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The right to question the Constitution?

constitutionIn the most recent publication of the Texas Exes’ Alcade, I found there to be a particularly interesting article written by Sanford Levinson called “Reframing the Constitution”. The article is extremely well written and I encourage everyone to read it for themselves, but the main point of the article is that the people of the United States should consider re-vamping the Constitution in a new constitutional convention. His argument is that “there are some truly serious deficiencies with the Constitution that are highly detrimental to our ability to meet the challenges that we face as a nation”.

Levinson also raises some very interesting points in relation to what the framers of the constitution believed. When the Constitution was drafted in 1787-88, the world was a very different place and the issues facing our country were less complex.  The founders couldn’t have predicted the exponential increases in complexity and non-linearity of events that would emerge as a result of globalization and technological innovations.

A good way to look at how complex the world has gotten from the 18th century is by looking at an excerpt describing the brief history of the global economy from Eric Beinhocker’s book The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics:

To summarize 2.5 million years of economic history in brief: for a very, very, very long time not much happened; then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. It took 99.4 percent of economic history to reach the wealth levels of the Yanomamo, 0.59 percent to double that level by 1750, and then 0.01 percent for global wealth to leap to the levels of the modern world. Another way to think of it is that over 97 percent of humanity’s wealth was created in just the last 0.01 percent of our history. As the economic historian David Landes describes it, “the Englishman of 1750 were closer in material things to Caesar’s legionnaires than to his own great-grand-children.”

Why are we requiring ourselves to be governed by a document written and based in principles and mental models of how the world works from a period in time that has more in common with Caesar than with the complex world we are living in?

Levinson’s smoking gun (in my very humble opinion) in the article is a quote from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816 to his friend Samuel Kercheval:

“Some men look at Constitutions with reverence and deem them too scared to be touched. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes… but I know also that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.”

Recruiting: Week One

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!

Career Day

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, or LinkedOut?

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.



Mapping Out McCombs

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!

CPA Exam Update + More

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. Continue reading CPA Exam Update + More