MPA: My Personal Anecdote

Why MPA?

Growing up, my “dream job” changed weekly. Like most kids, I fluctuated between  the typical dream professions (as well as some atypical ones): princess, astronaut, lawyer, doctor, marine biologist, plumber, etc. The bottom line of all my decisions was that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.

Funnily enough, the one thing I did not want to be was an accountant. I come from a family of government accountants, and I remember seeing the look on people’s faces when I told them what my family did for a living and who they worked for. It was not a look that indicated they thought my family was making a positive difference in the world.

It wasn’t until I attended the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP- now called DYNAMC) here at McCombs, that I began to rethink my views. It was at this camp that I realized accounting was a field that actually interested me. What especially intrigued me was a small tax seminar on filing 1040’s led by Professor Kristina Zvinakis. It was at this camp that I realized that accounting, specifically tax, was exactly the career I was looking for as it satisfied all of the qualities I wanted out of a career:

    • To have work that I find truly challenging and rewarding
    •  To be held to a higher ethical standards than most professionals are
    •  To help people by saving them money that they can use to improve their own lives or others’ lives
    •  To save people time so they can use it to do things they truly love
This here explains my reason for deciding Texas MPA: the people are awesome!

Why Texas MPA?

It was at ACAP that I was first introduced to the integrated MPA program. It seemed too good to be true: a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting in five years!

To be completely honest (and my family and high-school friends can attest to this), I never saw myself attending UT until I attended ACAP. My family is from Washington, and I was always planning on out-of-state in order to escape the heat of Texas.

But when it came time to sit down and think about where I wanted to go to school, all roads lead to Austin. Where else could I get a top-rate education in the number one accounting program at in-state tuition rates? Nowhere, that’s where.

Texas MPA was a logical choice for me. I feel it’s the logical choice for everyone when deciding on where to pursue an accounting or business education. McCombs provides so much for its students: incredible faculty, knowledgeable academic advisors, and wonderful career advisors and services. On top of McCombs’ resources, every student has the resources of the entire university and city of Austin at their disposal.

In conclusion –it’s a splendid time to be a Texas MPA!

While you were Meme-ing…

…I was studying with Becker. It seems that the relaxed semester is impossible under my terms and lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and explains my hiatus from the blogging world for the past two weeks.

There is no shortage of stories though. Here is some recent Conversationalia from the past couple of weeks:


Texas to Host 2014 Menuhin Competition

The University of Texas will host the 2014 Menuhin Competition for violinists. It will be the first time the competition will be held in the North American continent. Read more about this in the Daily Texan’s article.

Yehudi Menuhin was born in America, but he spent most of his professional music career in the United Kingdom. He was a popular violinist during the 20th century, during which time recordings were available. My mom used to play a CD of Menuhin playing the Mozart violin concertos in the car. When you’re nine years’ old, you don’t particularly listen that closely. However, there was something about the last movement of Mozart’s fifth violin concerto that I just loved. I’m not sure if it was the sweet innocent opening theme or the somewhat raucous “Turkish” section in the middle, but this piece was my motivation for continuing to study the instrument throughout elementary school and high school, since it was only five Suzuki books away. (Otherwise, I’m not sure how much longer I would have lasted at the time…) Anyways, here’s Menuhin’s performance of that piece:


What I love about Austin is its entrepreneurial spirit. It’s awesome, and one of the great ways it’s exemplified is through the Trailer model. Here you save on fixed costs and experiment with your product in a small food trailer instead of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. One of my new favorites is PitaLicious on South Congress.

Why do I love it so much? Two reasons: the first is that the owner is Lebanese (where my great-grandparents emigrated from, thus earning extra points in my book) and serves kafta (which is a dish my siti loves to prepare for my brother and me when I visit El Paso). Second, and more substantially, is that the owner and his girlfriend have full-time jobs. (He’s an engineer, and she’s a nurse.)That’s right—they operate this food stand for fun. When talking to him, he told me that this was one of his passions and always wanted to do it. And that is what I love about Austin—the culture of doing things because you want to and taking some chances with life! PitaLicious is open on Thursday and Friday nights as well as the weekends. Follow your dreams.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of music, the University Orchestra—of which I have been a member of for my entire five years at Texas—is performing Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, “Pastorale,” on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. The piece is awesome, invoking a lot of imagery of nature and minimalism. This is, to me, one of the best pieces ever written—a true work of art—and a great piece to listen to even if you are not a hardcore classical music person. This is simply a must-hear.

To be emotional, or not to be emotional? That is the question

As you can see, not everyone appreciates tears!

Boehner Gets Weepy on 60 Minutes

In my organizational behavior class, we discussed the above video showing Representative John Boehner’s use of tears in public speaking. The majority of my class expressed negative opinions about this practice, saying that it showed weakness and didn’t really have a place in politics. One classmate compared crying in politics to crying in business, saying that it would be inappropriate to cry in the boardroom.

After leaving class, this question couldn’t leave my mind: Is the use of emotions appropriate in politics and the business world?

The first way I approached this question was in the field of politics. I first watched this video in my business communications class last semester, and I thought Boehner’s blatant showing of emotions lost him credibility. However, upon seeing this video a second time, I’m starting to see where Boehner is coming from. Although I am not necessarily a fan of tears or politicians proponing tears when trying to appeal to their audience; I do appreciated the showing of Boehner’s seemingly genuine emotion. With responsibilities such as passing legislation regarding abortion and stem cell research, declaring war and dispatching our soldiers, isn’t it nice that our leaders are taking their decisions to heart? If my congressman was discussing these issues in an objective, non-emotional tone, I would interpret the decision as cold and calculating with little regard of the consequences to constituents. Continue reading To be emotional, or not to be emotional? That is the question

Why I Chose MPA

UT Austin ribbonIt might be nice to get a perspective on why each of us chose to come to the MPA program.  I will give you my top 3 influences in my choosing the program, which may help you make you make a more informed decision for yourself.

1. The #1 rating – I know some say this is not the most important thing about the MPA program, and they are right, but it was definitely an important factor in my decision.  As others have expressed as well, I did not think I was going to be accepted into the program. It was more of a “reach” for me, but I figured why not?  I was more heavily considering all the other schools I got into because I figured it was a more realistic approach.  In the back of my mind though, I said to myself that if I got into UT, I would have a much more difficult decision to make.  That situation did come about and I did indeed have a tough decision.  Knowing that MPA is ranked the #1 graduate accounting program is a great distinction, but it is also indicative of all of the amazing opportunities that are available to MPA students.  I looked into why it is ranked that way, including the faculty, the career services, curriculum, and other factors.  These all showed me that the ranking was legitimate and the program is taken seriously.

2. Austin – When I mentioned to people I was considering coming to Austin, all I heard was, “Oh I hear it is so cool there!” or “Everyone loves it there!” or “Why are you going to Austin?”.  Besides that last point, which I think was just friends wondering why I was going all the way from New Jersey to Texas, everyone’s excitement over Austin got me so excited.  I came to visit in March before the program started, and got a feel for Austin.  Now, having lived here for a while, I can see why everyone loves it.  The vibe from all the people and all the activities really make it a unique place.  I trusted those people who told me that Austin is awesome, and I am glad that I did because they were right!

3. Variety of Courses – This was more of a detail that helped me distinguish the MPA program from other schools’ Master of Accounting programs.  I knew that since I was going to be in external audit for my full time job, I thought I would be on the Financial Reporting and Assurance Track at UT.  Then I looked into the actual courses I would have to and be allowed to take in that track.  I was so surprised by the amount of audit and more general electives that were offered, including internal audit, IT audit, government accounting, and standards in auditing.  Since I came into the program with the room to take a lot of electives, I definitely capitalized on this opportunity by taking interesting electives.  Also, a subset to this is that as an MPA student you have the opportunity to take courses abroad during the summer.  I did not study abroad as an undergrad so this seemed like an amazing option that I planned on taking advantage of.  (I am going to Hong Kong this summer and am very excited!)  Also, the courses given while abroad include topics geared towards international business and international accounting standards, which in this global economy, are very useful subjects.

I hope this helps you understand why I chose the program and can give you some insight and help for making your own decision.

Please leave comments or questions below!

Spotlight on MIS

Imagine doing all your accounting on this paper!

Last week was the deadline for resume submissions for Spring MPA internships. It was a stressful process and it is such a relief to be done! That being said, I do not have much recruiting-wise to talk about in this week’s blog.

Instead, I am going to talk a little bit about another discipline that I believe is becoming increasingly important in the accounting industry. Management Information Systems, or MIS as it is known around McCombs, is essentially a technology/business hybrid. MIS focuses on bridging the gap between the business world and the computer science world, which is every so important as the distinction between those two fields begins to blur. If you are interested in MIS, you should definitely consider it as your minor.

If you saw the picture above, there is a good chance you didn’t know what that is. That’s ledger paper. Accountants use to use it to report journal entries and reconcile accounts. My Audit professor likes to show it to us occasionally to remind us how important technology is to the accounting profession today.

I stumbled upon a crazy article on this morning about how Target uses data mining in its operations. Data mining is “process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information – information that can be used to increase revenue, cuts costs, or both.” Target uses data-mining to discover which coupons/promotions are most appropriate for each customer. By analyzing customer’s purchases over time, Target professionals see patterns that they can then use to interpret buying habits of each customer. The Forbes article describes a situation where Target discovered, based on buying patterns, that a young girl was pregnant and thus, sent her coupons for diapers, cribs, etc. Her father was infuriated and insulted until he realized that his daughter actually was pregnant. Target is definitely not the only company using data mining- so be aware! I think data mining is so interesting, but there are certainly some critics who believe that we are heading towards a Big Brother situation with all of this personal data being stored by different companies.

Speaking of Big Brother, I love this 1984 Apple computer commercial.

MPA Student Life Blog