Archives for Student Life

If I could do it again…

It is now the middle of April and final exams are in sight. In a mere 30 days I will be one summer session away from finishing my degree.  With the end now clearly on the horizon, I am well placed to properly weigh all of the decisions I made this year and identify where I went wrong and what I would do again. Some developments were unforseen. Some things I should have taken more seriously.  My list is below.

1)  Course load: I went out of my way to torture myself this year by maxing out with 15 credits (five classes) in both the fall and spring semesters. Sure, I was not the only person to do this, and I certainly have heard horror stories about classmates who have loaded up with even more, but, the point is, I could have easily gotten through the program taking only four classes in the fall and spring and then doubling up on my classes this summer. It simply wasn’t necessary for me to take so many classes at one time.

My advice for the incoming class: If you don’t absolutely have to do it, don’t take more than 12 credits in the fall and spring. Your GPA will thank you for it.

2) Plan your schedule well: I was pretty laissez-faire in terms of how I went about scheduling my classes.  My philosophy was: “I have to take everything anyway, who cares what order I take my classes in?” Wrong. If you plan on recruiting in the fall, it is important to fill your fall semester with lighter classes. (If you think you will not recruit in the fall, trust me, you will.  You just don’t know it yet.)  Make sure you sit down with MPA Academic Advisors Kathy Saqer and Jason Tasset and get your fall semester planned correctly. Otherwise, be prepared to perform at 8 a.m. interviews on only two hours of sleep.

3) Location: It is absolutely impossible for me to study at home.  Impossible. It is just too easy to distract myself in the kitchen or with the computer…I really need the library to function. It follows that I would have been better off living even closer to UT and its 13 libraries.  I say “even closer” because I live pretty close to campus now, just 2 1/2 miles away. But, I live just far enough away that I cannot drop by the library after dinner. Despite the cost, it would have been worth it for me to live within a mile of campus.

My advice for the incoming class: If you have trouble focusing at home, live as close to school as your budget will allow.  It will make a big difference in your productivity.

4) Preparation: My finance class was a real trial.  If I knew in advance that I would have so much trouble with it, I certainly would have prepared for it–perhaps taken some kind of online review–before classes began.

My advice for the incoming class: If you have to take a beginning finance class here, it is in your best interest to get a handle on the basics before you arrive at UT–IRR, discounted cash flows, WACC–know it before you arrive.

Internship Series: IV. The Decision

—and no, I’m not taking my talents to South Beach. Most people that know me know that I pursue my goals with a very fiery passion, so I think it came to a lot of folks’ surprise that, after I had received a full-time employment offer, I deliberated for a couple of weeks before making up my mind instead of just diving head-first into the deep end of the pool. This final installment of my Internship Series is placed here to calm present MPAs, future MPAs, and really anyone who is confronted with the decision of having to pick one opportunity after another. It is not uncommon or unusual to lay all your options on the table before making a decision, even if it is one you were somewhat sure you were going to make anyway.

As my usual tradition, I’m going to start with some tidbits:

Kemba & Charl

It seems like eons since the last installment of this series. Since I’ve been gone, Kemba Walker & Co. took UConn to its third National Championship over Butler. (It broke my heart to see Butler go down in a nasty shooting performance like that, but if you examine the record—as in my last blog—you’ll see that my money would have been on UConn anyways.) Days later, Charl Schwartzel won the Masters after Pandemonium reigned the last day, seeing a free-for-all on the Leaderboard. Congratulations to Connecticut and Mr. Schwartzel.

Tweet This!

In an article in Fortune Magazine, it seems that Google, Facebook, and Microsoft had offered to buy Twitter last fall. Microsoft changed its mind, Facebook offered $2B, and Google offered $10B. It is interesting to consider the implications of this now from a business perspective, as the article reports stalled growth in the company—which is probably due to the decline in members who are actually active. With a leveling off and no more buyout offers on the table, it will be interesting to see what the social media behemoth’s next move will be.

Keeping it short today, here were my feelings before accepting a full-time offer:

The Decision

My policy on my blog has always been to be as candid as I could when it came to my opinions on issues, so here it goes. The reality is that I am still only a 22-year-old guy; I run with a lot of raw emotion and see everything in a very novel light. When I received my offer, I was emotionally ecstatic; I am sure my smile revealed my coffee-stained teeth from a mile away. I had just received a full-time offer from a major world player in the public accounting industry, so this was very much a dream come true.

Cognitive Dissonance

A couple days later, I began to think that maybe this was not the best option for me. Why? I mean this was the dream job, right? Suddenly, I started seeing my career in the Advisory or Consulting side of things. Then I saw Paul, the beastly investment banker. And then I saw Paul, private equity extraordinaire. I saw Paul—ahem, Senator Nabhan. I saw Paul, Oscar winner for best musical score. I could go on and on. What my best move, now, seemed very uncertain. Would accepting a role as an auditor actually limit my potential? Oh my…

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Howdy Partner: A tale of who done it?…MPA style

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog posts, there are many students here in the MPA program from across the country and the world. To make those long absences from home more bearable, each MPA clique kind of becomes a home away from home. Even though I’m only from Arlington, TX (three hours North of Austin), I have grown extremely close to three fellow MPA-ers in particular.

So when I started planning what I wanted to do for my birthday three months in advanced (I love birthdays!), I immediately when to my BFFs here and said unapologetically, “I want a murder mystery surprise party for my birthday.” My thinking was that a murder mystery would be a fun twist on the usual birthday celebrations we’d been having. I just wanted to do something different. And I’ve always wanted a surprise party.

My friend, Theodore, replied, “How are we supposed to make it a surprise if you know it’s coming?”

“That’s the challenge isn’t it, “ I said. “You have to be creative.”

Well as my birthday was approaching, I starting getting nervous that perhaps I was demanding too much from my friends. Who pretty much demands a surprise party from their friends? It started to sound more and more ridiculous in my head. And as I was going through my calendar and my friends’ calendars it seemed that finding the block of time to have the party, it seemed like the window of time to have a surprise party just kept getting narrower and narrower.

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Internship Series: III. Location, Location, Location

This may or may not be a factor for everyone. There is not an abundance of job opportunities in El Paso though, so location is a blank slate for me. The first time I was faced with the issue of location was about five years ago when deciding where to attain my degree. There are hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States, and it would not be accurate if I told you that the city of Austin was not a factor in my decision to attend the University of Texas. (I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I was homesick for Austin.) Being adults now and having the freedom of choosing the first place we want to be after graduation, this issue seems to be relevant all over again.

As my usual tradition though, here are the tidbits for the week:

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Life in the real world begins…

So, where have I been all this time? Well, after that fall semester roller coaster ride, the spring semester has been an outer space kind of journey.

It began with my early and short spring semester that actually started on January 4. I was in an accelerated six-week program, where I took two three-hour graduate classes before I went out for my public accounting internship in the middle of February. Oh boy, it was intense! There was never a day that I did not think about Corporate Tax. I only had classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but I did not feel I had a weekend off, at all. From group projects, homework assignments, essays, and readings, the accelerated semester would constantly keep me on my toes. Nonetheless, even though it was not an easy semester, I am glad to say that everything I learned from it will stick with me. It gave me confidence that I have some knowledge to take with me during my internship.

And so my life in the real world has begun. The first week was training, where I met interns from other universities, as well as other students interning in different locations within the southwest region. The first week gave me reassurance that even though I don’t know everything I possibly can about accounting, the MPA program has transformed me into a determined knowledge-seeker. I never thought I would say this, but when the firm’s senior managers talked about doing tax research effectively, I got so excited about it because the MPA program has prepared me for it well. Also, seeing Form 1120, Schedules M-1 and M-3 didn’t daunt me as much either. I may not be an expert in filing tax returns yet, but I’ve seen them before and filled them out in my classes.

The second week was my first real work week. As a tax intern, I was told by many that I would just stay in my cubicle every day and would not have the chance to travel or interact with the client. My experience, however, has proven this wrong, because I do not go to the office now. I’ve been out working with my team at the client site, and it has been a great learning opportunity. So far, I’ve been learning how to navigate the software and workbooks the firm uses, and familiarizing myself with several international tax forms and how information flows through them. To be honest, it was an information overload, and I never thought that there is still so much to learn in the accounting field, even though I’ve taken several accounting classes already.

Everything is happening very quickly, and I am ready for the future weeks to come. Work will start coming in and I am looking forward to it. Who knew doing taxes can be exciting?! Well, my life in the real world has truly taken off…