Why I Enjoy What I Do

This year, I have had the unique opportunity to be a graduate administrative assistant (GAA) and act as a student ambassador for the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program at Ohio State. My role as a student ambassador is simple; I assist with prospective student visits, answer questions about the MAcc program, and assist the graduate programs office in any way needed. All right, it is a bit more complicated than that, but you get the point.

When I was offered this position a year ago, everyone told me how awesome it was– especially since there is a lot of free food (which sold me on the role instantaneously). However, after one semester, I realized something: all the stuff that I listed above is great and fun, but that is not truly why I enjoy this role.

I love my job not because of the work I do, but because of the people I meet. Students come to me on a daily basis asking for advice on a variety of topics: about keys to doing well in undergrad to get into the MAcc program, how to get a job/internship, and just life in general.  This is what professionals call “mentoring.” I love to mentor others! The best part about mentoring is not giving the advice, but it is when students come back to me a few months later and tell me they got that job they were working hard towards or they got into the MAcc program. When people share their success with me, that is what makes me happy and gets me juiced up in the morning. That is the best part of mentoring. Seeing the smile on someone’s face and knowing that you played some role in that.

If you told me a few years ago that I would enjoy mentoring others, I probably would have laughed it off. However, this role as a GAA opened my eyes to the impact I can have on others. Upon graduation and entering the workforce, I will continue to mentor others and form connections. I want to have an impact on the world beyond myself. So next time when you go to someone for advice on getting that job, let him or her know how it worked out because that truly will make their day ten times better.

Zoo Lights

Columbus has many unique features and things to do such as the Columbus Zoo. The Columbus Zoo is rated the third-best zoo in the United States, and definitely worth a visit while in Ohio! During the winter months close to the holiday season, the zoo gets transformed and decorated with millions of beautiful Christmas lights; it’s called “Wildlights.” The MAcc Council decided to plan a trip on the last day of classes. Pictured below is a group photo outside of the zoo of all the MAcc students who went.

MAcc students at the Zoo

The zoo is separated by areas and locations the animals would be found, such as the Artic Zone. It’s a large area and I would have gotten lost without a wonderful tour guide and fellow classmate who knew her way around the zoo. If you want to see the animals in addition to the lights, I would recommend going early afternoon. Once it gets dark outside, many animals are hard to see and are also sleeping. There are various food carts and stops throughout the zoo, so you can get a cup of hot chocolate or a snack while looking at the attractions. The center of the zoo is a pond that plays a light show choreographed to holiday music every half-hour.

If you love taking photos or just want to get into the holiday spirit, I would highly recommend checking out Wildlights! Everywhere you look and go is lit (as seen above on a bridge inside the zoo). With the semester coming to a close, I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays!

See You Next Semester

Time flies.

I doesn’t feel like my first day at Fisher was a long time ago, but we’ve actually gone through half of the MAcc program already. From the first day of orientation, August 14th, to the last day of class in the autumn semester, December 6th, we’ve all done some incredible work.

I still remember all the projects that we had done (and sometimes, all the frustrations they brought us). Nevertheless, all of us finished the projects well and we all learned something.

Now that I’ve been here for awhile, I can tell you that being a graduate student is a lot different from being an undergrad student. Everyone in the program is very self-motivated. We work a lot more efficiently as a group. Since the program is heavily case-based and group-based, having good interpersonal skill is very important. But it’s fun! From what I can see, everyone in the program is enjoying themselves and our groups; most of us met new people and got to know a lot of new friends.

The spring semester will start on January 8th. But when we come back to campus, we will not see the KPMG students anymore. I was talking to some KPMG students the other day and he said he met (and befriended) more non-KPMG program students than he originally expected. I was glad to hear that, but also realized that– unlike me– he would be leaving soon and coming back for the summer term to finish up his degree. It’s a unique program.

Time for me to relax over break. See you in January!

MAcc Fall Reception

As a way to wrap up the first semester of the MAcc program, all MAcc students, faculty, and staff came together this past Friday night to celebrate one last time before winter break. The evening consisted of a cocktail hour, dinner, and reception.

The cocktail hour was by far one of my favorite portions of the evening. Not because of the cocktails, but rather, the casual aspect of the cocktail hour. I was able to jump around from classmate to classmate and reconnect with them. I was even able to reconnect with some of my undergraduate professors (who also teach in the MAcc program) and update them about my life– and thank them for all that they have done for me. Once the cocktail hour ended, we sat down and had a delicious dinner. Following dinner, Professor Zach had the opportunity to give a speech. He had the whole room laughing and reminding us of all the good times we had this past semester. Additionally, a guest speaker came in who was also a part of the MAcc program a few years ago herself.

Trying to be cool at the MAcc receptionAfter the MAcc reception ended, a number of us enjoyed the nightlife Columbus offers. It’s crazy to think that we are halfway done with our MAcc (and some of us are 87.5% done with our college career). I will miss some of my peers who will go off and do an internship this spring semester through the KPMG program. However, I will continue to work hard and to make those lifelong connections!

 

 

MAcc end of autumn semester reception

Can’t believe that we are already halfway through our MAcc program! Last Friday, the MAcc program hosted a dinner reception and invited all MAcc students, their spouses and children, as well as MAcc faculty and staff. Some of the MAcc students are involved in a unique partnership between Fisher and KPMG where they won’t return for spring semester but will be back in summer to finish the rest of their program. I was surprised by how sad I was when I realized that there were only about 10 days left with them.

A photo with our program director, Professor Zach.
MAcc students
Dzung Vu and me

One of my favorite memories with them centers around our Financial Reporting class, one of the core classes of the MAcc program. Just like the other classes, we self-selected our case group and came up with a name for it–“My Favorite Group.” Whenever the professor called on us, he would always say “Let’s go to ‘My Favorite Group’.” Some of the students didn’t realize that it was our group name until they confirmed with us. Here’s the group:

“My Favorite Group” — Financial Reporting Class

I, as well as other students, will miss them a lot. So, guys, come back for a visit soon!

Friendsgiving and Preparation for Finals

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving.” This year, I was able to spend quality time with many friends from the MAcc program and various other programs at Ohio State University. It was a great time with friends to talk and share stories since we started this journey in August. Pictured below is the big feast we had– along with guests who were able to take part in “Friendsgiving.”

After “Friendsgiving,” I was able to go home to the mountains of North Carolina for a much needed break before finals start. Now that I’m back, classes are in full swing with project deadlines and finals preparation. As a way of sharing a little background on the second seven weeks of the MAcc program, I’ll briefly talk about the four classes I’m currently in.

I have two core classes that all MAcc students are required to take: Corporate Financial Reporting I and Accounting Policy and Research. The corporate Financial Reporting I class consists of lectures with cases of public companies and analyzing their financials. Accounting Policy and Research consists of projects throughout the semester and readings and discussions for class. In addition, I’m taking two electives, Assurance Services and Information Quality and Professional Research in Accounting. Both classes consist of group work and case assignments due in class. Overall, the key to success is time management and staying organized. In a short two weeks, the first semester will be completed– and I’ll be thankful for all the learning I’ve done!

The Beauty of Ohio State

Walking on Ohio State’s campus for the first time, as a 17-year-old high school junior, I immediately fell in love. I wanted a big-city feel, but I wanted to be close to home as well. Ohio State offered that. I fell in love with the hustle and bustle of campus. People are always out on the streets walking to class or throwing a frisbee on some of the green spaces around campus. Below, I’ve outlined my favorite places on campus and the ones that made an immediate positive impression on me.

Mirror Lake

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Mirror Lake before it was renovated

Mirror Lake has been a staple in Ohio State tradition and culture. Whether you’re relaxing and reading a book or deciding to go on a date, Mirror Lake is the place to be. It’s under renovation now, though, and is set to re-open in the spring.

Thompson Library

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Multiple photos of Thompson Library

One of the most beautiful libraries in the world, Thompson Library is 11 stories tall. You will always find a place to study and get your work done. I would suggest going up to the 11th floor to take in the views of campus and the City of Columbus.

Fisher College of Business

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Mason Hall

What is there not to like about Fisher? There are six buildings (all connected by tunnels underground) with state-of-the-art facilities. Grad students spend most of their time in Gerlach Hall, but students often make it over to Mason Hall which houses the business school’s very own coffee shop. Who doesn’t like convenient access to coffee and pastries?

RPAC

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Outdoor view of the RPAC

The RPAC is a state-of-the art recreation facility. Once inside, you’ll find any cardio or weight machine you could think of. We have a very large swimming facility inside and we even boast a hot tub (my personal favorite place in campus). Additionally, the RPAC has 12 indoor basketball courts. Plus, while the RPAC is the crown jewel of facilities, there are five other recreational facilities scattered around campus.

Ohio Stadium

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The “Horseshoe” (a.k.a. “the ‘Shoe” at night)

Ohio Stadium seats over 108,000 people and it’s the place to be every Saturday during the autumn semester. You can always be certain that the Buckeyes will put up a good fight and you should expect to have a great time.

There are many places on campus (in addition to these) where students are able to find their own niche. From museums to dance halls to eating establishments, you will never be at a loss for things to enjoy.

 

 

 

Hotpot on A Cold Day

As an international student who has been studying abroad for almost five years, homesickness is not an issue anymore. However, I still miss the food from back home. One dish that my family usually has is “Hotpot,” a traditional Chinese dish which is usually eaten on a cold day. Similar to the Korean BBQ, you need to “cook” it yourself, but it’s worth the time and effort.

Homemade Hotpot

As you can see in the picture, Hotpot is literately a HOT POT. It’s very easy to make it. I usually buy the pre-made soup paste from an Asian grocery store. You can include whatever you want to eat: meat, vegetables, or noodles. No matter your choice(s), you boil the ingredients into the soup paste. I also make my own dipping sauce which is sesame sauce mixed with a little bit soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Here are the ingredients that I have for your reference if you want to replicate a Hotpot as above:

  1. Hotpot paste (available at any Asian Store)
  2. Slide beef
  3. Fish ball & fish tofu
  4. Bacon
  5. Shrimp
  6. Frozen tofu
  7. Napa cabbage
  8. Cilantro
  9. Fried tofu
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Lotus root
  12. Noodles (tips: put the noodles in last, otherwise your stew will be very thick.)

Hope you have some good homemade Hotpot!

 

CPA Self Study in Grad School

At the beginning of November, I took my first CPA exam on the BEC (Business Environment and Concepts) section. I will not know my scores until December, but I want to let everyone know it is possible to self-study while doing the MAcc program.

Let me give you a little background on the CPA exam. It consists of four sections: Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, and Regulation (BEC, FAR, AUD, REG). More information on each exam section can be found at http://www.ais-cpa.com/cpa-exam-sections/

The CPA exam is a stressful topic for many students and can be overwhelming and confusing. Each state has different requirements for when you’re able to sit for the CPA exam. The State of Ohio requires 150 credit hours to sit for the exam, but each state will vary. More information on the exam requirements by State can be found at this website: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/exam-licensure/state-requirements/

The curriculum for the MAcc program does not build in any CPA material or study classes; however, you can pick your classes to best align with when you may want to study for an exam. For example, my first semester here I will have taken two audit courses, and I plan to begin studying for the Audit section of the CPA exam to take in at the beginning of January. The key to studying for the CPA while taking MAcc courses is to be organized and work ahead. I personally try to stay on campus until I have completed all of the MAcc coursework. Once I’m home I set that time aside for CPA review. Depending on your personality, you may be a late-night studier or someone who prefers waking up at 6am to review.

There is no pressure to take the CPA exam during the MAcc program. It depends on a numerous amount of factors such as state requirements. Many students wait until they graduate from the MAcc program in May to begin studying and take the four sections of the exam. But most importantly, remember to:

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The Job Hunt

After being in college for four years, I never thought this day would come:

I have a job! This is not one of those jobs that I had in college or high school where I worked for a few hours a week or even an internship. I actually have a real job where I wake up every day, put on a suit, tie, and help provide advice to others. I guess you could say I am (almost) an adult now…

Many of you must be wondering how I reached this stage and what the process looked like. Well, to be honest, it involved a lot of preparation, stress and free meals!

Step 1: How to get an interview

The first step to getting a job is by locking up the first-round interview. This is probably the hardest step of the entire process, but if you do it right, it is one of the easiest steps. First thing is to have an exceptional resume: solid work experience, leadership, and good grades. The issue is that having a good resume isn’t enough, as it turns out there are hundreds of student who have “exceptional” resumes as well. So, how do you differentiate yourself? Network, network, network!

I learned early on in my college life that it is not what you know, but who you know that will help you succeed in life. So that is what I did. I networked and created connections.

As a result, with every firm that I applied to, I received at least a first-round interview. These firms included all your prestigious Big 4 accounting firms and the top tier-consulting firms.

**A few of the firms that I applied for do not recruit at Ohio State, but that should not hold you back. As long as you network well, you should be fine!**

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Network! – Form those connections

Step 2: How to excel at the interview

Be yourself! Since most interviews are behavioral, just be yourself. You should educate yourself about the role and organization, but as long as you be yourself and have a few stories to tell, you should be fine.

However, if you are like me and decide to pursue a career in consulting, you will need to prepare for the case interview. During a case interview, the interviewer will present you with a business scenario and you are expected to present a logical solution at the end of the interview. These can be difficult, but are really fun! All you need to do is practice– a lot. I ran through close to 30 mock case interviews before my first official case interview.

Step 3: Accept the job

This is the best part! Be proud of where you work, and accept a job that makes you happy. As for me, I will be working in Columbus as a consultant for EY in their financial services practice. I could not be happier and I am excited for a career at EY!

EY is short for Ernst and Young