High School Educators: Register Today for the APBP Advanced Accounting Training in Lake Charles, LA

Apply now to attend the upcoming training through AICPA’s Accounting Program for Building the Profession (APBP) – formerly the Accounting Pilot and Bridge Project. This year,  AICPA, Texas Society of CPAs and the Society of Louisiana CPAs are jointly hosting the unique three-day program in Lake Charles, LA on July 24-26.

The APBP training is designed to provide high school educators with advanced accounting curriculum to challenge, engage and inspire your accounting students. Why? Recent research conducted by AICPA found the first accounting course high school students take greatly impacts their decision to pursue accounting as a major and career choice. The curriculum you receive in this training will become your go-to for increased engagement in the study of accounting, while we become your go-to resource for continued support after the training.

High school teachers who complete the three-day training will receive:

  • FREE registration and a $200 stipend to offset travel expenses
  • Daily lesson plans and assignments
  • Pre-written exams with answer keys
  • A textbook, including teacher’s notes and PowerPoint presentations
  • Exclusive access to AICPA’s Start Here, Go Places. online teaching resources, refresher videos and webcasts
  • Continuous support post-training

Sound like something you might be interested in? Check out the flyer below for more information and register today!

Feel free to contact me with any questions. We hope to see you there!

APBP Flyer: AICPA-APBP-Flyer-TX-LA

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VITA: An addition to my resume or more than that?

Blogger: V. Aishwarya Singh

The tax season is here! Having been IRS certified just a couple of months ago, preparing taxes for real people in the real world at a real time seems further than reality to me. As a freshman, volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is my biggest accomplishment in the field of my major—accounting.

Initial thoughts

When I first signed up for VITA, I had little idea how exciting preparing taxes was going to be. I first felt overwhelmed at the thought of preparing taxes for people who will rely on me to get their tax refunds and payments. But then the experiences shared by previous VITA preparers relieved me and prepared me for the most exciting season of the year.

The 12-hour training to volunteer initially appeared like two unusually long days giving me what I assumed would be more information than I could retain. However, I was proven completely wrong. The VITA training went so fast, and what appeared two long days became a matter of a few hours explaining to me the essential steps of preparing taxes and the interesting provision of different case scenarios of applying the training knowledge. The VITA coordinators were very helpful. They helped me figure out the right amounts and guided me though the process.

Beginning experience

Signing up for the VITA sites was also a good experience. The spots filled us so quickly and the unfamiliarity of working in a place previously unknown to me was what I was thinking. But all my thoughts faded into happiness as I reached the VITA site for my first shift. It was wonderful to be a part of the VITA team. The atmosphere was a juxtaposition of professional, yet homely. The site manager, quality reviewers and other fellow volunteers created a warm environment. I was immediately given my work desk while they had someone assist me for my first time preparing taxes.

By the time I had my second shift, I was well acquainted with the site. I prepared taxes for six to seven clients that day and felt satisfied with myself. The joy that some of the clients had when then found out they were getting a refund was unparalleled to anything. They looked hopefully as I prepared taxes, some even nervous with the whole process. When the taxes were prepared and reviewed, they would smile and show their appreciation. This not only boosted my confidence in preparing taxes, but also provided me with an inspiration to utilize my accounting knowledge for the benefit of the community.

My Learning

My real-world experience taught me what I couldn’t have learned in a classroom setting. The responsibility of preparing taxes for real citizens filing with the IRS, the fulfillment of my duties while preparing taxes, the proper ethical code of conduct, behavior towards clients, time management, and commitment towards my shifts.

I will always cherish my experience with VITA. It is my first professional experience and my first accounting accomplishment. It gave me a new perspective about the world of taxation. VITA is one of the programs that I would recommend to every accounting major. I hope to prepare more taxes this season and help more families whose income is under $58,000.

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Get Ready for New Tax Law Testing in 2019

The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) recently approved January 1, 2019 (19Q1) as the date on which content related to the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” will be eligible for testing on the Uniform CPA Examination.

The Exam will continue to test candidates on the tax laws and regulations in effect before the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through the 18Q4 test window ending on December 10, 2018.

Read the AICPA’s Exam announcement for more details.

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AICPA Offers CPA Exam Blueprints Webinar on Feb. 15

CPA Exam candidates won’t want to miss this FREE webcast hosted by AICPA on Thursday, Feb. 15! The session will focus on the Exam Blueprints, which are the essential study tool for any candidate. Presenters will break down each Exam section’s content, structure, skills and representative tasks as well as answer your questions. NOTE: This webcast will not focus on the administration of the Exam. For information related to NTS, scheduling and other administrative topics, please refer to NASBA.org.

Click here to register.

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Essential Networking Skills

Blogger: V. Aishwarya Singh

The Right Attitude

Positive mindset, professional behavior and a simple smile. These are some of the most essential characteristics that demonstrate the right attitude for networking.

A positive attitude shows the motivation to network with strangers. It shows that you are mentally ready to work and are excited to network with professionals. It is coupled with professionalism, which shows the inclination to work effectively, responsibly and actively in a professional setting.

Professionalism shows how well you have gained the necessary mannerism to work in a business environment. It adds to your overall personality and demonstrates the soft skills essential to the firm or your employer that you are preparing to interview with.

The most important thing that should always be on your face – your smile. A smile demonstrates your confidence. Smiling in a place like a campus recruiting event where you are already intimidated with the numerous recruiters around you shows that you can keep yourself calm in any situation. A simple smile shows your level of stability and your stress management skills that are essential in a business environment.

Preparation

When you are ready to meet new people, the first thing you do is introduce yourself. But it is not so easy to make the impression you want on that person in your first meeting. Therefore, to introduce yourself effectively in a matter of seconds, it is important to practice your elevator speech.

A good elevator speech is a short introduction of yourself with a sentence that tells the other person why they should care about having you as their contact. Along with your elevator speech, it is equally important to maintain firm eye contact with your networker. Eye contact conveys that you are interested in talking to the other person and would be glad to have them as your contact.

Good eye contact is supplemented with a firm posture. You should be completely facing the person you are talking to. Prevent slouching or looking away from that person as this would create a negative impact on your level of interest and the importance of your networking conversation.

Another thing you can do to prepare for networking is maintain a schedule of all your appointments and the timings at which the interview or networking event is set up. This will enable you to be at the site on time and demonstrate punctuality, a positive characteristic in a professional environment.

Follow-up

After the meeting is finished, be sure to shake hands and thank them for their time. It shows that you appreciate their presence and are looking forward for a reply soon. Leave a business card with them so that they will recognize you when they are hiring or have something you could benefit from.

In some cases, such as a company visit or a college networking event, leave your resume as well. Don’t just meet them once and lose track of them, keep in touch with them after the meeting. Greet them whenever you see them again, connect with them through online media, and even like or comment on their LinkedIn publications.

LinkedIn is another very important medium. It adds a professional, yet personal touch to the deepening of your networking. Don’t forget to keep your conversations professional. This strengthens their decision to connect with you.

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Three Tips That Can Help You in an Unexpected Way

Blogger: Lixia Cora Chen

Some commonly asked questions to guest speakers on professional panels are:

  • What did you do right to be where you are right now?
  • What tips would you like to give to the audience?

Here are three tips that I learned from successful speakers from dozens of events and my own experience, which helped me in an unexpected way. At first, they may feel like actions but, over time, they can then become habits. Eventually they will build your character.

  1. Bring a notebook with you

It seems to be an old-fashioned and out-of-date habit to take notes on a paper-made notebook instead of your mobile phone, iPad or laptop. There are three reasons that I prefer paper-made notebooks over digital gadgets. The first reason is that taking notes on the notebook will keep you concentrated. Page-made notebooks will not pop up with a new message or notification from all kinds of apps to distract you from the lecturer or the speaker. Secondly, it shows you are an organized, well-prepared and diligent listener.

When you are in a seminar or interview, taking out a decent notebook and a pen looks much better than writing on a random scrap of paper or napkin. It also looks way better than typing on your phone because, even if you are taking notes, the speaker and others around you will assume you aren’t. Thirdly, it shows respect for the speaker or the people you are meeting with.

One thing I have to admit is that it is much easier to find the notes on digital gadgets. So, my suggestion is to organize and summarize your notes on your notebook and transfer them on to your computer or to the cloud on a daily or weekly basis. It is a good way to review your notes and store them for future use.

  1. Wish out loud

The first time I heard this phrase was from a presentation by Lisa Ong. She is the National Talent Management Director of PwC and was recently honored with the 2017 Minority Business Leader award. Her name on Instagram is @Wishingoutloud.

She tells her friends and coworkers what her dream is or what she wants to do in the future. She explains how it will make her dream come true more easily than keeping it to herself. For example, if you want to work overseas for some time and you express your wish to a coworker, you never know what may happen. One year later, that coworker may find out about an overseas project in the company. Guess whose name would pop up in the mind of that coworker?

I immediately realized that was the first time I heard the phrase, and I have already started practicing it in my own life. My friends recently asked me how did I found my current apartment with a good location and relatively low rent. I answered, “I didn’t find the apartment; the apartment found me.”

Before I started to look for a new place to live, I told my friends when I planned to move, my ideal location and the acceptable rent range that I could afford. Several days later, one friend came to me on WeChat and told me about the place where I currently live. That was also how Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes started their adventure together: telling a mutual friend that they were looking for a roommate.

  1. Greet people properly

Greet people every day. Instead of just saying “how are you doing?” “I’m good,” and “see you soon,” you can always say “I’m good. I just finished the Accounting Communication class project. Now I’m looking for an audit internship for summer.”

The formula is “I’m good + what I did + what I’m doing + what I am going to do”

When you share information about yourself, people feel they are being trusted. When you share in specific details, people feel that they know you better and can relate to you.

I hope that these three tips can help you as they have helped me.

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What is this “leadership” skill businesses always ask for?

Blogger: Caleb Braughton

We’ve all seen it: a job posting where the desired skills section has a long list of attributes the business wants from candidates. Amongst that list, “leadership” is so often one of the first two or three to be listed. Most every company is looking for leaders to help their business excel, but what exactly are companies asking for when they ask for “leadership skills”?

There are multiple ways one can be a leader, and I find that Merriam Webster’s dictionary has three key definitions of “lead” that encompass the qualities desired by companies in their prospective employees. These definitions are as follows: “to direct on a course or in a direction,” “to direct the operations, activity, or performance of,” and “to have charge of.” I feel these three definitions create a sort of trifecta of what companies are looking for in a leader. Each one of the definitions above embodies distinct characteristics of a leader: guiding, directing and owning.

 

“To direct on a course or in a direction”

To lead is to guide. To lead is to show another the way to go. This definition equates leadership to being more of an advisor or mentor as opposed to being a hierarchy level above another. This aspect of leadership is important because it denotes the fact that being a leader does not require one to be officially designated as above another in some way. Being the guiding hand that aids another in finding their way is an integral part of leadership and is a highly valued characteristic in job candidates.

This is also the easiest piece of leadership to get experience in throughout one’s life. The action of guiding another can be involved in any number of one’s activities such as in a student chapter, a sports team, an activity club, a teaching assistant role, a peer mentoring role, and any other number of officially designated roles or extracurricular clubs. Mentoring another person does not require being above that other person or being an expert on the topic. Use your experiences to help others on their way, whatever that way may be. Be a guide. Be a leader.

 

“To direct the operations, activity, or performance of”

To lead is to direct. To lead is to instruct others in where they should be and what their tasks are. This definition is the more traditional idea of what leadership is: being a commander. Unlike the previous part of leadership where the only restriction is one’s willingness to lend a hand, this aspect of leadership carries with it the implication of being in a leadership role that grants one the power to direct others. Being able to successfully order any number of other people requires a multitude of skills learned through experience, such as planning, patience, levelheadedness, micromanaging, and macromanaging.

Companies value a job candidate with directing leadership experience because it shows that the individual has had the opportunity to learn how to plan ahead and macromanage something at the highest levels as well as micromanage and instruct others in the lowest execution levels. Join clubs, groups, or student chapters. Learn the ins and outs of the group then put yourself out there and volunteer yourself for directing roles. Apply for student worker, teaching assistant, supplemental instruction (SI), peer mentoring, or tutoring positions. Be a director. Be a leader.

 

“To have charge of”

To lead is to own. To lead is to take charge of something, for better or for worse. The responsibilities and ownership of a leadership role come alongside the powers given. “To have charge of” is focused on the aspect of leadership involved in taking responsibility for the success of a project, team, process, or whatever else. This also means that one takes responsibility for the failure of that project, team, or process.

Companies value a candidate who has shown themselves to be able to take a leadership role and make the responsibilities “theirs.” Companies value a candidate who puts in the effort to ensure that whatever they had leadership over exceled in meeting its desired goals. A leader needs to be able to show themselves capable of taking the actions necessary for their role. Much the same as the directing piece of leadership, the ownership piece of leadership generally requires official designation of a leadership role (be that role a permanent position or a temporary role for a singular event).

My suggestions for getting experience as an owning leader is just the same as a directing leader: join groups or apply for school positions that involve helping others. Put in the effort to move up into leadership roles. Be an owner. Be a leader.

 

To conclude, “leadership skills” cover different experiences: guiding, directing and owning. Taking charge can involve using your experiences to help guide another, directing individuals to complete tasks and meet a goal, or owning the responsibilities involved in a leadership role by doing all you can to ensure the goal is met. Companies are looking for those who have taken the opportunities around them to be a leader, and it’s up to you to seize those opportunities. It’s not as daunting as it seems so join a club, find a student chapter that aligns with your career goals, or apply to be an official helper somewhere on campus. Be a guide. Be a director. Be an owner. Be a leader.

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