I’ve been traveling a lot lately. It’s one of my favorite ways to blow off some steam, explore another city, and meet new people. Most recently, I was in Chicago for a family friend’s wedding, a very large wedding, where there were 250 plus people for me to potentially mingle with. As I worked the room, networked a little, made conversation and friends, the first question I always got was, “Where are you from?” To which, of course, I replied Columbus. The follow up questions was sometimes, “Like, as in Ohio…?” But usually, the follow up question was always the same: “What do you do for a living?”
The greatest thing about meeting new people is telling them that I am pursuing a masters degree in HR. The reactions are always varied and people’s facial expressions are often hilarious. So here’s how I think people react to us Fisher students when we say what program we are in:
What people assume about you: You are lively, friendly and a “people person” who is bad at math and was probably a Psych or HR undergrad because you couldn’t cut it in business school the first time around.
How they react: They either ask for HR advice like, “Can I fire this person? Is doing ‘xyz’ legal? How do I negotiate a better contract and salary?” Or immediately start displacing their anger toward their HR person on you. Or they start telling you about their favorite episode of The Office with Toby in it.
The facial expression: It’s usually the facial equivalent of a “huh” or “that’s interesting…”
The truth: Yes, some of us are bad at math. Some of us were Psych or HR undergrads. But we are hacking it now in business school, so why wouldn’t we have before. We are strategic and hardworking and essential to any business. And not all of us are nice.
What people assume about you: You are boring, logical and akin to Spock from Star Trek. (Fisher needed more Vulcans for their diversity efforts.) You will be an accountant, live a long quiet life, and retire early.
How they react: “Oh… well that’s interesting.” Or they ask for tax advice and for new ways to get more refunds next year. Or they ask if what they did was legal. Or they walk away.
The facial expression: The facial equivalent to, “Where’s my date, I need to get away before I fall sleep.”
The truth: You like numbers. What’s wrong with that? They make sense to you and you enjoy what you do. And you’re gonna make really good money, have good hours, and yeah, you’ll retire early. And I’ve seen the MAcc kids here. They’re not boring.
What people assume about you: You’re a Type A jerk. You read the Economist. You come off arrogant. You started a successful lemonade stand when you were a kid, and probably a small business as a teenager.
How they react: They ask for stock tips, where you got your suit or dress, and the score for the latest sports event. They ask what REALLY constitutes insider trading and if what they’re doing is legal.
The facial expression: The facial equivalent of stifling excitement, because they really really want those stock tips.
The truth: You probably are Type A, but you’re not a jerk. You’ve got self-confidence and you’re used to walking the walk, not just being all talk. You probably did have a nice suit or dress on. You did have a successful small business. And what they’re doing IS insider trading, but you tell them how to get around it.
Those are my two cents. Tell me if I’m accurate.