New to UT: III. How Do I Get Football Tickets?

I once heard that the athletic budget at UT was larger than the GDP of a small country. If there is anything bigger than MPA on campus, it is the football team. I remember Vince Young edging into the end zone like it was yesterday, and I still get chills every time I see the replay too. Needless to say at this point, the football team was a big part of why I attended Texas, and if there is any benefit to being a student here, it’s that you get to see a team in the upper echelon of college football royalty play for only a marginal cost.

First though, some thoughts for the week:

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally “Decoration Day,” was first celebrated in 1868 to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, although the date was intentionally chosen to not coincide with the date of the battle. As time progressed, however, Memorial Day’s scope increased to honor the fallen of all American wars. Congress made the holiday official in 1968 under the Uniform Holidays Bill, which also established Washington’s Birthday and Veterans’ Day as official holidays. As someone who treasures freedom, I could not let this holiday pass without giving a space in my column to those who have died for me to have it, for it takes true courage to put your life on the line for this ideal. (Imagine the lifestyle in which the rights that we consider “unalienable” can be taken away for merely disagreeing with those in authority.) Thus, I leave this paragraph to honor those who gave their lives for my freedom generations later and to support those who answer the call to protect the threat of that freedom when needed. 

The Fifty Best Burgers in Texas

The Stodg, found at The Porch in Dallas, is cooked over hickory wood. It's hard to fathom that this behemoth is only No.6!

In my very first blog post, I mentioned how I have been trying to complete the AFI Top 100 movies. Well, another one of my lists is based on an article published in Texas Monthly nearly two years ago. This article ranks the fifty best burgers in the state. (Seeing as how most public accounting firms have a mandatory retiring age, I figure I’ll have time to open a restaurant once my auditing days are done.) Perhaps not my healthiest endeavor, it is interesting to see how these different establishments set up their businesses and to see the many different ways there are to just cook a burger. Personally, I find that I am partial to those cooked over a wood flame, but that can be compensated for if the quality of the meat is top notch. Thus, I realize that not all of my readers may like the aforementioned classic films, so hopefully curiosity to try a solid burger would be more relatable…and palatable.

Do you really go around trying different kinds of burgers?

Yes, even if it is just for business purposes. As a business student, I like comparing strategies of different companies to see what works, what doesn’t, and why. For example, what qualities distinguish Wal-Mart and Whole Foods even though both fundamentally sell groceries? Similarly, it is interesting to see a chain like Jack-in-the-Box with an incredibly diverse menu that extends to tacos and egg rolls succeed at the same time that the local Mighty Fine thrives on having a menu that nearly consists of only its burgers. Thus, for me it’s not only to taste awesome food, but it’s to see what simplicity can do for metrics such as throughput, quality, training costs, economies of scale, etc. 

But you really want to hear about how to get football tickets…  … here to read more

New to UT: II. Do I Need a Car?

This matter is obviously one of preference. It is a question I receive often though, especially from incoming freshmen, so I decided to address it here. There are some pros and cons to having a car as a UT Austin student that I will cover, and even though I believe that it is not necessary to have a car, at least my reasoning will be transparent enough.

First, some highlights from the past week…

Congratulations for Graduating!

Congratulations to all the UT students who graduated this past weekend. I’d like to give a special shoutout to my roommate of four years, who probably deserves a medal for tolerating me for eight semesters. Congratulations on graduation and on your full-time offer!

The Rapture…

…either didn’t happen, or we all got left behind. I hope for the former. In case you didn’t hear, Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer in California, predicted Judgment Day would occur on Saturday, May 21; the prediction did not manifest. Nevertheless, the most famous end-of-days prediction in U.S. history occurred in 1844 when William Miller predicted the second coming would occur on October 22, 1844. Many followers gathered in anticipation (some even quit their jobs) of this prediction and waited all day only to discover that nothing happened; as such, this event was known as “The Great Disappointment. 

Bee Week

May 29-June 4 is Bee Week in Washington DC, and it is probably one of my favorite events of the year after the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

In what I would now describe as a hyper-recruiting-event-like party, contestants and their coaches and families (usually the same people) stay in the Grand Hyatt for a week. While there, contestants engage in meet-and-greets, game nights, several tours throughout the nation’s capital, a barbecue, and a final banquet. Wednesday and Thursday are set aside for competition, however, as students (none past the 8th grade are allowed) try to spell their way to a $30,000 cash grand prize (and about an extra $10,000 in other prizes). To gauge the types of words these spellers face, Scripps Howard offers this sample test

And back to the main topic…

Do I Need a Car? … here to read more

New to UT: I. Where Do I Live?

After taking some time to destroy my finals (and vice-versa), I sit back at my computer, relaxed and ready to make some noise on the web (and the Millennium Lab) again. Summer shines its face upon Austin again, whether you’re driving along Mopac watching the green leaves of the trees waving at you as a smooth summer breeze floats by or watching the sun smile upon the lake as you stroll along the Congress Avenue Bridge.  As such, my next several entries will be shorter so that I can go outside.

This next series, as promised, will address some questions I sometimes hear from incoming students. Because a mixed audience may be reading this (1st years, 3rd years, and 5th years), I will try to avoid over-generalizing and be more specific on my thoughts on each of my outlooks.

First, though, a couple of tidbits from the past couple of weeks:

Dallas Mavericks

I admit: I was a doubter of the Mavs and have been for the past five years or so, especially after that debacle against Miami in the finals. After praising the Lakers since the off-season—the 1980 off-season—Mavs fans have my full attention. Please don’t ask me to root against Kevin Durant though…

Kutcher to Replace Sheen

Warner Brothers announced that Ashton Kutcher will replace the estranged Charlie Sheen on the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Kutcher is best known for his parts in “That 70s Show” and “Punk’d.” Kutcher will have to undergo a blood test before he is officially signed on as part of a new policy initiated by the Warner Brothers legal counsel to check for abnormally high levels of tiger blood. (#kidding)

Vocabulary Boost?

Merriam Webster published a list of words to add pizzazz to your everyday vocab. These words are supposed to add an extra kick of sophistication and spice to your conversation skills.

Anyway, on to topic…

Where do I live?

I get this question from incoming Longhorns pretty frequently. Honestly, it’s a matter of taste. Some people like quiet, some people like proximity, some people like partying, some people like price. Here are my thoughts on the subject… … here to read more

Ten-Weeks of the Life of a Tax Accountant

After 10 weeks of waking up at 5:30 a.m., driving for an hour in rush-hour traffic, and staring at spreadsheets in a conference room with no windows for eight hours or more everyday, my internship has come to a close. And I would have to say that I will miss it!

The internship definitely gave me a good overview of what tax accountants do on a daily basis. Surely, most days were repetitive, some were a bit dry, but there was always a new tax law to analyze or a new type of expense to capitalize. My biggest takeaways from this experience were:

1) There was always something to learn.

Having had no prior knowledge in international tax made my tasks a little challenging. There were several things that I was trying to grasp all at once: teaching myself international tax accounting, understanding how prior years’ transactions affect this year’s tax liability, and navigating the tax accounting software. Passing my accounting classes was no guarantee that I was fully prepared for work. Getting my feet wet in the real world was like going to pre-school for the first time. Be ready to learn, and by that I meant be very ready to learn – A LOT!

2) Technology could be disappointing sometimes.

I had three different laptops issued to me during the internship. The first two did not cooperate long enough with me. I realized that having the e-mail application, instant messaging software, and seven workbooks open at the same time would take a toll on one’s computer. I had to drive back and forth from the client site to the office to resolve my technology issues. Although I like visiting the office from time to time, having technology problems close to your deadline and not being able to accomplish anything could be a little frustrating.

3) There was always something to work on or help with.

My team engagement seniors from India mostly reviewed the returns I prepared. Due to time differences, I did not receive reviews from them until the next day. Instead of sitting in the room, doing nothing after finishing my assigned entities, I would constantly ask my team members if they have anything I can help them with. Also, after my managers have reviewed the workbooks and returns my seniors and I have prepared, instead of waiting for my seniors to tell me what to do, I took the initiative to clear the review comments my managers had.

In case you are not familiar with how the review process works in public accounting, the staff prepares the workbooks and the returns, which will then be reviewed by the senior. … here to read more

Around the corner…

Classes are ending this week.  In four days’ time I will retreat to my cave and start cramming for my four final exams.  This is going to be a tough week. Unlike last semester, where the bulk of my schoolwork was completed long before the end of classes, this time around I will be completing projects, assignments and presentations right up to the bitter end. This will leave me precious little time, just a few days, to finish my readings and start preparing for finals.

The spring is nearly over, but I am a long way away from being finished. This June, the first summer session, my last semester at UT, will begin. It will be only five weeks of classes, but if last summer was any indication, it will feel much longer. But, even when I finish my summer classes in July, I will be done with the MPA program but not done with school. To meet the requirements  for the CPA exam in Texas, I am still on the hook for six to nine business-related credits.  

Texas is one of strictest states in terms of CPA exam requirements. I came into the MPA program having taken no business classes outside of the MPA pre-enrollment requirements. This year, my schedule has been completely jammed with core accounting courses, and I never had the chance to mop up the rest of the business classes I needed to meet Texas’s 24 credit hour requirement. So, after my classes at UT are done this summer, I’ll be on the computer completing my last couple of business classes by correspondence. 

When that’s over, the CPA exam will be up next. I am planning to have all of my classes done and my paperwork completed by August so that I can sneak in one section of the exam before by job begins. After that, I will try to have two more sections done by the end of October, my first month of work. Here is a list of CPA exam dates. As you can see, the exam is offered on a two-months-on, one-month-off schedule.  Unfortunately, the best month for me, September, is an off month for the exam. When the CPA exam is completely done–by December perhaps–I may try my luck with one more certification before I allow myself to pop the champagne cork. 

Clearly, I have a lot to look forward to. When I finish my master’s degree this summer, it will be just one more leap forward on my way to the finish line. 

Wish me luck!