Welcome back everyone! We all know that syllabus week does not mark the beginning of the semester. It’s the second week of classes now, so school is officially back in session! Being in my second semester of MPA, I already hit the ground running by finishing up my syllabus week with two important recruiting events last Thursday and Friday. The two events were Meet the Firms, which took place on Thursday evening, followed the next morning by Career Day.
MPA Meet the Firms: Not just your normal job fair.
Meet the Firms
This event was basically a career fair exclusively for MPAs. I know that we all fear the term “career fair” but let me just tell you that Meet the Firms is NOTHING like your average career fair. For one, this event is located on the top floor of the DKR Stadium with glass walls overlooking the stadium and downtown Austin at night. There is catered food and drinks and the set up as a whole is extremely nice. That is all fine and dandy, but let’s be honest, what we are all more concerned about is the actual recruiting and networking aspect of the career fair. Meet the Firms goes beyond your normal expectations in this area as well. You know when you go to the normal career fairs and you feel like there are a million students and only a handful of firms? Well flip that scenario and that’s what Meet the Firms is like. The student to recruiter ratio is great, so you are not nervously waiting in line for your turn to talk next. You can browse tables and find an open recruiter to talk to in the mean time until another becomes available. When you are going to the tables of each firm, you already feel welcomed. The recruiters are very inviting and friendly. Also, most of the time they lead the conversation for you. This does not mean you do not need to prepare, it just means you can feel relaxed in your conversation!
On Friday morning, the Big Four firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY, KPMG) host Career Day. The day consists of each firm giving a small info session about their company followed by a short networking opportunity. These sessions are actually helpful in getting to know the culture of each firm by listening to what each has to say and by talking with their recruiters after the presentations. The environment was very relaxed and each firm had a gift for you! What career event have you attended where each company brought you a gift bag?! Exactly! This event was not only extremely helpful in getting you acclimated with the Big Four firms, it was also really fun!
Don’t skip any recruiting events in your recruiting semester as an MPA because you will be missing out on a lot of great times, nice people, and solid opportunities!
Read more about the MPA recruiting experience in the Recruiting: Week Two.
LinkedIn is the quintessential social network for the modern business professional. It is basically Facebook for the business world, right? I have to admit that I do not use it to its potential, but there is a profusion of bloggers and would-be self-helpers who optimistically point out the 10 steps to success with LinkedIn. They would have you believe that it is the key to an effective business networking effort, but I am not sure I completely buy it.
Personally, I believe that the key to business success is personal connection. It may be argued that LinkedIn provides an additional avenue to connect with those who you know in the professional realm. Certainly, it is a good alternative for those who wish to keep their Facebook a little more casual. To me, you are not really making a personal connection with others on LinkedIn, but you are instead solidifying an existing professional relationship. This may not always be the case, but still there is some value to that.
Some argue that there’s really no point – they use it to keep up with old co-workers and may eventually enjoy its potential, but feel like there is little use for the average Joe six-pack. Further, this guy claims that it is impossible to forge a meaningful relationship with anyone on LinkedIn who has the ability or willingness to further your career. Those who are successful are not hanging around on LinkedIn waiting to give you a leg up.
Others, alternatively, point to the potential opportunities to be seen by recruiters who notoriously comb the site looking for an experienced new hire to fill voids for firms all over the world. Recruiters are known to scour LinkedIn for public accounting employees with a few years of experience, hoping to scoop top talent from the ranks of Deloitte or PricewaterhouseCoopers. In fact, that’s why I have kept my LinkedIn profile maintained – to be ready for when recruiters start looking for people like me. Also, the MPA Career Services team has pointed out to me that there is a Texas MPA network group on LinkedIn, which I searched around to get a feel for what MPA grads were doing on down the road as I was feeling out my recruitment strategy.
The reality is that LinkedIn does have some value, but I do not agree that it is some key to success. I still firmly believe that the ability to form personal relationships is the most valuable resource for successful people.
Have you ever wondered why you might have two classes in the McCombs building but they are listed under GSB and CBA? Have you ever tried to find the floor “4M” in McCombs? These are the mysteries of McCombs that I am here to solve for anyone who may be having these same questions. Let’s take these questions one at a time.
First of all, the reason there are two acronyms for McCombs is because both the Graduate School and Undergraduate School of Business is located in the McCombs building. CBA represents the McCombs School of Business and GSB stands for Graduate School of Business. These buildings really do seem as if they are one building in the same but take a look at the map of McCombs and you can see the difference. McCombs, however, already has a plan to build a new graduate school of business underway, so that is definitely something for all of us to look forward to in the future.
Look familiar? Yes, this is the long lost floor of 4M.
Second mystery is the floor 4M. Although technically the M in 4M stands for Mezzanine, it should really stand for MAZE because that is exactly what this crazy floor is. I learned that this floor was created because McCombs rests on a hill so the ground it was built on was uneven. The Department of Accounting and several professors’ offices are on this floor so I encourage anyone who has a couple of minutes after class to go take a look at this side of the school so you get more familiarized with it. Hopefully, the next time you see a new accounting student wandering around McCombs confused about where this floor is you can help point them in the right direction!
As the semester is quickly coming to a close, I thought I would give another CPA exam update and describe the end of the semester.
So I took my first section of the CPA exam, and I won’t sugar coat it – it went pretty badly. It was my first section and it definitely helped me learn what I did well and what I didn’t do well. I definitely need to change my study method for the next one. Doing more practice questions is key, as I concentrated more on learning the material than practicing questions. I also need to realize that the tests are pretty hard and requires probably more studying than I put into it. For the next section, I plan on doing more practice questions throughout my studying to make sure I am on track and that I don’t feel as unprepared on the day of the test as I did for this one.
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On Monday, April 16, MPA Council screened “An Inconvenient Tax” to celebrate the end of tax season. For those of you who have not seen the video, I highly encourage you watch it. The film did a great job capturing the complexity of the US tax code, and explaining the most popular theories of ways to reform it. I feel this video is important to everyone, not just those interested in accounting and tax, because tax reform is going to be a major point of debate in the upcoming presidential election. Many of these theories of reform come up often in current events, and I now understand them better thanks to the documentary.
After the film was screened, the MPA Program Director Jim Franklin led a discussion amongst the council members present. Jim brought up many questions that sparked a healthy debate, the most memorable one being “What do you think will happen regarding the tax code in the future?”
There were many good and valid answers to this question, and this question continues to make me think. Here is my very personal opinion about the future of the tax code, based on my current knowledge:
I hear many people talking about simplifying the tax code and implementing a flat or fair tax to replace our current complicated system. I completely agree the code needs to be simplified, and here are some facts to back up that opinion:
- The current tax code is four times the length of Shakespeare’s complete volume of works
- Over 16,000 changes have been made to the tax code in the past 20 years
- American taxpayers spend $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year, more than it takes to produce every car, truck, and van in the United States.
- The IRS sends out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions each year. Laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times around the earth. Nearly 300,000 trees are cut down yearly to produce the paper for all the IRS forms and instructions. (there are many more facts not included here that will blow your mind!)
The code in my mind has gotten out of hand. One of the reasons why is because congressmen continually use the tax code to please constituents and donors. They soften the blow of their poor performance by creating loopholes for their major donors or try to create tax credits and deductions their constituents can use. If we replace our current system with a simpler tax policy, I don’t see why congressmen won’t continue to try to create tax breaks and changing the code until it eventually becomes as complicated as it is today.
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