- Participate in class discussions
- Hand in papers or homework assignments
- Take exams or quizzes
- Earn any credit
I’m coming up on six months as a full-time audit associate at one of the Big Four firms in Boston.
Taking a moment to reflect, I’ve identified five things (among many) I learned as a traditional MPA student last year that prepared me to succeed in my current role.
1 – Debits and Credits: Whenever I’m doing audit work and come across something strange or complicated, it always helps to bring it back to basics. What’s being debited? What’s being credited? Does that make sense? How does that affect the income statement? The balance sheet? Is it material? What are the assumptions? These questions help me wrap my head around my work every day.
2 – Cycles and Assertions: It turns out that auditing really is done by focusing on cycles and assertions. You do controls testing (“404″ or “SOX” testing) over the Inventory cycle separate from the Purchasing and Payables cycle. When you test Cash, you identify what assertions you are testing, such as accuracy, rights and obligations, etc. Not the most interesting stuff I’ve ever studied, but definitely useful, and certainly foundational.
3 – Teamwork: I’m always working on teams these days. Always. Team projects and research papers were great practice for this aspect of the job.
4 – Technical Accounting: It turns out that new associates, and even experienced associates, aren’t expected to know a lot about specific, technical accounting rules. Rather, we focus on fairly straightforward accounting during the first few years. But the MPA program taught a good amount of technical accounting rules and research skills, so I feel well prepared for my current role and also to step up to the plate when it is my responsibility to make some of the more technical calls.
5 – Career Planning: One of the most useful resources provided to MPA students, IMHO, is the Career Center. The counselors, seminars and advice were invaluable to me when planning my career path and interviewing with the Big Four and other firms. The advice to “manage your career” remains excellent advice even now that I’ve joined a Big Four firm. Some things are clearly planned and set out for me. But much of what I do to further my development, my education, my network, and my career in general, is largely up to me.
It makes a guy grateful to have attended such a great program. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Feel free to e-mail me at mpablogger[at]gmail[dot]com.
Normally I am quiet on the subject of public transportation since I own a car that I unapologetically drive around town. However, the car that I (now sadly) own is a Toyota Camry and, in light of the recent accelerator sticking problem with many Toyota cars, I decided to stay off the road for a bit. I must add, though I own a car now, I have been happily relying on public transportation during the years that I lived in Taipei and Boston. Even now, if I am in a city where I have the options of driving or riding some kind of convenient public transit, I would gladly choose the latter.
Although many people would say that it is next to impossible to live in the great state of Texas without four wheels, I have observed a few modes of transportation that the people of Austin use to get around town.
1. UT Shuttles
Since I live right next to a UT shuttle stop in West Campus, I must praise the convenience of the shuttles. They are operated by the same company as the MetroBuses, and mostly UT students utilize these shuttles. I just counted on the MetroBuses Web site that there are fourteen shuttle routes that serve to as far as Far West and Lake Austin. The shuttles run fairly frequently during school hours, and I have never waited for more than a few minutes for a shuttle during the day. The only downside is that the shuttles do not operate on Saturdays and with only limited service on Sundays, which makes going to places along the shuttle routes difficult on weekends.
UT shuttle does not take you to where you want to go when you want to go? Fear not! There are still the city buses that have significantly more extensive routes and services. I have only utilized a few lines near campus and downtown when riding the buses was more convenient than driving, but I have seen many commuters taking full advantage of this public good. The best part of the city buses is that anyone with a UT ID (student, faculty and staff) rides for free! There are also the night owl shuttles that run from numerous campus locations to downtown Austin from Thursday to Saturday for the people who are going out on weekend nights. It is definitely a cheap/free alternative to taxis or paying the high parking fees downtown.
The MetroRail is something of a novelty in Austin considering that it has not officially started servicing the general public yet. I am on the hopeful lookout to try it once it is in operation, however! The line that will be unveiled first will run north from Downtown to Leander. Another line in the works will run east from downtown Austin. For more information, please visit the MetroRail Web site.
I am ashamed to say that I am a terrible biker. I can ride it, but I lack the confidence to ride it anywhere near a busy street when I have to share the road with other wheels (my friend who has ridden with me can vouch for that statement! I am pretty sure she will never ride with me again). But, there are many savvy cyclists in the streets of Austin who safely get from point A to point B without fearful screaming because many streets, especially near and on campus, have bike lanes that make biking so much easier and safer. The City of Austin Web site has a useful resources page on biking in the city.
I own neither of these, but they are pretty awesome! Their ease to park would be, to me, the biggest advantage. There are also parking spots on campus for mopeds and motorcycles if they are your choice modes of transportation.
6. Your own two feet!
Personally, I like nothing more than to walk around town on a nice day, and Austin is known for its nice days! Although your own two feet can only walk so far, they are powerful tools when combined with any above mode of transportation. Most pedestrian paths are paved and comfortable to walk on. You might be surprised with how far you can walk in Austin!
Although nothing beats the convenience of driving your own car, sometimes it is simply easier/cheaper to use one of these alternatives. Plus, you would be reducing your carbon footprint if you decide to use public transportation! I truly believe that the City of Austin is trying its best to become a green and accessible city where people can get around easily without owning a car. I look forward to the arrival of that day!
When I first realized we were having one month of winter break, I was amazed at all the time I would have to rest. To my surprise, it went by like lightning. During the holidays I went back home (to Monterrey), to my parent’s hometown (Durango, another State in Mexico), and to my boyfriend’s hometown (Puebla, Mexico). So it was kind of busy with all the travel, but at the same time I really enjoyed being back at home with my family.
Anyway, I’m back in Austin and even though it is hard getting used to the routine, I’m really enjoying the classes I’m taking (Advanced Accounting, Strategic Control, ITAC, and Management Auditing and Control). I even started auditing Oil and Gas Accounting (since I’ll be working in Houston and have no experience with Oil and Gas, I thought it might be helpful to audit that class). The class is very interesting and it is very nice to have a class where I don’t have to worry about being graded.
I’m starting to think that whoever said that you don’t realize how fast time passes when you are having a good time was right. I just can’t believe I’m almost done with my year in Austin and everything is coming to an end. I just wish I had more time to enjoy all of this, but at the same time, I’m really excited about what is to come.
Going home to four feet of snow and -26 degree weather was not exactly optimum conditions, but I would not have it any other way. This past Christmas break in Nebraska was the last time I would return home for an extended period of time. There will always be the occasional weekend trip or a few days here and there for the holidays, but no more “month long” vacations to a place that I have found to be so peaceful. I thought that leaving home would get easier as I got older…that I would be more prepared because I have had four and a half years of practice; I was so wrong. Dorothy had it right…there is no place like home.
And now 2010 is upon us, and 75 degrees with sunshine is not a bad way to start off the new year! Graduation is near, with only Non-Profit/Government Accounting and Strategic Control Systems standing in my way from finishing this 160-academic-hour trip. I am also beginning my CPA Exam studies; I would have liked to have started two weeks ago but an unfortunate mistake by Becker has set me back. I still believe I will have enough time to finish before work begins.
*Cough Cough* Speaking of work…I have a job…a career! WOOHOOOO! A year ago, in the middle of a terrible recession, I was sick to my stomach for turning down my full-time offer in hopes of finding something better. Friday, January 8, made it all worth it. I will be working for Ernst & Young in Dallas. Even more exciting is that I am doing a new joint program between Audit and Transaction Advisory Services (TAS), where I get to do a little of both for the first three years.
This year has started out great and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given; I hope we can all finish out this year in the best of spirits (even those of us who are not graduating). Best of luck during the semester everyone.