Changing Strategies

What is the most ideal learning strategy? Some people would say sitting in a quiet place with little external distractions. Some might say by using the information in a practical setting to gain experience with feasibility. Some people would be okay with writing a detailed Data Analysis homework assignment, while listening to a 3 year old’s comments on her favorite part of Monster’s University as she watches the movie. Add to that a teething one year old who wants to be held and then doesn’t want to be held (repeat many, many times). You may have already guessed, but for me, the answer is all of the above.

The next most logical question might be, “How do you do that?” While writing the response, I chuckle, as probably most parents do, and say, “I just do.”  The truth is that there are limited options and I have to maximize the time I do have and prioritize the tasks effectively. This weekend I have several chapters to read (for all three classes), an intense homework assignment due, and preparations for a quiz on Tuesday. For this blog, I am not even going to mention the stuff at work!

The truth is, I could probably be doing much better if I had unlimited time and no distractions (an outcome I would never want). The benefit to be gained though, is that amidst all these deadlines and pressures, a thought emerged that everybody wants that. I am working with the best of what’s around and although I am not doing it “perfectly,” I am growing tremendously. Changing my thought process between what is comfortable and what is effective is not easy. Most likely, when I graduate, I will be in the midst of many projects, deadlines, and meetings. If I can grow and endure with all these considerations now, it is likely that I will be well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. “We all make time for what we want to make time for.”


EY MAcc Speaker Series—Susan Blasik-Miller

This past week Susan Blasik-Miller from the law firm Freund, Freeze & Arnold came to talk to our class. As a lawyer, most of her daily work is spent either training doctors how to avoid malpractice suits or defending them in court. However, unlike many of our other speakers, she chose not to talk about her work. Instead, Mrs. Blasik-Miller talked about things she has learned over her career that she wished someone had told her in college.
Some of her main points were:

Email vs. Personal Communication:

While it is often times easier to just simply send emails to a colleague, it is very beneficial to pick up the phone or stop by their office. By having live or face-to-face communication, you will be able to develop strong connections and strengthen your personal network.

Remember Who Owns Your Work Computer:

What you do or what you send from your work computer can probably be recovered by the IT department of your company. Never post anything from your work computer that you wouldn’t want your boss to see!

Own your Mistakes:

When you do something wrong, own up to it. It is much better for you to admit your mistake to your boss rather than having your boss find the mistake later on when it cannot be fixed. Be open with your communication and don’t try and cover anything up.

Find a Mentor:

Having someone who is experienced in the work you will be pursuing to bounce questions and ideas off of will help maximize your talent. These relationships develop over time so do not fret if you don’t have a mentor within the first 6 months of work.

Mrs. Blasik-Miller touched on many other topics related to career development. It was a terrific experience receiving advice from someone so successful!


CFA Research Challenge

This year, I have had the incredible opportunity to participate in the CFA Research Challenge with three of my fellow SMF’s. The CFA is considered to be the must-have designation in the finance world and the CFA Society is represented by thousands of charter holders. Each year, local CFA Societies host and review local level research papers prepared by college students. Each region decides on a few papers they deem competitive enough to make it to the regional and global rounds. Our local level includes the CFA Societies of Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati so we are competing against the likes of University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati, Miami University and another Ohio State team. If we are chosen for the next level, we will have to prepare a presentation to give to regional and global CFA Societies who will decide on a global winner.

OC Front

We are assigned Owens Corning (OC) as our company to be researched. At the beginning of the competition, we were invited to an investor presentation put on by the Vice President of Investor Relations for OC and hosted by Ohio STRS (State Teachers Retirement System). At that point in time, we found out we had a lot of work to do. We started by splitting the paper into different sections (business segments, investment thesis, financial analysis, investment risks and industry profile) and worked individually on each section then came back together to edit for content and grammar.

JohnWill

By the time we reached a week out from the submission deadline, we knew we had to get in gear. Over that last week, my teammates and I spent anywhere from 5 to 10 hours each day working on the paper. Most of the content was done with about a day to go, we just needed to finalize our grammar and make sure it was pristine. Despite our beliefs that we were ahead, we ended up scrambling at literally the last moment to get it turned in. Who knew that trying to combine a 35-page paper would bog down a MacBook and take a few minutes to upload to the internet? In the end, the submission went through at 12:00.15 and we were safe. Check back here in a few weeks to see if we made it to the regional round!


MAcc Speaker Series: Susan Blasik-Miller

One of the many great aspects of the MAcc Program (and Ohio State in general) is the abundance of fascinating speakers that are brought in to present to us. We have something called the “MAcc Speakers Series” and this goes on throughout the entire year. We have several speakers from all different professional and personal backgrounds come in to present on a topic of their choosing, and we also get to ask them questions. Recently, we had a speaker who has an extensive background in law. She also happened to be a current MAcc student’s mom!

For Susan’s presentation, she chose to share some of the insights and knowledge she has acquired throughout the years of being a lawyer, an employer, and a mother. Here are some of the things she shared with us:

  1. Email vs. Personal Communication: There are many positive and negative aspects that come with email and constant communication. She stressed the importance of building relationships, and how this is difficult to do from email communication alone. Also, never deliver bad news over email or ask for special consideration over email.
  2. Remember who owns your business computer: Susan shared horror stories of people losing jobs, being sued, and suffering severe embarrassment from things they have done on their business computers. Overall, it is best to keep emails free of jokes or innuendos and to not use your business computer for something that you wouldn’t want others to see.
  3. Own mistakes: We should always admit to our mistakes. Although we might get punished for admitting our mistakes, companies have professional liability insurance in case mistakes happen. The insurance no longer applies if we try to cover up our mistakes, and thus it is important to never try and cover anything up.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself: Get your work done, but also build relationships within the firm and try to meet as many people as possible. This could include doing things such as joining work intramural teams, volunteering, and going to other social events with coworkers.
  5. Find a mentor: It is important to find a mentor at any stage in your career. You are never too old to have a mentor!
  6. Broaden your horizons: Join organizations that you are interested in joining. You never know what people you may meet that will one day be future clients or a future contact for a business opportunity or favor.

I really enjoyed Susan’s presentation and she shared some very good things to think about as we begin our future careers. I also like that many of the speakers, such as Susan, do not have a background in accounting, but they are still able to share very relevant and interesting topics with us.


Redeeming the dreaded GROUP WORK!

What does your group work scar look like? Maybe it’s just me, but I was all messed up from a few particularly dysfunctional group work experiences in undergrad. If you had asked me a year ago, I’d tell you that group work is where at least 1 person doesn’t pull their weight and everyone is trying to just get through it, but doesn’t really enjoy it.

Enter in Fisher CORE team to my life. 5 people (including me) assigned intentionally to work together for all of the 11 CORE classes. This system is brilliant, and something I like to highlight when people ask me, ‘what has surprised you about your time here?’ Here are a few quick reasons why the CORE team has been a redemptive group work experience for most folks.

  1. Desire: Everyone wants to be here and is much more mature than undergrad. You don’t just pause your career for 2 years without some serious intent to learn and grow!
  2. No more free loading: Having the same group for every class means we are all incented to put our best foot forward and build trust with a team for a whole year. #incentivesaligned
  3. Friendship: Teams often become good friends with each other given all the time you spend together. I recently hosted my team member Sahil (from India) at my parents’ house in Austin TX over winter break (pictured below).Core Team 4
  4. Logistics: Scheduling with just 1 group is much simpler than multiple groups for 1 class.

Thank you Fisher (and CORE TEAM #4!) for redeeming group work and giving my group work scar time to heal! I’m even more ready to enter the workforce and work in teams than when I started here. #teamlearning


Parks and Recreation

Here are a few of Columbus’ hot spots to escape to the great outdoors!

Highbanks Metro Park:

highbanks

  • 1,159 acre park
  • Includes wide range of activities, such as Biking, Canoeing/Kayaking, Cross-country ski trails, Fishing along the Olentangy River, Natural forest and play areas, Nature centers, Picnic areas, Sledding hills
  • 8 different hiking trails with a variety of terrain and distances
  • Domesticated dogs and cats permitted

Scioto Audubon Metro Park:

SAMP

  • 120 acre park
  • Located along the Scioto River and south of downtown Columbus
  • Includes wide range of activities, such as Biking, Fishing on the Scioto River, Nature center, Picnic areas, Obstacle course (The Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course), and Rock wall climbing
  • 3 trails (up to 2.5 miles long)
  • Domesticated dogs and cats permitted – 2.5 acre dog park (separate areas for large and small dogs and an agility course)

Three Creeks Metro Park:

3 Creeks

  • 1,100 acre park with over 100 species of birds
  • 8 different hiking trails with a variety of terrain and distances
  • Includes a wide range of activities, such as Biking, Canoeing/Kayaking on Alum Creek leading to Big Walnut Creek, Fishing at Heron Pond, Natural forest and play areas, and Picnic areas
  • Domesticated dogs and cats permitted – 4 acre dog park in Sycamore Fields Area

Heritage Trail Metro Park:

heritage_trail dog park

  • 87 acre park
  • 6.1 mile multi-use trail
  • 3.6 mile horseback riding trail
  • 4 acre dog park (separate areas for large and small dogs )

Antrim Park:

Antrim

  • 120 acre park
  • Grass athletic fields, basketball court, tennis court, and playground
  • Trails for hiking, running, biking or skating
  • Access to lake for fishing

*Hidden Gem – Hayden Falls Park:

Hayden-Falls-Park-

  • 2 acre gorge habitat with 35 foot waterfall and endangered plants
  • Includes a boardwalk, steps and an overlook, as well as picnic tables

Studio 35: Dudethon 2016

I know I have already made a habit of writing about all of the wonderful, exciting things to do around Columbus. However, I just recently attended a brand new event that is a must share for those who have never heard of it.

Studio 35 is a cinema/draft house in the neighborhood of Clintonville, which is one of my favorite areas in Columbus. Fun fact that I didn’t know until writing this blog is that Studio 35 is Columbus’ oldest independent movie theater and draft house. This is an awesome establishment because they show so many different types of movies and have a full bar out front! You can catch anything from a new release to classic cinema to a special event built around a movie.

This is where Dudethon comes into the picture. Dudethon is an annual event that sells out every year at Studio 35. This year, there were three different nights. Each night, a different brewery brought in staff and did a sampling event of all of their beers. The night I chose to attend (Friday) was Columbus Brewing Company’s (CBC) night and we sampled around 10 different (DELICIOUS) beers from them. Each night was sold out, so it was a lively crowd in the theater. In between beer samples, Studio 35 showed funny Youtube videos (grandmas trying Fireball, anyone?), auctioned off prizes and told us about the beers we were drinking.

After sampling was over, everyone took a quick break before the main event: the screening of The Big Lebowski (hence the name Dudethon). It was super fun because everyone in the crowd loved the movie and you could hear people quoting their favorite lines throughout the evening. There were even a couple of super fans that dressed up like characters. The great thing about Dudethon is they were completely fine with people coming in and out to grab a beer at the bar, order pizza from the nearby pizza place or just run out to grab a snack of popcorn.

Studio 35 does events like these periodically throughout the year and this was my first time attending. It was a great time and I was even lucky enough to win a raffle that included two free movie tickets and a free popcorn. Looks like I will be returning soon…maybe for Bad Movie Night (BMN) in the future!

To learn more about Studio 35 and plan your own visit, visit their website below. Trust me, you will be going back again and again for the movies, beer and all around amazing atmosphere.

http://studio35.com/

Dudethon 2


Graduate Assistantships: Part 2

The other week I wrote a blog post about my Graduate Assistantship (GA) position of being a graduate student ambassador for the MAcc program. This week I will write about being a Teaching Assistant, the other GA position offered. To do this I interviewed two current students in the MAcc Program, Jeremy Cranmer and Kevin Slone, who are both TA’s.

1.What classes do you teach?

  • Jeremy: ACCMIS 2200 – Intro to Accounting 1 (Financial Statements) and ACCMIS 2300 – Intro Accounting 2 (Managerial).
  • Kevin: 2200 Intro to Accounting 1 Lab, 2300 Intro to Accounting 2, and an online version of 2200 Lab to the 4 OSU regional campuses.

2. How many classes are you required to teach each session? 

  • Jeremy: 3 semester long classes.
  • Kevin: 6 classes for the entire year.

3. How long does it typically take for you to prepare for a class? 

  • Jeremy: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Kevin: It generally takes me about an hour to familiarize myself with the problems we are covering in class and know how to work the solutions cold.

4. How long are the classes you teach?

  • Jeremy: 1 hour 20 minutes, but the classes often end early.
  • Kevin: 1 hour 20 minutes, but I generally get done 10-15 minutes early depending on student participation.

5. What goes on in a typical class you teach?

  • Jeremy: We get a sheet of problems before class so we can prepare. Then during class we walk through those problems on the board with the students and attempt to get the students to participate.
  • Kevin: In a typical class we have 3 long story problems. Generally, I start class by going through the first problem on the board leading the students through the solution. The next two problems the students usually get 10-15 minutes to work in groups while I walk around and check on their progress. Then I’ll walk through the problem on the board. The students typically do not have many questions, about 5 during a class and they’re generally very simple.

6. What additional duties do you have besides teaching?

  • Jeremy: We also proctor the exams for ACCMIS 2200 and ACCMIS 2300 at night. We get to sit there and work on homework during this time. We also help grade the exams.
  • Kevin: Proctor exams, grade exams, and occasionally handle the intro email account. We proctor exams about 3-4 times per semester. Each TA usually grades about 80 exams. 1 out of every 4 weeks I handle the email account where students ask homework questions.

7. Would you recommend this position to a prospective MAcc student? 

  • Jeremy: I would recommend it because it’s a good refresher for our harder MAcc courses and really helps with fears of public speaking if you’re like me and hate it. You get used to standing up there quickly.
  • Kevin: I would highly highly highly recommend accepting this position if it is offered to you. You will be scared at the idea of standing in front of a room of kids and having to explain your way through basic accounting, but you will get over that fear within the first 2 weeks. You will instantly notice the improvement in your public speaking and presentation abilities. I was a timid public speaker coming into the program and now have no problem being the lead speaker for a team project presentation in class. It will deeply enhance your knowledge of basic accounting because as you prepare for your classes, you will try to anticipate student questions and then re-affirm to yourself the reasoning behind why we do things in accounting. It will also refresh your basic knowledge and help you in your path to becoming a CPA. You’ll find that the job is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of working the problems. I enjoy it.

8. Additional comments? 

  • Kevin: The supervisor, Marc Smith, is a very fun supervisor for which to work. He always buys decent food for all meetings, gets to know you very well personally, and will always stand behind your decisions in any disputes with students. You are expected to spend about 10 hours per week in your GA duties. Sometimes it ends up being more and sometimes less. It will keep you busy and is definitely a good investment of your time.

International Ethics

One great benefit of the Fisher MAcc Program is the ability to take elective courses in the business school outside of the Accounting Curriculum. This provides students the opportunity to take courses offered to Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM), as well as Specialized Master of Finance (SMF) students.

This session I am enrolled in a Master of Human Resource Management course titled International Ethics that is taught by Professor David Freel. Professor Freel has a wide set of experiences from being a trial lawyer as well as traveling to Europe to help companies and governments solve ethical disputes. Throughout his career, Professor Freel has met several influential people abroad. Because of these connections, a component of our International Ethics course includes hearing from various professionals involved in compliance related roles abroad.

This past week the class was able to have Drago Kos speak to us over skype. Drago Kos is the current Bribery Chairman for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED). In his presentation to the class, he discussed his daily responsibilities, recent projects he has been working on, as well as how we can continue to improve economic fairness through the banishment of bribes and other forms of corruption.

I am looking forward to an exciting session of classes and learning more about ethical practices overseas!


How to Make the Most of Your Last Break

This December, I was faced with the realization that I was approaching my final “break.”  I have no additional grad school in my future, and I don’t know when I will take more than 2 consecutive weeks of vacation during my career. Moreover, future vacations will always be at least a bit overshadowed by thoughts of work left undone. It is a unique (and wonderful) feeling of freedom to finish final exams and presentations and “check out” for 4 weeks.

I am normally one to over-schedule my time off (as well as my time on), but I took a rewarding step out of my comfort zone this year and planned nothing over my break. By “nothing,” I mean that I had a couple of weekends set aside for my wife and me to go visit family over the holidays, but nothing in the way of a big trip or project. I was worried I would end the break with regret that I hadn’t taken full advantage of it, but having a more relaxing, spontaneous schedule was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Instead of having an epic, 4-week adventure, I scattered a number of “micro-adventures” throughout the break. My wife and I have a 1-year-old pup, an American Brittany Spaniel named “Gus,” that we have trained for hunting. I used the break to take him out about a dozen times to different bird preserves and local conservation land I hadn’t yet visited for both hunting and trail runs. In the afternoons/evenings, I worked through a long list of to-dos that have been accumulating over the year. Fortunately, these were much less chores and much more projects I have been hoping to accomplish with this much-needed free time. Lastly, I took the opportunity to make a small trip down to North Carolina to visit my favorite professor from undergrad, a much overdue trip.

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Most importantly, I ended the break feeling two things: first, despite not having a big trip/adventure, I felt the excitement and satisfaction of nevertheless having an adventurous break. Secondly, I felt relieved – normally I come to the end of a vacation or break to the realization that I have to get caught up with the things I missed, but by spreading out activities and projects alike, it made for a great blend of spontaneity and accomplishment.

For those who still have the luxury of 4-week breaks or who are looking forward to them in future plans of grad school, I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Change your routine: Whether that means waking up earlier or later, take the opportunity to “buck” the routine – it will be a relief in its own right
  • Manage your to-dos: Find the right amount of things that actually need to get done and will feel good to accomplish, and make sure not to overload your time with chores that you won’t enjoy
  • Have Adventures: Even if you can’t travel, find places close-by that you haven’t visited, go for runs in new neighborhoods, and do whatever else you can to make sure your eyes fall on new scenery
  • See Friends: I love staying connected with my friends, and it is hard when they are spread across the country. Time spent face-to-face with old friends is easily the most rewarding use of my time.

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