DAY IN THE LIFE: MICPA TAX CONFERENCE PART 1

By Christian Conley

Today, I had a great opportunity to attend an annual tax conference hosted by the MICPA. Hopefully this post will help give you further insight into these types of conferences and the benefits it can give a young professional. Here is a recap of the day:

7:30 A.M: Ethics With a Pinch of S.A.L.T

My first session of the day was actually presented by someone close to me: my father. The session had two main points: technical considerations of the conceptional framework that help guide a CPA in S.A.L.T (State and Local Tax) issues regarding regulatory ethical standards and practical application of said standards (including a small case study). While I was still a tad groggy at this point, it was still a great session.

8:30 A.M: What You Don’t Know Could Surprise You – The Right Stuff from Treasury

This session was from the Michigan Department of Treasury and helped articulate new rules, forms, regulations and other items coming from the state government. While definitely pointed towards a niche audience, session helped expose me to new terminology and issues in tax.

9:30 A.M: Taxing Cross Country – What You Need to Know

This was hands down the most interesting session of the day, with three experts from across the country explaining current state tax issues across the country that are currently either in the Supreme Court or in a Federal Court (and why taxpayers may choose to go to Federal Court instead of State Court). While extremely technical, it was a very eye opening and applicable session.

10:30 A.M: The Latest from the Michigan Tax Tribunal

This session was very new to me, as I only knew the Tax Tribunal from stories around the dinner table. While I would not classify this session as “flashy”, it was a very valuable session to attend.

11:30 A.M: Your Election Flashback

Tom Hoisington, Public Policy Advisor for the MICPA, gave a recap of last night’s election and the future of tax in the state of Michigan.

12:00 P.M: This was our lunch break, which was a great networking event. I met associates that were roughly the same age as me to old veterans of the tax world who wanted to maintain their CPA by accumulating CPE hours. It was a truly amazing experience, as I met all types of professionals: business owners, partners, directors, and lawyers from all sectors of business.

12:30 P.M. – 5:05 P.M: Breakout Sessions

For the rest of the day, it was really up to the attendee what they wanted to see: everything from “Tax in the Cloud” to “Big Ten Update – Tax Style.” I choose a topic that I have been studying recently in my tax class (ASC 740), which was also taught again by my father.

Tomorrow in my next post, I will explain how these conferences are not just for CPAs trying to rack up CPEs but how it can benefit a current student’s career.

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi. You can reach him at betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com

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Student Spotlight: Alessia Hughes

By Christian Conley

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Alessia Hughes is a great friend and member of Beta Alpha Psi. She has been a staple of the group for the past few years and you can always find her at volunteer events, socials, and every professional meeting. I first met Alessia a few years ago in our first tax class and ever since then I have realized she embodies the values of Beta Alpha Psi: intelligent, ethical, and hard working. Alessia is also involved in her sorority (holding leadership positions) and is interning next semester for a “Big Four” accounting firm. I had the pleasure of chatting with Alessia and this is what she had to say:

What is your current status on campus (Junior, Senior, Grad, etc)?
My current status is a Senior
​How was the interview process this recruiting cycle for you?
The interview process went well for me. This was my second time going through and I felt much more confident and prepared than I did last year. To all underclassmen, I recommend going to meet the recruiters a year early so you have a better understanding of what the recruiters are looking for when you actually go to apply for an internship or job. Also, I know a lot of my peers chose to apply to as many firms as they could in case they didn’t land an offer with their top firms, but that can be stressful and time consuming. I picked my top choices and put all of my effort into the firms I really wanted. It worked out for me and I received an offer for an internship this winter.
What is your favorite memory from being an accounting major?
Can you really have a favorite memory doing accounting? I’m kidding. My favorite memory is actually going to accounting firm’s offices during the recruitment process. All the hard work actually pays off and you get to see what you could potentially be a part of for the rest of your life.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you could tell yourself when you were a freshmen? 
Honestly, I don’t have any advice. I look back at my time at CMU and know that I did the best I could and I took every opportunity available. To freshman and sophomores here is my advice: don’t just get involved, BE A LEADER. Make a difference in the organizations you join. That is what recruiters really want to see. They want to know that if they hire you, you will make a difference in their company. You could join 30 organizations but if you do not take a leadership role, it will say a lot about the type of worker you will be. I did not take an Executive Board position in Beta Alpha Psi like I had initially planned, but I found another organization on campus that I was extremely passionate about and I put my time and effort into that group. I gained a lot of knowledge from the positions I took and I would not take that experience back for anything.
Any funny grawn hall stories?
Not that I can think of.
Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

How to survive as an accounting major: Join a student organization

By Christian Conley

 

By far one of the biggest hurdles when I first came to Central Michigan University was breaking out of my comfort zone. Growing up, most of my elementary school friends went to the same middle school as me and then we went to high school together. It was a pretty consistent flow and my social group never really evolved. That all changed the moment I arrived on campus.

Finding people to “party” with is not a hard task to accomplish, especially in a college town. However, finding friends who you can study with, work on group projects with, and complain to each with is much more difficult. That is why I encourage any accounting major (or student) to join a student organization. Here are the top three benefits in my opinion:

1) Students who relate to you

The accounting major is very unique in that our hardest exam is after we graduate. Very often, you will hear students talking about their “150” or trying to study for “FAR.” When you join a student organization like Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), Student Accounting Society (SAS), or National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), you find people who relate to the struggles you are going through. They understand (or are going through it with you) the difficulty of preparing for “501 and 531” while juggling office interviews.

2) Networking

Typically, this is what the core objective of joining an organization like BAP, SAS or NABA is about. The people who sit next to you during professional meetings are future managers, partners and CFO’s. More importantly, you interact with recruiters every week. I have walked into interview rooms where the people who are interviewing me I have met numerous times before because of Beta Alpha Psi. I can’t think of any better way a student could build up his or her’s professional network than to join a student organization.

3) Great people

I know this is the second time I have mentioned the students, but it would be a disservice to not articulate how wonderful the people are. Some of my fondest memories of the accounting program is sitting around tables in Grawn or the library and studying for our final exam together. When you join a student organization, you get to experience items like socials (BAP/SAS are going to a Piston’s game next week), volunteering events (working the food pantry is always a great experience) and formal banquets (where the food is always amazing).

 

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

5 Myths About Accounting Students

By Christian Conley

When I first arrived on the campus of CMU, I had a preconceived notion about accounting students: nerdy, they love math, and all they do is record numbers in a book. I am sure there are plenty of students just like me, so hopefully this brings some insight:

1) Accounting majors are great at math

While this is often the case, a lot of accounting students actually despise math (myself included). As my Fund Accounting (a 500 level course) professor used to say, “All you need is 5th grade arithmetic.” While there are cases of complexity and number crunching at a high level, this is generally a true statement.

2) Accounting majors have no social life

Sometimes this feels like the case, but accounting majors have active social lives just like any other major. Within our major we have everything from President’s of RSO’s to division one athletes. As long as you manage your time correctly, you can have both an accounting major and a social life.

3) All there is after college is bookkeeping

This is one of the more frustrating myth’s, as I have multiple CPA’s in my family. There is everything from structuring M&A’s (Mergers and Acquisitions) to doing forensic accounting. One of the most sought after majors is accounting when it comes to investigative agencies, like the FBI and IRS. On PwC’s website, there are over 35 different areas of practice you can venture into. The possibilities are endless.

4) After I graduate, I will be sitting in a cubicle for the rest of my life

While there is a lot of desk work involved in being a CPA (which is a path for an accounting major), this is simply not true. I know CPA’s who spend most of the days out of the office, CPA’s who travel on a weekly basis and I have a friend who spent a two year assignment in France. While it is not quite jumping out of airplanes and running into burning buildings, it isn’t what the Hollywood stereotype would want you to think.

5) Accountants are not in the “game”- they just keep score

This phrase essentially boils down to this: accountants just maintain the books while somebody else earns the glory and accolades. This can’t be further from the truth. From entrepreneurs to politicians, accounting majors change the world everyday.

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

Day in the Life: Brian Bennyhoff

By Christian Conley

 

Brian Bennyhoff, a former CMU student and Football player, is hands down one of the brightest young minds in the accounting industry. For any upcoming accounting or business students, it would be very advantageous to listen to the advice he gives out. I recently interviewed Brian on what a day in the life looks like for him, and here are his answers:

 

What year did you graduate? 2012

What degree(s) did you receive? BSBA in Accounting and Finance

What firm do you work at? EY

What is your current position at the firm? Senior

What is your line of service? Assurance

What is a typical day like for you?
Most days start with reviewing emails and to-do lists from the prior day and/or week. I also review what meetings I have planned for the day.  This helps me plan my focus for the day and if my day will be primarily dedicated to preparing audit workpapers or coaching staff.  Most days involve a combination of each, but some days are particularly heavy one way or another. I spend each day executing my plan, and I end each day evaluating what is still open, what requests need to be made of the client, and what items need to be brought to the attention of my manager and/or partner.

How has CMU prepared you for your career? Any particular classes or professors that have helped you along the way?
The main preparation that CMU offered was a challenging course load. Having the ability to take many, challenging classes at once enabled me to practice having many assignments due at relatively similar deadlines. Apart from the technical accounting that I learned while at CMU, the other valuable resource was the direct knowledge of the professors. Dr. Weirich’s auditing class was particularly helpful, as was Dr. Bromley’s Information Systems class because both of these classes encapsulate knowledge I utilize every single day.

What is something you would like to tell yourself as a freshmen walking through grawn hall?
I would tell myself, and all other freshmen, that preparation for a career begins on day one. Whether you spend a career in public accounting, industry, or some combination of the two, the skills learned in the first business class at CMU are just as important as those learned at the most advanced level. Learn how to learn, and you will set yourself up for success the rest of your life.

Do you have any advice for students currently looking for internships?
Truly understand the company you’re interviewing with and why you want to interview with them. If they’re a public accounting firm, who are their premier clients? If they’re in industry, what products to they manufacture? Take a look at the company’s website and familiarize yourself with the stated values and mission of the company. In regards to why you want to interview with the company, we all know you want an internship for the professional experience and financial reward, but what sets the company you’re interviewing with apart in your mind? Why is it particularly attractive? Being able to answer this question will make you stand out from others interviewing for the same position.

 

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

Student Spotlight: Ryan Jankowiak

By Christian Conley

 

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Ryan at his Free Speech Wall

 

Each week our website will spotlight students around the School of Accounting who have excelled in their academic, personal or professional life. This week, we will spotlighting Ryan Jankowiak. If you or someone you know should be spotlighted, send us an email at betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com. Ryan, an accounting major, is a known character around the halls on the second and third floor of Grawn. Although quiet at first, you quickly realize why he is such a popular guy around the SAC, Grawn, and amongst members of the Michigan Liberty Movement. Here is what Ryan had to say about his success:

What is your current status at the university and when do you plan on graduating?

Senior planning to graduate August 2015

Million dollar question: tax or audit?

Audit- able diversify my skills with a wide variety of clients and opportunities to travel

What do you do outside of the School of Accounting?

I’m an intramural supervisor and love playing sports. Currently on two flag football teams and one softball team. I’m also the treasurer of Young Americans for Liberty. Go Liberty!

What has been your favorite class so far in accounting?

ACC321 Managerial Cost Accounting

Any funny Grawn stories?

Can’t think of any off the top of my head. I think it’s funny when some professors get mad at students though.

 

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

 

How to survive as an accounting major: getting organized

By Christian Conley

 

Getting organized is one of the first things all American students hear when they enroll into Kindergarten. However, at least in my situation, once I graduated into the sixth grade I could not tell the difference between what was a major project that was due the next day and what was garbage. The older (more “mature”, perhaps) I become, the more I try to organize my life into manageable tasks. If you are a brand new student in ACC101 or a fifth year senior in ACC543, here are a few tips to help you get organized:

Develop a system: Each person is different so not every “method” works, but the takeaway is that you need to develop a customized system to organize your classes. For me, I use a drawer cart in my apartment. For each drawer, I put all of my books, folders, binders, and related materials that are used for a specific class. Some systems that I have tried are the Priority Matrix System, Trello, and Asana. At the bottom is a great link to help with organization.

Use technology: For me, I use two main tools: Evernote and Sunrise Calendar. Evernote is a note taking application that can be used on your smartphone, tablet, and desktop. I use it for taking notes in class, jotting down random ideas that pop into my head, and to create “To-Do” lists for the day (or for other uses, like grocery shopping). Sunrise Calendar is just like any other calendar application (or physical calendar), except that it is much more effective and efficient than any other calendar I have ever used. This helps me keep track of appointments, classes, group meetings and other important life event.

Be creative: I have a friend who is extremely organized, but it looks like his office is a complete mess all the time. He has his own method where he uses sticky notes to make connections between documents and folders (sounds confusing? It is). I also know people who don’t organize by subject or project, but organize by a complex “due date” system. Long story short, use conventional “systems” as a general template but then customize the system to your own individual lifestyle.

Here are some great resources to explore to find help getting organized:

Zen Habits: http://zenhabits.net/putaway/

Lifehack: http://www.lifehack.org/

Best Apps: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2391534,00.asp

 

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

Weekly Opinion: Why Giving Back Is Important

By Christian Conley

 

I will be the first one to admit: it is hard to think of others sometimes. It took me a long time to realize this, but I am here today because of my community. I like to think I am the person I am today because of my “hard work” and “drive”, but I had so much help along the way that I will never be able to reciprocate the generosity. From little league coaches to random strangers showing compassion when I did not deserve it, my community has shaped who I am today. Another truth that is hard to accept is that I will not be able to repay certain individuals who cared for me. I guess my philosophy is a little like the original Starbuck’s “Pay It Forward” phenomenon: you may not be able to repay the original good deed, but you can make sure it is passed on to the next person.

For the normal student, our resources are limited. We have little in monetary assets, our time is a scarce resource, and our expertise in our given fields is usually low. However, I believe that we should do what we can, even if it is something small. This can range from helping the local food pantry once a month to giving a younger sorority/fraternity member some life advice when they are in a time of need. Eventually, when we are all successful in our professions, we can give back even more and hopefully change another person’s life in ways we could not have imagined.

Beta Alpha Psi’s first volunteer opportunity is tomorrow (Saturday, the 27th) at the First Presbyterian Church from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. We will be helping out with the local mobile food pantry, so we encourage all members to utilize this chance to better the community.

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

A field trip to detroit: Our visit with EY

By Christian Conley

At least once a semester, the School of Accounting helps arrange for “office visits” to various offices in the region, most frequently in Detroit. This week, we headed down to Detroit for an opportunity to explore not only the office of EY (formerly Ernst and Young), but much of the downtown area. For any student thinking about working in a Detroit office, these are amazing chances to see your future work environment firsthand.

Because Detroit has such a bad reputation in the news, most students that are not from the area think it is just a wasteland. However, there has been such a resurgence in the past few years that Detroit has been one of the top spots for recent college graduates to relocate to. Our Social Chair, Tom Craig, shares his experience on his trip to EY:

“The EY visit was a great experience.  It was nice to see what the office looked like and talk to professionals.  We were able to talk to the professionals and ask them questions about the firm and their line of service.  I would highly suggest that anyone who has not gone on the trip before to go next year if the chance should arise.  It is a great experience and was well worth the time spent.  We were also given a tour of Detroit which was really cool.  The Guardian building (one of the historic stops) was beautiful on the inside.  The trip was well worth the time to go and was a great experience overall.”

If you are thinking about working in Detroit after college or want to take part of such an exciting experience, you can email me at betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com for more information!

 

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.

 

A day in the life/Alumni hall of fame: Jeff Horning

By Christian Conley

Jeff Horning

 

Jeffrey Horning, simply known around the School of Accounting as “Jeff”, is a former President of Beta Alpha Psi. Jeff was the leader of Beta Alpha Psi when I first stumbled into a weekly meeting almost two years ago. He has been a major inspiration to not only myself, but everyone in Beta Alpha Psi. I am honored to have the privilege to interview Jeff, and here is what he had to say:

Graduating Year/Degrees Received:
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an Accounting major (May 2012)
Master of Business Administration with an Accounting concentration (May 2013)

Firm: PricewaterhouseCoopers in Detroit, Michigan
Position: Experienced Associate
Line of Service: Risk Assurance

When and why did you join Beta Alpha Psi?
I joined Beta Alpha Psi during the Fall 2011 semester after earning a scholarship in Spring 2011 and attending the banquet. I was impressed with how well-known the organization was among all of the firms that attended and how much attention the members and E-Board received at recruitment events. I also enjoyed knowing that the organization had high standards for its members and that this was one of many things that led to its members obtaining excellent jobs right out of college.

How has Beta Alpha Psi helped your professional career?
Beta Alpha Psi complemented my academic work and my other extra-curricular involvement in a way that highlighted my strengths in front of recruiters. It provided opportunities to meet other professionals on a weekly basis, many of whom were CMU alumni and with whom I still keep in touch. As I neared the end of my college career, it kept me in contact with School of Accounting faculty so that I could receive advice about the CPA exam and stay involved with the school’s current events. So, not only am I working at an global Big Four accounting firm, but I am also able to participate in recruitment events at CMU and serve on the Accounting Advisory Committee within the School of Accounting.

What is your fondest memory of BAP?

My fondest memory of BAP is the trip to New York City during the Spring 2012 semester. This trip cost the students next to nothing and was one of the most amazing adventures I have been on to date. The effort put in by Dr. Weirich to organize the trip and look out for everyone while we were there was beyond commendable. Additionally, nearly everyone on the trip knew each other through BAP and/or the Accounting program, so we all got to spend time together outside the classroom while still participating in events related to our fields of study.

What is a typical day like for you?
My schedule can vary greatly depending on the time of year and the client I am working on, but most days consist of me arriving at the client’s office in the morning and continuously working on documentation of internal control testing. Between September and January, this is my primary task. However, during the summer months and when necessary at other times, I spend a great deal of time interviewing client personnel to gain an understanding of how their controls are designed to function and whether or not there have been any changes since the prior audit period. I will then follow-up with them later on as needed.

What is the number one piece of advice for young accounting students?
Keep the grades up, but do not hold back when it comes to extra-curricular involvement and recruiting events. The Accounting program at CMU provides students with the ability to lock down one of the best available jobs in their field as much as a year before they are finished earning their degree. Accomplishing this not only furthers their career by giving them a phenomenal start upon graduation, but their final year of school will be significantly more enjoyable knowing that their future has already been secured. Finally, no matter how much someone expects to enjoy their job and career once they graduate, always be sure to enjoy college to its fullest and live every opportunity provided, as it really is one of the best times of your life.

 

 

Christian Conley is the current President of Beta Alpha Psi’s Eta Epsilon Chapter. He has been a member of Beta Alpha Psi for two years. To contact him, send an email to betaalphapsi.cmu@gmail.com.