AMIS 824 – Corporate Finance

I love all 4 of my classes this quarter, but I want to bring your attention to this particular one – AMIS 824 Corporate Finance. This class is unique in many ways. To start off, in the introduction email Professor Dave Williams sent to the class, he specifically mentioned that we won’t be doing any journal entries, T-accounts, or cite FASB statements. But wait a second, I thought this is an accounting class??? (AMIS stands for Accounting & Management Information System)

Now that school’s been in session for about 2 weeks, I started to get a feel of what he means. Dave (he likes to be informal and prefers to be called by his first name instead of Professor Williams) usually starts the class by reading an article or two on the Wall Street Journal and discuss with the class the magnitude of the news and the effect/consequence/special meaning it has both to the accounting profession and the financial industry. Then we spend the remaining class period analyzing financial statements of various companies in a very fun and intuitive way. You might say, how is analyzing hundreds of pages of the 10-K fun?

Well, first of all we don’t look at the entire 10-K because Dave is environment-friendly and would like to save trees. Second, some day we look at just the income statement, another day we’ll look at the balance sheet followed by the statement of cash flow, or sometimes the combination of them. Then he’ll make the students think hard and fast what lies beneath the numbers. He asks questions like: why do you expect to see a high balance in the inventory account for so and so? What does it mean when you see cash outflows from PP&E every year? Is that a good thing or a bad thing and why? So far we’ve looked at the financial statements of Tootsie Roll, Hershey, GE, Southwest Airline, Whirlpool, Campbell’s Soup, 5/3 Bank, Amazon, J-Crew, American Eagle Outfitter, and Pacific Sun. Next week we’ll talk about revenue recognition and look at Microsoft’s financial statements. Microsoft!!! I’m getting excited just as I’m typing this.

Dave is ingenious in drawing the class’ attention. He tells jokes, makes fun of himself and sometimes his kids, and you can be sure that he’ll call you out (not to embarrass you, but all for good fun) if you say something silly without giving it some thought. He comes at you fast and furious and you better devote 120% of your attention to him if you don’t want to miss anything important (and the jokes). Starting this week I’m bringing a digital recorder to record the lecture so that I don’t have to take notes frantically. Lastly, I tried to imitate his style a little bit and be funny in front of the 211 students (I’m a TA) but so far to no avail.

New Washer and Dryer

While, they were new to us at least. Sarah’s parents drove in from Richmond to visit (8 hours through VA and WV mostly,) and we decided since they had the truck here, we should try and get a washer and dryer. Just to preface, we have the hook-ups for a washer/dryer in our house, we just hadn’t bought one yet, and had been using an awful laundromat down the street.

Laundromats are not particularly fun places to be. One has to keep feeding the machine with quarters, it is a huge waste of time to just sit there etc. So Sarah and I started looking. We started on the Craigslist.org appliance section, and struck gold almost immediately. There was a guy who lived in Victorian Village (just south of campus) that had moved into an apartment that came with a washer/dryer already included.  To make a long story short, Sarah and I are now the proud new owners of a brand new (to us) washer and dryer, for only $220. We are pretty excited we never have to go back to the laundromat.

We also decided a couple weeks ago to adopt a puppy. Her name is L.E. pronounced Ellie. She is a Beagle mixed with something, we are thinking either Basset Hound, or Dachshund. She is about 12 weeks old, and weighs about 8 pounds. She is an awesome little puppy, and loves being around us. The crate training isn’t 100% done yet, hence the dire need for a washer/dryer : )

On the career path, things are going well. Deadline’s have already started expiring on Fisher Connect, which is Fisher’s online career portal. I have applied for quite a few positions up till now, and all the networking I have done through Fisher has really paid off. I have already been accepted for one Big 4 interview, and one regional firm in the coming weeks. I am definitely excited to get the interview process started.

GO BUCKS!

How Far Are We From Med School?

Obviously, the title doesn’t mean the physical distance between Ohio State’s med school and Fisher.

Last Tuesday I attended a Fisher Hub event–MIT Global Broadcast. Audience watched a lecture give by a MIT professor on his biotechnology research and, more importantly, how his ideas and products were commercialized. The topic involved networking among various fields, lots of which are between science and business. Besides the business terms and concepts I am familiar with, waves of scientific terminology stroke me. I was glad that my grades in science were not bad and I still remember most of the knowledge, otherwise it would be very hard for me to understand a significant portion of the lecture.

All these things lighted a bulb in my head.

I believe very few graduate students at Fisher think about getting to med school afterwards. Many of us may not touch anything in science because we think that’s “not our business”. But, are we really saying “Goodbye” to all other subjects after we confirm our career path in business?

Same Tuesday, at the MAcc Boot Camp, a partner from one of the large public accounting firms gave a presentation. When asked his opinion on how the economy would affect job markets in these coming years, he said, “I am not sure, but if you know the European history well, you might expect similar situation like what the European countries experienced.”

“If you know the European history well”, we can forecast future economic environment! Right, this was what my history teacher told me in high school, but when and how did I begin to forget all of these?

Everything is related to business. Medical technology is, history is, computer science is, art is, everything is! So my Fisher fellows, once we are in Fisher, we are not saying “Goodbye” to any other fields. Say “Hello”!

Stamp the Last Item of Your Checklist

Once class started, time just flew by. How many items on your checklist (the one that I suggested) are accomplished? Let me check mine!

Year of school established—-checked; Buckeye T-shirt—-checked; watch a football game at the stadium—-(I see the light!) half checked; learn to sing Carmen Ohio—-I did! Checked!

So here comes the last item I left open in my previous entry, “know why our colors are Scarlet and Gray”. If you haven’t found the answer in the library, take out your stamp now, and ready? Here’s the answer:

Library
Original pieces of the Scarlet and Gray ribbons.

The colors of Scarlet and Gray were selected in 1878, before the Ohio State University’s very first commencement. According to the library’s exhibition, “In 1878, the first graduating class wanted ribbons to decorate and to tie their diplomas. A student committee visited a local store, Lazarus, compared ribbons of different colors, and selected orange and black! When the students learned those were the colors of Princeton, they returned and selected scarlet and gray instead, simply because the colors were pleasing and represented no other institution.”

A Great Start

After moving to Columbus last Sunday, my schedule has been nothing short of jam-packed!  I attended the Grad student orientation on Monday to better orient myself with campus after missing the MAcc orientation the previous week.  Several hundred first-year grad students crammed into a lecture hall in Independence Hall to listen to a variety of speakers including President Gee.  I felt that the orientation was well organized and a great learning experience.

On Tuesday morning, I attended the MAcc boot camp.  We were initially given an overview of Fisher Connect (the main job database used to sign up for on-campus interviews and a variety of other career tools) and we were then presented with several panels of speakers ranging from experienced public accountants to HR staff to accountants working outside of public accounting.  It was mainly an open forum to ask questions regarding the interview process and to get more details on what a career in public accounting is like.

Wednesday was the first day of classes and because I live a couple of miles off-campus, I decided to buy a green ‘C pass’ to be able to park on campus.  After arriving on campus, it took me roughly a half-hour to find a parking space.  I admit that I arrived on campus at a terrible time and was not very familiar with all of the lots.  Parking on campus went much smoother the rest of the week after I knew where to go and how to more efficiently look for open spots.  My classes all seemed to go smooth and my professors were very knowledgeable (more on this in a later post).

Thursday and Friday were filled with homework, getting everything set up on Fisher Connect and a mock job fair.  And of course Saturday was the Buckeyes’ game…. another shutout for the Bucks.

Why a MAcc

About 2 years ago I made one of the hardest decisions in my life. This decision has two parts to it: 1. To quit or not to quit my job; and 2. If I do quit, should I get a MBA or something else?

The first part turned out to be pretty straight forward. I was dragging my feet to work everyday and when I’m at work, my morale hit rock bottom. I was chatting online and writing emails to friends constantly asking for their opinions because a number of them ran into the same situation and ended up going back to school for their MBAs. So a decision was made: I’m quitting this job. See ya~

Before I sent in my resignation, I had to think really hard about what I want to do after grad school and hence what I need to accomplish and learn from grad school. My ill-fated start-up experience taught me a lot about running a business and brought out my hidden business side. I took on many challenges and really enjoyed the process and the sense of accomplishment. Okay, so definitely not going back for a master in engineering. Now what? Get a MBA?

I wasn’t quite sure what a MBA is for except that it spells Master of Business Administration. I knew many of my friends were pursuing one. So I began my research by going down the list of some of the most prominent business schools according to the USNEWS ranking.  Stanford, Harvard, U-Penn, Chicago, etc, all of them were very dazzling and what amazed me the most was the number of areas they cover in their programs in order to make their MBA candidates successful. I took a step back and thought, well I’m not big on management (at least not yet), I’m really not a marketing/sales person, and I’m not really interested in HR, logistics, PR, operations, etc. So what did I like the most out of my start-up experience? Yup, you guessed it, accounting & finance.

There’s so much involved to start or run a business. You are in contact with numerous entities daily. Vendors, lenders, customers, employees, partners, etc, all of which require some forms of resource going back and forth, which then can all be translated into money. Without a good information system, you go with what you know and hope for the best. However, if you know some accounting or have someone manage and design a sound accounting system for you, then you can base your decisions and strategies on information you can trust. Lastly, if anything, I used to be an engineer and still think like one so I’m very logical and good with numbers. Cliche? Ha, maybe~

So what are you trying to learn in grad school and what are your goals after you’re done?

Orientation, and finding a job

Orientation was great. I will spare the nitty gritty details, as they have been covered, but it was lot of time learning about the program and what is expected of us, as well as a lot of time spent figuring out how we are going to get jobs in this lovely economy. It really was a HUGE help, and the networking tips, as well as other career search tips have already proved invaluable.

We had a boot camp, with a lot of Big 4 and regional firm employees serving as a panel to allow us to ask questions. This has been my favorite day of the program so far, I really learned a lot, and the networking/ability to speak with recruiters has been fantastic so far. I should be hearing back within the next week as to where I will be interviewing.

Classes started on Wednesday, so it was nice to get that monkey off my back,  and also nice that it was a short week, and I was done by Thursday. Sarah has been in Denver all week for training, so I have had the house to myself. She flies back into Columbus this evening at something like 11:30, which coincides with her parents arrival for the weekend to visit. It will definitely be nice to have company, and we are looking forward to taking her parents around tomorrow afternoon to show them the madness that is an Ohio State pre-game tailgate.

At some point, hopefully soon, I am thinking of letting her write a part of a few entries, so anyone with a fiance or significant other can read her comments about the experience of going to grad school as a +1.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and GO BUCKS!

Working for the weekend?

Applying for interviews takes forever!  I am pretty sure I just spent four hours filling out four applications, but I can’t really tell… because I’m not quite sure when I started, or what time of day it is… or where I am.

The Fisher Fall Career Fair Guide is 58 pages long, I wish I could get an audio version.  When I was little, I used to listen to Russian fairy tales on my grandparents’ gramophone, it was very relaxing.

Jeni’s Ice Cream is Splendid indeed.  The beer flavor is delicious, but would anyone on earth be able to resist some cold goat cheese with cherries?  Didn’t think so.

Anyway, the three-day “weekend” has commenced.  Somehow, I ended up experiencing all of my four classes in the two days allotted to the first week of school.  Not once did I fall asleep, or feel an unstoppable urge to sneak out for a bathroom break.  I even remembered to bring a water bottle.  Here’s to hoping the trend continues.

Next quarter I am definitely going after an early schedule.  Classes starting at 1:30 pm or later sounded like a good idea a few months ago, but that’s just not how I work.

The PreMAcc Seminar

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but I can’t remember if I mentioned my undergrad degree in my last post. So here it is again, I graduated  from the University of Texas with a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering.

So how much accounting training did I have before deciding to switch career to accounting? nada~ I took 2 intro accounting classes at a local community college and that’s it. I did take 6 calculus classes in undergrad but that probably doesn’t make too much of a difference, does it? To close up the gap and be able to catch up to the rest of my peers, fortunately there’s this summer intensive accounting bootcamp called PreMAcc and I’m here to share with you what we went through in just 6 weeks.

The seminar is divided into 3 modules: Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Auditing.

Financial Accounting

In a nutshell, 3 quarters worth of intermediate accounting packed into 13 days including 2 Saturdays. Sounds scary and crazy at first, but you come out of it knowing more accounting than you ever did. Some notable topics that really opened my eyes were: Revenue Recognition, Time Value of Money, Debts, Statement of Cashflow, etc. Make sure you learn these concepts well, because they will keep coming back not only in your future accounting classes, but also finance classes. Having seen these concepts once makes it so much easier to grasp the advanced topics and if you fear that you might be getting rusty, fear not, the rigorous schedule of PreMAcc have long carved the concepts in your memory. They will come back very quickly!

Cost Accounting

So you’ve been through the toughest module and everything from here on out is all downhills. You learn about different costing methods, CVP, Decision Making, Master Budget, Capital Budgeting, etc. Here you get a taste of private accounting, in other words, what managers see inside a company that enable them to make decisions and evaluate different strategies. This module was only half as long as the first one and lasted 7 days. This module is fun because you get to turn the table around and gain an understanding of why some managers do certain things.

Auditing

Before this module I had no idea what auditors do. All I know is back when I was still working in IT consulting, whenever there’s auditors on site we’d have to be really careful of what we say and sometimes we even stop our development because of Sarbane-Oxley. I’ve also heard “horror” stories from friends who are/were doing auditing in public accounting about their 60-70 hours weeks and how much they hate their “busy work”. All that’s changed after going through this module. We started by learning why there is the need of the profession “auditing” in the first place. Then we went about how an auditor should understand the risks his/her client’s particular business is exposed to, how to plan the audit to evaluate the internal controls and assess the chances that the client’s financial statements might be misstated due to error or fraud, and last but not least, the liabilities auditors are facing and proper documentations.

Having completed the PreMAcc both boosted my confidence and sharpened my accounting skills so I’m ready for the real deal. Feel free to drop me any questions if you think you’re going to take the PreMAcc. I can even give you a preview of the professors that you’re going to meet. All three of them are great, intelligent individuals who know the stuff inside out.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to my fellow PreMAccers: Chia-Lung, Ya-Ting, Bobby, Bennett, Dustin, Nadia (our fellow blogger), Yang Yang, Wei, Qi, Lisi, John, Peishan, Michael, and Stephen. Good Job Guys!!!

Why Fisher?

After graduating this past spring from The University of Findlay (small private university in Northwest Ohio), I had a very difficult decision to make about where I wanted my career path to go.  To complicate things, I accepted an offer to work full-time as a cost accountant at Guardian Automotive Industries well before considering the MAcc program which made choosing between the opportunities I was later presented with all that much harder to choose between.

After randomly deciding to take the GMAT based on a recommendation from a friend; I decided to apply to the MAcc programs at Ohio State and that school up north after it was recommended by a professor at UF (as a die-hard Buckeye fan who has never lived outside of Ohio, I’m still shocked that I considered attending that school up north so heavily).  After being accepted at each institution, I visited each school and felt much more comfortable with the environment, weather, people, parking situation, location… and of course the sports teams at Ohio State.  The administration at Fisher showed me that they were genuinely concerned about every student and I felt very comfortable with the atmosphere.

After graduation, I knew that I would have a difficult decision between staying at Guardian and going back to school.  During my short time at Guardian, I was exposed to a wide variety of accounting tasks and learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful cost account.  After a great deal of deliberation, I ultimately chose to go back to school based on the countless opportunities and resources that I will have access to at Fisher.

I’m looking forward to a great year in the MAcc program!