Spring Break – Early!

I write this post from 30,000 feet in the air, on my way to sunny Las Vegas, Nevada!  That’s right – I am FINISHED with winter quarter!  Before you get too excited, I am not going to Vegas for fun – on the contrary, I am going for our biggest work meeting of the year.  Being that I am basically in charge of the event, it will be almost all work and very little play.  Nevertheless – it IS Vegas, and the highs are in the low 70s every day.

But, you say, aren’t finals next week?  And you would be right – finals are next week.  And because of this work trip, I had to take them early.  This, of course, added a huge layer of stress to what was already a very stressful time at work.  It meant that I had to complete all three work projects AND study for my finals before the end of classes.  I also had to find time to squeeze in some studying during the last week of class, in between work and class.

Somehow, I managed to get all those projects and all that studying done, just in time to take my finals this past Friday.  Both went surprisingly well – I was prepared for both.  Now, it’s on to the next big thing – our big work meeting.  Hopefully the meeting goes swimmingly, and by this time next week, I’ll be able to take a big sigh of relief. This spring break will truly be a break!

Duties of a Graduate Assistant

School is expensive.  We’re all looking for scholarships, right?  Well – Fisher MAcc has plenty to offer, especially if you look in the right places. For those of you who have applied and will be applying, you’ll be glad to know (if you didn’t already) that Fisher automatically considers you for merit-based financial aid.  Some financial aid is offered in the form of Graduate Assistantships (GAs), and are awarded to candidates based on the strength of their overall application credentials, relative to the rest of the admitted student pool (e.g. GMAT, grades, references, etc.).  They provide a waiver for a certain percentage of your tuition and fees, as well as a monthly stipend.  In exchange, you maintain solid academic standing and work for Fisher.  This post is dedicated to one job you might hold if you receive a GA position – assisting with Ohio State’s undergraduate Intro to Accounting course.

Helping with Accounting 211 or 212, the two introductory accounting courses required for all business majors, comes in one of two forms -(1)  Serving as a lab instructor and (2) Serving as a case writer.  I’ve had the pleasure of doing both, so I thought I’d give you some insight on what each entails.  This way, if you are a GA working with 211 or 212 you can make an informed decision about what you’d prefer to do.

1.  Your life as a Lab Instructor

Working as a lab instructor puts you in the classroom with 40 undergraduate students.  You’re in charge here, and will interact with your students twice a week.  You’ll have two classes, each of which will meet once a week – currently it’s one on Tuesday and one on Thursday, unless you’re a 212 instructor (you have two different classes on Friday).  I’m not sure if this will change under semesters though.

You won’t actually be teaching the course, but you will review major concepts that they’ve already covered in lecture.  So what’s your role?  You teach the labs.  Students work on four phases of an accounting case that helps them learn the basics of accounting – what a payable is and how it works, how loan payments and interest are treated, how cash flows relate to the income statement and balance sheet, etc etc etc.  As a lab instructor, you introduce the students to the cases and then help them when they get stuck.

You’ll also be responsible for grading the cases when they’re submitted, but you’re given a very thorough grading rubric to follow.  It takes a little getting used to at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s not bad at all.

Teaching students can be really fun.  Sure, at times you’ll get frustrated but you know that you’re never alone.  The professors in charge of the course are behind you 100% and make sure that if you’ve got more help and resources than you’d ever need.  It’s a good experience – especially if you ever want to teach full time.

2.  Your Life as a Case Writer

As a case writer, you’ll actually be writing the cases that are used in the 211 and 212 courses.  There are fewer writers than there are instructors, but that doesn’t mean you should assume you won’t be a writer if that’s what you’re interested in!  Case writing gives you a little bit more flexibility than working as a lab instructor, but it comes with entirely different demands and expectations.

You’re expected to put at least 10 hours in each week – this is easy if you’re not suffering from writer’s block.  There are a few cases that need revised and updated, but your primary responsibility will be creating entirely new cases.  You can make these up from your imagination, or meet with local businesses to create a case based on their experiences.  This can be a lot of fun, but again, can add a whole new element of stress.  If you work with a local business, there will certainly be facts and figures they are not comfortable releasing, and you will need continuous communication to ensure that they are comfortable with your writing.

There’s always the chance that you may be asked to help grade assignments as a case writer, too.  You attend the weekly meetings that the Lab Instructors go to so you’re in the loop for what’s going on in the classes – this is necessary in case you have to grade, but also so you can see what students are having trouble with in the course.  What better way to make sure that your cases are written clearly and appropriately than to listen in on direct feedback?

Case writing can be very rewarding.  Your cases will likely not be used until after you graduate, but you will be acknowledged on the case itself each time it is used.  How cool is that??  Case writing can be frustrating, as you may run into writer’s block or have to wait for professors/your contact/etc to find time to edit and approve what you’ve written.  But, in the end it was a job I really enjoyed!

Over the next few weeks and posts I’ll detail some of the other GA responsibilities you may have.  Check back regularly to see what else being a GA at Fisher has to offer!

500 Days of Gerlach Hall

Maybe it was week-10 fatigue breaking through, or the thought of facing class after an 8-hour work day, but as soon as I stepped into Gerlach Hall Monday night, my shoulders started to slump, sigh coming on. And then my mind whispered softly what my heart was already thinking: I hate the smell of you. Sure, it wasn’t always that way, but 5/6ths of the way through grad school, my love for Gerlach had faded. Like the film “500 Days of Summer,” what once was great has become intolerable.

In the 2009 romantic-comedy flick, the movie scenes bounce among the 500 days that Tom Hansen, the hopeless romantic, has known Summer Finn, the hopelessly distant love interest. At first Tom loves everything about her, but as the romance flickers, burns and fades, he too slumps with dispassion.

Day 269
I hate Summer.
I hate her crooked teeth.
I hate her 50’s haircut.
I hate her knobby knees.

Week 1: I love Gerlach Hall. I love its student lounge and lockers, mailboxes and Grad Pad. This is great!

Week 50: I hate Gerlach Hall. I hate the smell of you and spending all my time here. When will this be over?

Week 51: I didn’t mean it. We only have a few weeks left together. Your funky glass hats in the lounge are still fun, and I still like the theater-in-the round classrooms. Can’t you just bring back the mailboxes, though?

One of the blessings and curses of the MLHR program is the convenient location of all classes in Gerlach Hall. With the nearby parking garage and lots, it is one of the easiest buildings on campus to access. But, like any close relationship, what was once charming eventually becomes, well, a little stale. In some ways I miss the variety of classroom buildings from undergrad, and exploring new spaces. Sure I spent way too much time in Denny Hall, but for every Denny there was something new, like Lord Hall (R.I.P.) or Central Classrooms.

It’s not you Gerlach, it’s me. Maybe we just need to spend a little less time together, starting this summer!

Experience in a case-based course

I had the opportunity to take a “cases” course this quarter, which is something I had not previously experienced. For those who do not know exactly what this means, the course is based entirely on published cases or real-life scenarios emphasizing a particular subject matter. There is no textbook and there are no tests. For every class, you read the assigned case ahead of time, usually with some preparatory questions to help guide your thought process. Each class is a guided discussion of the case.

While it is not as easy as it may seem, I found it to be an incredibly useful experience. Of all the times you hear “you get out what you put in”, it actually rings true in this instance. You can spend anywhere from 1-5 hours preparing for a given case. If you have truly studied and considered every aspect of the case, you have a great deal to contribute to the discussion. If not, you are lost for parts of the debate and cannot connect the pieces of all of the points being raised.

For our particular class, we were required to prepare a group presentation for one case and individual case analyses for two cases. Clearly, I spent more time preparing for those particular cases, and I can certainly say that I learned a great deal not only from those tasks, but especially from the discussions that followed. Essentially, taking the time to thoroughly prepare then hearing everyone else’s perspective allows you to see how you missed certain aspects, or thought of something in a completely different manner. I found this to be especially applicable to real world situations where there is no answer key, just opinions and precedent.

A general takeaway from the class is that you cannot be afraid to voice your opinion. While it may seem “dumb”, it could be that your particular expertise provides a fresh perspective that others would not consider. With everyone speaking in a diverse class, you get a great variety of insights and points-of-view. Also, a nice benefit is that you can miss a class and not fall behind because the subject matter is typically unrelated from one class to the next.

Obviously, this type of class is only relevant for certain subjects, but Corporate Finance is one where it is particularly useful. Rather than learning additional formulas and terms, you are forced to apply knowledge, not just regurgitate it on a test. If you are considering a career in a field where a cases course is offered, I highly recommend it. It allows you to learn a great deal about the subject as well as how your peers view and treat the material. In a professional environment, it is not always about right and wrong, but rather understanding how the issues are approached by those around you.

Being there … pass it on!

This week I’ve been thinking about the important things in life, which for me include faith, family, friends, happiness, and health. A lot of these things have combined this week in thought-provoking ways, and from it all, I’ve seen the importance of just being there for people.

The first way I experienced people being there for ME this week was when 8 of us MAccers went skiing at Mad River Mountain on Sunday! I had never been skiing before, and my friends helped me with everything from getting my boots fit correctly to giving me pointers, going down the bunny hill with me, and literally standing in front of me as I tried to stand up so my skis and I would not slide down the hill in the process. (On a side note, I was a little sore from my first skiing adventure. This made me thankful for the usual awesome state of health I have, which does not make it painful to, for example, put on a jacket.) The skiing adventure was a blast, though, and I’m thankful for yet another marvelous MAcc memory.

I enjoy being there for people, too, and have gotten do so a fair amount this week. Whether it’s taking time to really listen, answering a gmail chat or email, or sending a thoughtful text, you can be there for someone and truly make a difference. However, just as you can be there for someone without physically “being there,” you can be physically present and not really be there. A phrase that was recently popular at the medical center was “Be here now.” When I’m talking with someone but keep looking at my phone, am I really there? A piece of advice I have is this: Don’t put your phone on the table while eating with someone. It makes a difference and speaks volumes about your being there. You may not be instantly available to someone texting you, but sometimes you have to choose for whom you’re going to be there at the moment.

Other ways I have experienced the power of presence this week include jogging with my friend and volunteering at the medical center. My friend and I at one point were a little too tired to speak to each other, but she was THERE with me as we jogged along Olentangy Trail. At the medical center, a lot of patients did not want a magazine, but they appreciated that I was there, volunteering to try to make them feel better. Some people just wanted to chat, which is another way I can be there for them.

My family and friends are amazing at being there for me, which gives me the ability to be there for others. Doing so is often the most rewarding part of my day. George Eliot once said, “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” How often do you thank those people who are there for you, and how often do you step out of your world to be there for someone else?

Crunch Time

Ok, guys.  It’s officially crunch time.  Both my job and school are entering the peak of their busyness – at the same time.

  • Group Projects:  I have a group project and/or presentation in all three of my classes – all due in the last two weeks of the quarter.
  • Finals:  I have to take my finals EARLY, on Friday of the last week of class, because I am leaving the Saturday before finals week for a week-long business trip in Las Vegas (off strip…don’t get too jealous, it will be more work than play).  This means I will miss a weekend of study time, as well as Professor-led study sessions.
  • Work:  I am responsible for the success of our biggest meeting of the year – one that involves customers – and just so happens to be during finals week.

So, yea, I’m busy right now.  But it’s time I stop b*tch*ng about it, and instead, take a deep breath, and start pushing through it.  I will try to take one day – no, one hour or minute- at a time, and make the most of that hour or minute.  I will plan ahead, so that there is set time to complete all of our group projects.  And I will hunker down this coming weekend and study, study, study for finals!


Wish me luck!

A life-changing experience – Join the Buckeye Student Riders



Community service is an integral part of the MAcc program – you can get in with VITA, preparing tax returns.  FisherCares offers a multitude of opportunities to fundraise and give back.  And trust me, these are just the first two of many that pop into my head.

There’s a relatively new way to give back at Ohio State though, and its the way that I’ve chosen to devote my time and resources – Pelotonia.  Pelotonia is a bike ride (not a race!) that raises money for cancer research here at the James Comprehensive Cancer Center.  100% of every dollar raised comes back to the James, which is an incredible feat.  Pelotonia is giving patients all around the world new hope in their fight against cancer.  Further, the ride is fully supported…this means its an all you can eat, all you can drink, “we’ll fix your bike if you have an issue” kind of ride.  Pretty sweet, huh?

At Ohio State, we have Team Buckeye, and specifically the Team Buckeye Student Riders (of which there is a specific Fisher team).  This team offers students a multitude of benefits, such as a reduced registration fee and lower fundraising minimums.  Its a great way to join a group of students who all have one goal.

This year (Pelotonia 2012) will be my fourth year riding in the event.  Over the years, I’ve seen riders of all skill levels – from those with training wheels to those that live and breathe in spandex.  There’s definitely room for you to ride, and its a great way to connect with the Fisher community while giving back in a meaningful way.

For more information, also check out the Team Buckeye website (and specifically the student team).  There’s certainly a way for you to get involved if and when you choose to join the Ohio State community, whether you volunteer, donate, or ride 25/50/75/100/150/180 miles in the fully supported ride itself.


A group of us at the lunch break. Check out our awesome Team Buckeye jerseys!



The Other Side Of The Table 2

I saw a FaceBook post by the amazing and universally-loved Alisa McMahon at Fisher about how a 2011 MBA graduate returned to Fisher to recruit some MBA interns.

This is what I love about our program.  We represent the college well; we do good work; and we bolster and perpetuate the incredible reputation that our programs have.

I had the opportunity to help recruit MLHR students to replace me when I leave the HR Intern position at OCLC.  Out of 150 candidates that applied, it was narrowed down to 10 that were interviewed and 8 of them were from the MLHR program.  That speaks volumes and it makes me proud that I have represented my program and our college so well that my current employer wants to ensure that they are the future employers of the wonderful talent that is coming out of the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Be proud of what you do as a master’s candidate, absorb the material and apply it to everything you do professionally and personally.  Be proud of your cohort.  And be proud that you had the opportunity to be a part of the incredible programs and activities here.