“Grew up in DFW, lived in Paris, loves cycling”

Tonight I attended the MPA: Building Connections workshop at McCombs. The workshop was led by Michelle Polkinghorn and she brushed us up on some crucial networking skills in preparation for the “Meet the Firms” recruiting kickoff this week at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium. For those of you who are not, or have not, recruited recently, “Meet the Firms” is an opportunity for students and firms to meet and connect with each other in a structured setting.

We were given a bunch of important tips but one particularly resonated with me.  When I returned home, I turned on The Office while I worked on some audit homework, and I was reminded of this tip and now feel obliged to pass it on to you all.

Michelle suggested that after talking with a recruiter, and receiving their business card, you should write on the back a few key facts about the recruiter or memorable talking points. Of course, this should be done out of view of the recruiter. Suggested were writing things such as “UT alum” or “Talked about our love for cycling.” Anything that will help you to create an actual memorable relationship with the person.

Tell me which sounds better:

1. “Oh, hi…do you remember me? We, um, talked before…at the event last week…”

OR

2. “Hello *recruiter’s name*, how are you doing? Did you ever get a chance to check out that bike trail we talked about last week at the brief and meet?”

I know I have a tendency to be extreme, but I hope you see my point.

Now back to The Office. This particular episode pits Dwight and Michael against each other competing for a big client. Although we can all agree that Michael can be a little bit radical and unreasonable in his business methods, he successfully employs this business card tip! In Michael’s case, he writes down facts about his clients’ families and likes/dislikes. Therefore, in a business setting, Michael delights his clients using the information he had written down.

Personal facts show his clients (and in our case, recruiters) that he cares about them and helps to maintain, as well as strengthen, their relationship.

My favorite clip from the episode reveals Michael’s thoughts on Dwight:

Accounting Practicum: The Class that Gives Back

My co-bloggers Ally and Xinmiao have talked about how as MPAs, we do get various opportunities to give back to the community and work with/for not-for-profits. This semester, I am taking a course, which allows me to do just those. Yes, UT has an accounting class that is solely committed to using our accounting knowledge to serve others.

ACC 384 or ACC 366P is the Accounting Practicum class that can be taken by undergraduate and graduate students at McCombs. The class has been offered at UT for six years and has allowed students to become volunteer tax preparers at low-income neighborhoods.

UT partners with Community Tax Centers, a local not-for-profit organization under Foundation Communities. It has partnered with the IRS to implement the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for low income filers. Students taking the class are required to complete at least 55 hours of volunteer service as tax preparers at various Community Tax Centers from January until mid-April. Shifts can be as long as six hours per day.

This past weekend, we took the basic training to become preparers. We learned to navigate the tax preparation software that is being used for the program. We also worked on various cases and scenarios that we might encounter as volunteers and how we can effectively use the IRS guidebooks in helping clients with various tax issues and preparing their returns. Next Friday, we will have our intermediate training to become equipped in handling more complicated tax issues and preparation. The class requires that we take the certification tests after each training to assure that we have sufficient knowledge to do our volunteer work well. Continue reading Accounting Practicum: The Class that Gives Back

A Stand

Lady Justice

Most people that know me hopefully see me as jovial for the most part. I pray I am slow to anger and generally cheerful. Every once in a while, though, I see something that upsets me.

Last week I read a story about a girl in Philadelphia that angered me. I am truly irate. My jaws were sore on Saturday morning from clenching my teeth all day Thursday and Friday. Even after trying to give myself some time to cool down, I am certain that I can’t. See, this little girl was denied a kidney transplant because she was mentally disabled, and I cannot keep silent about that. It’s a blatant slap in the face of civil rights.

Why is this important to MPAs? I have said on several occasions that MPAs, because of our role in society, need to be civil role models as well as corporate role models. That is, we need to go vote, volunteer, etc. Our actions need to reflect the values we hold. It would be hard to look up to someone in the boardroom when you knew that that person was slime when he left the office.

For me, this is no exception. It would be difficult for me to stand by passively on a topic too close to my heart with such a responsibility on my shoulders. So here it goes:

Amelia Rivera

Amelia Rivera is three years old and has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. She needs a kidney transplant within a year, to live. However, a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (“CHOP”) told her parents that she could not receive a kidney transplant there because she was “mentally retarded” and because of her “quality of life.” More upsetting is the fact that when her parents told the doctor that they would try to find a donor on their own, the doctor insisted that he still would not perform the transplant.

This is clearly discrimination against those with mental disabilities. Even while I am cautious to go to an extreme on this issue, it seems that there was no other rationale from this doctor to deny this child her right to live. Had several other reasons been given for this child to be denied her kidney, I may have been more understanding. As it is, I am not at all understanding. Continue reading A Stand

SOPA: what it means to this MPA blogger

Google's response to SOPA

If you’ve visited Wikipedia, Google, or various other websites yesterday, you probably noticed their blackout/anti-SOPA messages and warnings. Before I go any further, let me just say that this blog entry is an attempt to explain SOPA in the most colloquial way that I can. I realize that there may be some missing pieces in my explanation.

SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act, which, on the surface seems to be a worthy cause. In theory, this act attacks something that is actually a real problem, internet piracy. The word piracy has a negative connotation and thusly initial public response would be that it is harmful. Haven’t we always been taught that plagiarism is wrong? Sure, the surface goal of SOPA is to stop foreign sites from providing users with pirated material and that is something the general population should at least try to support. And why companies such as Time Warner ARE supporting the bill. But, the repercussions of the bill would be far worse than just having to wait an extra week for the episode of your favorite show to be up on Hulu.

SOPA would have the biggest effect on any sites that use user-generated content. This may be why Wikipedia is so enthralled in the anti-SOPA movement. Other sites include Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube. Of course, this bill will not criminalize posting YouTube videos, per say, but it will hold YouTube to a new level of accountability and make it far more difficult to share and watch videos online. SOPA gives the Attorney General the ability to act against infringing websites without a trial or a court hearing and with that comes the ability to take advantage of this power. This would potentially cause more harm than the good that comes from intellectual property protection. Of course, SOPA would not go to the depths of some internet censorship such as that in China, however in practicality, it will have similar repercussions.

There have been attempts to stop piracy in the past- for example there are bills that have already passed that do exactly what SOPA is claiming to do and so, some believe that SOPA is unnecessary.

Of course, I am not supporting plagiarism or internet piracy. I go to a University with very high ethics and I plan to always stand by the honor code. However, I believe SOPA would do more harm than good and I hope that everyone takes a minute or two to get educated about the bill.

If this at all resonates with you, then please, do some research and find out how you can make a difference. Google has a few things to say about the bill and check out this full page ad that ran in the NYTimes a few months ago.

Please keep in mind that these are my own personal views, and may or may not reflect the opinion of McCombs or the University.

Back in the Swing

AICPA ThisWayToCPA logoHello everyone. I hope you all enjoyed your holiday season and are like me, getting back into the swing of things.  Today was the first day of classes and it seemed to go well for everyone.  This semester for me will be filled with classes, homework, and the all important  CPA exam preparation.

I signed up for an online course and plan to take my first section within the next 2 months.  I applied for the exam over break and am still waiting for approval to schedule my exam.  There are plenty of instructions and information on the CPA exam on the NASBA website as well as the AICPA website.  Please post comments if you have any question about the process.

The classes I’m taking this semester include ethics (which is a required course for the CPA exam in some states including Texas), business communication and corporate governance.  These are mostly electives that I have chosen because I feel they will best help me in my future, on the exam, and in my career.  I also am taking two accounting electives that are more audit focused.

Please post comments of any questions you may have about the CPA exam or courses you can take as an MPA, both core and elective courses.  Thanks!

MPA Student Life Blog