All posts by jamaldeek

A Weekend of Sunny Rays is Good for the Mind

I spent this past weekend outside; eating dirt on the soccer field, (that’s fútbol to my Hispanic friends and football to my European buddies), flinging Frisbees around campus, and exploring Austin’s Mount Bonnell. The past couple of weeks have been a little stressful with school, work, and trying to get a hold of my personal life. All I needed was a date with Mother Nature to let it all go.

2013 Business World Cup Competition

Jamal rocks the soccer field.

The Business World Cup brings together the McCombs Affiliated Student Organizations (MASOs) to compete in a 5 on 5 soccer tournament. Teams have the chance to win McCombs glory, fame, and the alleged World Cup trophy. I was lucky enough to be allowed to compete with one of the Undergraduate Business Council teams. Unfortunately, we lost three out of three games, one of which was against the other UBC team. The scores were 3-0, 8-0, and 8-2 (I somehow was able to score one of the two points in the last game). There are those that play gracefully throughout the entire game, where they pace themselves and make sure they don’t push their limits too much at one time. I on the other hand, was weaving within minutes of starting and gradually began to play more and more aggressive as the panic began to set in.

I find it interesting that I have to pace myself when playing sports or when using by brain for academics and general schoolwork. Over time I’ve learned that if I don’t maintain a steady pace and take a deep breath every once in a while, I can’t perform at my best.

2013 Texas Blazers Frisbee Fling

Frisbee Fling is an 18-hole disc golf tournament that’s been held on UT’s campus for the past 12 years. All proceeds from the tournament benefit the Texas Blazers Endowed Scholarship for Eastside Memorial High School in East Austin. Definitely a great use of an hour and a half! I got to work on my Frisbee aim, eat a bunch of those Longhorn Bars, realize said bars were loaded in calories, smack someone in a chicken costume with a Frisbee  and receive a Gildan 100% cotton t-shirt. After playing in the soccer tournament, I was definitely not at my athletic peak, but I was still able to keep up with the rest of my team without having to keel over.

Trip to Mount Bonnell

Almost immediately after the Frisbee fling, I went to explore Mount Bonnell with a few friends. For those of you who didn’t know, Mount Bonnell isn’t actually a mountain. Though it’s described as being the highest point in Austin, it’s lower than the Jollyville Plateau (according to Wikipedia). While it was more than a little steep, it really wasn’t too bad a climb. We were able to get a great view of downtown Austin and of the tower. I really wanted to see the peacocks that I had heard so much about but I guess there weren’t feeling too friendly that day. I did get a great life-chat with my friends though, resulting in the perfect end to my day.

Though I’ve had more productive weekends for school, I really think this mini-vacation was good for the soul and for me to recuperate from academics. I was able to get some quality thinking in about what I wanted and what was important to me. Despite getting a little redder than I would have liked, there were a lot of qualitative benefits to the weekend. Truly some food for thought.

The Pur$uit of Happine$$: Part 3

Hi everyone,

Like Melissa, I just wanted to cap my experience spending a semester interning. Melissa talked about how she utilized the things she learned from her academic studies for her internship, so I thought I would talk about some of the softer and more intangible skills that I took to public accounting from my time at UT.

Being patient: I assumed that when I would start my internship, I’d be put in the same room to interview some high ranking officers. Surprisingly, that doesn’t happen in your first week. I know as business and McCombs students, we want to be given the opportunity to prove ourselves and be challenged. However that takes time. Being given grunt work is how you learn about the industry you work in and allows you exposure to the professionals that you hope to become.

There’s no “I” in “Team”: I can’t even tell you the number of times I made dinner, Route 44’s, and Walmart runs. As an intern, your number one prerogative is to keep your team happy. Auditing/Performing Tax Services/Assessing Risk comes second. Help out where you can and do what you can to help the team. And keeping them content makes them more inclined to let you do real work.

Being professional: I don’t care how wacky the client or senior management is, professionalism is a requirement in the working world. We have to play extra, extra, extra nice. When I interned, there was definitely a relaxed atmosphere. People were cracking jokes, talking about current events, analyzing Sean’s actions from The Bachelor. It definitely made 8 hours a day in the audit room fly by faster, but as an intern, it’s important to distinguish when you’re overstepping your boundaries. Save all that raunchy humor for the intern events!

Accountants are people too: I’m sure it’s been drilled into your heads if you’ve done MPA spring recruiting, but accountants are people too, and they don’t want to talk about work all day. The same principal applies to when they’re working. Yes they work hard, but everyone needs a couple breaks throughout the day. When you aren’t calling XYZ bank to confirm 123 account, ask how their daughter’s play went or if they enjoyed their trip to the beach over the weekend.

Internships are an incredible opportunity to learn these little lessons that have a major impact on the success of your career. I’m grateful for the experience but so glad to be back at McCombs!

The Pur$uit of Happine$$: Part 2

Right now I’m in my 4th week of my internship. Things have been a little different from my expectations, but that’s why being able to roll with the punches is a good thing. FAs an intern, auditing has been a lot about reviewing, editing, and generally supporting the full-time staff and firm in ad-hoc tasks. So far, I have assisted in basic accounting for 5 different clients in 4 different industries. Right now, I’m helping HR with some of their recruiting efforts. Both of these experiences are relatively unique for an assurance intern and not what I thought the traditional auditing role would be like, but I really like the people that I’m working with, which makes everything a lot smoother and enjoyable.

As an intern, you may be subject to some pranks that the senior staff will pull on you. I have outlined some of the more common ones, to help you know what to expect:

1)      “Go ask the client where their list of unrecorded liabilities are.”

2)      “I’m going to need you to grab me some tick marks from the supply closet.”

3)      If you’re ever staffed on an engagement where you’re told that you need to find the size (in square feet) of a road or building and your Senior tells you since they don’t have an adequate tape measure available  you have to measure your foot with a ruler and measure the area by walking around, be a little suspicious.

Continue reading with Part 3 of The Pur$uit of Happine$$!

The Pur$uit of Happine$$: Part 1

Hi everyone! Long time no read! Right now I’m interning at PricewaterhouseCoopers in their assurance practice in Dallas. I thought now would be a good time to talk a little bit about my experience so far and give some perspective on the ominous MPA internship. I’ll try to make a blog every week, so hopefully some of my many fans might benefit.

Moving to Dallas has been quite the shock for me despite the fact that I have done my fair share of travelling. I’ve been all over the U.S., traveled through the Middle East, and even lived in Bangkok for two years. But moving to Dallas, just a couple of hours from Austin, has been really something. Not only has there been a psychological shift, but in the span of a week: I got into some serious paperwork trouble, I got into a car accident, and I went to the gym everyday (for that last one I’m just bragging). Similar to school, I have always been held liable for my actions. Except now it doesn’t involve just going to office hours or studying harder. Instead I am learning how to deal with people that don’t necessarily want to be dealt with. I’ll tell you, dealing with strangers is a lot more time consuming and difficult than dealing with group members for a class project.

Despite a few hiccups, the overall transition has been a relatively peaceful one. I just started working at the client site, and though it’s not quite as exciting as I had hoped accounting would be, I’m getting to see some real world application (albeit a small amount so far) of transactional policies. Meeting the staff and other interns has been enjoyable and I’m definitely learning a lot about the corporate life and the best ways to present yourself to co-workers and clients.

There are a lot of intangible qualities that I think people don’t really think about when they’re working for the first time. Things come up that can really set you back, but the nice thing about the “real world” is that grades don’t define who you are. Sure there are performance evaluations, but they aren’t quite as looming as seeing a B or C on your UT grade report (I would know). Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to reconcile a bank statement…

Best regards,

Continue reading with Part 2 of The Pur$uit of Happine$$!


Tis the Season…For Finals

Finals, finals, finals. When you’re in the business school, discussions about finals are more popular than debating the short term effects of Obama’s re-election towards corporate life.  I wanted to take the time to tell everyone that now, during finals, is the most important time to take a breather. Don’t let nerves get the best of you! Keeping a cool head, getting some solid sleep and eating right are the most important things you can do to prepare successfully for finals. From someone who has done his fair share of stressing out, I can tell you that pulling your hair doesn’t help. Here are some of the things that I like to do during finals:

  • Find an hour or two to have lunch with a friend. Everyone needs to eat and talking to friends is an excellent way to de-stress.
  • Numerous studies have proven that by exercising not only do you improve your physical well-being, but it can also positively affect your cognitive and critical thinking skills. I try to get a little bit of cardio to stay in peak condition both physically and mentally.
  • Keep up with your studying schedule. You’ve had a whole semester to slack and fall behind in class, but if you need to get through a chapter a day to be ready for a test, do a chapter a day! Remember that working hard and doing well in class equates to a happy winter break where you can relax as much as you’d like.

Have faith and believe in yourself! You didn’t get admitted into the number one accounting program in the nation for nothing! You all know what this time is like. Keep your head up, smile, and take a deep breath. Now share with us what you do to stay sane during finals.