Carpe Diem

The signature motto of The University of Texas is “What starts here changes the world.” When I first came to UT, I felt that this was just a showy saying with little substance behind it. I am starting to realize, however, that this statement is truly the cornerstone of our university.

When most students decide to continue their education at Texas, they do so not only because they want a great education, but  because they want to matter in the world. The University of Texas gives them the appropriate means to accomplish their goals.

Every student I have met here wants to matter in the world. They are all extremely ambitious people with big goals for their futures. The majority of MPA students take on leadership roles in organizations on campus, participate in company networking sessions, sign up for interviews and mock-interviews, and work hard to get excellent grades in their coursework to set themselves up for a fantastic job. UT students invest their time and energy in things that will give them the opportunity to matter in the world.

I continually share with my parents all of the things McCombs and the MPA program offer to maximize my future opportunities. My mom said, “Ally, it’s a wonderful program and it is great that you are focused on your future, but don’t neglect to focus on the present and enjoy this time of your life.” It wasn’t until August of this past year that I understood the true meaning of what she was telling me.

The first thing I understood about focusing on the present was that I would only be in college at UT with all of my friends for a finite period of time, whereas I will be working forever. It only makes sense to take advantage of everything the University offers while you are a student: going to football and basketball games, attending campus events, and spending lots of time with friends. Continue reading Carpe Diem

“Okay, employers don’t REALLY look at my Facebook, right?”

WRONG!

YOU control your online persona

For me, Facebook has always been a positive thing- barring it’s impeccable ability to distract during finals week. Facebook is an efficient way to keep up with old friends and family, and to stay in touch with friends around the world. It is often entertaining, and merely a way for everyone to share their life with each other. However, Facebook is not all fun and games.

Facebook holds us all to a new level of accountability. There are countless stories of employees who have misled their employers. And now, in a world governed by social media, employees’ indiscretions are being discovered via Facebook. Take, for example, the story of Kevin Colvin, a NYC bank employee who asked off for a family emergency that just so coincidently landed on Halloween weekend. When pictures surfaced of Colvin in costume celebrating the holiday, he was promptly discovered. Many other employees have chosen Facebook as their channel of communication with which to rant about their employer, and thus are discovered as well.

While recruiting -and even when you secure a job- it is important to remember that your Facebook is NOT completely separate from your work life. Any online representation of you is free to the public. Anything that you post online should match the reputation that you are trying to withhold.

What it all boils down to, is that if you question whether or not something should be posted online, the answer is probably that it shouldn’t.  Be smart about what you post because you aren’t just sharing it with your friends, you are sharing it with the internet- aka anyone who inquires.

Sidenote: If you read through this and thought, “Oh, this is ridiculous. Obviously this girl doesn’t understand that Facebook has privacy settings.” Although a valid point, Facebook updates often reset your settings back to “default” (not private!) and anyway, it is better to be safe than sorry.

New Year’s Revolutions

New Year's resolutions can sometimes go in one year and out the other

It’s that time of year again… a new year, and time for New Year’s resolutions. I thought about what I wanted to do with this year and how I could improve myself, but I lacked inspiration, so as usual I turned to Google.

The first thing I found was a list of the ten most common New Year’s resolutions. They were all excellent, but all of them are things I already strive for on a daily basis: spending more time with loved ones, getting more organized, exercising, eating healthy, etc. I remained uninspired.

After spending more time in attempts to find a resolution, I stumbled upon the million-dollar question: Why do I even need to make a new year’s resolution? What makes January 1st so special in that it’s the only time of year to make a new resolution and improve myself? I knew there had to be a reason resolutions exist, otherwise, why is this custom worldwide?

After contemplating these questions (and doing some research of course), I found my answers. The magic of a new year is that it inspires us to dream big. We tend to get stuck in the monotony of day-to-day life. There is just something about a new year that breaks that cycle. It helps us realize that “if we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves” -Thomas Edison.

The promise of new beginnings allows us the opportunity to shoot for the stars and remove the cynicism that seeps into our lives as the year progresses. Kristi Hedges from Forbes Magazine said, “we’ve been trained to be critical and think small. We’re cautious of new ideas and motives, and we wait for the other shoe to drop. We get a lot of social reinforcement for this posture by being heralded as savvy, analytical, and smart.” Continue reading New Year’s Revolutions

Paul: A work in Progress

A co-worker of mine once warned me “beware of the person you may become.” I wasn’t by any means doing anything wrong, so don’t let that counsel change your impression of me. However, the idea that my actions today will escalate and snowball, forging either a respectable creature or a leviathan, haunts me. Aristotle said that “excellence is a habit.” Conversely, I could say that to achieve excellence, I need to practice good habits and that poor habits impede the quest for excellence. When I was given this recommendation though, I merely resolved that I needed to be the man today the man I want to be when I was fifty.

And what constitutes greatness anyways? Little things or big things? In my agenda to continually improve my being, how much can I change in a given year? If I cannot sustain my actions then I have not really accomplished much. I’m still excited that I can remember to floss every other morning (one of the great accomplishments of 2009).

I continue to struggle with what I perceive to be the ideal Paul, I attempt to keep three things in mind every day.

First, as Coach Wooden put it, “What [one] learns after [he’s] learned it all counts most of all.” I see this as a way of saying never stop learning. As an accountant I’ll testify that once I’m done learning, I must be a “finished good.” Hopefully, that means I wouldn’t be a finished good until I’m finished as in buried.

Second, be open-minded. It would be foolish to expect to improve one’s self without considering feedback from others. This advice must be taken with a grain of skepticism; discernment is needed to distinguish between those who look to exalt you and those who are trying to hold you back. Overall, if I enter every conversation knowing that I’m absolutely correct about everything I’ll be missing out on an opportunity to gain insights and perspectives I may not otherwise have. Continue reading Paul: A work in Progress

Cities (Probably) Overlooked During Recruiting: Part 2

Beautiful Boston Skyline

Greetings from Red Sox Nation, home of the Boston Tea Party, Beantown or whatever you like to call it. Clearly Boston is a city full of life (and United States History).

As I said before, Austin is a city with many accolades, but we should consider all the alternatives during recruiting. All Big 4 have offices in Boston!

The Skyline is beautiful especially at night. I’m sure many of you would argue that it holds no candle to the skyline of Austin, but I’m still a big fan.

Apart from the skyline, Boston has a lot of other great sites to see.

1. Fenway Park: I may have mentioned before that I am not the biggest sports fan (other than the Longhorns, of course.) But nothing beats the atmosphere and camaraderie of Fenway Park.  The park opened in 1912 and is considered one of the most iconic sports venues in the world. If you get the chance to intern in the city, I definitely recommend you check out a Red Sox game. And if you can, sit on the Green Monster!

My cousin and I on the Green Monster at Fenway

2. North End: Akin to New York City’s “Little Italy,” the North End is a historic neighborhood in Massachusetts that has been inhabited since the 1600s. The neighborhood is rich in Italian culture and DELICIOUS food. If you visit the North End, be sure to check out Mike’s Pastry- best pastries and cookies you will ever have! Continue reading Cities (Probably) Overlooked During Recruiting: Part 2

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