Tag Archives: mpa

Why I Chose To Stay

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while…and yes I’m still here. I have stayed on as a MPA a semester longer than most, because I chose to complete an internship over the summer (and got credit for it).  I wanted to ensure I was making the right choice in career path and felt that actually trying it out for a few months would be the best way to assess my new profession.

I considered morning turkey sightings to be good luck.
I loved the turkeys on our campus.

I was lucky enough to intern in the Internal Audit department of a Fortune 500 company at their headquarters in Missouri. I was one of four interns for the group, and was able to participate in two audits. The job itself was a perfect fit for me, but one of the biggest draws for me was the travel component. I was based in St. Louis, but traveled to the Netherlands and Colorado during my two and a half months with the company. Best of all, this internship mimicked the full-time role that I will be taking on next year (yes-I liked it so much I signed on at the end of my internship).

The Hague
This photo was taken in the Scheveningen area after 8pm one night.
The Hague at Night
Not a bad place to go for an audit.

Coming to the MPA program people often have very set plans for the next 2-3 years of their lives. My advice, especially if you’re coming from outside the business world, is to take your time. If you’re able to spend extra time at UT, take an internship in the Spring or Summer. If you need to get out and into the workforce sooner, be sure to consider industry jobs in addition to public accounting. Up until last fall I’d never heard of the company I’ll be joining, and figured I’d be recruiting solely for full-time jobs while at UT. So never rule anything out, never close any doors-you never know what you’ll find or where you’ll go.

I went to St. Louis having never been to the state of Missouri before; next spring I will be calling it home.

Can you Identify a Fraudster?

Currently I am taking Professor Bradshaw‘s Fraud Examination class as an accounting elective. In the course we learned about the typical white-collar criminal and I believe most of us were surprised by the statistics. (I know I was!)

Maybe I have watched too many episodes of Law and Order: SVU, but I pride myself in being able to read others and anticipate who is the “bad guy” in a movie or TV show before it is revealed to the audience. Being able to read people is a valuable skill to have and, unfortunately, a necessary one because professionals in the workplace may not always be as honest as we hope they will be. In this respect, we cannot let stereotypes bias the way we view our colleagues and others in the professional environment.

Before discussing who is most likely to be a corporate fraudster, Professor Bradshaw prompted the class to describe the quintessential fraudster. In our minds, it would typically be the sinister looking professional who is either A) quiet and viewed to be anti-social or B) really aggressive. It is easy to convince yourself that the corporate “bad guys” are going to resemble the ones that you see in Hollywood dramas. However, statistically, the typical fraudster is not who you would expect.

Here are the characteristics of a typical corporate fraudster:

  • Male, aged 35+
  • Strong accounting/finance background and above average education
  • In a position of trust
  • Stable family/personal situation
  • Good psychological health
  • No criminal record

These characteristics, as Professor Bradshaw humorously pointed out, are more believable to be descriptive of the average McCombs professor, not a white collar criminal.

I would highly recommend Professor Bradshaw’s class if you are looking for an accounting elective to take! And remember to be wary in the workplace- the fraudster may not be who you most expect!

“It’s never the person you most suspect. It’s also never the person you least suspect, since anyone with half a brain would suspect them the most. Therefore I know the killer to be Phyllis, AKA Beatrix Bourbon, the person I most medium suspect.”
                                           –Dwight (during a Murder Mystery on The Office)

The Pur$uit of Happine$$: Part 3

Hi everyone,

Like Melissa, I just wanted to cap my experience spending a semester interning. Melissa talked about how she utilized the things she learned from her academic studies for her internship, so I thought I would talk about some of the softer and more intangible skills that I took to public accounting from my time at UT.

Being patient: I assumed that when I would start my internship, I’d be put in the same room to interview some high ranking officers. Surprisingly, that doesn’t happen in your first week. I know as business and McCombs students, we want to be given the opportunity to prove ourselves and be challenged. However that takes time. Being given grunt work is how you learn about the industry you work in and allows you exposure to the professionals that you hope to become.

There’s no “I” in “Team”: I can’t even tell you the number of times I made dinner, Route 44’s, and Walmart runs. As an intern, your number one prerogative is to keep your team happy. Auditing/Performing Tax Services/Assessing Risk comes second. Help out where you can and do what you can to help the team. And keeping them content makes them more inclined to let you do real work.

Being professional: I don’t care how wacky the client or senior management is, professionalism is a requirement in the working world. We have to play extra, extra, extra nice. When I interned, there was definitely a relaxed atmosphere. People were cracking jokes, talking about current events, analyzing Sean’s actions from The Bachelor. It definitely made 8 hours a day in the audit room fly by faster, but as an intern, it’s important to distinguish when you’re overstepping your boundaries. Save all that raunchy humor for the intern events!

Accountants are people too: I’m sure it’s been drilled into your heads if you’ve done MPA spring recruiting, but accountants are people too, and they don’t want to talk about work all day. The same principal applies to when they’re working. Yes they work hard, but everyone needs a couple breaks throughout the day. When you aren’t calling XYZ bank to confirm 123 account, ask how their daughter’s play went or if they enjoyed their trip to the beach over the weekend.

Internships are an incredible opportunity to learn these little lessons that have a major impact on the success of your career. I’m grateful for the experience but so glad to be back at McCombs!

Melissa Takes Boston: Part 4

Hello everyone!

I am back with one last installment about my internship experiences this semester. McCombs provides  its students with a well-rounded business education and as I reflect on my internship, I realize that I used far more than just what I learned in my accounting classes. I thought I would share with you all how I used the McCombs core curriculum to succeed at my audit internship.

Finance: As as auditor, you will be exposed to a variety of financial instruments for which you need to audit and a background in finance is very helpful. I couldn’t have audited equity if I didn’t first understand present value!

Operations management: Throughout the course of the audit, you are exposed to the entirety of the business. As you audit certain areas such as inventory, you will identify fluxes (variances) that will need explanations. With my knowledge of operations management, I understood the nature of a supply chain (obtaining supplies, manufacturing, distributing, etc.) and thus I was able to dive deep into the numbers and understand what exactly was happening behind the scenes.

MIS: The MIS department will tell you this, and it’s definitely true- MIS is EVERYWHERE! Whether its the implementation of a new accounting system or database, or RFID tagging on your client’s inventory, you are definitely going to be exposed to a variety of information systems as an auditor.

Business communications: My BA324 experience is certainly a cliche one- I was a terrible public speaker (or as my professor so gracefully described it, an “inexperienced public speaker”) and the presentations and exercises in BA324 were crucial to my success in this realm of the business world. As an auditor,  you will need to be able to speak professionally with the client.

Management: As you move up in the public accounting world, or even if you leave and work in industry, eventually you are going to be in charge of some of your colleagues. And even before that, you are going to be the one being managed. This being said, the concepts that we are taught in management are always going to surround us in the business world.

Marketing: One thing that stuck with me from marketing classes, and something that I try to use in my career, is that you have to know how to market yourself. This trait did not apply so explicitly to my actual internship, but moreso the recruiting process that led up to it. I had to know how to showcase my strengths as I recruited so that my potential employers knew that I would be an asset to their firm.

I just think that McCombs is great and I hope you all agree! Remember this week that you can donate for BBA Legacy (even though we are MPA students- some of us are BBA too!)

Accelerated Classes

Accelerated classes can sometimes feel like learning in hyperspeed

Integrated students in the MPA program have an interesting spring semester during their 4th year. For most students, the semester is made up of a combination of a public accounting internship and accelerated classes. My fellow bloggers Jamal and Melissa have been telling their exotic tales of life as an audit intern, because their semester starts with an internship, and they will eventually come back to take their accelerated classes. Tax students, however, start their semester with accelerated classes and then move onto their internship. This means that my fellow 4th year tax iMPAs have been lost in textbooks while our audit friends are getting a taste of the real world.

My fellow tax MPAs and I had to start school on January 2nd. I can’t speak for everyone that was taking the tax accelerated classes, but it was a struggle coming back from a very short winter break and having to sit in 5 hours of lecture for three days straight. The first day back got even harder when in our corporate tax class, Professor Zvinakis announced “The best way to describe the workload in this class is… stunning.” She did ease the burden of the first day back by having Tiff’s Treats, but boy, she was in no way lying about the workload of her class.

I don’t think I have ever had to work so hard to stay afloat in an MPA course. The frequent homeworks, reading assignments, projects, and tests were mentally and physically taxing (pun completely intended). That being said, I have never learned so much in such a short period of time, and it was kind of nice to just completely immerse myself into a new subject. I also I feel I got a lot of hands on experience by being challenged to conduct frequent tax research and complete an expansive tax return for a corporation.

I also really appreciated the class because I feel Professor Zvinakis went above and beyond the call of duty to help us understand the material in a short period of time. First of all, she hosted review sessions that provided us with additional hands on practice of the concepts we were learning in class, despite the fact that she taught for five hours previously. I mean, I’m sure we have MPA faculty that love tax with every fiber of their being, but 6 hours of teaching tax has to be… taxing (sorry guys, I couldn’t resist. The pun ends here, I promise). On top of the additional optional review sessions, there were ample opportunities to ask questions in office hours each day Monday through Thursday.

On a more personal note, I really enjoyed this class because this is the first time in a long time my learning style has been addressed in an accounting class room. What I mean by that is that I have always been very much a big picture person and have had a hard time processing small details (which is just dandy in tax…. Believe me, I have tried to convince myself to pursue something else, yet tax simply fascinates me). But Professor Zvinakis not only taught the little details of corporate tax law, but also connected provisions to current tax policy, and clearly illustrated how certain little details can make huge economic effects.  Tax policy and its effects on the economy is the main reason I am truly fascinated by tax, and what drove my decision to become a tax-track MPA. All the work I was did to process the finesse of corporate tax law helped me understand the reasons that led to certain economic effects and I found it to be reassuring and rewarding.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience, but I am so glad to be done!