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First Semester Lessons Learned

First semester of the MAcc program was a wild whirlwind of experience gained, learning fast on my feet, and figuring out how to be an efficient and effective grad student. Here are my tips on how to be more successful in grad school.

Fall term 1, if you are searching for a job, that will be your life. You may look at your schedule and think, this is not so bad. It is. Before I started Dr. Dave Williams told me that the job search is like taking another class. As someone who was not used to the level of intense work required by the MAcc program, I would say it is like taking two extra classes. Job fairs, information sessions, and interviews will eat up the time you would have used to study, run errands, or just generally have a life.

But!- It gets better. Thrive a little while you survive by having a non-computer oriented hobby that is easy to start and stop when you have free time, like reading, crosswords, painting, knitting, or exercising. These can bust stress and remind you that there is a life outside of case studies and upper level math.

Stay at school and study during breaks – Whenever possible, do not use 2-3 hour breaks between classes at lunchtime to run errands. There is something about being surrounded by other people studying that makes starting and continuing your own homework easier. Having classmates around also means you can ask questions- and when appropriate, commiserate- about assignments.

Keep up – This is much easier said than done, especially in times like Fall term 2 when my combination of classes required about 10 hand-in assignments due the second week of classes. If you fall behind in your reading or understanding, do not use that as an excuse to not do the reading for current classes. Picking up later in the class is better than never getting current, but it is extremely taxing to keep up with classes and trying to catch up at the same time, and you will not be able to learn everything you have missed.

Don’t be afraid to take MBA classes- I took Advertising and Leading and Managing Change last Fall and absolutely loved them. Business classes are a great opportunity to learn interesting non-accounting topics and meet people outside of the MAcc program.

Finally, if you are not a morning person and have to take an early class, try to arrange a break afterwards that is long enough for you to go home and take a nap afterwards. Like my other tips, it will give you a little more peace of mind.


The Big Decision: Tax or Accounting

Most accounting students know the two major areas of public accounting: Audit and tax. They probably also know the stereotypes associated with those jobs. Generally, audit involves traveling, a lot of client interaction and being on site. Tax, on the other hand, involves corporate tax preparation, researching tax law in the audit firm and tax planning. However, there are tax people who travel widely, shy audit associates and everything in between.

MAcc students in our business casual best

So why is it important to consider the “Tax or Audit?” question? Recruiters want to know your answer, and you meet then almost as soon as you step on campus. In addition to an informational panel with recruiters during the MAcc Career Foundation Seminar, there were two mixers before the first day of class. These events are great opportunities to ask questions about what it is like in each field. It can be hard to consider whether you want to do audit or tax at the same time you are starting the MAcc program if you do not have professional experience. Start thinking about it now. Do you click on news about recent tax changes, or get immensely bored trying to figure out if your student loan qualifies for a tax credit? Do you find “The Smartest Guys In The Room” fascinating, or could you care less about GAAS? Don’t choose a career path because you think your personality “fits” into one category or another. If you want the best of both worlds there are several smaller firms that require cross training for all entry level accountants. You can also apply for both tax and audit jobs at different firms, just not both within the same firm. Each career path can be challenging in different ways, both can offer great opportunities if you do your job well, and both can be rewarding. Most importantly, try not to over think it. Pick the area you find more interesting and go with it.


Return of the MAcc

I will begin by saying the title of my first blog is a bit misleading. The Fisher Master of Accounting program only lasts one academic year, so you only get one Fall to be a MAcc student. However, it is the title of a song by Mark Morrison I used to listen to as kind of a joke during the long nights I spent self-studying for the GMAT last October.

I do not recommend doing this if you can avoid it, but if you do, start with Cracking the GMAT. I self-studied out of books from the library and videos I found online because getting into the MAcc program felt like a long shot for me and I am a risk adverse investor. My background is somewhat different than the typical MAcc student, insofar as there is such a thing. I received my bachelors degree in 2008 in Philosophy and History. After figuring out I did not want to be a lawyer and experiencing several part time jobs I decided to take an accounting course at a community college. One class led to many more and I ended up with the 30 hours of upper level accounting courses required to sit for the CPA exam. OSU’s MAcc program was the only one I seriously considered. In terms of reputation, quality of education, and geographical proximity, it was simply my top choice. The extensive amount of electives that make up the curriculum meant I could focus on what I was really interested in, a somewhat more career oriented version of the approach I took when choosing my undergraduate majors.

What I considered to be a distant possibility happened. Orientation was fun and its fast and furious pace set the tone for grad school. But the fact that all of the hard work I had done had paid off really only hit me during my first class, which happened to be with Dr. Arya. The first time I met Dr. Arya was during a tour of Gerlach last January, right before I was about to hear if I had been admitted. That day we sat down with the student tour guide and had a discussion about why I wanted to be a MAcc student and what the program entailed. To actually be sitting in a class with this same man who had I had talked with when I was so hopeful and uncertain was a bit overwhelming. I was here, in Gerlach. I had done it. So in a way, that hopeful accounting student really did get to return to the MAcc program.



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