Tag Archives: Austin

Final Austin Recommendations

In no time at all, my final exams for Advanced Accounting and Ethics will be over and my time as a tMPA will be complete. The past year has been incredible (and busy!) and I couldn’t depart without leaving the blog with some final Austin-area suggestions:

Pacha – This is my #1 go-to spot for breakfast/brunch. The pancakes are unparalleled and the space is cute and funky. Service can be slow on weekends since pancakes are made from scratch and the kitchen is small.

Sandy’s – This place has been around since 1945 and is hopping on weekend evenings. The burgers, fries, and custard-based shakes are worth checking out. Sandy’s is a hop and skip away from Zilker, so you can plan to go after a picnic or a dip in Barton Springs Pool.

Barton Springs Pool
 – There are tons of taco shops in Austin but my favorite has to be Tacodeli for the selection and awesome queso. Sadly, it is only open for breakfast and lunch. If you are craving tacos in the evening (and why wouldn’t you be), try Las Trancas.

Crown and Anchor – This bar is close to campus and has a good selection of beer and bar food. On Sunday evenings, games of pool are free.

Violet Crown and Alamo Drafthouse – These are my two favorite theaters to catch a movie in Austin. Violet Crown is downtown on 2nd Street and Alamo has several locations around town. Both theaters serve food but Alamo takes things to the next level with servers that come right to your seat.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum – If you’re an MPA student, you know Charles Umlauf’s work because Umlauf sculpted The Family Group in front of McCombs. The Umlauf is a beautiful space with a rotating indoor exhibit, and a permanent collection outdoors. I highly recommend a visit.

Thank you for reading. I wish the best of luck to the MPA class of 2017 and beyond.

International Potluck


Recently, the MPA International Connection hosted a potluck where international students shared foods from their respective home countries. Fortunately, they invited all of us to come and try them out. In good spirit, the domestic students brought some of their own food to share with the international students. Career Consultant Dawn Shaw was there, too, helping promote unity among the varied group of students in the MPA program.

About 25 students brought food from China, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico, Hawaii, and elsewhere. My only regret is that I didn’t save more room for the Korean BBQ. A bigger sampling might have given me enough ammo to write about another stop on my “BBQ trail” even though it’s pretty different from Texas BBQ.  There was so much food that I didn’t get to eat a substantial amount of any one dish, but I do not regret1610014_294678857356625_2368457516241372259_ntaking the opportunity to try out each one. My contribution, being a southerner, wassouthern-style sweet tea. I made a regular sweet tea version and another one infused with fruit.

Altogether, it was a great way to branch out and try something new that you would not otherwise be exposed to. I have always enjoyed eating foreign foods, but there’s nothing like home-cooking. That is a truism that transcends national and cultural boundaries. It also provided a venue to better get to know some fellow students who we may not have known at all otherwise.

That there is enough interest in an event like this is a testament to the diversity of the Texas MPA class, which is a quality important to me. I have enjoyed my travels outside the US and look forward to future travels, but experiencing fellowship in this context with others who are outside their home countries is the next best thing.



New to Austin and Ready to Go

IMG_8515Hello to the UT MPA blogosphere! My name is Olivia and I am currently gearing up to start my tMPA experience in about a week.  First…some information about my background. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts, so my path to the UT MPA is a bit atypical. Though I was strong in math in high school and started off in Engineering as a college freshman, I quickly discovered the dark rooms on UPenn’s campus and fell hard for photography. When I graduated with my bachelors, I headed out to San Francisco on a whim and soon found myself at a 9-5 desk job that included a sprinkling of Accounts Payable. Yearning for more, I signed up for an evening Financial Accounting class. That class quickly spiraled into more coursework that inspired me to  research graduate programs.

Two years and four months after that first Financial Accounting class, I am thrilled to be writing on this blog, which was akin to a bible for me throughout my application process. I moved to Austin just under a month ago, and so far I am loving it. Truthfully, a lot of my time has gone to setting up my apartment, brushing up my resume, and most significantly, hunkering down and making my way through a 243 page learning resource that the MPA office mailed out to those of us enrolled in Financial Accounting this summer called “Solid Footing.” I just finished it and must admit, I feel like a master of debits and credits. Hard work aside, I have had some time to explore the city. Some of my favorite experiences have been: meditating in The Color Inside, eating at Kin and Comfort (unique and delicious Thai/Southern fusion), lingering on Rainey Street (especially on a weekend afternoon), exploring The Ransom Center (their WWI exhibit is incredible), seeing Obvious Child at Violet Crown (the theater has a modern design, reserved seating, and tasty food), relaxing on Spider House’s patio, and tubing on the Guadalupe River. High on my to-do list are the Umlaf Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Baylor Street Art Wall, and ziplining on Lake Travis at night. Between all of the festivals, museums and galleries, restaurants, parks, and historical landmarks, I don’t think I will run out of things to do in Austin anytime soon.

Though I could easily occupy my time with non-academic, non-career pursuits, there is work to be done! I came to Austin for UT’s MPA program of course, and things will kick off for me this summer with ACC 381 – Financial Accounting with Brian Lendecky and ACC 380K.11 – Introduction to Taxation with Terri Holbrook. This is a pretty typical summer schedule for those entering the tMPA, unless you come to UT with academic waivers. After 5 weeks of those courses, we have a week of orientation. The orientation schedule was recently published and it is a jam-packed week including a faculty lunch, an Academic Advising presentation, a career panel, an etiquette dinner and finally, a two and a half hour career fair. Five days later, fall classes officially start. There really won’t be a break for most MPAs as BA 285T – Financial Management with Ramesh Rao starts during orientation week, before the start of most Fall classes.

I’m ready. Are you?

Competing With Engineers for a Sustainable World

A couple of months ago, we all received an invitation to compete in BASF’s Team Chemistry challenge. A fellow MPA student decided to formTexas-mascot a group, and so I joined. It seemed like a fun project – come up with ideas to lessen the environmental impact of football gameday. I love football gameday and I have an interest in environmental sustainability, so it was like a match made in heaven. Of course, the incentive of winning a bunch of money didn’t hurt.

So, we set to work coming up with ideas on how to approach the problem.  We easily came up with a host of small solutions that would have some impact, but quickly got bogged down in the details. After spending some more time pondering our work, we decided to focus on a group  of related solutions and hone in on them.  As Joel said in his most recent article about accountants being risk-averse, we learned from our initial mistakes, found the proper balance, and ended up with some pretty cool ideas.

We were invited to a couple of events by BASF and the Athletic Department to learn more about the initiative and the goals of the competition. One event was a sustainability panel sponsored by UT Engineers for a Sustainable World. The panel was entirely made up of engineers and the audience was entirely engineers … except two of us MPA students. It was very intimidating hearing about them discussing various polymers of which we had no clue of their existence much less their properties. Apparently these students have a big advantage over us with their knowledge of chemicals, considering BASF is essentially a chemical company. The next event was a stadium tour, during which our guides told us about their issues with waste management. Their focus seemed to be only on waste management problems, while our solutions did little to address that.

ConcoursePoster_#2_Sec120But, we pressed on, confident in the power of our ideas despite not having the technical knowledge that is certainly common among our competition. What we do have is a business ingenuity that enabled us to come up with feasible solutions that are easily implemented and have a measurable impact. We used the skills we have learned in economics, finance, and accounting to estimate the results of our proposals. We also used our branding and presentation skills to develop a persuasive format through which to deliver our proposal.

We find out Friday if we are invited to the finalist round, where we will present and defend our ideas in a “shark tank” environment. We’ve had fun putting it all together, and we’re proud of our accomplishments, but it would be great to get to write a “Part II” to this article about our preparation for the finalist round!


Live Music Capital of the World

austin city music header Now that recruiting is out of the way and one semester under my belt, I feel like I have some extra breathing room to enjoy more of the fun that Austin has to offer. My biggest new year’s resolution is to see more live music, and what better place to enable my success than the Live Music Capital of the World? Being a musician, it wouldn’t hurt to get the chance to perform some of that live music as well.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had the chance to see a few acts already, but I still have some places on my hit list:

Victory Grill: I had the chance after our first day back of the spring semester to check out Victory Grill’s weekly Monday night blues jam. A few of us MPAs went, and have already made plans to go back. It felt like a neighborhood bar for regulars to come and play sweet blues music, taking turns on the stage to wring out their troubles.

Red River: Not a single venue, but a strip of clubs, bars, and music venues. Stubb’s BBQ and Mohawk regularly feature relatively well-known touring artists in addition to some of the local greats. Then there are several smaller venues and bars clustered around that frequently host live music.


The Legendary White Swan: This one, another neighborhood bar, has been on my list for a while, but I haven’t made it down there yet. They host a variety of local artists, from blues to punk to roots country.

Sahara Lounge: Another venue that recently appeared on my radar, the Sahara Lounge is the most eclectic on the list. The variety of music that can be found here includes Indie, African, Blues, Rock, Country, Swing, Brazilian, and Funk.

Any takers?  Any other venues I need to check out?