Practicing Gratitude

As our year in the MAcc program comes to a close, I asked a few soon-to-be graduates what participating in this program has meant to them. Although we were only here for a year, we know that we will continue to feel Fisher‘s influence throughout our lives.

Max Smith is grateful for the opportunities he found to give back to our temporary home in Columbus:

“I am grateful for the experiences and activities that are available outside of the classroom. As an undergrad, volunteer opportunities were around if you sought them out, but the MAcc program really makes it easy to get involved and help out in the community. Hopefully, this will be something I can continue in the future after the MAcc program.”

MAcc Council President Ace Lassman is grateful for the people he met along the way:

“I am most grateful for the friends I made here! It was a blast to be able to connect with people from such different backgrounds who all want to go out and make an impact in the accounting industry. I couldn’t be more excited to see how all of us will go out and change the world after graduation!”

And finally, I am grateful for the all the opportunities this program has afforded me. I engaged with research, participated in community service, and made lifelong friends. From Big Four recruitment to living in a large city, this program has pushed me and exposed me to ideas and opportunities I would not have otherwise had. So, on behalf of the MAcc Class of 2018, thank you, Fisher!

Special thanks to Maxton “Max” Smith and Andrew “Ace” Lassman for their assistance.

MAcc Gives Back

One of the difficult parts of being in such a short program is that by the time you start to get to know the city, you’re almost done. This can sometimes make it hard for students to participate in community service. On the one hand, you have a whole year to volunteer. But on the other hand, it can be intimidating to finding a good cause immediately after moving to a new place.

 

Future horticulturalists at Franklin Park Conservatory
Cleaning up a new Boys and Girls Club site

One of the MAcc Council’s solutions is “MAcc Gives Back.” Similar to Fisher Impact Day in the fall, MAcc Gives Back is an annual day of service to spend a morning giving back to the Columbus community in the spring. This year, we had the opportunity to volunteer at five different sites across the city. Focusing on issues that ranged from food insecurity to youth programs, MAcc students, faculty, and representatives from Crowe Horwath and Deloitte all had a great time serving.

Hanging out at the food bank with a recent alum
Farming in the city

As Vice President of Community Service for the MAcc Council, I also got to plan and coordinate this event. For any prospective students interested in nonprofit work or even just continuing their service projects from undergrad, this is a great opportunity. This position allows you to plan MAcc Gives Back, VITA, and any other service projects you can fit into the year. I would definitely recommend this position to anyone wanting to engage with the broader community around Fisher.

Our photo shoot at Dress for Success

A Second Chance

During my undergraduate program, I was both an accounting major and a member of a non-business honors program. As such, this made my academic life very broad. Even though I was in business courses, I also got the opportunity to take philosophy courses, women’s studies, and a plethora of others. While I did enjoy this, I felt like I was missing out on a lot of business courses. It’s hard to take business electives when you have so many humanities courses. Coming to the MAcc program was like getting a second chance to explore business courses. Specifically, some of my favorites like Financial Modeling, Financial Statement Analysis, and Fraud. Let me share my thoughts on each!

  • I’m not even sure if my undergraduate school offered a financial modeling course. This course was great because it followed Finance 1 and 2 in the first semester and really reinforced the concepts for me. We got to work pretty heavily in Excel and build valuation models based on cases. The professor had just come from almost a decade in investing, so he was able to focus the course on real-world applications.
  • Financial Statement Analysis is not an easy class. If you’ve never even heard of financial statement analysis as a concept, it’s even harder. However, I didn’t let that stop me from registering. This class was really cool because we got to dig into– surprise– financial statements! As a future auditor, I was under the impression that audited financial statements should not be changed around. Imagine my surprise when we started reformulating the financial statements and coming up with different numbers to answer different purposes. Now I have an even deeper understanding of what goes into the financial statements and how stakeholders use them.
  • Out of all the classes here that I was excited about, Fraud was at the top of my list. We got to learn about the different types of fraud, how people get away with them, and how to test for them. The professor always had great stories to illustrate his points and brought in guest speakers to help out. He did such a good job of teaching us how to commit fraud that the second half of the course – ethics – is basically a follow-up of why you shouldn’t commit fraud!

My advice to incoming MAcc students, especially if they are not from OSU, would be to use their electives to take courses they’ve never been exposed to before. A class may seem intimidating or hard, but you only have one year in the MAcc program. If you’re anything like me, this may be your last chance to take these interesting electives before you become a professional. Use your electives; don’t waste them.

A Dream Come True

When I was younger, my brother gave me a poster from one of his soccer magazines. To most, this would seem like a small thing. After all, kids save posters and random papers all the time. But this poster was different. For the next ten years, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team hung above my closet door, inspiring me through every achievement.

Although I love soccer, I myself am not very athletic. I never aspired to be a professional soccer player. In fact, my aspirations were pretty fluid. Archeologist. Psychologist. Mathematician. When you’re constantly finding new interests, there may not be a constant female role model in your own field (especially since you’re not even sure what you want your field to be). So instead, I looked up to this group of women on my wall who would never share a career path with me, but motivated me nonetheless.

As I got further into college and discovered a passion for accounting, I never forgot the team of women who inspired me to dream big and go after what I want in life. I cheered them on in the World Cup. I felt my heart swell with pride when they fought for equal pay. And last Thursday, I finally got to see them play in person.

The team had to do a lot of warming up before the game since it was so rainy and cold.

By some miracle, I won discounted tickets in the OSU ticket lottery to go see the “She Believes Cup” in Columbus. And when Megan Rapinoe, my favorite player, scored the only goal of the game, I knew without a doubt that Columbus and the MAcc program are exactly where I need to be. Out of all of my experiences this year, this is the moment that I truly felt like I had come full circle– back to that little girl who dreamed big and went after what she wanted.

We got seats right above the tunnel and saw the players walk onto the field.

This fall, I start my career as an auditor. I will be the first person in my family to have a bachelor’s degree and the first to earn a master’s degree. I will be living in a major city that I have grown to love. I will meet strong women in my own field. And on my phone will be a picture of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to remind me to dream big and go after my goals.

A Balancing Act

This week will mark the end of first-quarter classes. It is hard to believe that I’m already 25% done with the MAcc program. With only three exams standing between me and a long-awaited trip home, I admit that I am exhausted. I can’t wait to see my family and my pets.

My favorite stress-reliever, Daisy. I can’t believe I live six hours away from her!

Graduate school is no joke. Between classes and job-hunting, it’s been the craziest seven weeks of my life. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to stay sane at times. So, for your enjoyment, here are my top five strategies for surviving the stress of graduate school:

  1. Yoga and Meditation – There are tons of opportunities around Columbus to do yoga. The RPAC offers free classes to students, and there are studios all over the city. I’ve even seen some in the metro parks. I personally like to pull up a 10-minute yoga video in my apartment when I get too deep into a finance case and need to take a breath. It helps me recharge, and I’m much more productive after the short break.
  2. Exercise – While I haven’t been exercising as much as I should, it is a favorite stress reducer among my class. People play basketball, go to spin class, and are even starting intramural teams. An hour spent exercising is much better than an hour spent stressing. Let’s face it: most of us would probably use that time to watch TV anyway, so it’s not like we’re losing valuable study time. If you don’t feel like you have time to walk to the RPAC, there is a smaller gym near Fisher called NorthRec.
  3. Cooking – One of my favorite stress-reducing activities is cooking. Every Sunday, I cook several large dishes to eat throughout the week. Just last week I tried a new turkey and sweet potato skillet recipe. (My fire alarm and I got to have some bonding time when I didn’t keep a close enough eye on the sweet potatoes.) The graduate student lounge has a fridge and several microwaves, so it’s easy to save some money and pack my lunch. Knowing I have lunch and dinner made for the week and won’t have to go through a drive-thru helps me feel more in control. The one week I forgot to meal prep, I got so sick of fast food– which only added to my stress.
  4. Treat Yourself – Like most college students, I am on a limited budget. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself occasionally. When I was grocery shopping this weekend, I bought the prettiest (cheap) bouquet of sunflowers. Now, when I sit in my living room studying for exams, I can look up and see my favorite flowers. For some people, treating yourself can mean taking a day off from studying. I have an early Sunday morning hike planned in a few weeks to do just that. For others, it might be buying a pint of ice cream. Just keep in mind, the point here is to reduce stress. Overspending will not aid in that endeavor.

    Sunflowers: $3.99
    Smiling every time I see them: Priceless
  5. Turn off the Screens – Finally, I’ve found that turning off my TV, closing my computer, and leaving my phone in another room helps tremendously. I try to turn off all of my screens a few times a week and pick up whatever book I’m reading for pleasure. This helps me take a step back from whatever is stressful (emails, homework, etc) and exist in my own space for an hour.

The MAcc program goes by quickly. There’s always something you need to be working on, and it’s easy to forget that you need to come out on the other side with your sanity intact. In order to manage my stress this semester, I’ve had to reframe that time as a necessary part of my schedule. Graduate school is meant to help you grow as a professional AND an individual. All of the case studies don’t mean anything if you’re having a nervous breakdown every week. Especially if you’re going into public accounting with the dreaded busy seasons, the stress management techniques you develop now will follow you into your career. You might as well figure out what works for you now when the stakes are relatively low.

In Search of Bison

Since coming to Columbus in July, I’ve made it my mission to not be a hermit. In fact, I have an internet favorites folder entitled, “Don’t Be A Hermit.” Inside are links about volunteer opportunities, restaurants, and many of the city parks. This week was super busy, full of assignments and job interviews. In the midst of all of this, I started to really miss the hiking back home in Tennessee. So, to my trusty favorites folder I went.

Columbus has an awesome network of Metro Parks. This weekend, some friends from the MAcc program and I drove 20 minutes west of campus to check out Battelle Darby Creek. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much since everything out here is so flat. But, as we pulled into the parking lot, I was pleasantly surprised. The park is beautiful. There are ACTUAL prairies there, which is insanely cool for someone who has only seen a prairie in classic western TV shows.

Who knew prairies existed outside of the “Western Channel”?
Turtle friend

One of the reasons we chose this park is because it has a herd of bison that can be seen from various overlooks. Supposedly. We could not see them from the nature center overlook. Or the trail. Or really from anywhere. Not to be defeated, we decided to walk along the trails, take some selfies, and try not to get too sunburned.

We found a bison pasture, but where are the bison?
This trail is really nice for running and biking.
We found this little guy in the woods.

Slightly disappointed at the lack of bison, we started to drive out of the park. At the last minute, we caught a glimpse of the herd. A successful trip after all. And as an added bonus, the game was in full swing when we got back, so traffic around campus was minimal. Score!

We finally found the bison herd!

Overall, I would give the park a 9 of out 10 stars. The nature center and trails were super accessible and the hike we took was beautiful. The park also has some more difficult trails that I can’t wait to try next time. To be honest, the only reason I can’t rate it a 10/10 is because there are no mountains. Turns out my rating system is completely rigged. Sorry.

What a great way to spend the day!

In our next episode of “Don’t Be A Hermit,” perhaps there will be an art museum, brunch, or a soccer game. Who knows?

New City, New School, New Adventures

Hello, everyone! My name is Caitlin Duke, and I graduated with my B.B.A. in accounting from East Tennessee State University. I’ve lived in the mountains of East Tennessee my whole life. But six weeks ago, I packed up everything I own and made the six-hour drive to Columbus. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, to say the least.

My beautiful mountains in Tennessee

Many people have asked me why I chose Ohio State when it would be much easier to go somewhere closer to home. After all, Columbus is about thirty times the size of my hometown and OSU is four time the size of ETSU. The easiest answer to that question is, “Why not?”

I’ve lived in the same place for 22 years. If there was ever a time to take a risk and move, it’s now. The MAcc program offers countless opportunities. This year is especially exciting as students have the chance to take classes in data analytics. It’s challenging, frustrating– and one of the coolest things I’ve ever attempted to learn. I’m more engaged with my education than ever before.

There is also a heavy recruitment schedule, including the Big 4 and other large, national firms. I would not even be on the radar of many of these firms if I had chosen to go to school closer to home. There is a wonderful team in the Office of Career Management who will work with you to find a job to fit your goals. And everyone here understands how difficult it is to start a new program and search for a job, so there’s tons of support.

I have no regrets about taking a chance and applying to a school so far from home. To anyone out there wondering if it’s worth it, yes. Just look at the people in my class: from Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, China, and more. If we can survive the transition, so can you.