Who wants to be a Doctor of Philosophy?

phd comic

I thought I would write to all of you future MAcc students who are contemplating a Ph.D. I know there are at least a few of you guys. If you’re looking at a MAcc from the Fisher College of Business, then you’re a bright kid… and everyone asks themselves how far they want to take their academic career. There are several benefits to obtaining a MAcc from the FCOB if you’re wondering whether world of academia is for you. Specifically, you can look forward to the flexibility of the program, the world-renown faculty, and Professor Zach’s accounting policy and research class (AMIS 844).

Part of the reason I decided to attend Fisher was because of the flexibility their MAcc provides. Outside of the three required core classes, the program really is open for you to study whatever fits your future. With the wonderful approval process here, classes that may help you prepare for a PhD program are available to you. For instance, a few of my good friends took an intermediate economics class during the winter quarter. One particular friend is studying throughout the summer and she’s taking an econometrics class to help her prepare for a potential career in academia. Having these courses available and counting towards your MAcc degree provide a strong foundation for future researchers.

As with any top-ranked accounting program, the faculty are known for their gifted research, published works, and wonderful teaching. There are obvious benefits that the faculty will provide you such as increased human capital; however, there are also some less apparent benefits that may be available to you. Some of the best accounting researchers in the profession will get to know you and your capacity to learn and expound upon ideas. These relationships can come in handy if you ever need letters of recommendation as you apply to competitive Ph.D. programs.

This spring quarter, I had the opportunity to take Professor Zach’s AMIS 844: Accounting Policy & Research class. The class is designed to help students obtain a general understanding of academic research. Structurally, the class assigns several research papers that help students familiarize themselves with several accounting ideas being studied today. Students are then asked to write reviews and critiques. This iterative process really helped me figure out (in at least one sense) what research is about. Professor Zach is as fun as they come to boot! If you want to learn about research or see if its for you, I highly recommend this course.

One of my strategies in facing the unknown is to keep my options open. In this regard, coming to Fisher has been a brilliant move. Accounting students rarely know that their passion is audit, tax, industry, or research before they actually do the work. If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone!

VITA Party (and two giant gorillas find homes)

In the winter quarter, the students at The Ohio State University had the opportunity to participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinic. By and large, the majority of the volunteers were accounting students (both undergraduate and graduate) although the law school also operated their own VITA site. I personally had the opportunity to manage one of the sites and it was well worth the commitment. But that’s besides the point; I want to talk about how we celebrated: Dave & Buster’s!

While I had never been to a Dave & Buster’s before, I had been to similar establishments. Depending on where you live, you may be more familiar with GameWorks or perhaps the ESPN Zone. If neither of those ring a bell, then think of a grown up version of Chuck E. Cheese’s or Peter Piper Pizza. Hopefully you’ll have experienced one of these entertainment-restaurant combos. Leading up to the event, several of my friends admit they were feeling less than anxious. Most had envisioned a night of brief dining and a quick game or two in hopes of showing participation by going through the motions. To most people’s surprise, the night was a total blast.

I think it was really interesting to see how the night developed. Arriving, we sat around a few different pool tables that had been converted to large dining tables (leg room was in short supply). The meal was served buffet-style and there was plenty of party food to go around. Afterward, everyone migrated towards the game floor where the fun began. What started out as curiosity and a little bit of competition quickly turned into a goal-oriented cooperative. We found that certain games rewarded more tickets than others and the MAcc students quickly learned to allocate their resources (tokens) in an efficient way by playing those that had the highest returns. This was in effort to accumulate enough tickets to purchase a giant gorilla.

The results were impressive. Not only had we enough tickets to purchase TWO giant gorillas, but we also had enough to reward everyone a smaller gift (shot glasses) and even then had some left over. Most interesting was how quickly everyone caught the vision of collectively working towards a goal. I think its a testament to the friendship and bonds that have developed over the past several months. The best part is that our gorillas will be at future parties to remind us of our success and friendship.

Spring break 2011

You’ll forgive me if I’m a bit short with this entry. You see, I’m on vacation and I intend it to be “leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure” (thank you wordnetweb). To be honest, this has been a  rather heterodox spring break for me. I’ve always been one to work hard and play hard, but there is probably something to say about simply giving yourself time to relax. Over the past several years, I’ve transitioned into an adult life–arguable I know–that has taught me the virtues of having a  good work ethic. I feel I have been more than satisfied to sit down and rely on hard work to drive my future. I always thought it would provide me opportunities and it has; however, a new problem presents itself in that the opportunities all seem so viable! Spring break this year has afforded me the time to reflect and ponder over my life and its prospects over the next five to ten years. Thanks to my absolutely gorgeous and wonderful friends in the MAcc program, I had the most incredible environment in which to do it.

Since I know I’d have trouble attempting to illustrate how rejuvenating the entire break has been, I’ll allow these thousand words to speak for me.

Nutshell spring break
Spring break in a nutshell

My time to reflect hasn’t given me an answer to my dilemma but rather has given me direction and for that I am most grateful. Anyways, the beach is calling my name once more and I’m afraid I must answer. Oh and by the by, I’ve been able to catch up on some Harry Potter!

Finals week (winter 2011)

It’s finals week. My initial reaction is to cringe. Forget that some classes effectively differentiate on this one exam. Forget that the reward of an entire quarter’s worth of effort may hinge upon a couple hours. Heck, you can even forget the fact that you’ll be studying ridiculous amounts of time just to combat the cascading effects of relative grading. I think I cringe because I won’t be in class learning interesting ideas and working with some of the best friends I’ve come to know and respect.

Take, for instance, my financial statement analysis class; group work was a considerable portion of the curriculum. Besides learning a great deal about how financial analysts approach stock valuation (fascinating stuff, in my opinion), I was able to learn with some of the best minds the accounting program attracted this year. I cannot say enough to express how impressed and lucky I was to work with them. Professor Van Buskirk truly wants students to understand the material and it’s reflected in his actions and teaching style. Finally, the multifarious backgrounds of the students in the class (accountants were in the minority) added value and insight to the study. I will genuinely miss the dividends I receive from my undoubtedly meager contributions to this class.

For those of you who are future MAcc buckeyes, you will no doubt have the pleasure of getting to learn from Professor Arya in his required (rightfully so) accounting foundations class. I’m sure most share my sentiments when I state that the class expands the student’s understanding to new horizons. The class also involves a good deal of group work and I was able to once again glean far more than I could impart. My group members were reliable and always had a spring in their step.

Finals week takes that away. My greatest consolation is that after a week of (spring) breaking, I will have the opportunity to do it all over again. Here’s to wishful thinking!

Cbus Winter

Over the last four years I have lived in no fewer than six states. On top of that, I have visited several other states for weeks at a time. The list includes Washington, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Texas and more. One of the advantages of visiting so many states is that you feel like you have a solid understanding of different climates around the US. Brian Regan once did a comedy skit surrounding the “Me Monster.” While most people dislike frigid winters, few people like to admit that others have it worse than they in terms of winter weather. Take it from someone who has been there and seen it. Columbus winters are cold, but not that cold.

There are generally three main arguments that people make when qualifying their worst winters. One is temperature. This argument doesn’t hold too much water in a lot of states because sheer numbers would dictate that plenty of regions in the US are worse off than they. Because of this, some argue that the humidity found in the slightly warmer temperatures creates an air that will penetrate coats and skin to hit your very bones. Others will make up for higher temperatures with wind speed. Obviously, the more the wind blows the more severe a windchill will be. Another argument is precipitation. Again, particular areas of the U.S. win in terms of sheer quantity of snowfall. To compensate for smaller amounts of snow, citizens of dryer states will argue that when snow falls, its worse because of the lack of preparation. Or maybe, the snow fall is slicker and creates worse driving conditions than in other states. Finally, some talk about the sunshine. They say the lack of sunshine creates an atmosphere that drive spirits down. Seasonal affective disorder is all too real.

While I’m only in January (arguably halfway through the winter weather), RSS weather tells me I’m in the middle of the worst month Columbus has to offer. According to their winter statistics, Columbus is mostly in the middle of all those arguments. The temperatures rarely dip below zero but there is some wind and humidity to decrease the temperature feel. Snowfall is real; however, it’s mild and there are plenty of snow plows and salt trucks running around to keep the roadways clear. Paying closer attention to the levels of sunshine, you can see that Columbus indeed has little sun during the winter. Once again though, there are plenty of regions who have the same or even less sunshine and you’ll notice that those levels only stay low for three months. If you’re wondering about the winters, bring a coat and a hat. You may want to bring layers if you’ll be outside for long periods of time but you’ll likely be okay otherwise. Here at Fisher, there are even basement tunnels that connect Fisher buildings if you’re really uncomfortable with the cold. You may be in for a surprise if you come from a sub-tropical state but if not, you’ll likely be used to whatever Columbus gets.

New Year Excitement

There are several ways people choose to spend both the last few moments of the ending year and the first few moments of a new one. Some people choose to contemplate. These want to ponder on the activities of the dying year and analyze their life over that time. Perhaps they think about goals they had previously set and what occurred in their lives to allow or prevent them from achievement. Likely, these people give time and thought to the upcoming year and what they will strive to accomplish: new year’s resolutions. There exists a polar opposite from this group. These people find little reason to contemplate things past and things that are to come let alone stay up to see the transition. Perhaps these people are comfortable in bed knowing that the good night’s rest is essential to starting a new day now. After all, the old adage states, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift; that is why they call it the present.” Yet still you might find another way of approaching New Year’s Eve. Many people are social creatures and love to party! Many Americans celebrate random holidays to give themselves excuses to spend time with friends and enjoy each others company (I know St. Patrick’s Day is originally an Irish Catholic holiday but that doesn’t stop the rest of America from wearing green).

New Years

Perhaps I don’t subscribe to labels or maybe I’m just confused but I’d like to say I find a little bit of myself in all of those approaches. Better yet, maybe that’s where most people are too. I did catch myself reflecting on how the year panned out and what I might like to change this upcoming year. After all, if you never set goals and hold yourself accountable (through measurement and reporting), you might never accomplish things you truly desired. At the same time, I don’t think I take it too seriously. While committing to a goal is paramount in reaching it, beating yourself up (if you fail) does very little to help you out. In fact, I went to bed rather early New Year’s morning: before 1 a.m. Part of the reason I was even up that late was because so many of my friends were out and socializing. There was camaraderie outside of the guise of some sort of work. It was fun.

Classes started Monday the 3rd (a slight downside to being on a quarter system school). To be honest, I have enjoyed the way this year has started. I frankly get bored easily and returning to classes has helped me add structure to my day. We have had the opportunity of witnessing Buckeye superiority in a thriller BCS bowl game (at least we showed up from the Big 10 conference). Make sure you check it out if you haven’t already. 2010 has been wonderful to me but I’m ready for 2011. This year I can look forward to finishing my graduate education, becoming a Certified Public Accountant, moving back to New York, and starting a new phase of life. Look out!

Work hard, pla.. err, work hard some more.

Hello everybody! Tao posted a blog not too long ago about the merits of playing hard when you work hard. Undoubtedly, the human body is only meant to exert so much effort. At the same time, there is also a lot to be said of those who can prioritize their time and become an operator and an executor. I think there is an art to figuring out when exactly you are most effective and then capitalizing on this time for organizational and scheduling purposes. If one who masters this art is called a master artist, then I am but a novice. See the pictures for evidence!

There are plenty of opportunities to rest and relax throughout your weekly schedule. It is not only encouraged to rest from time to time, but also prudent. However, if you are to excel in a top ranked program, you will learn that finding moments for these purposes can be as challenging as the assignments you are expected to complete. Therein lays the real value of a degree like the MAcc offered at the Fisher College of Business. You will learn to stretch yourself in ways that will mimic the demands of the real world. Busy season doesn’t kill anyone (I think); however, it is still very demanding. If you can manage your time to the point where you can be successful in your classes, be involved in other activities, and still find ways to recharge yourself then I think you are capable of handling anything you are likely to find in the work place.

While you can tell from the photos that I haven’t quite perfected this craft, I feel as though I am learning quickly. Buckeye football is all over the blogs this time of year because it is a spectacle worthy of investment (time, means, and definitely emotion). Before the sun set on the shoe, I was able to read about half of a lengthy assignment. If I had been smarter, I may have set aside additional time prior to or after the game to read what I did in the stadium as to allow myself to better enjoy the game. It was slightly embarrassing and I think a few of the kids behind me cheered when I left in the middle of the fourth quarter. I feel as though I’m learning to swim by jumping in the deep end, but I suppose that too is a quality I am gleaning from my experience here. Indeed, work hard and play hard.

FETCH! :: MAcc students and community service

FETCH! is the game named after the same acronym that stands for financial education teaches children healthy habits. This game was created by members of the Ohio Society of CPAs to help teach elementary aged children the basics of accounting. This game is taken into the classroom by volunteers from the society and from various graduate accounting programs in Ohio (such as Fisher’s). You may or may not recall from an earlier blog that I was anxiously awaiting this program. I have always found teaching a rewarding experience and today was no exception because today I was able to visit Wickliffe Progressive, an elementary school in Upper Arlington, OH.

Let me start off by letting you know the kids were amazing! They were very well behaved and seemed to really enjoy their time with their teacher Molly Hinkle. I was very impressed by their composure and their good manners. Before the game started, we were asked to conduct a quick 15 minute discussion about accounting and CPAs. I was pleased to know that they knew much more about accounting than I did when I was their age. Starting off the game, a lot of the kids immediately formulated strategies they hoped would help them win. As the game was played, they found many obstacles and stumbling blocks that forced them to reformulate their strategies. After the game clock ran out and a team was awarded the coveted bone-pencil prize, we had another discussion. When asked how auditor Michael (me) was helpful in the game, the kids were extremely insightful. They mentioned that they were glad I was there because it forced them to double check their numbers before they recorded a transaction. They also said my presence would be helpful because I could catch mistakes on their balance sheet and prevent those mistakes from perpetuating throughout the game. Finally, they also said it helped them trust the balances of other teams. Wow! I wish I had FETCH! when I was in elementary school.

It was fun to volunteer for something like this. I hope the MAcc program will continue to provide me with these opportunities and I already know of at least one coming down the pipeline. I’m speaking of the VITA clinic offered through the Fisher School of Business. No matter how it is that I’m giving back, I find it extremely rewarding and can’t wait until the next time!

Friendly competition

Welcome back my friendly neighborhood stalkers! So this week I thought I would bring to you a little bit of the excitement I’ve been experiencing with my tax competitions. Here at the Fisher School of Business, we have the opportunity to participate in a couple different national tax competitions. Both are offered through one of the big 4 accounting firms. The earlier competition is the Deloitte Tax Case Study Competition. This competition invites various programs across the country to elect a team of four students. These students are then given a list of possible technical tax topics that may be covered on case day. After weeks of using up all available down time to review and familiarize yourself with said tax topics, the competition culminates in a five-hour session of intense tax battle within the confines of an abandoned (it’s Saturday) Deloitte office. Attempting to fulfill all requirements within those five hours is next to impossible and that’s the point. Deloitte wants to give potential and future professionals an idea of what some of the more demanding aspects of a career in tax may be.

The Deloitte Tax Team
Good looking bunch!

The results of the case study are sent to a central location where all the teams are scored and then ranked. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners receive $2,000, $1,000, and $500 a person with a scholarship going to the school to boot. An additional 7 teams are given honorable mentions with a $200 consolation prize going to individual team members. The results come in a about a week so if you never hear about the results from me just assume the worst! Haha.

As I am writing this, I am gearing up to have my first team meeting for the PWC xTax competition. This competition combines underclassmen and graduates alike in teams of five to propose solutions for hypothetical tax issues. From what I gather, this will involve tax theory as apposed to existing technical tax law or regulations. The teams are given a couple of weeks to develop a solution and then present this solution to a panel of PWC judges (taped presentation). One major difference with this competition is that there are multiple teams at every participating school. On a school level, winners receive a cash prize and are given a chance at competing at the national level. Five teams from around the country are selected as finalists and are flown to Washington DC. As you can probably imagine, I am really excited to give this competition my best shot.

My advice to anyone ambitious enough to seek out these opportunities: be dedicated and run with it! Find out what you can as you’re gearing up to come into the program next fall and go out of your way to prepare ahead of time (while you still have it). So far, they have been extremely beneficial experiences and I think anyone would do well to add this sort of experience to your list of professional qualifications.

Dewey’s: CPK on P-90X! (because steroids are just bad)

Okay, so I have to give a major shout out to my friend Katie who is studying staging and costume design (or something like that) here at The Ohio State University. When she found out I was searching for the best pizza in Columbus, Katie asked in a matter-of-fact tone whether I had tried Dewey’s. Dewey’s Pizza is a family owned chain that operates in select cities. Like most places in Columbus, Dewey’s uses style and atmosphere to distinguish itself. Some of the particulars include a large window wall between the dining area and the kitchen (situated right next to the entrance so you can’t miss the flying pizza dough), a bar with plenty of TV angles (I don’t drink but I hear the selection is particularly good for a pizza joint), and a very patterned amidst dimly lit tables feel. Enough of that, how was the pizza? Take a look!

Double the flavors, double the fun.

Dewey’s has a good variety of specialty pizzas that remind me of California Pizza Kitchen but even better. If you have a hard time choosing which pizza to try, don’t be afraid to double up the specialties (like I did with mine). They are used to it. In case you are a salad person, they also serve some mean greens and good dressings. Outside of the neat atmosphere and better than CPK pizza style, everything else is what you’d expect. The pricing is about right for a pizza dining experience (a little more than delivery) and the servers are really helpful.

So far, I have blogged about Hound Dogs and now Dewey’s. My next pizza blog will be about a place called Fabian’s. I will be going back (I forgot my camera the first time I went) to try out a new pie and maybe a side. If you have any suggestions on what I should try please let me know!