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Welcome back, Longhorns!

BevoWelcome back, everyone! If you are new to the MPA program this year- congratulations and I hope you are excited for an amazing year! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and the transition back into the swing of things isn’t proving to be too difficult. My summer was a fun one, but I am glad to be back at McCombs.

Over the summer I was informed of some fantastic news about UT. The UT Austin ALPFA Chapter received the Student Chapter Award for the Central Region! ALPFA is largest Latino association for business professionals and students with chapters nationwide. Every year they chose a student chapter from each region and this year, it was UT! I am increasingly humbled and honored to be a part of this school when I learn about all of the accomplishments and accolades that UT is constantly bringing in.

Another tidbit of exciting news this summer was the selection of the winners for the 2012 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards. This year, two McCombs professors were honorable recipients, Anitesh Barua and Steven Kachelmeier. I had the opportunity to take an MPA class with Professor Kachelmeier last semester and it is great to see a familiar professor receive this award! In the article, Professor Kachelmeier is quoted regarding the importance of passion in a teaching role saying, “If a teacher is not passionate about the subject matter, one can hardly expect students to feel otherwise.” Passion about the subject is something that I really value in a professor and if you are new to McCombs this year, you can certainly expect to see passion for their subject is key to McCombs professors.

An interesting proposition for colleges:

The Economist published an article on April 9th concerning an idea of California college students that could possibly radically affect college students everywhere if it is taken into consideration by universities.

Students of the University of California propose that instead of charging tuition, they’d like universities to take 5% of their salary for the first twenty years following graduation.

This idea has some huge implications for higher education. An individual’s level and quality of education would no longer be determined by parental current income, but by a student’s future income, which would open more opportunities for them.

What particularly fascinates me about this article is the potential overhaul of universities’ organizational structure and culture. They would be the ones bearing the most risk under this proposal. With their income being contingent on their student’s job placement, universities have large incentives to become much more focused on placing their students in high paying career positions.

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And the Oscar goes to…

Accounting firms in the public eye

Did anyone else see the PwC partners walking the Academy’s votes down the red carpet at the Oscars? There are a lot of things in the popular media that are actually done by accounting firms. The accounting nerd in me was really excited to see “PricewaterhouseCoopers” on the screen of the Oscars. So of course I snapped a quick iPhone photo, as displayed on the left. This spun me into some web research (Googling) about accounting firms in popular culture and I want to share it with you all.

PwC has been in charge of counting the ballots for the Academy Awards for 78 years, and the accountants in charge actually know the winners 48 hours ahead of the public. But even crazier is that, for all eternity, these partners know who came in second place, and are sworn to secrecy- probably because sometimes, the runner-up misses the Oscar by one vote. In the 78 years of counting ballots, there has been no security issues, leaked winners or miscounts. On the day of the awards, the two partners in charge take separate routes to Kodak Theater, with LAPD officers in tow. They both hold identical briefcases with one whole set of the winning envelopes. Also, they MEMORIZE the winners in case something happens to these briefcases. At the show, they stand in the wings and hand the envelopes to the presenters before they walk on stage. Sounds like a job I would LOVE to have!

It is interesting to note that after all the accounting scandals in the early 2000s, when the world looked down on the accounting industry, there were critics who actually raised suspicions that PwC was not to be trusted with the counting of the Academy Awards ballots. Of course, as I stated before, PwC has always handled the task with the upmost professionalism and accuracy, however, this was a reflection of the times.

Other instances of public accounting firms in popular culture:

  • E&Y counts the ballots for the Golden Globes
  • KPMG sponsors professional golfer, Phil Mickelson
  • Deloitte Sponsors the U.S. Olympic Committee

MPA: My Personal Anecdote

Why MPA?

Growing up, my “dream job” changed weekly. Like most kids, I fluctuated between  the typical dream professions (as well as some atypical ones): princess, astronaut, lawyer, doctor, marine biologist, plumber, etc. The bottom line of all my decisions was that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.

Funnily enough, the one thing I did not want to be was an accountant. I come from a family of government accountants, and I remember seeing the look on people’s faces when I told them what my family did for a living and who they worked for. It was not a look that indicated they thought my family was making a positive difference in the world.

It wasn’t until I attended the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP- now called DYNAMC) here at McCombs, that I began to rethink my views. It was at this camp that I realized accounting was a field that actually interested me. What especially intrigued me was a small tax seminar on filing 1040’s led by Professor Kristina Zvinakis. It was at this camp that I realized that accounting, specifically tax, was exactly the career I was looking for as it satisfied all of the qualities I wanted out of a career:

    • To have work that I find truly challenging and rewarding
    •  To be held to a higher ethical standards than most professionals are
    •  To help people by saving them money that they can use to improve their own lives or others’ lives
    •  To save people time so they can use it to do things they truly love

This here explains my reason for deciding Texas MPA: the people are awesome!

Why Texas MPA?

It was at ACAP that I was first introduced to the integrated MPA program. It seemed too good to be true: a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting in five years!

To be completely honest (and my family and high-school friends can attest to this), I never saw myself attending UT until I attended ACAP. My family is from Washington, and I was always planning on out-of-state in order to escape the heat of Texas.

But when it came time to sit down and think about where I wanted to go to school, all roads lead to Austin. Where else could I get a top-rate education in the number one accounting program at in-state tuition rates? Nowhere, that’s where.

Texas MPA was a logical choice for me. I feel it’s the logical choice for everyone when deciding on where to pursue an accounting or business education. McCombs provides so much for its students: incredible faculty, knowledgeable academic advisors, and wonderful career advisors and services. On top of McCombs’ resources, every student has the resources of the entire university and city of Austin at their disposal.

In conclusion –it’s a splendid time to be a Texas MPA!

Surviving my first week of career events

Recruiting is all about finding your perfect fit among the firms.

It is the point in the semester where all of the firms hold “Career Nights” for the third-year MPAs. Essentially, it is a less formal information session paired with a networking reception. To mirror my blog about mock interviews, I will tell you a few things I learned this week.

1. You really will start to discover the firm where you will fit best. Originally, I approached that notion with skepticism, thinking there was going to be a consistency between the firms. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. By no means are there “good” vs. “bad” firms, but moreso you will start to see where your personality fits in.

2. Know what makes you fun/unique. Of course it is important to know what year you are, what track you are pursuing, where you want to intern, etc. But how long do you think you can talk about that in a networking setting? Not very long. It is great when you talk about where you studied abroad, your favorite hobby, or your favorite food in Austin. And when you connect with someone who also lived in Paris, or also loves P. Terry’s, it makes the conversation more memorable and personal.

3. Get business cards and send thank you emails. But, do this because you WANT to, not because you think it something you have to do. The professionals can tell if your email is genuine or if it is forced. Make it personal. Do not have a shell email with which you “fill-in-the-blank” for firm and professional’s name.

These are just a few tips- but hopefully you get an idea for what Career Nights are really about, and I hope that my advice helps you in the future.