By Nicole Malinowski, MSADA Class of 2021
As the graduation festivities begin to die down a month after ending my collegiate experience at IU, life has become an endless stream of preparing for CPA exams and counting down the days to starting my full-time job in audit at EY. This past month has also given me the chance to reflect on both the challenges and successes this past year has brought. Beginning a fast-paced, one-year master’s program in the middle of a global pandemic, it was difficult to imagine where the year would take me. While the experience my classmates and I had was slightly altered due to the circumstances we faced, the MSADA program gave us a year filled with applicable knowledge, inspiring professors, and lasting friendships.
What immediately draws most people to this program is the ability to simultaneously earn the credit hours required to sit for the CPA exam and earn a master’s degree, all in one short year. However, there is much more that can be gained from the program if you are willing to put yourself out there and make the most of the experience. My biggest points of advice for doing so are fully embracing your class material, getting to know your professors, and building lasting relationships with your classmates.
For incoming students, I would encourage you to truly soak up the information you are learning throughout your classes. This year, more than any other year of college, your classes are aimed at giving you the practical knowledge you need to enter your full-time career in the accounting industry. You will also find many of your classes to be incredibly helpful in studying for your CPA exams, so you have a great opportunity to fast-track your study efforts. Arguably even more valuable than the general accounting knowledge you will gain are the hands-on experiences the program provides. Preparing a dashboard in Power BI for a Bloomington business, conducting data analysis in Python, and crafting an entire audit plan are just a few of the projects that simultaneously taught me new skills and built up my confidence in my problem-solving abilities.
Another way to ensure success throughout the program is to take advantage of the incredibly intelligent and experienced professors at your disposal. The professors all come from diverse and impressive backgrounds, and they can really give you a taste of what a career in various industries would be like. They are extremely approachable and focused on your growth. Whether taking time to sit down with them to better understand the class material or to just chat about their careers, a lot can be gained from getting to know your professors. Even in a year where much communication was restricted to virtual settings, the professors ensured we had the opportunity to get to know them and gain their insight.
My final piece of advice is to really get to know your classmates. One of the best parts of this program for me was being able to build so many friendships along the way. Your classmates truly become your support system and constantly challenge you to grow and improve yourself. I know I will be a stronger teammate going into the workforce now that I have had the opportunity to learn from many talented classmates with strengths and backgrounds different from my own. Getting to go through this experience with such a small group of people will really bond you together, and I know I have made life-long friendships through this program.