My Winter Break

It’s hard to believe we are already back and are starting our final semester in the MAcc Program here at OSU. After finals, it was nice to go home to New Jersey and get some R&R. I spent my break relaxing and spending time with my family and friends. Most of my time was spent bingeing shows on Netflix or watching sports, like OSU winning the Rose Bowl!  

My dog decided to take a nap under the tree

I also spent my break starting to prepare for the dreaded CPA exam. I plan on taking the Audit section first sometime in February so wanted to get a head start on that. Sometime in a future blog post, I’ll talk about mine and other students experience taking the CPA exam will in classes because it is very doable!

After some much needed rest, I’m now back in Columbus and back in class. In the spring semester, all of our classes are elective-based classes so you get to choose what interests you most (and it means no Friday classes!). I am in classes like Fraud Examination and Negotiations. These classes seem like they are going to be very interesting and am excited to see how the semester goes!

Traveling Back in Time to Cuba

Fresh off the excitement of finishing my first semester of graduate school, I decided to take a break from the books, cold weather, and CPA prep courses and travel to Cuba with my brother.

Wait – that Cuba? Yes, that Cuba. Visiting Cuba has always been a dream of mine.  My grandmother immigrated to the United States from Cuba before the Castro regime took over in the early 1950s.  Due to obvious political conflicts between the U.S. and Cuba, the U.S. government restricts U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba unless they meet one of 12 OFAC requirements.  No one in my family has ever been there, and my grandmother has not visited since she left 65+ years ago.  When the opportunity to travel to Cuba arose for my brother and me in November, we jumped right on it.

To get to Cuba, we took a small cruise ship that left from Miami.  Cuba is only about 330 miles off the coast of Miami.  Upon arrival, I felt as if I stepped back time time.  The first thing you notice is the old cars.  They are everywhere!  Due to economic sanctions, it is nearly impossible for Cubans to get new cars or new car parts.  Because of this, they make sure to keep their cars from the 1950s in top shape and even make their own parts for repairs.

Pink Car Cruising down the Street
Me in a 1955 Cadillac Eldorado

My brother and I rented a gorgeous 1955 Eldorado for three hours and drove all over Havana (we had a driver) to see the sights before deciding which ones we would explore more.  Driving around, you will not see anything that you would in America: no fast food chains, major billboards, bright lights, or department stores.  Communist propaganda is everywhere around the city.  Even the U.S. embassy was closed.  The only American reference we saw was the capital building in Havana, El Capitolio, which was modeled after the White House.

El Capitolio in Havana

Day-to-day life is drastically different too.  Many Cubans do not have cell phones or internet access.  One Cuban we talked to said they got access to Google the week before we arrived (early December).  For example, Cubans have to go to the “Black Market” to watch American TV shows we see every day, such as South Park or Game of Thrones.   The vast majority of people in Cuba make $10 a month, with doctors being the highest paid at $50 a month.  Education and healthcare are free for all and you can take advantage of these services as much as you want.  A tour guide we had showed us her “Ration Book” that she has to take to get her bread and rice from the government.

My trip to Cuba was eye opening and made me feel very blessed to have been born in the United States.  Everyone we talked to was extremely friendly. I’m very grateful to be able to visit and share my experience!

Thanks for reading!

Making an Impact

When deciding on an MBA program, an important aspect for me was the availability of opportunities in the social responsibility and sustainability space. Students interested in sustainability can get involved with the Net Impact Organization on both a national and local level. The Fisher College of Business has its own graduate student chapter which focuses on connecting students to local sustainability leaders and exposing them to career paths within the social responsibility and sustainability areas.

Last semester, I competed with teams in both the Penn State Net Impact Case Competition as well as the University of Colorado Net Impact Case Competition and my team is heading to the Colorado case competition finals in February! Case competitions are a great way to create innovative business ideas solving both a business need and sustainability challenge, as well as network with other students with similar interests.

Along with local events, speakers, and volunteer opportunities, students are also encouraged to travel to the annual Net Impact Conference, hosted in a different city each year.

Hear about the 2018 conference first-hand from first-year MBA student Courtney Clark:

Imagine three days of keynotes, panels, and discussions about many of our world’s most pressing social and environmental issues – energy consumption, fast fashion, food insecurity, climate change, and inequity and injustice. Add in opportunities to explore purposeful careers, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and corporate impact, and you’ve likely found yourself at the annual Net Impact Conference!

Net Impact is a non-profit organization that helps students and professionals develop and use their business skills to further social and environmental causes. I was fortunate to attend the conference in Phoenix this past October.

I am passionate about developing a career that enables me to leave a positive impact on our society and environment, and the Net Impact Conference was an incredible opportunity for me to explore different career options, learn from current professionals, and network with a variety of non- and for-profit organizations. I walked away with a broader and deeper understanding of what it means to build a career focused on social impact, and I can’t wait to attend next year’s conference in Detroit!

-Courtney Clark, First-Year MBA Student

A Full MBLE Life

A Full MBLE Life

How time flies! I couldn’t imagine that we just finished our first semester. It’s a significant journey that happened so many things, including happiness and difficulty but made us quickly grow up.

The studying portion

Back to what we learn from this semester, we not only get benefit from the dense academic atmosphere in class, which can make us positively participate in class, such as having discussions, doing projects with classmates, and even studying from playing games in class. Indeed, an excellent academic atmosphere helps us deeper thinking. But also, through the way of guest speakers in class and tour visit activities, we have opportunities to know people who work in supply chain and logistics companies, such as Land Grant Brewing Company, DHL and UPS. Combining the knowledge with practice, MBLE program greatly instills to students.

 

The career portion

I have to say what the Fisher Career Department did for MBLE’s career can’t be better. In this semester, we have a lot of opportunities for networking. The first is the Career Fair. At the beginning of this semester, the start of September, we had two big Career Fairs, including the TLA Career Fair and the Fisher Career. It’s a channel provided for MBLE students to meet face to face with recruiters of related supply chain and logistics companies, such as Amazon, GE, and DHL. There is no worry about the performance in the career fair. Because, before the start, from June, the Fisher Career Center has been helping MBLE students to fully prepare, including helping students form their own START, revising resume, and teaching how to prepare to interview. Next, we have all kinds of experience sharing meetings. For example, Fisher Career Center invited the alumni of the MBLE, such as some employees in LBrands and DHL, to share their working experience in supply chain and logistics area, and also invited second-year MBLEs to share the experience of an internship in companies like Cummins, Niagara Bottling, and Greif. The third benefit is the mentorship program, which provides each MBLEs a chance to know a mentor who works in the field of supply chain, logistics, retail, and other industries, and communicate with our mentor up to six months. In this semester, we had a big dinner networking night which provided a chance for every student to know any mentor. In addition, Fisher Career Center did other events to help MBLEs build their basic career wherever in America and China.

 

The fun portion

In addition to our first activity for celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival, we held another interesting party for celebrating Halloween Festival. For better experiencing the pleasure of Halloween Festival, everyone made up with a strange appearance, together carved pumpkins, and ate traditional American snacks. Via playing games together, this happy time facilitated our friendship with each other.

The last activity we held a potluck party for celebrating the Thanksgiving Day. We did some traditional Chinese food, American food, and even Spanish food! We also invited our Director of MBLE program, Steve DeNunzio and Corp & Grad Relations Specialist of Fisher Career Center, Steve Singer, to participate in this food communication event. We chatted with each other, learning about the history of Thanksgiving Day and the ways of celebrating the special festival for American. How wonderful night when everyone was surrounded by many cuisines!

It’s really a fulfilling semester, but actually, it’s just a start! I believe there are many interesting and significant things waiting for us MBLEs to explore!

 

 

 

 

Class Dinner Time!

One of the things I love most about the SMF program is the diversity of our students. Last Friday, the SMF Council organized a dinner to celebrate the culmination of our capstone class. During the capstone class, all the teams were able to develop an equity research report about a company of our choosing. Two Fridays ago, all teams presented their final report to a panel of professors and the entire class.

SMF Capstone Presentation

That same Friday, the Fisher Indian Association was celebrating Diwali Night. One of the SMF students, Sowmya Mikkilineni, introduced me to this beautiful dress (see picture below).

Kurti dresses!

Our initial plan was to attend the SMF dinner and then head over to Diwali night at Fisher. The SMF dinner end up taking longer than planned—it had been a long day presenting our equity research reports. However, we were able to take a group picture with everyone before they headed home!

Group Picture at Tadka

Big shoutout to Sowmya and Jayaprabha for being kind enough to introduce us to all the exotic dishes. We ordered so much food but I’m really glad we did!  The food was truly delicious.

I look forward to our next group dinner soon!

Ferny

Chicago, Snow, and Final

I’m finally back and done with my finals. Hooray!

With no intention of bothering you with grueling details of assignments, projects and exams, here are some important updates on the bright side of my life:

Snow

Columbus welcomed bona fide snow that successfully accumulated overnight at the end of November. It was something like this… isn’t it beautiful?

First decent snow

Chicago

Over Thanksgiving break, my friend Rizvi (who is also from the SMF program) and I took an awesome road trip to Chicago. We visited the famous Millenium Park, strolled alongside Lake Michigan and experienced Black Friday vibes at Macy’s.

The Bean at night
The Loop at a glance

While wind chill was real in the Windy City, we managed to stay warm by eating a lot! We slept in and gobbled down cheesy deep dish pizza in our Airbnb, enjoyed all-you-can-eat hot pot in Chinatown on Thanksgiving and wrapped up our last night in the city with some warm pho soup. Trying new food is the best part of traveling, don’t you all agree?

Giordano’s
Little Lamb Hot Pot
Pho Cafe

Oh and before we hit the road on Saturday, November 24, 2018, we witnessed Ohio State’s seventh consecutive victory over Michigan in our car. What a life!

Go Bucks!

Farewell to Autumn 2018

I cannot believe that my first semester in the MHRM program has come to a close. As I reflect on the past 14 weeks, countless hours have been spent in the classroom, at work, studying, and participating in school-related activities. Though most of my posts focus on the professional aspects of graduate school, I wouldn’t have created a realistic picture of my experience thus far if I didn’t mention the amount of fun I’ve had attending social events, hanging out with my classmates, and getting to know Columbus. Many great memories have been made but here are just a few of my highlights of the semester.

The Friendships

Coming directly from undergrad into the program, I was used to being in a place where I felt comfortable, had a close group of friends and network of supportive professors. Moving to Columbus meant exchanging that lifestyle for a city and university where I didn’t know anyone. I was nervous about how I would make connections and create a similar community for myself.

As the academic year began, I was able to get to know my peers through orientation activities such as a high ropes course, scavenger hunt, and happy hour mixer. Continuing through the semester there were social events organized by the MHRM council that allowed me to develop friendships with my classmates. It was much easier to survive the semester with them by my side.

The Football Games

Another one of my favorite activities of the year was attending the football games. The saying that Ohio State has “The best fans in the land” is no understatement. Buckeye nation is high energy and school spirit all the time and you truly get to experience that by attending a game. Being at the OSU vs. Michigan game was one of my memorable experiences of the semester. 

 

The Opportunities

The Fisher College of Business has afforded me so many great opportunities to develop myself personally and professionally throughout the semester. Each month there are numerous events that graduate students can take advantage of such as networking lunches, internship search workshops, leadership conferences, and skills training series.

One unique example of this was being invited to have lunch with the dean of the business college.  The top three teams from the MHRM Internal Case Competition were recognized for their hard work and able to give feedback on how future competitions could be improved.

The City of Columbus

Perhaps one of the most unexpected things about moving here has been how much I enjoy being in Columbus. There is no shortage of things to do or places to see. In my free time, I love to explore Columbus’s different neighborhoods, new restaurants, coffee shops, and attend special events going on out throughout the city. I’m happy to call Columbus my home for the next year and a half.

Lessons From the Second Session

At the end of the first session, I wrote a post about two things that I learned during the first session. I shared them with you because I believe they are important for you to learn and expect if you are admitted into the program. In this post, I want to share one more important lesson from the second session.

The Importance of Teamwork

The importance of teamwork cannot be overemphasized for many reasons. One big reason being the fact that every organization relies on teams and groups of people collaborating together to accomplish goals and drive results. As a result, the SMF program is structured in a way that simulates real life experiences as most of our assignments are team-based assignments.

For this reason, it is important for current and future SMF students to develop teamwork skills. That is, the ability to effectively cooperate with others in a manner that leads to the actualization of the desired goal. There are many teamwork skills that team members can employ to be effective teammates. These include communicating well with others, contributing equally to discussions, completing agreed upon tasks e.t.c. But, there’s one skill I would like to focus on in this post: the importance of striking a healthy balance between virtual meetings and in-person meetings.

In my own experiences in this program, our team has achieved success by striking a healthy balance between meeting virtually and meeting in person. I believe as tech savvy as our generation is, we are susceptible to overly relying on virtual platforms to plan how we will conduct and finish projects.  But  we ignore the adverse effects of relying on virtual platforms, such as misunderstanding each other and failure to promote the development of deep interpersonal relationships. Therefore, my biggest encouragement to future SMF students is to strive to balance between meeting in person and meeting virtually. This will enhance team performance because it promotes clearer communication between team members and promotes the development of deep interpersonal relationships between team members.

Our team before the core capstone project presentation #greatestteammatesever

Planning and CFA

Hey everyone!

I am back to blogging again! I mentioned I would talk about how planning helps us in grad school. Developing time management and planning skills is particularly useful especially during the holidays. This year many of my peers traveled back home to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Thus many teams had to plan ahead how our schedules would look like, what times would be best to meet, before or after the holidays, dividing up the work, etc.

One thing that was particularly helpful in our planning process was the development of a project management plan. I was given the opportunity to develop a project management plan following a template that we were provided after one of our speaker’s presentations. In this project management plan, we assigned tasks to each member of our group would be responsible for and set deadlines to complete each milestone of our projects.

CFA Planning

I have been amazed by the level of effort, skills and diversity of knowledge that peers bring to class every day. I asked a couple of my peers preparing for the CFA and CFA Research Challenge to share about their experiences. This is what they said.


Joey Nguyen, Interested in Investments Track

How has your experience been getting ready for the CFA exam?

Since I’m taking it in December, while we are overloaded with a lot of projects and I also have to work on the CFA research challenge, I just think I would try my best for the exam. Everything you learn in the exam materials is what you need if you want to work as an equity analyst or break into investment management.

What are some takeaways of studying for the CFA?

Two things I learned from the preparation for the exam: first is stick to your schedule because it’s a big commitment, and second is being patient because you might have to take one level more than one. So just do it when you are really interested in asset management. One good thing is that 70% of the materials for level one will be covered from all courses in Fisher.

How has your experience been preparing for the CFA Research Challenge?

I have applied what I learned from class to a real investments project, also to work and to think as a real analyst. Bloomberg and modeling are two big key skills you can leverage from the classes while working. You also have to read a lot and try to find the key points (conceptualize it), learn where to start while reading a 10K and spot out the company’s problems. The CFA society also asks the company selected for the challenge to give a presentation about their company to all the participant teams so we need to know which questions we should ask to make them disclose some unique information.


Rizvi Bari, Interested in Investments Track

What are some takeaways of studying for the CFA?

I would say start as early as you can and do a lot of practice questions. I’m still trying to find more sources, but I think the professors are good resources. Working closely with the CFA institute helps a lot as well.


Jayaprabha Dhavale, Interested in Investments Track

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about taking the CFA?

Personally, as I was already working, I studied on weekends only. Many of the topics were not as hard but some topics were new. Topics covered in the Financial Analysis Valuation class are covered in the exam. Regarding planning, I’d say you have to have a time line such as finish studying equity by this date, derivatives by this date.


Thank you to my peers who collaborated on this 😊

Cheers and Go Bucks!

Where to Get Your Caffeine Fix

Like most grad students, something I can’t survive without is coffee. I need my two cups a day to keep myself going. One of the first things I did once school started was scope out some of the local cafes for some good coffee and study locations. I’ve put together a list of some of mine and fellow students favorites coffee shops around Columbus.

Latte form Stauf’s

If you are trying to stay on or near Fisher to get some quick coffee in between classes. there are a few options for you. Right on Fisher’s campus in Mason Hall is Rohr Cafe. It sells Starbucks coffee and pastries there. Speaking of Starbucks, there is a new one right on the corner of High and Lane just a quick walk from Fisher’s campus. There is ample seating for studying as well.

If you are trying to find some places to study farther off campus with some seriously good coffee, Columbus has many great options. One of my favorites I have been to so far is Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. They have a few locations around Columbus and all of them are a great environment to just grab a cup of coffee or get some serious studying done. They have many seasonal drinks as well as a Buckeye Latte which is a must try. If you are in the German Village shop I highly recommend taking a study break and stopping next door to the Book Loft. It has over 30 rooms filled floor to ceiling with books.

Getting reading done while at Fox in the Snow

Another favorite of many students is Fox in the Snow Cafe. They have two locations and has some amazing coffee and pastries. Fair warning this cafe does not have wifi as they want their customers to socialize with each other. It’s a great place for friends to hang out and drink some coffee or to get some reading done.

Some other locations that I recommend are The Roosevelt Coffee House, Heirloom Cafe (on OSU campus and locally owned/grown products), Mission Coffee and Red Velvet Cafe. My friends and I spend many afternoons at some of these shops getting our work done and enjoying some great coffee.