Integrated students in the MPA program have an interesting spring semester during their 4th year. For most students, the semester is made up of a combination of a public accounting internship and accelerated classes. My fellow bloggers Jamal and Melissa have been telling their exotic tales of life as an audit intern, because their semester starts with an internship, and they will eventually come back to take their accelerated classes. Tax students, however, start their semester with accelerated classes and then move onto their internship. This means that my fellow 4th year tax iMPAs have been lost in textbooks while our audit friends are getting a taste of the real world.
My fellow tax MPAs and I had to start school on January 2nd. I can’t speak for everyone that was taking the tax accelerated classes, but it was a struggle coming back from a very short winter break and having to sit in 5 hours of lecture for three days straight. The first day back got even harder when in our corporate tax class, Professor Zvinakis announced “The best way to describe the workload in this class is… stunning.” She did ease the burden of the first day back by having Tiff’s Treats, but boy, she was in no way lying about the workload of her class.
I don’t think I have ever had to work so hard to stay afloat in an MPA course. The frequent homeworks, reading assignments, projects, and tests were mentally and physically taxing (pun completely intended). That being said, I have never learned so much in such a short period of time, and it was kind of nice to just completely immerse myself into a new subject. I also I feel I got a lot of hands on experience by being challenged to conduct frequent tax research and complete an expansive tax return for a corporation.
I also really appreciated the class because I feel Professor Zvinakis went above and beyond the call of duty to help us understand the material in a short period of time. First of all, she hosted review sessions that provided us with additional hands on practice of the concepts we were learning in class, despite the fact that she taught for five hours previously. I mean, I’m sure we have MPA faculty that love tax with every fiber of their being, but 6 hours of teaching tax has to be… taxing (sorry guys, I couldn’t resist. The pun ends here, I promise). On top of the additional optional review sessions, there were ample opportunities to ask questions in office hours each day Monday through Thursday.
On a more personal note, I really enjoyed this class because this is the first time in a long time my learning style has been addressed in an accounting class room. What I mean by that is that I have always been very much a big picture person and have had a hard time processing small details (which is just dandy in tax…. Believe me, I have tried to convince myself to pursue something else, yet tax simply fascinates me). But Professor Zvinakis not only taught the little details of corporate tax law, but also connected provisions to current tax policy, and clearly illustrated how certain little details can make huge economic effects. Tax policy and its effects on the economy is the main reason I am truly fascinated by tax, and what drove my decision to become a tax-track MPA. All the work I was did to process the finesse of corporate tax law helped me understand the reasons that led to certain economic effects and I found it to be reassuring and rewarding.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience, but I am so glad to be done!