In a lot of ways, the Master of Accounting program functions like a fifth-year of undergrad. The majority of the students earn their undergraduate degree mere months before starting the program and therefore have less than a year of work experience. Because of this, I did not anticipate any challenges in adjusting to graduate school. As the end of my first term nears, I feel qualified to say that my expectations were very wrong.
So how is the MAcc different from my undergraduate accounting experience?
1. GROUP WORK. I am part of a group in every class. During high school and college, I did everything in my power to avoid working in a group setting, preferring to complete projects on my own. At Fisher, that is not an option– and I could not be more grateful! I am currently enrolled in four courses, and each one has some kind of group component. I think what sets these groups apart from those I have been a part of in the past is the fact that everybody cares about the outcome and our objectives all align.
2. THE CURRICULUM. Because I did not declare my accounting major until the beginning of my junior year, I experienced a bit of a time crunch in satisfying all of the course requirements. As a result, I was unable to take as many electives as I would have liked. Within the MAcc program, there are only 4 required courses that make up 10 of the 31 required hours; I have the flexibility to fill the rest of my schedule with classes that really interest me. Having so many different options is intimidating, but I am so thankful for the opportunity.
3. THE MATERIAL. It makes sense that the concepts we are covering in class are more advanced than those I learned during undergrad. The work is far less mechanical in nature and requires more critical reasoning skills. One of the core courses is Financial Reporting, which builds upon the concepts taught in Intermediate Accounting. Unlike Intermediate, where the bulk of the workload was comprised of practice problems, Financial Reporting involves actually applying the principles to various cases. There are definitely days when I miss the simplicity of the practice exercises, journal entries, and comprehensive problems, but there is also something incredibly rewarding about applying my knowledge to real-life financial statements.
It is crazy to think that I am about a quarter of the way through my MAcc journey. It has been overwhelming at times, but that is all part of the experience!
Do I have a special viewing experience for you! But first, the set-up…
As I strive to make a name for myself in the entertainment industry, there seems to be one word I keep coming back to: memorable. There are lots of people who want to make it big in Hollywood, but how do they set themselves apart from everyone else? One of the best opportunities I’ve had to practice memorability at Fisher so far has been the Procter & Gamble case competition.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a case competition is, think of it as a campaign pitch. Company representatives give you fictional or recent scenarios their company has been involved in– and you and your team are tasked with coming up with a solution and pitching that solution. In the case of P&G, we had to figure out how to recapture Luvs’ market share from competitor Pampers.
For someone with marketing experience, I’m sure their mind was racing with a million ideas from the moment they heard what the problem was. My mind couldn’t stop thinking of the image of a dude in a diaper. I thought it would be funny – especially since Luvs has already used campaigns that rely more on humor than heart – but I was worried that my idea would just be too out there. However, when the Luvs representative said, “Feel free to be provocative,” it was like someone had handed me a blank check. The moment my team and I got together, I posited, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we found a way to put a full-grown man in a diaper?” And, well, the rest was history.
Everyone loved the idea and we came up with a slogan “#Luvsforlife” that wanted to sell the idea that despite being the value brand, Luvs were the most durable and long-lasting diapers on the market. To represent this idea, the “Dude In a Diaper” ad was born. The commercial would start with Mom putting baby in a diaper and 30 years later, baby is still wearing that diaper while putting its durability to the test (now baby is rock-climbing or fighting fires).
Being the showman that I am, I convinced my team to shoot a sample commercial to show as part of our pitch. Check it out:
When it came time to present, I checked my dignity and remembered that I had none left, so I donned a diaper over my pants and the “Dude In a Diaper” was ready to pitch.
Over the course of the two-day competition, I got to hone my skills in a lot of areas: how to create a well-rounded product in a short amount of time, balancing team contributions and workloads, creating memorable ideas. We didn’t win the competition, but there wasn’t a single P&G employee who didn’t come up to us and complement us on our idea and our audacity. I didn’t take home and award, but I’m sure the image of me in a diaper went home with each and every one of them.
And in the end, isn’t that what being memorable is all about?
Everyone will tell you something different, so here is my own take on my experience with juggling the MAcc program, CPA exam prep, and a part-time job. For reference, I am taking 8 credits this quarter (or 15 for the semester), work 10 hours a week, and study about 20-25 hours a week for the CPA. I am here to tell you, you can do it! It may take an extra cup of coffee in the morning but it is completely doable.
They will tell you the program is not geared towards the CPA exam and it is not. However, you can make it align a little better for yourself. For instance, one of our first required courses is Financial Reporting. I knew this when registering for the exam and chose to study for the FAR section first. While the financial reporting class is not adding much benefit to my FAR CPA study prep, on the flip side, by studying for FAR CPA it has made my financial reporting class much clearer. We just took our first midterm and because I have been studying FASB rules and very detailed transactions for my CPA class, I had the background knowledge already drilled into my brain. This helped me so much on the midterm because if I ever got stuck I could always remember the basics, think back to my CPA class, and really think about why that transaction happened the way it did. So yes, the program is not geared towards the CPA exam, however, the material coincides pretty well.
What about finding the time to study? First of all, you should be aware that Ohio has a 150-credit hour rule to sit. This means that students hoping to sit for the Ohio CPA exam will most likely not be able to start taking the exam until they have completed the MAcc program. I am an out-of-state student, so I am able to sit at 120 hours. Each state is different. This is important to note for study groups! Because I am only able to study with a select amount of people who are also in the same boat as me, a lot of my study has to be self-disciplined. I aim to study 3-4 hours a day and if we have a football game I’ll give up my Friday nights to make up for those extra hours lost spent tailgating on Saturday. I sit for my first section of the exam in November. More to come on my study experiences as the date gets closer. Go, Buckeyes!
Being a graduate student, working full-time, and having a family requires a lot of smart time management. In fact, as I write this, my daughter is making a drawing to put in my office and my son is saying “Daddy, sit down” as he pats the couch seat next to him. I’ll be honest–most of this month was really tough in balancing my kids, my wife, school, the new leadership initiative, and the new job. I go to class Tuesday through Thursday. Every other day, I get to be with my family. When I am playing with my kids, I don’t think about school. My attention is focused on playing toys with them. Everyday before I leave for work, I make a drawing and leave it for them to find when they wake up. When I get home, my daughter has often drawn something else on it and/or written her name. It is a small exchange, but it matters so much.
When I am doing schoolwork, I am almost completely focused on schoolwork! But (in addition still wanting to play with my kids), I wonder about how I can bring my HR education into my job. Being in a sales-account position has made this task a little tricky. One of the turning points came during a conference that I helped to host back in March. I basically asked everyone in the company what they had learned in the conference and what they were using from the conference. The results turned out well and lent support to propose another conference next year. Last year’s conference was a great way to funnel some of my HR training into a work context– and having the opportunity to do it again is encouraging! Another “distraction” was that I put a proposal forward to help an organization by doing some pro-bono HR consulting work. This allows me to serve a very charitable organization and it provides another tangible outlet for my developing HR skills.
Exchanging the drawing with my children matters. Telling my wife, as much as possible, how much I appreciate her, is a victory. Finding ways to integrate school into practical settings is exciting. Some of these things may sound small, but celebrating these little occurrences is what helps remind me of why I am going to school and that I am making progress towards my goals.
First, let me share some background on myself to give you some context for this post: I am originally from Upper Arlington, Ohio—less than 5 minutes from OSU campus. I attended The Ohio State University alongside 50% of my high school graduating class. During undergrad, while most of my high school friends could pinpoint exactly where they wanted to be 5, even 10 years from then, I always felt unclear about what I wanted out of life and unsure of how to figure it out.
In my junior year of undergrad, while many of my friends were securing study abroad opportunities, I knew I wanted to do something different, something that would challenge me and hopefully reveal to what I didn’t already know about myself—strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities. I wanted to know it all! I found National Outdoor Leadership School through a friend of a friend, and I embarked on what was to become one of the most rewarding and bizarre experiences of my life…
I slept in a sleeping bag for 85 consecutive nights next to 16 strangers who would soon become my closest friends. We backpacked through remote sections of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico and the Galiuro Mountains in Arizona, carrying everything on our backs that we needed to survive for 3 weeks at a time. We climbed the incredible granite domes of Joshua Tree National Park– powered by bacon, coffee, and laughter. We navigated class-3 rapids in whitewater canoes on the Rio Grande, paddled past Mexican military clad with automatic weapons, and didn’t see another human being for 18 days. The vastness of the wilderness was exhilarating, humbling, inspiring, and terrifying all at the same time, and I came to learn more about myself than I ever expected.
When I graduated from undergrad, I knew I wanted to marry my education in psychology with my passion for the outdoors to facilitate meaningful experiences for others who might benefit. I took a job as a Field Instructor for Evoke Therapy Programs helping struggling adolescents and young adults work through depression, drug addiction, trauma, and motivational/behavioral problems. In this job, I worked a non-traditional schedule of 8 days in the field, followed by 6 days off. I saw recovering drug addicts celebrate 30 days of sobriety in the field over no-bake pies. I saw teenage boys with autism begin to challenge rigid patterns of thinking and to develop their first real friendships. And I saw adolescent girls with a history of self-harm come to believe that they mattered in the world. I count myself lucky to have been a part of the transformation process for the clients I worked with, whose stories continue to inspire me and put my own struggles into perspective.
It’s clear that the program I attended and the wilderness therapy program I worked for are very different. The takeaway that I hope becomes obvious here is that there is a certain inherent healing effect of being outside. I also think there is a deeper level of learning that comes from challenging experiences with real consequences—learning what is in and out of your control and how to adapt to adversity. I believe my experiences in the outdoors have shaped me into someone who can find hope and happiness in just about any situation, and I’m grateful for that.
If there is any piece of advice I would give someone who is uncertain about their path in life (and trust me, you’re not alone), I encourage immersing yourself in an experience that you’re afraid of. I’m talking the thing that you always wished you could do but could never actually imagine yourself doing. There is deep self-discovery and self-awareness that comes from pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone.
The great part about OSU is that we have access to so many different experiences– so many that I hear people talk about how they struggle to fit in everything they want to do. Well, here is one more for you: the OSU Outdoor Adventure Center. Of course there is the famed indoor rock climbing wall, but what a lot of people don’t know is that as students we also have access to adventure trips. From rock climbing, to sea kayaking, to dog sledding—there is really something for all seasons and to suit all tastes. The best part is that there is no experience required for most and all are welcome.
I can’t emphasize enough the benefit of pushing yourself to challenge fears, insecurities, an preconceived notions of your own limitations. From my own trips, I’ve learned to work with diverse teams, lead others in high pressure situations, and accomplish stretch goals with limited resources. These are all skills that translate remarkably well to “real life,” and that I plan to leverage in work and life in the future. Get out there!
I am about one month into the MHRM program. It is crazy how fast it has gone by! We are already almost at the halfway point of the first semester. That means 1/8th of grad school is almost done and we are finishing two of our half-semester core courses. It’s exciting!
After reflecting on the past few weeks, there have been a few ways that being a graduate student at Ohio State has been different from being an undergraduate Ohio State student.
Here are the comparisons that I came up with:
1. My MHRM classmates vs. Psychology classmates: Even just knowing these people for a few weeks, I already have gotten to know more people at a faster rate than some of the people I took classes with as an undergraduate. Though I still have a few close friends in my Psychology program, it’s cool to have this type of community in the graduate-school classroom environment.
2. Group projects. Group Projects. Group Projects: Classes in undergrad are very much lecture-based. It worked for large Psychology classes. In my MHRM classes so far, we have done a lot of group work already. It’s beneficial because it’s allowed me to work with a variety of people in many different capacities.
3. The importance and joy of reading for class: I am looking at reading for classes a bit differently now. It has been awesome to “go deep” into such a specialized topic and to know that I am gaining knowledge in a field to equip me for my future. At the same time, I loved my Psychology classes because of their broad scope; they helped me get a “big picture” and gave me enough knowledge to apply much of what I learned to graduate school now. In my MHRM classes, it is important to come to class prepared and the reading has actually be quite enjoyable!
4. The Internship Search: Psychology was pretty broad and internships needed to be actively sought out. Here at Fisher, there are a multitude of opportunities and support to help us find our summer internship (a large part of our curriculum!). It has been a bit overwhelming with job applications, information sessions, and networking but hopefully it will soon pay off.
5. Buckeye Spirit: If one thing is the same, it’s the Buckeye spirit! What I love about Ohio State is the intense school pride that we all possess. I’m happy to share that with all my graduate school classmates, too. 🙂
With even just a few weeks done in the program, I have already learned so much. I am excited for all that is yet to come!
Exactly two months ago, I left my country, my job, my beloved family—and the Olympics, which were being held in my home country for the first time—and prepared to be back at school for the first time in 6 years. After putting in the effort to develop my career in human resources, I had mixed feelings about the journey that was about to start. I was excited that I was finally carrying out my plan of getting my MBA abroad, but was nervous about being in a new place and not knowing anyone. It was also a special moment because, after being in a long-distance relationship for more than 2 years, I was celebrating the fact that I would be living in the same country as my husband!
After getting to Ohio, the difference in lifestyle was evident immediately. Everything that was discussedin Pre-Term is confirmed everyday: it is intense. It is about learning every day, time management and prioritizing, learning tons of material, sharing wonderful experiences with peers and professors. We also are bonding as teams. There’s been amazing teamwork in zip- lining and a scavenger hunt across campus– as well as in graded group projects. And then there is learning more material, coping with stress, experiencing diversity inside and outside the classroom, learning to adapt our own methodologies, learning even more material and of course: having fun with new friends! It’s a lot of experiences– coming at you quickly!
I am originally from Espirito Santo, Brazil, and I lived and worked in Sao Paulo for 6 years. Columbus has delighted me since my interview on campus. The entire city environment, the people, my apartment in Buckeye Village, and all the opportunities here have helped me create a new home (learn more about the city here). I can attest that being an international MBA student at Fisher College of Business has been the best experience of my life so far.
Our professors stressed the idea of envisioning the best outcomes every day when we began this program. They cited “Put the videotape in”– a mantra originally used by Michael Phelps as his motivational motto for performing his best in every race. His “videotape” is the perfect race, in which every movement is precise and flawless. The concept is with me every day.
The whole experience is much more holistic than I was expecting and I can’t wait for the coming semesters so I can take more classes, learn new subjects, meet new people and challenge myself in different areas. I want to “record” and celebrate each of these achievements so that they can become part of my video tape.
An exciting part of the graduate life at Fisher is becoming a part of campus traditions. Recently, we celebrated Homecoming Weekend and campus began to stir well in advance of the big events! The two main events were a parade on Friday and the football game on Saturday, but there were lots of events all across campus. Here’s a highlight of what we experienced.
All Ohio State students get the opportunity to purchase game tickets at face-value and many of our SMF classmates took that opportunity. We met before the game to tailgate and then enjoyed the game together (there are many tailgating areas near the stadium). My favorite part is when the band marches into the stadium from St. John’s Arena before the game. Having family and friends who marched at Ohio State, it is always special see and hear the precision of their practice. The band also puts on an excellent halftime show. There are usually about 100,000 people at the game and everyone is excited to watch the band perform during at half-time. Of course, the football team is the main event, and they are looking good so far this year!
Homecoming is also a great weekend to host friends and family, and lucky for me, my family made a trip to Columbus! It was nice to show them around campus and share my favorite spots. It was their first time they all got to attend an Ohio State football game. I am excited to share this tradition with them. Even though I am new to Columbus, it already feels like home. Hopefully, this is the first of many excellent homecoming weekends to come here at Ohio State.
Part of my decision to apply to the MAcc was to challenge myself academically. I studied broadcast journalism at a school known for a demanding and cutthroat culture, but I never felt challenged the way I do daily at Fisher–perhaps because journalism is an inherently easier subject than accounting.
The MAcc attracts many students with non-accounting backgrounds and places them into successful accounting careers after just 9 months of coursework. How? Magic. No, not quite. Make no mistake– there are situations where I can tell an accounting degree would be helpful, but it’s more than possible to do well in this program without one.
My non-accounting undergrad means there are many concepts I’ve never been exposed to being taught to me at the graduate level. Intimidating? It can be! (I will admit: the day that Professor Arya started talking about derivatives, I felt a chill go down my spine.) The key is to put forth a strong effort and take the right steps to ensure success:
Meet with professors: All the professors in the MAcc program are more than willing to meet with their students. Many have flexible office hours. It’s better to seek additional help than to drown in new material. Make sure to have made an effort with the concept or problem before the meeting; this will help maximize the time spent.
Form groups with students with accounting degrees: I’ve made sure my groups have at least one person who studied accounting at the undergraduate level. Sometimes, a classmate can help clear up a concept or explain a different way to solve a problem.
Don’t get frustrated with the learning curve: There are some topics in accounting that won’t make sense at first, or even after several days. As a perfectionist, it’s easy for me to get frustrated when something doesn’t click right away. But I know that I should eventually understand the concepts, even if it takes a few extra hours.
Embrace the challenge: It would be a stretch, if not downright inaccurate, to say the MAcc is a cakewalk even for the strongest accounting undergraduate; I know because I’ve asked classmates who were strong accounting undergrads if they feel challenged. Students here want to be challenged. And you should, too. I’d much rather work hard than breeze through life.
There are about 2 weeks left in this 7-week session of classes. Though this is the hardest I’ve ever had to work in school, I’m enjoying the process, and look forward to performing well on finals.
Before you go on reading this post, I want you to open this music video in another tab and allow the song to play while you continue reading….
Now that the mood has been set, here we go. This past weekend, from the evening of Wednesday the 21st to Sunday the 25th, I took a trip to the land of Sinatra, Bobby Flay, and Tupac. A little place called New York City.
As I was flying in, listening to the song you are hopefully listening to right now, it was around 8:30pm on Wednesday night. If you fly into LaGuardia and are lucky enough to get a seat on the left-side of the aircraft, you will have that 1-million dollar view of NYC lit up like a Christmas tree. That sight always seems to give me the chills, and I was left in awe and ready to take on “the City” the next day.
Now you may be wondering: Brett, what were you doing in NYC?Good question. I ventured on the trip with three of my fellow SMF classmates and an undergraduate group targeting the investment banks in NYC. Between Thursday and Friday, we visited banks like Goldman Sachs in the Financial District and J.P. Morgan in Midtown. With my intended career path of Investment Banking, it was an awesome look into the workings of “Wall Street” and the current state of Investment Banks.
Also, I used this trip as a means to network. From our trips to the banks, we were able to speak and network with Ohio State alumni working there, as well as at a reception on Thursday night. In addition, we had free time in which we could network with other working professionals and alumni in the City– and I feel that I established some awesome new connections.
Finally, despite having been to New York City before, I let the inner tourist in me come out a bit and I stopped by some of the most famous spots like: Wall Street, Times Square, the Raging Bull, the Rockefeller Center, and Broadway. Final takeaways? I really do love NYC and can’t wait for my next trip back!