Learning from the Best – MAcc Talks

One of the most exciting parts of my experience at Ohio State so far has been attending MAcc talks. These events bring in exciting speakers from a variety of backgrounds to discuss their experiences and how it can pertain to our future careers as accountants. (We also receive a free lunch from Panera for each session, so I’ve also learned to always go for the Bacon Turkey Bravo.) The speakers come in through professors directly reaching out and I am always amazed at the connections Fisher professors can have.

Some of the guest speakers so far this semester have been the CEO of Pelotonia, a transparency reporter for DowJones MarketWatch, a Stanford tax researcher, an OSU law professor, and the Ohio Auditor of State. Their areas of expertise are incredibly broad and lead to thought-provoking discussions with my classmates. The talks are often a lot less technical than a lecture and encourage thinking about accounting issues in terms far more broad than simple debits and credits.

A recent speaker was Weston Smith, the former CFO of HealthSouth. He walked us through the fraud that occurred within the corporation. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which of course we all had learned about in depth in accounting courses, played a key part in the unraveling of  inflated earnings reports for HealthSouth. It was pretty satisfying to see how technical topics like SOX play out in real world scenarios.

Being Sporty

In one of my prior blog posts, I mentioned several ways to stay fit on campus. In this blog post, I am going to reflect with you all how I took advantage of intramural sports at Ohio State this fall semester.

The registration for intramural sports comes around early on during the fall and spring semesters, and often you can miss the registration if you are still getting adjusted to the groove of school. If you have an interest in playing intramural sports at Ohio State, you should make sure to gather some friends at the beginning of the semester and look for emails from Rec Sports at Ohio State. Playing intramural sports is a great way to de-stress. It only costs $80 for a team to register, and you get to play around 3-5 games per season – the length of season is contingent on whether there are playoffs and whether your teams advances into the playoffs. When you go to register your team, make sure you have discussed with your teammates what times they are available to play and what location they prefer to play at. Note that some areas will require your team to drive to or take a campus bus.

My Rec Volleyball Team

This past semester I played on two teams: co-rec beach volleyball and soccer. I played volleyball games at 10 PM on Sunday nights in Fred Beekman Park. The volleyball rules required that we played with two guys and two girls. At first, I was hesitant about playing so late on Sunday nights, but I had a blast de-stressing, laughing, and spending time with my friends week after week. None of us had ever played organized volleyball before; thus, we got some good laughs out of our lack of experience.

The second team I played on was a co-rec soccer team with accounting friends. In high school, I played soccer, leading to my desire to want to play recreationally in college. The rules for rec- soccer allowed us to have three guys and three girls on the field plus a goalie. My team and I played every Thursday at the Praire, and I promise you we had some of the best times every single Thursday, whether we lost or lost (yes, we lost every single game).

I would highly recommend making the most of your time while at Ohio State and get involved with whatever you feel most passionate about!

There’s More to Recruitment Than Free Water Bottles

Some of the recruitment swag given to Fisher students this year.

As you can see above, recruitment provides a ton of opportunities for free swag at every event and tabling session. (Sorry PwC, I already misplaced your water bottle :/) Obviously recruitment is about more than the water bottles and notebooks, so I’m here to give you some tips for the job hunt as a MAcc student.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Recruitment for full time jobs happens right away when classes start in August. It can be pretty stressful to hit the ground running like that, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before coming to campus. The Fisher Office of Career Management will hook you up with resume and interview tips over the summer that help a lot. One of the first things a recruiter for a public accounting firm will ask you are your preferred service line (audit, tax, or advisory) and your preferred location. Having ideas about those concepts going in will make your process easier.

Go to EVERYTHING.

There are events all the time, especially early on in the semester. Especially if you aren’t 100% sure on the size of firm or service line you want to be in, go to every recruiting event you can find and talk to everyone. This can be a good exploratory stage to learn more about future career options, especially for students like me who didn’t get as much exposure to public accounting in undergrad. Be sure to get business cards and use them to send thank you’s and follow-up questions.

Don’t get frustrated.

For the first few weeks of classes, it felt like I had a networking event practically every night to juggle with my group projects, individual assignments, and settling in to Columbus in general. A lot of my classmates felt the same way, commiserating about our busy schedules. Now that the recruitment season is mostly over, we can all look back and be glad about the work we put in as we have offers to choose from. If you ever feel overwhelmed, just take a breath and remember that if you’re a Fisher MAcc student, you are a smart and capable person. It will all work out!

Tackling Evening Classes as a MAcc Student

This semester I have one evening class, Advanced Topic in Accounting, that starts at 6:15pm and ends at 9:30pm every Wednesday. Most MAcc classes are offered during the day, with a few elective options that

Heading back to campus when most MAcc students heading out

are offered at night, so these classes are not common for MAcc students. Since I also have my required classes on the same day, which starts at 8:30am, my  Wednesdays seem to be very long. However, three weeks in and I still enjoy it a lot, especially due to the content of the class, as we’re learning about E-commerce, IT security, and some exposure to Python coding. I interviewed two of my classmates, Michael Kaufman and Shuo Li, who are also MAcc students, to get their opinions on taking evening classes and below are their responses.

  • What motivated you to select this class although the time may not be appealing?

Shuo: There are three main reasons for me, firstly, I think Python would be helpful in my future work, so I’m interested in learning about it. Second, this class meets only once a week, and I enjoy this kind of schedule. And our professor is knowledgeable and nice!

  • What is a perk of having classes in the evening?

Michael: [It would be] the flexibility of having a variety of courses offered to match my interests.

  • What are your tips on managing late night classes?

Michael:

– Eat a heavy meal. You will get hungry!
– Make sure to rest the night before you have your evening class.

  • Would you still choose evening classes next semester (as we have more evening elective options) based on your experience so far?

Shuo: Definitely yes! I have registered for two evening classes for the spring semester.

It appears that both of my classmates, and myself selected the class because we all enjoy the content and the professor, despite the late time. We also like the idea of meeting once a week as we can have more time for other tasks such as homework, group meetings, and work. Having evening classes is definitely manageable and helps you clear up your schedule during the day too, if you don’t mind getting back a bit late once or twice a week.

 

Registering for spring semester in the Fisher MAcc program

As the leaves begin to turn a different color here at Fisher, it’s already time for many of the MAcc students to turn their attention towards spring classes. I registered Thursday, October 29, and this process was much different than registering for classes in the fall.

During the spring semester of the MAcc program, students are not required to take any of the core classes that we’ve been taking in the fall. This allows each student to pick an individual schedule tailored to their specific interests and career path, and it’s one of the main reasons I chose Ohio State’s MAcc program over others.

Aside from possessing the technical skills necessary to succeed in the accounting field, I’ve always been interested in leadership and learning new ways to motivate and manage individuals. I’ll be able to continue to pursue this interest by taking classes like Advanced Leadership, Negotiations, and Introduction to Organizational Coaching. While I’m keeping my options open as my career path progresses, I know I want to be in a leadership role down the road. The MAcc’s flexible class registration allows me to develop the skills necessary to be a future business leader, and hopefully create a positive influence on the people I work with.

A quarter of the way done…

The conclusion of fall break officially marks a quarter of the MAcc program complete. It’s crazy to think the program is already 25% done when it feels like we were just at orientation getting to know each other yesterday. A unique aspect of our MAcc program here at Ohio State is that all of the accounting core classes and electives are half-semester classes, similar to the quarter system. Half semester classes have their pros and cons, and now that I have officially completed some of my classes, I can reflect on some of these aspects.

 Pros:

  1.  Fewer classes at once than on the semester system

For undergraduate courses, I was accustomed to the semester system, and each class was about three credit hours. Thus, in undergrad, when I took 18 credit hours, I would have about six classes every week for the entire semester. Whereas in the MAcc program, I can take 17.5 total credit hours for the semester, but because they are half-semester classes (each about 1.5 or 2.5 credit hours), I have four classes in the first quarter and a different four classes the next quarter. The quarter system allows you to take more classes overall, but fewer courses at once. I have found this to be extremely convenient because now I have time to study for my classes and enjoy myself.

2. Fast-paced classes

The great part about quarter classes is there is no downtime. Professors are teaching you an entire semester worth of content in half the amount of time. Fast-paced courses are beneficial for students who are up for the challenge and love to continuously learn without wasted time.

3. The classes are only 8 weeks!

You didn’t like a class that you took that quarter, whether it was difficult or uninteresting to you, the good news is that it’s over in just eight weeks! This is great motivation to keep pushing yourself because you can do anything for eight weeks.

Con’s

1. Frequent exams

One of the biggest cons I have found with quarter classes is the number of exams in such a short period of time. Professors typically will issue a midterm and final within the quarter. Although it seems like a lot at first, it is all very manageable. Additionally, the professors in the MAcc program do their best to work with each other and make sure their exams are not all on the same day.

2. Fast-paced classes

I mentioned this as a pro above, but it is also a con at times. We are all human, and often we need a chance to recover and catch up, fast-paced classes can be hard to keep up with. But like I mentioned earlier, the good news is you are only in about 4-5 courses at a time, so it is very manageable.

Overall, I have come to enjoy quarter classes, and I am loving the MAcc program thus far!

Undergraduate vs Graduate Accounting Recruitment and Tips

Fall break marks the end of our first session of Fall semester, as well as the end of recruitment season for many MAcc students who are very excited to be done with the process. Though I didn’t go through the process as I did it during my undergraduate program, I recognized some differences between the two experience when talking to my friends so I wanted to outline them below, as well as offer some tips on how to tackle recruitment season when starting the Fisher MAcc program.

1. The process is so much shorter!

This is the clearest difference between the two processes. While undergraduate recruiting season often lasts for almost the

entire semester with many different networking and social events organized by the firms, my graduate classmates started their job searching process around the end of August when classes started, and had most of their interviews done at the beginning of October. So the time pressure was intense. I highly advise you to prepare well during the summer by polishing your resume and practicing your interviewing skills and be ready to jump right into the process when the program starts, or you’ll be very overwhelmed with events and homework.

2. Full-time vs internship.

Most students applied for internships in junior year and completed them in senior year of undergraduate. However, once you’re a graduate student, often you would apply for full-time positions. Since internship is like another round of interview where firms can take another look at your ability before offering you a full-time position, the competition is a bit more lax and firms often hire more interns to cut some out later. Full-time positions can be more challenging to get, especially when firms already retain a decent number of interns, and they often expect more of you to adapt quickly with the way of working as you did not go through the internship with them.

3. Location preferences.

Many of my classmates, including myself, did our undergraduate studies out of state, so attending OSU allows us to apply for firms and offices in Ohio, nearby Midwest states, and other states farther away since OSU is a huge university with a very recognizable brand name and an extensive alumni network. It was more restrictive for me when I applied for internship at my previous college since it is a small liberal arts school so most students went to companies/offices within the same state. However, many of my classmates can apply to positions in cities such as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. That’s why I often recommend my friends, especially those who did not do an accounting internship, to complete their Master’s at a big university like OSU to expand their opportunities.

Those are all the tips I have to prepare you for a successful recruitment season in graduate school. The main restraint is definitely time, as the program lasts for only nine months and you would want to secure a job before graduation as soon as possible. However, if you come prepared from the beginning, you should feel much less stressful about the entire process. Good luck!

 

Great Day to See Ryan Day

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m currently enrolled in one of the MAcc‘s elective courses, Business of College Sports. I highly recommend anyone with a particular interest in athletics to take this course, as it’s been extremely enlightening to see how a college athletic department operates in terms of budgetary constraints, recruiting, donors, and projects meant to enhance the overall student-athlete experience.

As part of our class, we were able to tour the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, which is home to many sports teams on campus and also serves as the football team’s practice facility. After walking around and getting to see the state-of-the-art practice fields, underwater treadmills for rehabilitation, and other elite athletic amenities, our class sat and listened to Ohio State’s head football coach talk about his program. It was unbelievable to witness the level of detail that the team deploys from their dietary plans to the way they organize their rigid schedules. It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to brush up with the athletic director and head football coach at a place like Ohio State, but in the Fisher MAcc program, it can be a reality.

An inside look at the case studies in my electives

For the first term of autumn, I currently have two required classes and two electives in the MAcc program. Little did I know how many cases I have to deal with every week when selecting my electives for this term. However, I’m very happy I chose these classes and want to give you a brief overview of what are entailed in them.

Professional Research in Accounting

If you asked me to talk about this class a month ago, I would show my lack of enthusiasm and blame the Texas CPA Board for making me taking this class. I’m not a big fan of doing research so this class immediately sounded boring to me. To my surprise, it turns out to be my favorite class this term! We have to solve one case, in a group of 3 or 4 students, every week, so it is an intensive class. Solving these cases involves getting lost in understanding the issues to be solved, getting swamped in finding the appropriate FASB Codifications to explain the company’s accounting methods, and getting exhausted after finishing our write-ups. But there is a huge sense of accomplishment when I finally understand the problems thoroughly, mostly after discussing with my group, and together arrive at the solutions.

My favorite birthday gift from a friend and the logo I got which features Tesla Roadster as the dummy in SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy flight

My favorite case, because it involves one of my favorite companies, is Tesla! The case involves deciphering their accounting method for their leasing program with leasing partners where Tesla offers a resale value guarantee paid to their partners at the end of the lease term. Never did I hate the company that much while I had to go through the codes to prove what they did and reported in their financial statements. It was our hardest case, in my opinion, but I still managed to have some “fun” with it, especially when we had to come up with their journal entries. Yet I’m still obsessed with the company, their mission, and their unconventional leadership.

Finance I

I took only one finance course during my undergraduate years, so I was new to most of the concepts coming in. However, because of my lack of knowledge, my learning curve for this class is huge. We discussed one case each week, similar to my other elective class. The cases mostly focus on project valuation, debt versus equity financing,

A corner of the Target store on High St, 5 minutes away from Fisher, as an example of the company’s small-format store

initial public offering (IPO) valuation, and corporate strategy regarding financial investments. Some of the prominent cases include Nike’s capital structure, JetBlue’s IPO, and Target’s food business strategy. Target is the one we’re discussing right now, and we’re looking at how Target used small-format stores, those that are of smaller scales built in urban and college town areas, to help with their declining sales after Amazon acquired Whole Foods and transitioned it to be one of Target’s competitors. Our final case is a group project about New Balance’s product initiatives, which looks challenging and time consuming, but I’m excited to work with my group on applying the concepts we’ve been learning this term to wrap up the class in the best way.

All of this is to say that the cases I’m learning in my classes are not at all “make-up” cases about ABC or XYZ companies. They are all about actual companies that I see or use their products everyday. This is the aspect of the curriculum that I enjoy the most. Not only is it practical, but it also allows me to learn more about the accounting practices at these companies, and see how the general accounting concepts can be applied differently at different companies. I would highly recommend taking courses that focus heavily on cases, and although they may be more challenging, your learning curve will definitely be much higher.

 

Lighting up the Scioto River at the Water Lantern Festival

A big perk of going to Ohio State is its location – for those of you that don’t know OSU is located in the heart of Columbus. With that being said, there is always an event in the area, whether it is some sort of cultural or food festival or a concert. This past weekend I attended the water lantern festival with several of my friends from the Fisher MAcc and MHRM programs.

The water lantern festival is a unique cultural event. It brings people together with friends and family to celebrate life together as you watch the lanterns you all created drift off in the night. This festival focuses on experiencing happiness, discovering love, bringing healing to your soul, enjoying peace and unity, increasing hope and faith, and connecting with one another.

 

The festival took place in downtown along the Scioto Mile. When we arrived, there were food trucks, a live singer and a very calming and relaxing atmosphere. After getting some food from the food trucks, we found a patch of grass among the river and began to decorate our lanterns. We each reflected upon our hopes and dreams and what we were thankful for and decorated our lanterns accordingly. It was a great time to step back from the hustle and bustle of campus life and reflect. After we finished decorating our lanterns, we relaxed and listened to calming music. When it finally got dark, we all went down to the river to release our lanterns. It was a beautiful sight to see, as hundreds of lanterns filled with hopes and dreams drifted through the night. I had an amazing and refreshing time taking advantage at one of the festivals Columbus had to offer.

The lanterns we created released in the river