Cindy and Brian’s Final Thoughts
As graduation day is approaching, Brian and I figured we would team up and write a concluding blog about our experiences in the MAC program. We are both going to write about what our expectations were starting the program, what we liked and disliked, lessons we learned and something we each wish we had known before beginning the program.
Before I started the program, I was very scared that I was not on the same technical accounting level as my fellow students because I went to a very small university for my undergraduate degree. I expected a lot of work, a lot of group assignments, little sleep, and little time for myself, but also expected to make a lot of new friends, get prepared to join the workforce and feel confident and prepared when taking the CPA exam. Most of my expectations have been met.
The MAC program has been a lot of work but I have to admit it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. All of the professors are incredible teachers and mentors and they know how to properly prepare you and use their class time efficiently. We were also always encouraged to seek their help if we needed help or did not understand a topic that was covered in class. I met a lot of new people and improved my teamwork skills. There were some sleepless nights but I learned very quickly how to organize my schedule so that I would be able to take a day or two off on the weekend and enjoy my life outside of school. Most importantly, I feel very prepared taking my remaining CPA sections and cannot wait to start my new job as a public accountant and apply what I have learned.
To be honest, my expectation was very different from Cindy’s. I first approached the MAC Program extremely confident. For one, I already had an accounting job lined up, and therefore, must be ahead of the pack. Second, since I had been out in the real world for a few years, I felt that I was bringing a lot of experience and maturity (a word I use loosely) from prior jobs that would translate nicely back into strong academic performance. I was not worried about the heavy workload either because I had just finished my pre-requisite accounting classes while balancing a full-time job at the TV station, family and a social life, so I figured this would be no big deal for me.
It did not take long for me to realize that study habits needed to be amended and priorities rearranged. Taking notes and studying, as it turned out, was not like riding a bike for me and I had to relearn a few methods just to keep up. Cindy is completely correct in saying that the entire faculty and staff genuinely wants to help. I stopped by a few professors’ offices for some pep-talks to help me get back on track, which was extremely helpful for my morale. I feel that I have improved on my habits since I started back in August, but it has taken a lot of work.
What I liked most about the program were all the great professors we had and all the great opportunities they gave us in applying theoretical concepts, such as my ERM and IT practicum, which was the topic of my previous post (Real World Projects).
I particularly enjoyed any opportunity to venture outside of the typical lecture format, whether it was a class debate, practicum experience, semiannual ERM Summit or case study. Many classmates may disagree, but I wished every class required us to formally present our knowledge and understanding to the group. Like Cindy, I enjoyed the application portion of learning and I personally think the ultimate display of knowledge is the ability to turn around and teach it to others, which is also why I gained a lot from being a graduate assistant at NC State.
There really is not anything major that I completely disliked. The only thing that I can think of is that I would have preferred to work in groups with a bigger variety of people than we already did. In some classes, we had the same groups throughout the entire semester. It was great because if you had a great group, you knew how to work well together but I would have liked to work in other groups as well just to get to know people better that I did not get the chance to work with.
Disappointments? Hmm, there were not many. I suppose it would be nice to have gotten a chance to do more hands-on procedures that an accountant in a given field would do. This is a hard thing to improve on because the MAC Program already gives quite a few opportunities to use popular industry tools. The only thing we did not do was count cash! Maybe an advanced elective on forensics or counterfeiting could be fun and helpful to future auditors.
OUR OVERALL THOUGHTS
The past two semesters went by VERY fast, so if you are about to start the MAC Program, enjoy it while you can. My advice is to keep up with your work and do not procrastinate. Also, take some time for yourself. You need a good break once in a while, otherwise you will burn out. This applies especially if you are studying for the CPA exam at the same time. Start studying early, but slowly, and take your time until you feel confident. There is nothing wrong with rescheduling your CPA exam. As a matter of fact I rescheduled three times because I was so nervous and not confident in my abilities. Which is OK! So don’t stress! If you work hard and get help when you need it, you will be fine. If you are struggling, make sure you let your professors or anyone else in the department know. They will help you to get back on track!
I was very impressed with all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on with the MAC Program. It always seemed that the administration and instructors were always on point and everything had a higher purpose toward our ‘MAC experience.’ I always felt my voice was heard and I had a choice in what I experienced and retained from my time spent here.
My parting wisdom for future students is twofold. First, if you are fortunate enough to be accepted into the program, RELAX. Plenty of students, myself included, question whether they are smart enough to make it to the finish line. The answer to that question was provided to us more than once at our orientation. MAC alumni advised us to not waste time thinking about your GPA or who is top of the class or whether we are good enough. To quote MAC Director Kathy Krawczyk “you are ALL smart and you are ALL good enough. That’s why you were accepted.” After carefully considering your application, interview, letters of recommendation and undergrad performance, it was decided that you are a good fit.
My second pearl of wisdom is to have faith that Dr. Krawczyk and company have your best interest at heart and want everyone to be successful in life. Plus, there are always ways to contribute to the feedback process and make it better for students the following semester. I tried to plug myself into as many mediums as possible and get the most of this experience. I feel that I succeeded in doing so.
As we near graduation, we would like to thank everyone that has been following us since we began posting. We hope it has been informative and helpful. This blog will continue to be updated by the students who succeed us, so check back in from time to time or follow us on our other social media sites listed on this page. We hope you gained a good insight into what it is like to journey through the MAC program.
Your MAC Student Life Bloggers: Cindy and Brian ℅ 2016