Winter Festivities: The 2013 Columbus Beer Festival

Winter in Columbus warrants many fun activities, one of them is the annual Columbus Winter Beer Festival! This event is exactly is the name portrays, a festival of beers in which participants get to experience tastings from over 60 breweries (both local, domestic, and imports), 300+ beers, and a 10,000 person capacity! The festival was held at the Columbus Convention Center, which I discovered is a humongous venue. I was lucky enough to attend this event along with some fellow MAcc students this past Saturday  and had a great time.

The festival ticket provided entry, a 5 oz. tasting cup, 25 tickets to sample the various beers at the brewery booths distributed around the convention center floor, and a map of the layout. In addition to tastings at each booth, there were concession stands, raffles, projections of the NFL football playoff games, and a “silent disco.” If you were wondering what a silent disco is, it basically consists of a typical dance area, but dancers are wearing headphones to listen to the DJ’s music, versus through speaker projection (a very odd concept). The event also offered a “designated driver” program, which offered non-alcohol drinkers a discounted ticket and food/beverage vouchers, a great way to promote alcohol safety

The 5 oz. tasting mug

As a person not so familiar with the science behind brewing, this was a great opportunity to try something different and experience the taste of IPAs versus Pale Ales and so on. Some of my favorite samples were from the Victory, Harpoon, and Ace Cider brewery booths. The Ace Cider booth had an excellent Pear Cider flavor, which was so refreshing! Columbus is a great city with quirky events such as this, an event full of young professionals, academics, and Columbus locals looking for a weekend activity. Stay tuned for updates on further Columbus adventures.

Some of the cider flavors offered at the brewery, Ace

Hocking Hills: A Great Autumn Escape

Having spent practically my whole life in San Francisco, temperatures rarely fluctuate out of the 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit range. The mild climate along with an abundance of evergreen trees creates the same landscape throughout all four seasons. It could as easily be raining in July as it could be sunny and warm in January. Thus, if you are visiting SF for the first time, make sure you pack an extra jacket regardless of the season. One of the many reasons why I chose to come to Columbus is to experience the different seasons of the year.

If you asked me about the beauty of autumn before I moved out to Ohio to start the SMF program, I would have told you that fall colors are a figment of some genius artist’s imagination and only appear on jigsaw puzzles. Earlier in November, after a grueling week of preparing for and taking two midterm exams and putting the final touches on a 10 week long group project, I was looking forward to taking a much needed break from studying my eyes out. I was ready to explore Ohio.  While asking around for suggestions, my hairstylist suggested a place about an hour drive southeast of Columbus.

My better half was visiting that weekend, so we decided to take the short road trip out there. We were so glad we did. We stopped by the Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills State Park. The trail was about a mile and half long and connected to a shorter path that led to some falls. The falls were just a slow trickle, which was most likely due to the hot and dry summer. The park was littered with fallen leaves of all different colors and we could not have asked for a more beautiful place to hike through. Hocking Hills has several other trails that range from a quarter mile through the George Trail in the Ash Cave, to two and a half miles through the Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail. When the weather gets better, we definitely plan on going back to check out what else the park has to offer.

Trekking through the Old Man’s Cave

Spring Classes

Having been at Ohio State for my undergrad, I’m accustomed to the term “winter quarter.”  So this whole concept of “spring semester” is a little unsettling.  Where did winter go?!  When I’m trekking across ice and snow to my first day of class, the word “spring” seems a little misleading!  Nonetheless, spring semester is upon us, and with that comes new classes for the next seven weeks in the MAcc!

  • Accounting Policy & Research w/Professor Zach – this class is already my favorite!  We’ll be covering several papers and studies on financial accounting and reporting, but we also have the opportunity to create our own event study.  Basically, we pick a significant event that we believe would have an impact on stock prices of certain companies.  We collect data on historical stock prices and perform an analysis to see if that event actually does have an impact on the stock prices, thereby allowing us to conclude that the event had or released information about the company previously unknown.  Some classic examples are earnings and dividend announcements, but my group is getting a little creative.  More to come on that later….
  • IFRS w/Professor Turner – this class will cover the major concepts of the International Financial Reporting Standards, which are the accounting guidelines used by many countries (although not currently the U.S.).  We’ll be using a French company’s financial statements to learn about different accounting policies throughout the term.  Although the class is focused on IFRS, we’ll also learn quite a few things about U.S. GAAP that we haven’t learned before.
  • FFR w/Professor Spires – another audit-related class with Spires is always a good thing!  In this class we’ll focus specifically on fraudulent financial reporting (FFR), which is perpetrated by management of a company to intentionally misstatement financial reports.  Our first day included an activity where we were each asked to perpetrate a fraud involving misstating inventory.  The next class, we received our results, and my fraud wasn’t caught!  I was pretty proud of myself – I have to admit – although I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing…
  • Managerial Negotiations w/Professor Dumas – almost every day we get to simulate a business negotiation?  Sign me up!  I’m really looking forward to improving my negotiation skills and learning how to have difficult conversations with people of higher rank in a business.  I consider myself to be a non-confrontational person, so this will give me plenty of opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone and manage difficult situations.
  • Tax III w/Professor Raabe – this class will cover more advanced topics related to taxation of corporations.  After this class, I’ll have covered my entire tax textbook (which I judge to be pretty thick)!  Between this and VITA, I’ll be getting plenty of tax exposure again this term.

As this term involves plenty of reading and work outside of class, I’ll keep this one short!  Looking forward to another term at FCOB!

January Already

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be a more frequent blogger, so here we go! Last semester I always had a mental list of ideas I thought would make good posts and would think, “Just as soon as I have a free afternoon, I’m going to write all these up.” But somehow those free afternoons never seemed to materialize. Now I’m scheduling some blogging time into my week to make sure I actually get to it.

The Dowager Countess never had to take Finance II.

First of all, winter break was amazing. I stayed up late watching addictive TV, I read non-business books, I took naps in the middle of the day—everything I love that I hadn’t been able to do with so much schoolwork. I also picked up some shifts at the bakery where I used to work, so I got to spend time with some of my old co-workers, decorate fun Christmas cookies and bûches de Noëland get a paycheck—it was the perfect arrangement.

I went to Ohio University for my undergrad, which was on quarters (though has now switched to semesters with almost every other school) and we had the most holy six-week winter break that stretched all the way from a few days before Thanksgiving to a few days after New Year’s Day. So part of me was still missing those extra two weeks from my break, but mostly I was excited to come back to school and be busy again. After about eight straight days of doing nothing but sitting (ok, laying) on the couch watching Downton Abbey and occasionally wandering into the kitchen to eat leftover pie, even I start to feel like a bit of a schlub.

This first week back has actually been very exciting. First, I went to the kickoff of the Corporate Mentorship Program, which I applied to way back in September. The program is basically what it sounds like: students apply to be matched with a business professional in the Columbus area to be their mentors. I’m always looking for people with more experience to give me a little guidance or push in the right direction, so I’m very glad Fisher has a program like this. In September I filled out a form explaining a little about my background and what I was looking to get from a mentor-mentee relationship, then the magic elves in the Leadership Development Office spent the last few months pairing my fellow students and me with our mentors.

I found out my mentor’s name and brief background information on Monday and then attended a reception on Wednesday evening for all of the mentees and mentors where we finally met. She’s great! We don’t have identical backgrounds, but there’s a lot of overlap and I could see immediately why we were matched. Not only that, I found her very easy to talk to and very helpful already, as I explained how my internship search was going and what parts of my professional development I was looking for help with.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, since my only knowledge of mentors has been watching Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock or George Christopher on Bored to Death, neither of which are perhaps the most shining examples. Fortunately for me, this first meeting with my mentor was great, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know her and benefiting from her advice and experience.

The second big thing this week is that my ongoing process of internship search/application/interview has kicked into high gear. I’m applying for marketing internships, and right now is when a bunch are popping up and coming due. I made myself a document that I’m calling an “Internship Matrix,” though it’s more of a spreadsheet, really, and I’m keeping track of the dozens of positions I’ve found and am applying to and then hopefully interviewing at. So far this week I’ve been on a pretty good clip of applying for one almost every day and checking them off the list. This is going to be the norm for the next several weeks, in addition to interviews and pre-interview events, both of which I have next week as well.

Anyway, overall I’m really glad to be back in school, even if it interferes with my love of lazing about. Fortunately I’d gotten so used to being busy all the time last semester that it’s easy to slip back into that mode. As long as I can keep up my work ethic and time management, and squeeze in some blogging time, I’m feeling pretty good about the next four months.

Back to the grind

Yesterday marked the start of my Spring semester in the MAcc program, which is my last semester eek! Winter break felt like it flew by, though it was definitely nice to relax before hitting the books once again. I also came to the somewhat sad realization that this is the last year I will have a “winter break.” From here on out it will be all paid vacation in smaller increments.  Over winter break, I was able to spend a beautiful winter weekend in Deep Creek Lake (as I mentioned in my last post). While in Deep Creek, I was able to go hiking in the state park by the shore, ice skate at opening weekend of WISP ski resort, and relax by the fire in the cozy cabin we rented. Below are a few pictures from my cabin adventure.

View from the cabin in Deep Creek at sunset


Taking a walk by the lake at Deep Creek State Park


Also over winter break, I was able to spend some time at home with my family in Maryland, where I was able to enjoy some Redskins football, good food, and relaxation! It was great to be home, but I am recharged and ready to go for the Spring semester. The MAcc students are actually required to submit the application to graduate this first week back. I will have completed a total of 31 credit hours this year, including our core classes, accounting electives, and non-accounting electives. Since it seems like the end of the program is nearing far too soon, I am going to make it a point to work hard in school, yet also have some fun with my classmates. On our first day back, I was able to venture to lunch with some MAcc friends to a spot I have never been to before that day: the quaint restaurant in the Short North, Tasi. This cafe was friendly, casual, and had delicious fresh food. Tasi serves breakfast all day long (made from scratch), delicious sandwiches and paninis, salads, and beer/wine. I ordered a grilled chicken panini and it was delish! I will most definitely be going back for brunch in the near future! Below is a view of the counter inside Tasi. I will continue to post about classes and Columbus adventures as the semester continues!

A view of the counter inside Tasi

From teammates to friends

Love these guys!

As everyone in the current SMF class has learned over the past few months, the program is heavily focused on group work. I personally have found this attribute of the program to be particularly rewarding. First, most of us will enter the workforce in roles that require a high level of team cooperation; we have certainly been presented with the opportunity to hone those skills over the past semester. Second (and more importantly), working with my team over the past 14 weeks gave me the opportunity to build three great friendships.

You never know what the dynamic of any team will be, but I was fortunate enough to be paired up with individuals that were not only analytically strong but, more importantly, great people to be around. These two attributes fostered an extremely enjoyable work environment. Working through long nights on difficult reports could have been a painful process (and sometimes it was), but we always found a way to make some fun out of it (whether it be learning about Hawaiian music, trying “real” Chinese food, or discussing the latest showing at the Gateway Film Center).

After wrapping up our final analyst report at the end of last semester, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad. I won’t get to share the intense, and sometimes frantic, push to get through the final leg of a project with them anymore. Fortunately, we have an entire semester of time left in the program. From now on when we hang out, there will be less talk about WACC and EBITDA and more talk about the score of the game last night or which firm we will be running in 30 years. Regardless, I am just thankful I was lucky enough to work with these three great people.

Winter break 2012 :: Europe Trip Part III: Frohe Weihnachten!

(This is installment #3 of 3 blog posts recounting my 2012 winter break trip. See here and here for the earlier installments.) On Friday, December 21, we made it to our final destination:  Nuremberg, Germany.  The first order of business was to walk through the Christmas market, known as “Christkindlesmarkt.”  Hundreds of booths are set up to sell handmade Christmas ornaments, wooden toys and nativity scenes, and plenty of warm wine and sausages.  Shoppers come from all over Germany but also all over the world, so I was happy to learn that most vendors spoke English, too!  Some of the most beautiful displays were the ones containing hundreds of glass ornaments like the one below.

Ornaments hang from a display at the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market

On Saturday, our first full day but also last day in Germany, we walked around the “Old Town,” the part of the city completely surrounded by a wall.  At the north point of the Old Town stands an old castle which provides great views of the city.  The architecture here was much different than that of England and France, but beautiful nonetheless.  We also stopped in a church that stood in the same square as the Christmas market for a short organ concert of some recognizable classical tunes.  Many people took a break from the cold, windy outdoor market with us to enjoy the music.

Bird’s eye view of the “Old Town”

Our last night in Nuremberg was spent again at the Christmas market, where my family and I finished up our Christmas shopping.  Some of my favorite booths to visit were ones containing intricately decorated nutcrackers and little smoker men, seen in the picture below.  It was hard to stop myself from buying something from every booth, but my limited remaining euros and limited suitcase space kept me in line!

German hand-crafted nutcrackers and smokers for sale at the “Christkindlesmarkt”

As I was flying across the Atlantic for ten hours to get back home the next day, boredom ensued and I settled on reading my passport for entertainment.  Yes, there are quotes in that thing – several well-known ones from Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence – and others new to me.  I found one to be relevant to us students, coming from astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka:

                      Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds…to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

As we Fisher MAcc students return to campus for our last semester of school, we should keep this in mind.  We are the future our profession, and we have an obligation to make progress and push farther to reach greater heights than before.  With that, I’m looking forward to a great spring 2013!

Breakfast in Columbus: Sweet and Spicy Goodness

When I came across this article about the expected bacon price increase due to droughts that led to shortages of corn last harvesting season, I have to admit, I panicked a little. I was on a mission to consume as much of this pork belly goodness as possible before it became too expensive for my meager student budget. As I was searching for places in Columbus that serve the traditional bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast one day, I came across reviews of a place that serves crispy bacon that is both sweet and spicy. Intrigued, I knew I had to make my way to Katalina’s to taste the creation for myself.

Mmm…Sweet and spicy bacon!

Katalina’s Café Corner is a small mom and pop restaurant on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave and W 3rd Ave, which is a short COTA bus ride south of campus.  I ordered the Nutella filled pancake balls with a side of their mouthwatering crispy bacon.  I’m usually a wimp when it comes to spicy foods, but to my surprise, the sweet glaze coating on the bacon turned back the dial on the heat and prevented total annihilation of my poor taste buds.  The pancake balls were lightly dusted with powdered sugar and definitely a nice deviation from the usual pancakes served for breakfast. You may want to think twice about popping the whole pancake ball into your mouth.  I found out the hard way that the Nutella filling takes a bit more time to cool down than the outer pancake shell.

On the corner of Pennsylvania Ave & W 3rd Ave.

Winter break 2012 :: Europe Trip Part II: Parlez-vous Anglais?

The second stop on our tour of Europe (aka “winter break 2012”) was the beautiful city of Paris!  We kicked off our four days in the French city with an “Illuminations Tour,” where we took a cruise along the River Seine to view some of the most beautiful buildings, bridges, and statues lit up at nighttime.  One of the coolest buildings in the night lights to me was “La Conciergerie,” which was a prison during the French Revolution and held prisoners before they were sent to the guillotine.  Dark history, I know…but beautiful building!  The tour also allowed us our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night – what a beauty it was!

La Tour Eiffel glowing bright in the Paris night sky!

Another highlight of my time in Paris was walking up the steps to the top of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, or better known to Americans as the Notre Dame.  My knowledge of the cathedral was limited to what I could remember from the Disney movie (which wasn’t much), so it was great to hear a little bit about its history, dating back to its construction in the 12th century.  There were a couple of huge stained glass windows in the cathedral that contained colorful glass that dated back to the 13th century, which was a little hard to wrap my head around!  What was amazing was all of the people who had come to see this Parisian piece of architecture that once represented a sanctuary of safety and hope during the French Revolution, and still serves as a place of peace for people today.  The views from the cathedral weren’t too bad, either!

View of the French city from the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris

A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the palace at Versailles.  I don’t have enough space to go on about all of the history of the palace, its surrounding gardens, and former residents, but I will tell you about my favorite room.  It was called the “Hall of Mirrors,” and it was literally just that – a long hallway lined with mirrors and windows.  Giant chandeliers hung all along the hallway so that it was completely full of light.  There were beautiful scenes painted on the ceiling that seemed to glow from all of this light.  This was one of many stops on our tour that reflected just how detailed and grand this palace was – just like the gold accents on the palace in the picture below.

My sister and I outside the grand Palace of Versailles

Our trip to Paris was complete with a stop at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, the Musee d’Orsay for some Monet and Renoir, plenty of shopping on the Champs Elysees, and quite a few baguettes and bistros.  Much too soon, it was time for us to hop on another train – this time heading to Nuremberg, Germany!  Au revoir, Paris!

Back to school, back to the books

In less than 72 hours I will be walking into Global Environment of Business and starting my second semester of my MBA program. I will be back in a (hectic/coffee-driven) routine of classes, interviews, homework, reading, study-groups, meetings, happy-hours, and more.

I can’t wait!

Truly, break was wonderful – peaceful and relaxing. I saw family, ate more than a normal human should, got in a ton of great runs, saw so many old friends and had a wonderful time ringing in 2013. I focused on filling out internship applications, researching companies and sending out networking emails. I traveled to Chicago with a few members of the Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP) and had a whirl-wind of a trip. Scrubbed my apartment till it sparkled and even slept in a few days (never thought I would say that in grad school).

And now I am ready to get back to work and back to school. I think a month break is my limit – started to go a little stir-crazy.

-photo found on Ohio State’s Image of the Day website- Hello snow!

I think what makes me even happier about classes starting again is the lack of apprehension. Let me explain, in August before pre-term and first term, I had NO idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure whom I would meet, how I would adapt to my professors’ teaching styles and if I would be able to meet my own expectations (I know, sorry, emotional blog). But I survived, met incredible colleagues and friends, and in my humble opinion, am doing pretty well with everything 🙂

So, here’s to 2013.  Within this year I will finish my first year of my program, intern at a great company, continue to grow and network the heck out of every opportunity. I will try not to stress, try not to over-think and enjoy this great adventure.

Can’t wait to see what happens next!