BONUS | Nicole Hulet (CSU-Global) - The Balancing Act

July 09, 2020 | 16 Minutes

Every August, IMA highlights various aspects of accounting education. Through its publication, Strategic Finance, social media and marketing communications, and, now, through its podcast, IMA covers a variety of topics including changes to accounting curricula, the right skills to develop, and the value of certification, among many others. In preparation of IMA's academic month, through this episode of Count Me In, we hear from Nicole Hulet, a graduate student in the professional accounting program at Colorado State University - Global. Nicole talks about how she goes about balancing full-time school with full-time work, full-time studying, and full-time life! She is currently studying for an accounting certification while working as an accounting professional in Boulder, CO and serving on the Board of Governors for the Colorado State University - System. Download and listen for an engaging and truly inspirational conversation!

Colorado State University - Global:
CSU - Global's Online Master's Degree in Professional Accounting:

Contact Nicole Hulet:

Adam: (00:00)
Welcome back to Count Me In IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I am your host, Adam Larson, and I'm happy to bring you another bonus episode of our series. As we focus on IMA's theme of accounting education here in the month of August, Mitch sat down with Nicole Hulet, a graduate student at Colorado State University Global in the professional accounting program. In the conversation Nicole discusses, how she has gone about balancing her graduate coursework, full time accounting work and studying for professional certification. Accounting studies have changed as new skills are needed and finance and accounting professionals are serving in new roles. This episode highlights what students need to do to succeed and differentiate themselves as they enter today's accounting environment. Keep listening as we head over to this impressive conversation. 

Mitch: (01:02)
As an accounting student, what has been the most challenging part of your studies? 

Nicole: (01:07)
I would say the large amount of information I'm trying to learn in a pretty short amount of time. So the structure of my classes right now are eight week semesters basically, and in that we cover one class. And so it's very condensed. It's nice that it's just the one class, but we are having to learn a lot of info really quickly, and then to change topics really quickly as well. And I I'm an international accounting class right now, and I have never done any international accounting or any foreign exchange, you know, currency, and I never worked with any of that. So it's all very new information, but it's so relevant that that's been a challenging, but also really exciting for me as an accounting student. 

Mitch: (02:00)
Now, while you're taking these classes, you know, I know you're obviously doing a number of other things outside of the classroom. So, whether it's something related to school or outside of school, how have you gone about differentiating yourself or, you know, really separating yourself so that you can exceed as an accounting professional in the next stage? 

Nicole: (02:20)
I'd say that partially I work full time. I'm a student full time. I'm just a human being as well. So I do other things in my free time, but I'd say that I try to do, you know, extra. So I'm on the Board of Bovernors for the Colorado uUniversity System. And it's really neat being an accounting student and being on the board of governors, because I think that part partially like that position kind of sets me aside because I think often there's that like stereotype of accountants and accounting students. And so, to, to be in a cool leadership role and people to be able to talk to me about accounting and they always say, I never liked accounting when I was an undergrad or when I was in my business program, I didn't really like accounting. Like how can you do it? And I liked that I'm able to make it enjoyable and also help people understand like why I enjoy it and why I'm doing what I do. And it kind of changes some people's minds on like accounting and how they wish they would have taken it more seriously, but you know, I really pride myself in working on being a professional. I think I'm getting there. I like to consider myself a professional, but being  still in classes I'm, you know, looking forward to having completed my degree. 

Mitch: (03:49)
So you said you're working full time. You're a full time student. You're serving on the, on the board of governors here and now I understand you're also studying for an accounting certification. So with all of this on your plate, you mentioned free time, I suppose, that was in quotes previously. So how do you balance all of that exactly. 

Nicole: (04:10)
I whine. No, I'm just kidding. I have several planners that I of course use, and I have to do a online calendar and then I of course have like a physical calendar and a lot of it is just, you know, time management and allocating, I mean, hour by hour throughout the day, allocating time for me, you know, waking up at a reasonable time, going to bed at a reasonable time. I have to be really focused on, I'd say even each half an hour during the day. So I usually work from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM. And I take between a 30 minute and an hour long lunch. During my lunch, I'm usually I'm either reading my textbook for my class or working on my homework for that week. I'm, you know, utilizing those times, and it's been a one thing that I've really had to learn is how to switch hats very quickly so that I'm able to be efficient. So I do my homework during lunch and then on my drive home, I have about a 30 minute commute. I take that time to listen to my podcasts or catch up on current events  in the car. And then in the evening I come home and allocate time to eat dinner and make dinner, or we, you know, have something premade and then I'll usually try to train for triathlons also. So I try to do some training usually before dinner. And then after dinner, I go back to homework and certification studying, and I'd say my Sundays are full of certification studying and homework. Then Saturdays, I try to really allocate to, you know, enjoying my one weekend day, and try not to do anything work-wise or a school or certification studying wise. So it's just really being intentional with my entire day, every day of the week, and then planning ahead as well and one of my biggest things to is just upfront being communicative, with my boss and letting him know like how my week's looking when I have board meetings and what it will mean if I have a board meeting that I'll need to work from home, you know, for  that Friday afternoon, just really planning things out and having a little bit of, I'd say some patience with myself too. And, you know, if I'm running late for something, just letting people know and  working things out, but for the most part I've had pretty nailed down to a science and just making sure that I'm making time for the stuff that's important to m,. and also realizing that this is, you know, it's going to be a few years, but it's not forever. So I think just pushing through right now with school, with working and my cert, which all kind of go hand in hand too, you know, realizing this isn't forever and that there is an end date and that I'll be getting my certificate and I'll have my  master's degree and I'll continue working so.

Mitch: (07:32)
Well, that's really impressive and, you know, I think you emphasized a few different times, the importance of communication. I think that cannot be understated when you're juggling so many different things, working with so many different people, you know, you mentioned wearing a whole bunch of different hats. You certainly have a lot on your plate, but you know, there is an end, right. And you just said it. So what is that end? What's your goal? Where do you hope to be professionally, once all of this is done?

Nicole: (08:00)
Well, my current role on my business card says I'm an accounting professional. So I, my boss is actually my father. So I work in our family business. We're very small, there's only five of us. We have another, accountant and then my dad, we've got, you know, our front desk gal. Well, and then, my mom is the office manager and then myself. So I'd say that's another role that I kind of have to handle kind of differently having a business relationship with my dad. And ultimately my plan is to become the business owner, you know, with my certificate, I'll be able to do that and from there, I don't think necessarily being a business owner and having my certificate is the end for me. I am constantly doing things to try to improve myself personally and professionally. So right now, my position with the board of governors is kind of my professional development role, but I'm hoping to join, you know, a chamber in the future or, you know, things like that. I try to get, you know, stay involved with my community, but yeah, that would be my ultimate goal. Be a business owner, have my certificate and just keep growing as a professional. 

Mitch: (09:16)
Well, you just mentioned, you know, being involved in the community and things like that will certainly help, but the next question I had for you is if you were to pursue being a business owner and, and that's, you know, at least the first goal, how do you plan on developing those business skills? You know, I know you were talking about studying a very specific accounting skills, but obviously  say there's more to running a business, you know, strategy planning, daily operations. How do you gain that kind of experience to handle the, from day to day and then longterm? 

Nicole: (09:50)
You know, I feel pretty blessed to be able to have my dad as my dad and my boss, but he's also an incredible teacher. So he's a big influence in that realm, and he's kept, you know, kept me pretty apart of the business decisions. I do think that my time with CSU Global, because we have a lot of like organizational leadership and business management programs that I will likely pursue, from an educational point or from an experience like experiential point, I think I'll continue really watching my dad. Obviously my investment in our company is a little bit different than say our other accountant with my intention to, to take over. So with some of the clients, you know, he's been slowly kind of working with me on how to communicate and decisions that he makes, you know, when not that this is on the table, but, you know, if hard decisions have to be made even, even a silly decision, like, are we going to move our office out of Boulder? He's been good about communicating with me, about why he would make that decision, and we also sometimes make recommendations for clients for business decisions. So a lot of involvement I would love to, you know, pursue another degree in business management, just, I think it would be important to have, and I think the educational piece, how, how well my program is going and the accounting, the Master's in professional accounting has been. It's so much less about the numbers, and it's so much more just about accounting as a whole, that I imagine the business side of some of the CSU Global programs, it would be just exceptional to be a part of and to have as a business professional. 

Mitch: (11:45)
That's another really impressive perspective, and I can certainly appreciate, you know, your eagerness to learn and, you know, lifelong learning, continuous learning  that's all something that, you know, we at IMA are a big proponent of, and obviously why you know, we have conversations like this, so we can discuss different elements that go into an accounting career. And, you know, as I said, we are I to focus on a little bit of the accounting studies and the student perspective for this conversation and part of our theme throughout the month. So, you know, if you were to offer up some recommendations to current or future accounting students, you know, through your educational experience or professional experience, you know, what can you offer to some of our student listeners to allow them to better prepare for what today's accounting environment really looks like? 

Nicole: (12:38)
That's a big question. I would say for future students, it's really important to find a program that fits in your life. So my program was CSU Global. I would not be where I'm at without the program through CSU Global. Just the flexibility, you know, it's affordable. It lets me, you know, get really good quality education on my own time, but there's still accountability. I still have a professor that I'm speaking with. And what's really neat too, is a lot of the professors from their certificate side, they're all, they all have certificates, and, you know I have a couple of lawyers that were professors and they all are looking for resources for us as students, and so it's super important. What I've done is taken advantage of some of those free resources that our professors are offering. just, you know, little webinars that you can join that my current professor has offered, which has just been amazing in getting prepared for current students. I think it's just as important to make sure that, you know, the program's working in your favor and also, I think it's the program that I'm currently in, I am finding that my investment is different. than You know, undergrad I feel like everybody was just trying to get by graduate and get to the next step. And now it's, so it's such a different mentality for me and where I genuinely not only do I need to learn these things, but I want to learn these things because I genuinely want to be the best professional that I can be. And so I think, you know, time management and just finding the right program, being in the right program and just really realizing the investment of your time and of course, you know, money with the program that you're in. I think it's just really important to know and take advantage of resources that are there even, you know, even if you're planning on doing your certificate in a couple of years, educating yourself as much as possible ahead of time, I think just sets you up for better success. 

Closing: (14:48)
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