to remain calm. It is not as big of a deal as you will make it out to be in your head. By your last interview of the week, you will be a pro at getting interviewed. In fact, I found myself laughing during a couple of my interviews. The partners are people just as much as we are and they enjoy jokes, too. Bottom line? Just be yourself! Do not undermine the importance of the interview, but also realize that you will be working with these people and they want to make sure your personality fits with the firm.
Things to remember for your interview: unofficial transcripts, follow-up thank you emails, and the right business attire (Yes, ladies that means pantyhose is included!).