What Universities Should Do to Better Prepare Accounting Students

The twins discuss how college did (and did not) prepare them for the business world, the learning curve in the auditing world, and how they interpret feedback.

[00:13] Norma: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Accounting Twins podcast. My name is Norma. Unfortunately, while we were recording this episode, at first we had a few technical difficulties, so I apologize in advance if this sounds a little bumpy or if it seems like if we're just going right into the conversation, this is what we could do with what we had. Hope you enjoyed the episode. As an accounting student, even going into the second internship, I had a lot of different expectations for this internship than what the reality was. And it's not bad. It's honestly just because in my opinion, college does not prepare you for the auditing world. It's not necessarily a bad thing because you're still trying to learn the basics, but it's still somewhat like, I don't know what the heck an auditor does until I do the internship. I'm pretty sure half the stuff I talk on here, becky doesn't even really know what I'm talking about because she only had that first internship, and I'm doing a lot of different things than I did the first time.

[01:04] Becky: I can agree with that. She says something, and it goes over my head.

[01:07] Norma: Yeah. And I think, honestly, the main thing that I realized is that auditing is a lot more of qualitative data or information than it is quantitative. I really only use the accounting principles, anything that's numberish very rarely, to be honest. A lot of it is just competing numbers that are already given to you, and you just have to verify that they're the same. But a lot of it is quantitative data. I feel like I need to know certain rules or laws that I wasn't necessarily taught in class, which is fine, because there's a lot to do, but there's so many specific laws. At some point, it feels like I'm a lawyer.

[01:49] Becky: See, now that you mention it and you say you're already given the data and you have to do the qualitative measures, I'm going to be having to give you the quantitative measures. Like, I'm going to be the one figuring out the numbers because I am doing private accounting. So it's kind of like we're like yin and Yang. We go together.

[02:06] Norma: Yeah. And I think that's just one thing that needs to be a little bit more emphasized, in my opinion, to college students, because it's not what I expected. And although I'm really enjoying the job and loving what I'm doing, I wish I just had a little bit more, I guess, preparation or even just a notice that it's more qualitative data. Because I paid attention in my auditing class, I got an A in it by which I kind of just would have retained it more instead of cramming. I think it's really important to emphasize that some people are paying attention more in classes because I was doing something, I was taking board minutes or looking them over in my mind, I was like, what part of the co so framework does this apply to? And it's my fault just because I didn't really remember what was going on. So if you're an accounting student, I really think it's important that if you're interested in auditing, pay attention specifically to the qualitative data that's in your class. Because I remember when I started our class, I was like, this is a lot more information than I remember. It's not like I'm doing number computations. It's just a lot of qualitative data. Wouldn't you agree?

[03:13] Becky: I would agree. There were literally questions we were asked, and we would have to write paragraphs to answer them, and there was not a single number within those paragraphs. So I really think as a student, once you know what you want to go with, absolutely focus yourself on those classes, really hone in on them, because if you don't understand it, you're kind of at a loss. So maybe I should pay attention more.

[03:35] Norma: Yeah. And in my opinion, I think it's a little bit easier in your accounting classes to remember processes and how to do computations and journal entries and all that stuff because it is so freaking repetitive. But when you're doing like an audit and having to do qualitative data, it's not as repetitive as you think. There is no one answer, and there are so many different ways an answer can be solved that it's super important just to pay attention in class. Because usually I just retained quantitative data and I cramped qualitative data into my brain, kind of like a crash course studying before the exams. And I wish I had paid more attention because one of our professors, I love him so much, he was like, it takes about three tests or three times to be tested on information to remember it. And I would quiz myself a lot with the quantitative data, but when it came to qualitative data, I kind of just crammed three days before the exam.

[04:32] Becky: I would agree with that. If you give Norma and I numbers, fabulous. I love numbers. Numbers are and I are in love, but you give me qualitative data, we're kind of in like a little love triangle. I love the numbers, but the numbers need the qualitative information, and I hate the qualitative information. So we're not going to find love.

[04:52] Norma: One thing that I did realize from our last internship is how big the freaking learning curve is. I could talk about this forever, but like I said, it's a lot of qualitative information. And I think it's just very interesting how much I was unprepared for the learning curve. Not in the sense because I didn't know about it, but because it's quite literally nothing you can be taught in school unless you perform an audit. For example. A lot of the learning curve is how to perform a reconciliation, how to do specific tests. It's procedures and laws, and there's different curves for different industries. So if you want to test a not for profit company compared to manufacturing and distribution. There's so many different learning curves. I think by Becky and I having this podcast, we're able to be a little bit more honest about the learning curve because it's real time. I'm telling you all the stuff that I'm learning, whereas if you're doing like a meet the firms event, they're just going to say, it's a huge learning curve. Well, how is it a huge learning curve? I thought it was just like you're applying all this information at once. That's the learning curve. No, it's not.

[06:01] Becky: It's not. And you had me thinking about this. Granted, I don't have an accounting internship right now. I'm literally watching kids. But even thinking back to my very first internship, I was thinking about how everybody goes again, it's just a huge learning curve. Well, tell me the specifics. All the classes we take are great background information. Like, you cannot do accounting unless you know the background information, but they don't teach you the steps of what to actually do in a real life audit, which is so weird. Granted, I'm going into industry, so it's a little different, but you are not taught what the real world is like. And it sucks because every accountant says that, but we haven't seen anything to progress to actually give us what a real audit and what a real work situation is like as we are in.

[06:45] Norma: School, I wish that going forward, colleges, specifically the auditing classes, will have somewhat of a better preparation to be an auditor. Like, how the heck do you perform a reconciliation? What is the reconciliation? What are some specific laws? You might want to know. I just think that colleges should prepare you a little more because if I wasn't so dedicated to wanting to be an auditor, I could easily say I want to do private accounting because I don't want to do the learning curve. And I think it needs to be a little bit more upfront because I think the first internships, like what I said, is such a huge learning curve. It's such a big change for students who are now going to be in the workforce at once. They might not want to be an auditor because it's so much information at once and they're not being able to valve it. And we all know that there's not that many auditors. That's why busy season is so freaking busy and people are working 50, 60 hours weeks.

[07:45] Becky: See, I'm curious what the learning curve for me will be like because you said I could do private accounting if I didn't want a big learning curve. But granted, you have done private accounting, but you hadn't taken a ton of accounting classes then. So I wonder what it's going to be like for me, especially because I am in a rotational program, so I am doing a ton of different things throughout the year. I want to know what it's going to be like? I mean, granted, what's today, the 11th. I start work two weeks from today. I need to prepare myself. I feel like I need to go read all my notebooks, but I threw everything out after my last exam, so I don't think I can do that, even though I should. Probably should.

[08:21] Norma: I think a major thing also as to why school maybe is not as difficult as work, especially in auditing or even honestly, just in private accounting. Basically, accounting in general is when you're doing school, you're learning one subject at a time. Granted, you may be taking three or four classes, but you're not really using all that information together at once. You're doing a tax class, you're doing a cost accounting class, you're doing financial accounting class. You're not actually using all that information at once, but when you're at work, all those different classes you've taken, you're using all at the same time. So I wish going back to what schools might be able to do a little bit better at the end of the year or anything, just test students on combining all that information at once because it's taught separately. And I'm one of those people, I can do things great separately, but it's going to take me a while to be able to do it altogether when it's all conglomerated. So I think we might just need to be tested on that a little bit more.

[09:27] Becky: See, I understand what you're saying, but I remember when we would have exams. Do you remember in 310 when you would do practice exams and the version three was the hardest because it put everything together at once and we practically wanted to stab our eyes out.

[09:39] Norma: Yeah, but then it prepared us better for the other exams.

[09:43] Becky: Okay, very true. There is one thing I really want to bring up because you said schools need to prepare us more, and obviously in other episodes we've talked about what schools can do better to teach students about the real world. So this past week, I got an email from work, and I have to do all this paperwork before going in, and one of them was about my tax withholdings. I have literally no clue how much of my taxes I want to be withheld. Literally zero clue. My parents are not home right now. So I was like, dad, when you get home, I got to do this ASAP. And he's like, okay, you could call so and so, who's like, my BFF. He'll help you. And I'm thinking, dad, I don't even know how to explain what I'm doing, and I'd rather have your help. I want a good enough money of my taxes withheld, but I don't want it to be a ton because I don't want just a huge refund back at the end of the year if I get one. I don't understand. This is another thing we need to teach. Also, tell me if you agree or not? Norma we should have learned what the different tax withholding percentages would have been like even in our tax class, because I have no clue what I'm doing.

[10:48] Norma: I don't know what tax withholdings are best, but also, maybe it's just preference to your lifestyle. Maybe you want to have more tax withholdings, maybe you don't. Either way, I don't really know what it means, so I agree.

[11:01] Becky: I wish they had given us a class on how to budget ourselves. Because I'm telling you right now. After I have gone to Europe. Disney and I have been paying for my apartment even though I'm not living there. I'm really struggling with money at this current moment. And I wish that I knew how to budget these upcoming weeks because I know once I start work. I'll be totally fine. Like, I'm not stressed, but to tell you I'm stressed at the current moment is a bit of an understatement. I'm like, Mom, dad, what can I do around the house for some extra money? Dad told me I could clean the yard. I was like, perfect. But then I realized it's 110 degrees outside, so I might have to take that back because it is blazing out there, and I'm not waking up at 05:00 a.m.

[11:40] Norma: I feel like a lot of this episode we have not talked bad about college, but I think we're just kind of giving, like, constructive criticism as to what universities might be able to do to prepare their students for a little bit more. Because I know at the end of every year or every semester, there's, like, a survey of classes, the colleges, about, like, what we're doing great, what we can do better. But we don't know what you can do better because we have not been into the workforce before.

[12:06] Unknown Speaker: Exactly.

[12:08] Norma: If we're just, like, give us a little bit of time. Okay, so maybe universities just need to give us a little bit of time to experience life, and then we can give them feedback on what to do better. In my head, this is how I'm thinking. Like, my best friend wants to go to law school, but she's not going to go to law school for another year or two because she wants to have another job and experience life, because how can she defend people and their lives and just do law if she has an experienced life? So I think schools need to give us a little bit, a while to experience our jobs so that we can give them constructive criticism about what perhaps they can do to better enhance their program to prepare us more.

[12:45] Becky: As you're saying, constructive criticism. If we're paying them a trillion dollars every year for us to go to their school, we should be able to tell them what to do better, because they tell us what to do better whenever we get problems wrong or whenever they're giving us feedback on an essay they kind of like rip us a new one, but we feel bad telling them what to do better. We shouldn't, because also, if we're not telling them how to be better than all of the students are just going to stay stagnant. But as a university, as a state, as a country, we need to be progressing. We can't just be stagnant all the time. So I'm going to give them my two cent because I paid them a trillion dollars.

[13:18] Norma: Speaking of constructive criticism, I have my exit interview coming up with CBIZ because I'm nearing the end of my internship. That sounds horrible, I'm just really scared, but I'm going to hear back. Like. I know I've made some mistakes. That is definitely the learning process, but it's to the point where I've done so well in life. I hate getting constructive criticism because I take it personally and that's something I definitely need to work on and I'm going to take what they say to heart so I can improve as a professional a lot better and improve whatever I'm doing. But let me tell you when last week was like a stress eating week, just mentally preparing for this interview, I don't know why I feel like it's not going to go bad. I know I'm a great worker, but it's just freaking me out and I don't know why.

[14:05] Becky: My thing is normally you have to realize, and I'm saying this and we all know I'm the biggest empath in the entire world, literally, you could look at me the wrong way and I.

[14:13] Norma: Would try to kiss your feet.

[14:14] Becky: You have to realize it's not because you are bad, it's because they want you to improve. And they go into hiring interns knowing they're going to mess up at some point. But you also have to realize, like, that's why they're there for you. If they thought you knew everything, they might as well make you a partner from the beginning. But you don't know everything.

[14:32] Norma: Yeah, it's just insane because some of the things that I was scared about that they were going to bring up in this interview is how I'm making the dumbest mistakes and not checking for details. But today when I was doing that testing for someone, I caught myself and I corrected myself, I did something correct and it just felt amazing, like I was just doing testing selections. And for contributions, you have to make sure, like the eligibility and I didn't pay as much attention to detail for that, but I caught something that my manager missed on eligibility and I just felt so smart. So I also think it's important just reflect on what you're doing in your internship throughout the process because we all know you do remember the negative things in life. So if I just remembered all the times I failed, then I wouldn't want to do auditing. But looking back how I can prove today and caught my mistake, I'm so much more proud of myself than I was disappointed when I originally made those mistakes.

[15:27] Becky: Well, Norma, as we close this episode, I want you to know I love you. I believe in you. I think you're fabulous, and mistakes happen. And guess what? You're so fabulous, and I believe in you. And you're my sister, and we're going to be best friends no matter what happens at the site. The interview.

[15:42] Norma: Yeah, but you want to know why I'm not fabulous?

[15:44] Becky: Why?

[15:45] Norma: Because I lost my freaking AirPods.

[15:48] Becky: That sounds like a new problem. Yeah, I found mine this morning.

[15:52] Norma: Yes, I've been looking for two days. I cannot find my AirPods. They say they're at the place I'm staying at, but they're not. So I have to go spend $200 and buy more. So I'm very disappointed in myself, and I'm going to go wallow in self pity and still look for my old AirPods.

[16:08] Becky: I believe in you, Norma. Remember, the world is your oyster.

[16:14] Norma: Now, I really want seafood, but I can't afford that on my budget.

[16:18] Becky: Just to update you, all, I do, in fact, still have my gallbladder. In however, nine days from now, my gallbladder will be out, and we still have not come up with a name for my gallbladder. So, please, whenever you answer normal accounting questions, also leave some gallbladder names.

[16:32] Norma: Now that you get your gallbladder taken out, are we going to be identical twins because you want one less organ than I do?

[16:38] Becky: No, we're not going to be identical anymore. That's only a part of time. No, we're done. We can't we have to be fraternal now.

[16:44] Norma: Heck, yeah.

[16:48] Becky: I don't want people to think we're.

[16:49] Norma: Stupid if they want to think I'm stupid. When I was younger, I thought Becky and I had the same fingerprint because we're identical twins. So when the new iPhone came out, where it would detect your fingerprint to log in, I thought Becky and I didn't, like, need different fingerprints.

[17:07] Becky: See, it's nice that we can unlock each other's phones, though.

[17:10] Norma: Yeah, with the facial recognition, it's telling.

[17:12] Becky: Us we're both pretty well.

[17:15] Norma: Now, that reminds me, Becky, I do have a question for everyone. How long in advance should I study for my CPA exams? I've decided I'm going to start studying in August, but I need to register for my exams, so I just kind of need to figure out doesn't take you two months. But if I'm not spending as much, maybe because I'm a student, is it going to take me three months to study for each exam? Please let me know, because this is kind of stressing me out.

[17:38] Becky: Do you mean how much in advance do you study for one singular exam? Not the entirety.

[17:43] Norma: Okay, yeah, sorry. One singular exam. Not them all. That would be insane.

[17:47] Becky: I miss you, Norma. I'll see you soon.

[17:49] Norma: I'll see you soon, Becky.

[17:51] Becky: And, listeners, I miss you, too. Just know that. And I love you.

[17:55] Norma: Well, everyone, thanks for listening to another episode of the Accounting Twins podcast. I'm Norma. That's Becky. Don't forget to follow our social media. Our Twitter is account twinspodact. Twinspod. And our instagram is Accounting Twins Podcast. And we have Facebook and LinkedIn. So just don't forget to follow us, people. You'll get updated on our lives and my gallbladder. Oh, my gosh. I don't think we've posted on Instagram yet, so I think I'm going to include a picture of Becky post off.

[18:29] Becky: That would be so embarrassing, but I'm here for it.

[18:33] Norma: Well, everyone, have a great rest of your week. I'm going to go look for my AirPods and make dinner.

[18:40] Becky: I'm going to go eat dinner, too. Peace out, Girl Scout. This has been a production of the Accounting Podcast Network.

[18:53] Norma: Sorry. Give me a minute to respond. My leg is dead right now, so I can't concentrate because I was sitting on it. I cannot feel it. It is cramping up. I am in so much pain. I'm sorry. Give me, like give me 20 seconds. Joel, you're going to cut this out. I don't want them to hear me crying.

[19:11] Becky: No, that would be so funny to have you go. Hold on.

[19:13] Norma: I need a second.

[19:14] Becky: My leg is cramping. Oh, my God.

What Universities Should Do to Better Prepare Accounting Students
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