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!

Heads-Up on Recruiting Season…

Snoopy as Joe Cool and Woodstock: the epitome of charisma.

As the Spring semester commences, intense recruiting begins for third-year MPAs. While technical knowledge is crucial, it’s interpersonal skills that make or break a recruit on this field. Keep in mind, even if you are interested in a firm, that firm is not going to be interested in you unless they perceive you are interested in it. In other words, this is not merely an “avoid losing” situation; it is imperative that you demonstrate to recruiters that you are interested in them.

Why am I bringing this up? (1) A recent study by MIT and (2) two commercials that just irk the hell out of me.


CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on charisma. What charisma actually is is still inexplicable. However, it is undeniable that really successful people have it…whatever it is. (Even the etymology of the word comes from the Greek word for “gift.”) Notwithstanding, researchers at MIT devised what was called a “sociometer” which, as best as an accountant can explain, tried to measure the energy that one radiated. Movement of the hands, inflections of the voice, etc… contributed to giving off more energy.

What’s the point? The point is that MPAs have a LOT of charisma. Recruiting is not the time to be nervous or shy, unless you want to be overlooked.  Without being overbearing, use your personality, listen genuinely, and become interested. This will help make recruiting successful for you. Continue reading Heads-Up on Recruiting Season…

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?”


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.

MPA Student Life Blog