Wrap Up of the Year!

Wow, it’s hard to believe the MAcc Program is coming to an end! It feels like we just started, but then again, we did only start about 8 months ago. Even though the year is almost over, there are still more events to look forward to. One event is Fisher Formal. This is a formal end of the year celebration at a Cathedral in which all graduate students at Fisher are invited. We are allowed to bring guests to this event as well. Another event is an end of the year celebration for the VITA program at Dave and Busters with all of the VITA volunteers.

Final exams are coming up in the last week of April and then graduation takes place on May 8th. There is a Pre-Commencement ceremony taking place 2 days before graduation to recognize MAcc students and professors specifically. There is certainly a lot to look forward to the rest of the school year and the weekend of graduation!

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This summer I will be staying in Columbus and studying for, taking, and hopefully passing the 4 sections of the CPA exam. I will be starting my full time position in federal tax at KPMG in Columbus this upcoming October.

Overall, this has been a fantastic year. I have met so many new friends, some of which are staying in Columbus, and some that are moving to other places. I hope to stay in contact with the people I have met in the program. I have also really enjoyed all of the cool classes I have gotten to take this year, both accounting and non-accounting courses. Finally, I enjoyed all of the events I was able to attend as a student here such as football games, basketball games, volleyball games, and volunteering. This is definitely a year I will never forget, and I am so grateful that I had the wonderful opportunity to attend such a great program and university!

MAcc Gives Back

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Every year, the students in the MAcc program participate in something called “MAcc Gives Back.” This event takes place on a Friday in the spring when MAcc students don’t have class. This year, students were split into 8 groups, and each group was assigned a specific volunteer site to perform volunteer work at for the afternoon. In addition to students from the MAcc program, various faculty and staff in Fisher performed volunteer work with us. Each group also had one or two professional members from accounting firms in Columbus assist with volunteering. All the volunteers met at Fisher prior to volunteering to eat breakfast and socialize and then everyone went their separate ways to their specific volunteer sites.

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My group went to COSI, the science museum in downtown Columbus. Our group helped the grounds crew at the museum by mulching several locations in front of the building. Although it was only about 40 degrees and windy, I still had a blast spending time with the other people at my volunteer site. I thought it was really great that Professor Arya, the director of the MAcc program, and Rebecca Zurek, one of the admission directors for the MAcc program, volunteered at COSI with us. We also had two accounting professionals in our group so it was nice getting to chat with them about their careers. I think MAcc Gives Back is a great example of the rewarding and fun opportunities in which students in the MAcc Program are able to participate.

Ohio State Golf Club

Now that the weather is (kind of) starting to get warmer, I think it is appropriate to start talking about golf. One fantastic bonus of being a student at Ohio State that I really love is having access to the two golf courses, Scarlet and Gray, at the Ohio State University Golf Club. As someone who has golfed their whole life and was a former collegiate golfer, the chance to play at one of the best golf courses in the area is a pretty amazing perk. Normally to play at these courses, a person has to be a member of the OSU Golf Club. Ohio State students, though, are also allowed to play these courses up to 6 times per season (March 1-October 31). Students are allowed to bring up to 1 guest for a tee time at the Scarlet Course and up to 3 guests for a tee time at the Gray Course.

 

View from the fairway on the front 9 of The Scarlet Course
View from the fairway on the 4th hole Par 5 on The Scarlet Course

Personally, I played the Scarlet Course twice in the fall and plan to play a couple more times while I’m still a student here. The course is very challenging, but it is beautiful. I would definitely recommend that any student who enjoys golf take advantage of this great opportunity Ohio State students have to play at either of these great courses!

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VITA

Something I really enjoyed this year was volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program exists in cities throughout the country, and this was my first time ever volunteering with this program. We had the opportunity to file federal and state tax returns for local residents in the Columbus area so they were able to receive the maximum amount of their refunds at no cost. About 60 students volunteered, many of which were fellow MAcc students. The rest were undergraduate students at the Fisher College of Business. Therefore, this was a great opportunity to meet more students at Ohio State as well as get to know other students in my MAcc class better.

Some of the VITA volunteers
Some of the VITA volunteers

Since I will be starting a career in tax after graduation, I was given the opportunity to be a VITA site manager. This was a great leadership opportunity and was very educational for me because I was able to help others work through issues they came across while preparing tax returns. It was rewarding getting to actually interact with the people we were helping and know that we were saving local Columbus residents a great deal of money by preparing their tax returns for free. It was also satisfying to see that we obtained thousands of dollars in refunds for residents each volunteer session. I would highly recommend that future MAcc students (or undergraduate students), whether they plan to work in tax or not, volunteer for the VITA program!

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MAcc Breakfast

If I haven’t learned anything else from the MAcc program so far, I have learned two things: 1. MAcc students get a lot of free Panera and 2. The professors here love getting to know their students.

Recently I attended something called “The MAcc Meet & Greet Breakfast.” This is a casual gathering where a small group of MAcc students are invited to attend breakfast with MAcc faculty. Only about 10 students are invited at a time and there were 5 faculty members at the breakfast I attended. I think this event is an excellent example of what a personal level of attention students in the MAcc program here at Fisher receive. The faculty truly want to get to know you and are genuinely concerned about what is going on in the students’ lives – as far as classes, jobs after graduation, hobbies, spring break plans, etc.

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Many students are invited to a MAcc Breakfast session during first semester, and this is a nice way for students to get to know professors even if they had not them in class yet. Since I went during second semester, I already knew the professors from having them in class, but breakfast was a fantastic way to catch up and get to know these professors in a context outside of class.

Coming from a small undergraduate school, I can truly say that the MAcc program here at Fisher offers the unique personal connections and attention one would typically get at a smaller university, but still has so many of the benefits and opportunities that come with attending such a large university with so many resources!

MAcc Speaker Series: Susan Blasik-Miller

One of the many great aspects of the MAcc Program (and Ohio State in general) is the abundance of fascinating speakers that are brought in to present to us. We have something called the “MAcc Speakers Series” and this goes on throughout the entire year. We have several speakers from all different professional and personal backgrounds come in to present on a topic of their choosing, and we also get to ask them questions. Recently, we had a speaker who has an extensive background in law. She also happened to be a current MAcc student’s mom!

For Susan’s presentation, she chose to share some of the insights and knowledge she has acquired throughout the years of being a lawyer, an employer, and a mother. Here are some of the things she shared with us:

  1. Email vs. Personal Communication: There are many positive and negative aspects that come with email and constant communication. She stressed the importance of building relationships, and how this is difficult to do from email communication alone. Also, never deliver bad news over email or ask for special consideration over email.
  2. Remember who owns your business computer: Susan shared horror stories of people losing jobs, being sued, and suffering severe embarrassment from things they have done on their business computers. Overall, it is best to keep emails free of jokes or innuendos and to not use your business computer for something that you wouldn’t want others to see.
  3. Own mistakes: We should always admit to our mistakes. Although we might get punished for admitting our mistakes, companies have professional liability insurance in case mistakes happen. The insurance no longer applies if we try to cover up our mistakes, and thus it is important to never try and cover anything up.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself: Get your work done, but also build relationships within the firm and try to meet as many people as possible. This could include doing things such as joining work intramural teams, volunteering, and going to other social events with coworkers.
  5. Find a mentor: It is important to find a mentor at any stage in your career. You are never too old to have a mentor!
  6. Broaden your horizons: Join organizations that you are interested in joining. You never know what people you may meet that will one day be future clients or a future contact for a business opportunity or favor.

I really enjoyed Susan’s presentation and she shared some very good things to think about as we begin our future careers. I also like that many of the speakers, such as Susan, do not have a background in accounting, but they are still able to share very relevant and interesting topics with us.

Graduate Assistantships: Part 2

The other week I wrote a blog post about my Graduate Assistantship (GA) position of being a graduate student ambassador for the MAcc program. This week I will write about being a Teaching Assistant, the other GA position offered. To do this I interviewed two current students in the MAcc Program, Jeremy Cranmer and Kevin Slone, who are both TA’s.

1.What classes do you teach?

  • Jeremy: ACCMIS 2200 – Intro to Accounting 1 (Financial Statements) and ACCMIS 2300 – Intro Accounting 2 (Managerial).
  • Kevin: 2200 Intro to Accounting 1 Lab, 2300 Intro to Accounting 2, and an online version of 2200 Lab to the 4 OSU regional campuses.

2. How many classes are you required to teach each session? 

  • Jeremy: 3 semester long classes.
  • Kevin: 6 classes for the entire year.

3. How long does it typically take for you to prepare for a class? 

  • Jeremy: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Kevin: It generally takes me about an hour to familiarize myself with the problems we are covering in class and know how to work the solutions cold.

4. How long are the classes you teach?

  • Jeremy: 1 hour 20 minutes, but the classes often end early.
  • Kevin: 1 hour 20 minutes, but I generally get done 10-15 minutes early depending on student participation.

5. What goes on in a typical class you teach?

  • Jeremy: We get a sheet of problems before class so we can prepare. Then during class we walk through those problems on the board with the students and attempt to get the students to participate.
  • Kevin: In a typical class we have 3 long story problems. Generally, I start class by going through the first problem on the board leading the students through the solution. The next two problems the students usually get 10-15 minutes to work in groups while I walk around and check on their progress. Then I’ll walk through the problem on the board. The students typically do not have many questions, about 5 during a class and they’re generally very simple.

6. What additional duties do you have besides teaching?

  • Jeremy: We also proctor the exams for ACCMIS 2200 and ACCMIS 2300 at night. We get to sit there and work on homework during this time. We also help grade the exams.
  • Kevin: Proctor exams, grade exams, and occasionally handle the intro email account. We proctor exams about 3-4 times per semester. Each TA usually grades about 80 exams. 1 out of every 4 weeks I handle the email account where students ask homework questions.

7. Would you recommend this position to a prospective MAcc student? 

  • Jeremy: I would recommend it because it’s a good refresher for our harder MAcc courses and really helps with fears of public speaking if you’re like me and hate it. You get used to standing up there quickly.
  • Kevin: I would highly highly highly recommend accepting this position if it is offered to you. You will be scared at the idea of standing in front of a room of kids and having to explain your way through basic accounting, but you will get over that fear within the first 2 weeks. You will instantly notice the improvement in your public speaking and presentation abilities. I was a timid public speaker coming into the program and now have no problem being the lead speaker for a team project presentation in class. It will deeply enhance your knowledge of basic accounting because as you prepare for your classes, you will try to anticipate student questions and then re-affirm to yourself the reasoning behind why we do things in accounting. It will also refresh your basic knowledge and help you in your path to becoming a CPA. You’ll find that the job is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of working the problems. I enjoy it.

8. Additional comments? 

  • Kevin: The supervisor, Marc Smith, is a very fun supervisor for which to work. He always buys decent food for all meetings, gets to know you very well personally, and will always stand behind your decisions in any disputes with students. You are expected to spend about 10 hours per week in your GA duties. Sometimes it ends up being more and sometimes less. It will keep you busy and is definitely a good investment of your time.

Graduate Assistantships: Part 1

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As a graduate ambassador for the MAcc program here at Fisher, I often get a lot of questions from prospective students about financial aid. Aside from fellowships, merit-based scholarships, and scholarships from external organizations, there are also several Graduate Assistantships (GA’s) given out to students in the MAcc program.

In this post I will describe what having a GA position is like for me (a graduate ambassador). In my next post I will discuss what other MAcc students, who are Teaching Assistants, say their GA position is like.

All admitted applicants to the MAcc program are considered for a GA position. Applicants do not have to complete any additional essays or interviews in order to receive a GA position. These positions are merit-based and provide a 50% fee and tuition waiver in addition to a monthly stipend. Students with a GA position typically work about 10 hours a week.

For my position, I work in the Graduate Programs Office in Gerlach Hall. This is very convenient because it is the same building as all of my classes so I can work directly before or after class. I work about 10 hours a week and this is typically split into several hours a day about 3 days a week. The nice thing about being a graduate ambassador is the flexibility of this position. The hours I work are set based on my class schedule, and if there is an important speaker/career related event/etc. I would usually be able to attend these events and make up my hours at another time.

On a typical day, I come into work and set up at a desk in the Graduate Programs Office. Most of the time I am answering emails/phone calls from students interested in applying for the MAcc program. I also sometimes have prospective students who already attend Ohio State for their undergraduate degree come in and ask me questions about the MAcc program in person.

Another aspect of my position is assisting with prospective students visiting campus. After communicating with a prospective student interested in coming to campus, I setup and plan their visit to Fisher. The day of the actual visit usually involves taking the prospective student to one of my classes, meeting with faculty/staff, eating lunch with the prospective student and another current MAcc student, and going on a tour of Fisher/campus.

Wrapping Up First Semester

It’s hard to believe, but my first semester of the MAcc program here at Fisher is winding down. Unfortunately there is one thing in the way before everyone can go home for break and enjoy time with friends and family – final exams. I thought it would be helpful to give a brief overview of what types of final assignments/tests I have so those interested in the MAcc program can get a better idea of what to expect when finals come around.

  1. Professional Research in Accounting: This is one of the four required accounting courses. Throughout this class we have been learning how to do accounting research using several different sources and then had to use this research to complete group research papers. For our final assignment, each student was presented with several paragraphs of information about a company and we have to use accounting research tools to answer several accounting-related questions about the company. This assignment is to be completed outside of class and individually.
  2. Tax Accounting 2: This is an elective accounting course. During this class we have learned about the federal income tax treatment of business corporations and partnerships. Throughout the class, most of our assignments have involved reading the textbook and completing practice problems to obtain a better understanding of the material. We have an in-class final exam that covers all of the material we have learned throughout the 7 week course.
  3. Assurance Services and Information Quality: This is an elective accounting course. In this class, we have been focusing on the role of assurance services in enhancing the quality of information for financial decision making. We have completed numerous group case assignments throughout the 7 week course. A portion of the final exam is an individual take-home assignment, and the other portion is an in-class final exam.
  4. The Business of College Sports: This is an elective non-accounting course. Throughout this class we have learned about the OSU athletic program from a wide variety of speakers as well as taking tours of several athletic facilities. A couple of weeks ago we took an individual final exam in class that covered all of the material from throughout the semester. In addition to the final exam, the class is split into teams, and each team is required to do a 20-30 minute presentation on a topic of their choosing related to college sports.
  5. Negotiations: This is an elective non-accounting course. During the semester, we have developed our skills to become more effective negotiators. Much of the class has been spent getting to actually negotiate with our classmates. Most of our assignments have involved preparing for in-class negotiations and completing assigned readings. For our final exam, we have an in-class exam covering the topics we have learned throughout the semester. We also have a group paper due that we must complete with our teammates from a negotiation that took place over 3 different class days.

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AICPA Legacy Scholarship

I think it would be helpful for students considering the MAcc program at Ohio State to know that there are not only fellowships, graduate assistantships, and scholarships from Ohio State, but there are also opportunities to receive scholarship money from external organizations.

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After applying to Ohio State, I was made aware of the scholarships available through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The AICPA offers a number of different scholarships for aspiring CPAs who are attending undergraduate or graduate school to one day pursue a career in accounting. These scholarships are all part of a program called “The AICPA Legacy Scholars Program“. This program not only provides financial assistance, but also teaches leadership skills and allows students to network with other aspiring accountants and accounting professionals.

The four scholarships offered are:

  1. AICPA/Accountemps Scholarship Award: This is a $10,000 scholarship awarded to 4 students
  2. AICPA Scholarship Award for Minority Accounting Students: This is a $1,000-$5,000 scholarship awarded to 80 students
  3. AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship Award: This is a $5,000 scholarship awarded to 5 students
  4. AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship Award: This is a $3,000 scholarship awarded to 15 students

Recipients of any of these scholarships must perform at least 8 hours of community service per semester to advocate for the CPA/Accounting profession. I recently completed a service event to meet this 8 hour requirement where I went back to my undergraduate institution and presented to the accounting club. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation that included information about the accounting profession, what the AICPA is, information about the CPA exam, and some general career and graduate school advice. I chose to complete my event at my undergraduate school because I thought it would benefit students at a small liberal arts school to learn more about the accounting profession, and having just graduated last year, I felt like any additional advice relating to my future career/graduate school I could have received would have been helpful.

If you are a current undergraduate student who is either going to still be an undergraduate student or a graduate student next year, you should definitely check out the AICPA’s website to see if you meet the qualifications for any of these scholarships!