Weekend Adventures in Columbus

Cheering the Buckeyes on to a win!

This past weekend in Columbus was a blast as I had one of my friends from undergrad visiting, braving the cold coming up from Atlanta. Showing him around campus and the city was a great time. Columbus makes it easy for me to be a great host and show a guest an action packed weekend.

On Saturday, we hit up the men’s basketball game against Purdue. Student tickets are super affordable and give a closeup view of the court. As always, the Buckeyes in the student section were lively and loud as the team cruised on to a win. Personal highlights included catching not just one but two free t-shirts.

After the game, we headed south to spend the afternoon browsing North Market, which is downtown, a quick drive from campus. It’s an open market food hall type of place with a ton of vendors selling anything from donuts to ramen. We got a few different foods but of course not everything we wanted to try because a person’s stomach can only hold so much.

After Sunday brunch and a trip to the airport, my fun weekend was over and now we’re all buckling down. Finals for this unit of classes are looming and then MAcc students will begin our final courses. Crazy how time flies.

Lounging throughout the Semester

This week marks the last week of the first session of spring semester for most specialized master’s programs’ students, which means that the Graduate Lounge in Gerlach Hall is busier than usual. To offer some insights into our graduate life, below are some ways students often use the lounge for.

To have lunch with friends.

The lounge is equipped with two refrigerators for students to store their lunches, and two microwaves to reheat food, which are very convenient. There’s always space in the refrigerators for anyone who would like to store their lunches there, and there’s rarely a line at the microwave!

The microwaves are located right outside of the lounge. The refrigerators are inside.

To work on group projects.

There are several round tables in the lounge to facilitate group works. I personally have meetings with my teammates in the lounge almost 80% of the time. The only time I would work elsewhere, usually in one of the student-reserved rooms, is when I need to practice for a presentation with my group, as those rooms are equipped with TV screens to project our presentation slides.

Students working at round tables.

To grab some FREE food.

The graduate programs usually provide free donuts and coffee at the beginning of every session for all students. There’s no announcement needed. When we see friends holding donuts going around, we know it’s the day. Sometimes there are free food from events happening in the building and is available for everyone, so it’s a quick lunch if you forget to pack your own.

My Three Tips for Work, Life, School, and CPA Balance


Have you ever heard of that phrase, “work-life balance?” Well try “work, life, school, CPA balance” for a little extra challenge! The thought of achieving those three little letters every accountant dreams of- “CPA“- can be quite daunting, especially if you are trying to study while you are in school. But, I am here to reassure you, it is possible!

This semester, I am enrolled in 6 classes, I work 10 hours a week, study 15-20 hours a week for the CPA (plus some more for school work of course), and I still have a social life, believe it or not! Some of you reading this might think to yourself that’s crazy, but I can reassure you, it is more doable than you think. The second semester in the MAcc program is a great time to begin studying for the CPA due to the ability to take more elective classes of your choice. So if you follow my three pieces of advice for how to succeed in balancing your work, life, school, CPA grind, you too can achieve success!

  1. Make a detailed study plan for the CPA exam and stick with it.

For instance, I know that before my Monday, Wednesday classes, I will study for 3 hours each day. Also, I don’t have class on Fridays, so after work, I will head to the library to study for about 5 hours, and I will do the same on Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, schedule your CPA exam early on in the studying process to set a deadline for yourself to avoid procrastination.

2. Study with friends and find places that work for you to study.

I find one of the most motivational aspects of studying for the CPA is knowing that other classmates in the MAcc are in the same boat as me! So if you grab a friend and study with them, it will help you both be more accountable with your study plan. Additionally, make sure to go somewhere you feel most comfortable studying. For some people, that’s going to a new coffee shop, but for others, like me, that’s going to the library or studying in my apartment. So remember to do what’s best for you.

3. Designate specific hours of the week to hang out with friends and block that time off.

Every Monday night, for example, I designate time to go to my student organization meetings and then coming home and watching the bachelor with my friends. Then on another day of the week, I will either go to a sporting event or plan an evening activity with my friends. And of course, I still leave my Friday and Saturday nights open for any fun I want to have with my friends. But, it is critical to leave time to hang out with friends every single week to stay sane!!

As easy as those three tips may sound, I highly recommend you follow through. Otherwise, you will either end up being extremely stressed about the process, or you will procrastinate studying!

 

Intro to Organizational Business Coaching

One of the reasons I enjoy the MAcc program so much is because it allows me the flexibility to take elective classes that spark my professional interests. As a student who one day aspires to be the CFO of a company, I wanted to take extra HRM (human resource management) classes to understand more about organizational structure, what makes people tick, and how to be an effective leader.

One of my favorite classes I’m enrolled in this term under the HRM designation is called introduction to organizational business coaching. The class focuses on ways to be a better coach for young professionals looking to get from point A to point B in their lives. While I probably won’t be putting these coaching skills to use in public accounting as an entry-level associate, I have learned many valuable skills that I’ll be able to use further down the road in my career to inspire and motivate others. In the picture above, I’m actually giving some coaching advice to a peer of mine as part of one of the class’s learning exercises!

Although I encourage prospective students to remain diligent in their accounting courses, I also want to acknowledge how important it is to take a few electives that are not accounting-designated courses. It has helped me view the world of business from different perspectives and has definitely made me a more knowledgeable and well-rounded professional.

New Classes, New Insights

My group presenting in Tax Business Strategy

School continues grinding along at Fisher for MAcc students. This semester gives us a lot more freedom with electives because there are ZERO required classes.  It’s definitely a different experience and it’s pretty exciting to hear about all of the diverse electives my friends are taking. We aren’t restricted to only accounting or even only business classes. If you can make a case for a class helping you in your career, you can receive credit toward your degree. I have a friend continuing his Mandarin studies from undergrad as a part of the MAcc.

One of my favorites this semester has been Tax Business Strategy. Even though I’m starting my career in audit, understanding taxes more will be helpful for the CPA exams and my professional skills. Some of my classmates going into audit shudder whenever taxes are mentioned but the material has been manageable for me so far. It helps that I’m taking two tax classes at once – some of the material overlaps and seeing things from different perspectives from different professors gives a deeper understanding of the concepts.

The photo above shows my group giving a presentation on taxes in the news, which is why I love this class so much. Each lecture starts with a brief discussion about a news headline surrounding taxes. We break down the media hype around the story and get to the technicalities of the tax code behind it. It’s a subject we see in the news so often, especially with this being an election year, so learning what’s really going on connects my education to feeling more informed in daily life.

OSU is Balling Out

As I have mentioned several times before, it’s my fourth year here at Ohio State, and before this year, I had never attended an Ohio State basketball game (shocking, right?!). I was beginning to feel that I was left out all the excitement. So, I decided to change this, and I attended my first OSU basketball game last semester, and I can affirm I 100% was missing out on all the fun. The basketball game I attended was so much fun that I went to three games since. I grew up watching NBA basketball, but watching fellow Buckeyes play on the court is on a whole different level of excitement.

 It is super easy to attend a basketball game here at Ohio State. All you have to do is go to this website and click on Student Ticket Offers. There you can buy a ticket to a game for just $10! On game day, once you get to the Schottenstein Center, you enter from the student entrance off of the high street, and once you scan your eticket, you get to choose the location of your seats. This ticket gets you a seat into the student section, which sits right behind either the home bench, away bench, or the west basketball hoop. For just $10, you could have third-row seats to a Buckeye Game! 

These games are an excellent opportunity to hang out with my MAcc friends outside of the classroom while watching an exhilarating game of basketball. The entire student section is always cheering and getting rowdy throughout the game — definitely something everyone should experience during their time here at OSU.

How to utilize the Fisher MAcc program to be eligible for the CPA exam in another state

Getting a Master’s degree in one state but sitting for the CPA exam in another state can be a tricky situation depending on the jurisdictions involved. However, before making my decision to come to Ohio State, I  outlined how I would best use the program to be eligible to sit for the exam in Texas, which is deemed one of the strictest states in terms of requirements. I’m so glad that everything is working out smoothly so far.

COMPLETING MY RESEARCH COURSES

Specific courses that count for the research and communication requirements, as given by the Texas State Board

Texas specifically requires 2 credit hours of accounting research, and fortunately, the Fisher MAcc program offers two electives that satisfy this requirement. I took Professional Research in Accounting in the Fall semester, and will take Tax Research in the second session of this Spring semester to fulfill this requirement.

COMPLETING MY WRITTEN COMMUNICATION COURSE

Texas requires 3 credit hours of business written communication, which I didn’t complete at my undergraduate college, since they built this requirement into its graduate program. The Fisher MAcc program doesn’t offer any class at the graduate level to fulfill this requirement. However, I’m allowed to take an undergraduate class, which is Business & Professional Writing in the English department, as a graduate student. I’m currently taking it now, and I’m so glad that the MAcc program provides me with this flexibility to complete this requirement. In fact, the MAcc program requires a total of 31 credit hours to graduate. However, students can take up to 18 hours per semester, so besides the 31 credit hours, students can take an additional 5 credit hours, which I use for purposes like this.

I think educational credit requirement is one of the reasons most students may be hesitant to venture out and go to a different school for the graduate degree. However, with good planning, it is totally possible. Many of my fellow classmates are planning to sit for the exams in different states, such as New York, Illinois, and California, and they have all have worked up their strategies on how to build their class schedules to best fulfill the requirements of the states they want to register with.

 

Trying to Commit Fraud? Not So Fast(ow)!

MAcc Students with Andy Fastow

Recently at Ohio State there was a very exciting opportunity for MAcc students. As a part of our MAcc Talk speaker series (check out my previous post for an overview), Andy Fastow, the former CFO of Enron came to campus. If you aren’t as big of an accounting nerd as MAcc students are, you may not know how Enron famously went from one of the largest and most admired companies in the world to nothing in a matter of months. Every accounting student has seen these articles and cases countless times, but hearing from someone so central to the situation was a fresh and stimulating experience. Fastow was incredibly transparent and even provided his phone number for students to text him questions.

Even more exciting than simply attending the talk was that I had been chosen, along with several other students, to attend lunch with Mr. Fastow afterward. It was honestly intimidating to sit down with a name you’ve seen in textbooks before, but how often do you get a chance like that? We all had time to ask questions and my Fisher education had me feeling prepared to meaningfully discuss financial reporting issues with such a well-known figure.

Ultimately, my primary takeaways from this experience with Fastow is the way he described the gray area that so often accountants need to tread in. He insisted that all of the balance sheet massaging he had done at Enron was morally wrong, but technically legal. As someone pursuing a career as an auditor, it was fascinating to get inside the mind behind the most infamous fraud in history.

Reflecting Upon Our Last Semester at Ohio State

We are heading into our final semester here at Ohio State University! I can personally say I am sad to see it approach the end, but I am looking forward to all the classes and fun I have planned for this semester.

This past semester I had a blast meeting all of my classmates in the MAcc program and getting adjusted to life as a graduate student. This semester I am hoping to continue to build the friendships I created and to hopefully learn a lot along the way. I am planning on balancing friends, classes, work and studying for the CPA exam… so I will have to keep you all posted as to how that works out!

I took a moment to ask several of my classmates what “one thing they were looking forward to for their final semester?”

Olivia Abdallah

I am excited to have more control over the classes I am taking and tailoring my learning experience to what I want to get out of it!

Travis Whit

I am looking forward to not having class on Fridays and to having few morning classes throughout the week. This will provide me with the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep and hopefully study for the CPA exam.

Cassie Edelstein

I am looking forward to spending the last months of this semester with my friends before we all move to different cities to begin our careers.

Abbey Markley

I am really excited for Spring Break! It’s going to be one of the final opportunities to spend time with all the friends I met at Ohio State!

As you can see, everyone has a lot to look forward to this semester. Whether it may be getting a little extra sleep before their classes or making the most of being in Columbus and hanging out with friends. I am really eager to see all that I will learn and all the memories I will make during my last semester here!

Stacked with Talent

It can be a challenge to maintain one’s morale in the winter months, including here in the Midwest.  I work as a graduate student ambassador in the Fisher Graduate Programs Office – the other ambassadors and I always try to find a way to have fun with work. Last week, Elise Zawacki, Eric Luehmann, and I were tasked with filling boxes with surprise gifts for many of our admitted graduate students for autumn 2020. With so many boxes to fill, we figured we’d stack them once they were filled and see just how high we could go. As you can gather from the featured image of the blog, they never ended up falling, and we ended up stacking these boxes all the way to the ceiling of the GPO – for those of you wondering, the GPO ceiling is exactly 30 boxes high off the ground.

It was a fun bonding moment between a few of the graduate ambassadors, and we even got a few laughs from our recruiters and directors as they walked out of their respective offices and saw this monstrosity teetering in the hallway.

Moral of this story? It’s important to keep perspective and to always try to have fun while working hard. This mindset is something I’ve developed as a graduate ambassador for Ohio State and as a graduate student at Ohio State. Between classes, working in the GPO, and studying for the CPA exam, it can be hard to carve out time to have a little fun each day. So instead, start trying to incorporate a little fun into your work each day, and you may find it much more fulfilling!