Premiere already? Time flies!

I can’t believe it was only a year ago that I began my MBA journey.  I am a first year full time MBA and have only been in classes for less than two months, but so much has happened since I attended Fisher Season Premiere a year ago. Make no mistake, the MBA journey definitely begins this weekend at the class of 2014’s Fisher Season Premiere!

The most exciting part for me is that I get to experience this year’s Premiere on the other side of the table as an MBA Ambassador.  In this role, I get to appreciate the extensive work that the Graduate Programs Office puts forth to welcome Fisher’s future students.  Looking back, the exposure we had to the leaders of the business school, the multitude of resources/groups/programs offered, and the brief taste of a high energy MBA class was invaluable in preparing mentally for what will be an exhilarating two years of my life.  More importantly though, and something I didn’t realize until later, Premiere did an excellent job of outlining the culture at Fisher.  We have been taught early by one of our professors in the program, Dr. Inks, that the culture of an organization can be difficult to describe and sometimes the best way to define it is through first hand experiences.

So this Saturday, I look forward to watching the class of ’14 go through the same experience that was so important for me in deciding to come to Fisher.  I get to witness life-long friendships begin, how cool is that!  It may sound dramatic but the quality of people that I am surrounded by now that I am here is impressive.  I have enjoyed every second of getting to know my classmates and Premiere afforded me the opportunity to get a head start in developing relationships with them.  Fortunately, this weekend is not the last opportunity for curious prospective students to experience Fisher (the next event being held on December 10th) because those opportunities were an important part of my journey thus far… Let the fun begin!

Building Your Personal Brand

One of the really great parts of the Fisher curriculum is the required seminars by the office of Leadership and Professional Development. Their programs are designed to provide additional tools to help you develop your skills outside the classroom.

Today we finished the second session of the Personal Branding Workshop. The workshop is described:

In today’s competitive climate, it is important to distinguish yourself as a unique professional in order to resonate and leave a lasting impression with potential employers and your professional peers. The Personal Branding Workshops will introduce tools to help you develop your personal brand so you can clearly communicate who you are and stand out from your competition.

In the fist session, Professor Michael Bills was introduced to us. Among other things, Professor Bills teaches Innovation at Fisher and has extensive experience in brand positioning. He walked us through a branding model for a company, for the Fisher College of Business and for himself to show the application of branding on several levels. As he said in the lecture, “a personal brand positioning should emphasize what makes you unique and special, not what makes you the norm.”

A Personal Brand consists of:

  1. Your Beliefs
  2. Your Mission Statement
  3. Your Personality Traits
  4. Your Brand Statement

Branding yourself is a very introspective process. After the first session, we were tasked to come up with three to six personality traits that we thought described us in that unique and special way. I found this to be very difficult. You really have to look hard at yourself to figure out who you are and what you believe in, in a way that can be used to promote your unique self.

In today’s second session, it was Dean Karen Wruck‘s turn to share her personal brand with us, and it was nice to find out that we weren’t the only ones who found this exercise difficult! Afterward, Professor Bills led an interactive session in which many students shared their brands with the class and we discussed many things like the value of $5 words, choosing complimentary personality traits and ensuring your brand reflects your passion.

Overall I found the workshop to be a valuable tool to help me develop the “Story of Jen Barlette” that I will be able to share during interviews and to lay a foundation for understanding what I am really looking for after my time at Fisher.










A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about making lists. Writing out what I need to accomplish during the week is a good start but after making the lists, I try to figure out what takes priority. The questions I ask myself each week usually are:

  1. What’s the most important thing that I need to accomplish this week?
  2. Do I have a test this week? If so, how much time do I need during the weekend to study?
  3. How much reading do I have to do for the week in my classes? Will I have extra time during the week to get the material read or do I need to read some of it during the weekend?
  4. Do I have any work-related projects or committee meetings that I will need to work on after hours during the week? Since I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mondays and Wednesdays are pretty valuable study evenings but sometimes those nights get busy with other things.
  5. Looking ahead, what is going on in my classes in the next two or three weeks that I need to start working on?
  6. Can I plan some free time in my week/weekend?

Granted, no matter how much a person can plan, things do come up. But trying to figure out what my priorities are for the week, I can know that at the very least, I need to do the top two or three things on my lists.

And sometimes, question six wins. A person can only spend so much time studying. I had spent a good bit of Saturday studying for an exam so I took some time on Sunday to enjoy the sunshine and the last of the warm weather for the year. So I spent time with my dad while he harvested crops on our family farm.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon

I recently ran the Nationwide ½ marathon in Columbus this past weekend and it struck me how similar a marathon (or ½ a marathon in my case) is to the MBA experience.   There are countless similarities and lessons, but there are five that stand out to me immediately.


1.       There’s no substitute for hard work…

This is probably the most obvious, yet it’s the one that we overlook the most.  Many of us in the MBA program have to prioritize our time and meet endless obligations like: class, studies, clubs, info sessions, networking, interviewing, and the list could go on and on.  In our desire to get a job, we may neglect the reading in order to research a company coming to campus.  Everyone realizes that, as students, we still have (or want to have) lives outside the classroom.  BUT, there’s no substitute for putting the time in.  Just like training for a marathon, if you neglect it or push it back on the priorities list, you will feel it later on!  This is one I particularly struggle with, in my running and in my studies.

2.       Know your pace!

If you were the Type A – President of your class, 4.0 GPA, joined every club that was offered – then you will really need to figure out what you want in Grad School.  You may thrive on doing as many activities as humanly possible, and maybe you can do that!  But for those mere mortals out there, we aren’t Olympic runners and we aren’t able to participate in everything that we want to.  So, know your pace.  In my running, I can sustain a 12 minute mile for 13 miles, but if I tried to run an 8 minute mile pace, I would flame out within the first 5 miles.  The same is true for your school endeavors.  If you want the most out of an MBA education, be selective and commit to the activities that truly interest you, not necessarily the ones that will enhance your resume the most.  If you try to do everything, you will be miserable.

3.       Just keep running…

There will be times when you regret the decisions that you make.  For me, this was at mile 7.  I had run fine up until this point, but that’s when my muscles really started to experience the pain from my lack of training.  In class, there are times that you will fall behind.  It’s inevitable if you are going to football games, visiting with friends, and meticulously scoping out job opportunities.  The trick is to keep going!  Don’t get discouraged because you weren’t able to get your Data Analysis homework done.  At some points along the journey, you may have to take it easy, maybe even walk.  That’s OK!  But always keep moving forward.  Never quit, even when you’ve not as prepared as you should have been. 

4.       The power of community.

One of the best attributes of a marathon is the support that the community gives for the event.  While running, you may see signs like this: “I know you’re a random stranger, but I’m so proud of you!” or “Stop reading this sign, keep running!” or “Kick Asphalt!”  It’s amazing to see people come out of their homes to cheer runners on.  Children will be on the curb soliciting high fives.  It’s just fun.  In the same way that the community supports running, Fisher’s community supports its students.  One of the things that drew me to Fisher was that staff, professors, donors, and peers alike truly want you to succeed.  Although we are all trying to get jobs, the program is small and intimate enough for our priorities to be focused on supporting one another, rather than stepping on one another.  This is probably the best thing about Fisher!

5.       Have fun!

No matter what, have fun!  You are obviously a highly qualified individual if you’re considering Fisher, and you obviously want to invest in yourself.  Though that’s all well and good, remember that you will only be here two years.  You will make some amazing friendships that will last a lifetime, but you have to first make those friendships!  That means you may have to skip a reading in order to go out to dinner with someone.  Do it!  This time is valuable in so many ways, but I would argue the most important way is in developing your network.  Show the other Fisher students that you’re more than simply focused on your studies or the job afterwards.  You should hang out at the tailgate, join a club, or perform community service, maybe even help out with (or run) a marathon.  You won’t regret it. 

Regardless of your ambitions, remember that the time spent in the program is not a sprint, though at times it certainly feels that way.  It is a marathon, unfolding even after you’ve left the program.  So, prepare and compete, but never forget to enjoy every moment. 

Blogging it out … again

Well, it has been awhile, but I’m back. Despite a failed attempt at blogging last year, I have decided to give it another shot for year 2 in the MLHR program. A lot has changed since my last blog, so I’ll try to give the quick-and-dirty recap of what is going on in my world.

  1. I’m a SECOND YEAR: That’s right, I survived the trials and tribulations of a first year grad student and I’m ready to see this thing to the end. The cohort is as strong as ever. I would say as great as my summer was, the thing I missed the most was the cohort. While I’m looking forward to graduation, I’m not sure how I can go without seeing these people
  2. GHRA – For those of you who don’t know, GHRA (Graduate Human Resource Association) is a professional development, networking organization for those with an interest in HR. I’ve decided to take a leadership position in this group. It can be tiring at first, but very rewarding most days.
  3. Work – I was lucky enough to continue my summer internship, during the school year. I’m working at Cardinal Health as an HR Generalist. It’s a dream job come true – and that’s a good thing, because the 3 points listed here (thus far) don’t let me sleep as much as I would like.
  4. Nicole – If anyone knows me, then they are very familiar with my girlfriend Nicole. She’s also a grad student at Ohio State – studying Social Work. She’s is the one that helps me deal with all the other things I mentioned. Can’t say enough great things about this girl. We’ve been dating for a little over a year now and unlike my first attempt at blogging she’s stuck right by my side.

I would say that’s pretty good for a recap of where I am, and the main points of my life. I”m finding early on that most things only get  better with time like a good wine, or my experience in my program. Here’s to my 2nd round of blogging being better than the first.

— Shawn

As it turns out, curiosity won’t kill the cat … but fear is a four letter word.

Life is a little bit easier if we learn to overcome fear.  In the traditional sense, fear will keep us from discovering new places, and from meeting new people, and from trying crazy things (like taking a jump off a 30 foot high platform with a small harness and a heck of a lot of hope).

But fear has even bigger every day implications.  It can prevent us from seeing a new idea.  It can prevent us from doing our best in class.  It can prevent us from discovering our passions in life.  And yet, fear is so embedded in most of us that we let it get in the way more often than we should.

Fear of being wrong can lead a person to choose arrogance to cover up that fear.  Fear of being right can lead a person to shy away from their true potential.  Fear of not succeeding can prevent a person from trying in the first place.

So when you feel that ghoulish feeling you get when fear starts to creep up on you, fight it off with curiosity.  Approach situations full of questions, knowing that you probably know more than you think you do and yet less than you wish you did.  Approach situations with wonder, and let the world answer questions along the way.  Approach situations with an open mind, ready to absorb all of the new information you are about to receive.

Be curious about taking the GMAT. Be curious about your first accounting class if you’ve never taken one before. Be curious when you’re introduced to an idea in class that you’ve never considered.  Or better yet, be really curious when you’re introduced to an idea that you’ve always rejected — encourage an opportunity to re-evaluate what you think you know.

In reality, it’s important to know that sometimes it feels more comfortable to curl up under the covers and hide from fear, hoping it will go away.  And if you need a few minutes under the covers, use that time to prepare yourself to jump into your next opportunity with curiosity – a chance to learn and grow.


Einstein will emerge with curiosity!


What I would have done differently to prep for the GMAT

I am unable to boast of a high GMAT score but I am well positioned to offer some advice on how to make the most out of the exam.

Many worry about getting high scores but spend little time preparing for it: Sadly enough, that was my mistake!

Let me walk you through my mistakes. If you learn from my experience a stepping stone to a very high score awaits you.

Wrong Timing

 I decided to take the exam in my final semester whiles pursuing my undergraduate degree. I had a dissertation to complete and other requirements to fulfill as a senior. In spite of all these pressures, I thought I could pull a fast one by sitting for the GMAT as well. This adversely affected the number of hours committed to study and thus my preparation as a whole.  My advice: Do it when you know you can make enough time to study. It is critical!

Don’t rush

Prepare adequately.  That’s my simple advice. I committed little time and effort as I prepared for the exam. I had to take it quickly and get it out of the way so I could concentrate on my academics. I used barely 2 weeks to prepare; I just don’t know what I was thinking. You can tell I wasn’t being realistic, right? But sadly enough, many of us make the same mistake.

Be true to yourself

Know thy self and be true to yourself.  I need to read to get things right unlike others who may not even need to read at all. Just know your strengths and work on improving your weaknesses. Develop your own personal approach. Review various websites, course preps, blogs… and you will be amazed by the amount of information out there. Commit enough time to do your research before you buy any course material. Everyone is different and thus will need a different approach.

  Easy but not easy

It may look very easy when you start reading the books but from my perspective, don’t under estimate the exam. It is involved and you will need to prepare very intensely no matter how easy it looks. It takes approximately 4 hours to actually sit for the exam (including short breaks). Make sure you practice sitting and engaging your brain actively for 4 hours before exam day.  I know I made silly mistakes because I was exhausted after 3 hours. You can do better!!!

Update your knowledge about the exam and its structure.

The next generation GMAT is scheduled to take be administered from June 2012. Here is the current structure of the exam. Read more about the exam from links provided at the end of the post.

What’s your plan?

If you really want to get into that business school you have always wanted; if you want to be proud about your score; if you want to be as happy as a chick that comes out from an egg shell then study hard!!!

Discipline, commitment and hard-work will get you this:

More information about the exam can be found on these websites:

You can also spend some time reading about many more experiences


Can the football team affect your grad school experience?

Grown men crying
Buckeyes football - Bringing grown men to tears since 1890.

Ok, let me get this out of the way, I promise this is not a “The Buckeyes lost two games in a row, the Mayans were right, the world is ending soon” post. And I am not suggesting that the SMF program or Fisher in general is an expansion of the football team. However, the SMF program provides the unique experience to spend only one year (read: one football season) in Columbus. For the regular Buckeye fans (ok, I may be a bit past regular), this is just a sad season, and everyone will deal with it using their own levels of mourning, denial, and anger. I am talking about the out-of-towners, whether they are from Boston, Beijing, or Bombay.

There is an undeniable connection between Columbus and the Ohio State football team. This is sewn into the fabric of the city. So what if that huge chunk of the experience is missing for a season (like so many of our players are “missing”). Saturday, October 8, was one of the strangest “Football Saturday’s” I have experienced in my seven years in Columbus. Regardless if the game is home or away, campus is flooded with fans ages 8-80 decked out in their scarlet and gray, with as many Buckeye necklaces as you can find. Even on Fridays, all around Columbus and in the surrounding suburbs, businessmen and women don their Ohio State attire to show support and excitement for the upcoming game. After the game, it is commonplace to wear your attire out the local watering holes where throngs of your counterparts are either celebrating or drowning their sorrows along with you.

This was not the case a couple of weekends ago. This year – no national title talks, no College GameDay invading campus at least once, no January bowl trips giving us a great reason to extend our winter break just a few days longer. Maybe it is because I live off campus now, but I lived off campus last season and I did not seem to notice a big difference. It is certainly not depressing around campus this year, just different. I was out before and after the game. Jerseys were scarce. Buckeye beads were nowhere to be found. It might as well have been April. Maybe with only one year here, outsiders would never know what they are missing. Or maybe they don’t care. But part of the fun of a new country, city, or school is the local nuances.

So explore the arts district in the Short North. Gorge yourself with a Thurman’s Burger or a Dagwood from Ohio Deli. Watch out for the basketball team to make a Final Four run. And certainly do not lose sight of the top notch academics offered at Fisher. Those will always be here. I’m just saying, if you are on the fence about coming to OSU, ask any of the 105,000 people below. I can safely say that most of us (yes, I am in there somewhere) will never forget this day or this season. I hope our visitors will be able to say the same.


Fans rush the field after "The Game" in 2006

Integration: A key to better learning

This week I have experienced an awesome connection between various classes. Not only is this a sign of a well-rounded education, but it also shows I am learning useful things! Here are some examples:

  • My logistics elective helped me answer an accounting question relating to inventory costs
  • Two of my classes studied various aspects of FedEx’s strategy. It pays to have a good strategy in several subject areas.
  • Two classes analyzed the business of cell phones (one from a policy standpoint and another from an overall strategy standpoint).
  • One homework assignment mentioned the Cola Wars between Coke and Pepsi, which I had learned about last year.
  • The research workshop speaker this week is going to talk about transfer pricing, which I am learning about in one of my classes.

The lessons I have learned are not repetitive at all! They are supplemental and work together to help me apply overall business concepts in real-world situations. I have noticed that my business friends and I have a different perspective in some situations, thanks to our educational background. I recommend looking for ways to tie together lessons from various subject areas. Classes will be more interesting, and you will probably learn more – happy integrating!

“Like to Win”

Last week, I had the very unique opportunity to attend a Q&A session with Jeff Immelt – the CEO of General Electric.  Fisher hosted an event last week, the “National Middle Market Summit”, in partnership with GE Capital, dedicated to discussing ways to grow middle markets.  Although the session was during the workday, my manager understood how rare an opportunity like it was, and granted me permission to attend.  I was one of the few WPMBA students in attendance – the vast majority were full-time – and boy am I glad I went.

First off, Jeff Immelt was an extremely likeable speaker.  He spoke easily, with a friendly, non-intimidating tone.  Of course, when I mentioned this to my Dad, he did point out, “well, you don’t get to be the CEO of one of the world’s top companies without being the entire package”.  He also had some great advice and insight for us (somewhat) young students; most of us just at the start of what will hopefully be long and successful careers.

Mr. Immelt’s “4 Big Things for College Grads” are as follows:

1.  Think Global:  Embrace globalization, think inside of it

2.  Be a Systems Thinker:  Make breadth your strength

3.  Have Courage:  Don’t be afraid to make decisions

4.  Compete:  “Like to Win”

Dean Poon and Jeff Immelt
Dean Poon with Jeff Immelt at the Summit

I feel very lucky to have spend 60 minutes in the same room as Jeff Immelt, head of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and the CEO of GE.  Thank you, The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!