Category Archives: Student Life

extracurricular activites, UT sports and other campus events, student organizations, recreation, etc.

Pop Culture: The key to success?

My professors tell me the best way to prepare for interviews, is to read newspapers every day. They highlight the importance of being aware of what’s going on with the economy and current events outside of the 40 Acres,  because that’s the world we will be living in. When speaking with adults, being able to apply what we are studying to current events creates more stimulating conversation than talking about assignments and grades.

What better place to follow sports than at our own Frank Erwin Center cheering on the mens Longhorn B\basketball team!

I have accepted this as something I need to do to be successful with recruiting. I thought this was all that I needed to do, until I read a blog by the Young and Frugal highlighting the importance of sports in the business world. They made an excellent point:

“In the real world most people won’t talk politics with you for fear of offending you (or someone else), and not many people want to talk business because that’s what they do all day.”

Sports is something that you can talk about with everyone, and use as a gateway to talk about most anything: from the business of sports, player gossip, personal experiences from playing the game, and locations you have traveled to watch games. It is a topic almost everyone can relate to or have an opinion about, and a great way to join a conversation. In fact, a Green Mangoes blog made an interesting point on the importance of sports in the business world:

“My friend Anna, who is Hungarian, told me once that when she was in school in Hungary, studying English, she took a course on doing business in America.  (Maybe that wasn’t the title, but that was the topic.)    One of the things they stressed as a key to being successful in business dealings with Americans was to be familiar with the names and current records of sports teams.   Because there is no better way ‘in’ than , ‘Hey, how about those [fill in name of appropriate sports team here]?  Think they can go all the way this year?’”

To summarize up the underlying reason why sports are essential in business, I would like to go back to the Young and Frugal blog:

“Talking sports is about relationships. The emotional connection that forms between you and “your” team, the relationship that forms with your co-worker because his team is your team’s rival, and the relationship of feeling that if you can have a good conversation with someone about sports, you can have a good conversation with them about anything. On the contrary, when meeting someone who doesn’t follow sports it’s extremely difficult to break the ice and find a common ground. Up- to-date knowledge of sports is a key part of business in today’s world because businesses are about relationships, and sports can be the key to developing strong relationships.”

After this I thought I had what I needed for recruiting down: news and sports. In addition, when I think back to my prior experiences with recruiters, it is true that I have discussed sports and current events many times, but many conversations centered on pop culture like movies, music and TV shows. Talking about these things has the same effect as sports, they help establish relationships. Talking about these things helps me to determine if I could work with someone for over 8 hours a day. If we like the same movies and TV shows, we most likely have very similar senses of humor and personalities.

This revelation helps me in two ways. First, it will help me prepare for recruiting and building relationships. Second, it will help me convince my parents  it is essential for me to catch up on all my TV shows over break!

Fiction & Accounting Venn-Diagram

In honor of both my accounting finals being over AND my internship at American Short Fiction coming to a wrap, I am dedicating this post to accounting & fiction. Think of a venn-diagram – “fiction” written into one circle and “accounting” written into the other.  Here are just a few names that might reside in that overlap. I’m pretty excited about this attempt…

1) David Foster Wallace, a terrific and ground breaking fiction writer and essayist known for his ginormous book Infinite Jest. His last book was, you guessed it, about accounting. Searching around the NYT for a bit, I found this: “David Foster Wallace and the Literary Tax Accountant”.  According to the article, Wallace “pursued tax arcana with an exuberantly obsessive relish.” After enrolling in accounting courses and corresponding with a handful of I.R.S. agents and CPAs, Wallace came up with the world and characters of his posthumously published novel, the Pale King. A plus: his exchanges with various accountants (the brunt of his research) are housed here at the University of Texas at the Harry Ransom Center. Class field trip?

I think that Wallace’s interest in tax accounting /research was genuine. He studied tax accounting with a philosophical interest in system logic and ultimately built his book around the premise that “tax work may be the gateway to transcendent ecstasy.” A bit far fetched and absurd, yes, but let’s think: essentially, within our tax structure lies the minutiae, collective compartments, and number-coded ecosystems of our lives, no? Hmm…

Continue reading Fiction & Accounting Venn-Diagram

Halfway Done and Proud

Well now that finals are over, I can say that I’m very excited that I have completed my first semester!  It was definitely a challenging week studying for all my finals but now that it’s over I feel accomplished and proud.  Kind of like what Paul said – the more effort you put in, the larger the result.  I am just hoping and encouraging myself that all of the effort I put in will give me the results I want.

Anyway – not much else to report on right now.  Most people (including myself) have left Austin for our  month long winter break.  I am excited to be home but at the same time, I already miss my MPA friends :)

I just wanted to mention that although it may seem (from our last slew of posts) that finals are insane, it isn’t really a bad thing.  This is probably the most I’ve studied (at all or at least in a really long time), but honestly I am really happy and feel very accomplished.  You are not coming to the best accounting program to be a slacker.  You are coming to work hard, learn a lot (get your money‘s worth), and get what you can out of your opportunities.  Having said that, I’m glad I spent my free week studying to really get the most out of these tests.  Finals are just tests.  And having almost a week to study for it is a gift – most tests you have to study for in the midst of doing 100 other things.

Also during this break I plan on starting the process of applying and studying for my first CPA section, so I will keep you updated with that process as I get it underway.

Have a great holiday season everyone!

When Things Get Stressful…

The MindBody Lab (photo taken from CMHC)

Finals week, unarguably, is one of the most stressful weeks for MPA students. Fortunately, UT and Austin provide a vast number of self-care options for students when things get a little stressful.  The city boasts enough diverse activities that there are options for everyone. Whenever my brain needs to take a break from accounting or from anything school-related, here are some of the things I do to rejuvenate:

1)   Cooking. Austin has to be among the best cities to get the freshest ingredients to the dishes you are making. I frequent grocery stores HEB on 41st and Red River, Central Market on 38th and N. Lamar, and Whole Foods on 6th and N. Lamar, all of which are a 10-minute drive away from campus. I also go to the Austin Farmers’ Market  downtown on Saturdays and at the Triangle on N. Lamar on Wednesdays. Local farmers from the Central Texas area sell fresh produce and other local products that you would not find elsewhere.  Not only are their goods fresh, but they are fairly cheap, too! Continue reading When Things Get Stressful…

Finals Fatigue

My last post and subsequent rebuttal were quite intense. So were finals. As such, I will keep this column short and puff it up with some conversationalia. After all, break is here.

What is great about the MPA is the intensity that I get the opportunity to bring to the table everyday. There’s really no way to survive the program without this type of effort. And, frankly, it’s a privilege to get to compete for grades with other great minds.

But gosh, is it draining!

As of a couple days ago, I realize just how emotionally, mentally and physically drained I am. Like a great workout, it has been worth it. I know that after some rest, I will realize how much I have learned—both in class and in life—over the past semester, be able to reflect upon it, rejuvenate and return to classes in the spring recharged for my final semester.

Until then, it will be nice to return to being the Paul that is a cousin/nephew/uncle/brother instead of the student/corporate robot. Stated another way, for at least a couple weeks, it will be nice to be hot chocolate Paul instead of coffee Paul.

I wish all well with their finals and pray that professors will grade exams mercifully. Until grades are released, here is some conversationalia…

Continue reading Finals Fatigue