The New Normal: TXCPA-SA Student Member Sarah Sifuentes

The New Normal: TXCPA-SA Student Member Sarah Sifuentes

Your TXCPA-SA Chapter is reaching out to your colleagues – CPAs, CPA candidates, student members and affiliates – to learn how you all are coping with the new normal brought on by COVID-19.

TXCPA-SA student member Sarah Sifuentes, a senior/graduate accounting major at University of the Incarnate Word on the audit path, offered the following information about her new normal.

Are you currently working/studying from home, in your office solo or in the normal pre-COVID-19 arrangement? I am between job titles right now as I work at RBFCU in the Internal Audit department, but I am transitioning from my 6-month internship to an MSR (Member Service Representative) to learn more about the financial institution world. I hope to come back to the Internal Audit world when I graduate.

I am studying from home but I commute 4 days a week to RBFCU Live Oak to my job. My office is still needing me and my teammates to come in to the office.

How many people do you work/attend class with normally? At UIW I will usually have 20 to 30 students in the class for a close knit community. As for work, I was part of a 19-person team in Audit and now in the MSR position, I work with 30 other people in the branch.

What was a typical day like before “Stay Home, Work Safe”? A typical day for school was 3 undergraduate class on Tuesdays/Thursdays and 3 graduate night classes, which meant that I was gone the entire day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at night. Except for college and Sunday I went to work every day to help RBFCU members with their financial needs. In the evenings I would sometime go downtown to catch up with friends, such as go to the Majestic Theater or the Pearl Brewery to relax. Or I would go home to finish some assignments that I needed more time to prepare for my classes. I did have a fairly busy schedule, but I was very happy with being outgoing every week.

What is your typical day like now? I start my work days at 7 a.m., and I am currently transitioning from an Audit intern to a Credit Union Representative, which means I still have some Audit projects that I being asked questions on while in the other department. I usually have a work week that consists of 30-35 hours and I come home around 6 p.m. every work day. The rest of the evening is busy, as it is filled up by getting ready for the next day, making dinner, and other tasks before I end the day typically by 10 p.m. I start my school days at 8 a.m. to allow for some time to rest and begin with the more simple tasks in the morning, working my way throughout the day to more complicated course work. I do take breaks every 2 hours to give my brain and body a break, but it helps to continue working when you are in a streak of completing assignments. As for my day off, I try to walk my puppy or run errands.

Can you share a small or big success story or silver lining that you didn’t expect? This is not a big success story, but being home more has allowed me to finally focus on fixing and cleaning certain parts of my home that I have been putting off for a while. This has allowed me to feel more at peace with my personal space than I was before, which is leading to a more productive at-home workday.

Has there been a small or big not-so-successful happening? I have had some more time to apply for positions for 2021 or scholarships for college. One of my success stories is I have been extended an offer from the accounting firm FHK in San Antonio for spring 2021. I took the chance to apply for a position that was full-time, and I put myself out there and was rewarded for my effort.

Any words of wisdom for your fellow accounting types?  With the changing environment we are facing, make sure to take care of yourself. Stress is something that we all face but it should not become the way we live. Take the time to reevaluate your life to see what you ought to be doing differently and rejuvenate yourself if needed. When it comes to studies or anything else in life make sure to ask for help when you need it. There is nothing wrong with asking for help from teachers, parents, peers, and managers who are there for you.

What do you miss the most? Currently I am missing being able to move freely with my family and friends, as I do believe I did take people for granted. Of course, I can still keep in contact with my loved ones, but I miss being able to explore new places like going to Fredericksburg to pick peaches or traveling to Houston to see new shows.

What are you most grateful for? I am grateful that, before this epidemic became known, I was taking things slower which made an easier transition with staying at home for college and weekends. I still have my health, my home, my family, and especially my golden retriever puppy, Bella.

Lots to be grateful for indeed, Sarah!