Why You Need A LinkedIn Profile

Well it is currently that crazy, exciting/nightmarish (depending on how many offer/rejection letters you receive) time of the year known as recruiting season.  Unfortunately, due to our soon to be “deceased” quarter system, Fisher graduate students have historically been at a “timing” disadvantage in getting internships and jobs since many students at other universities have already had midterms by the time we finally have had our first day of class.  Fortunately, though, the Fisher graduate programs are amazing as are their students.  Thus, many big companies are very willing to wait the time for Ohio State/ Fisher graduate students to start and get them into their company.

One of the biggest things I tell students to do as they search for employment is to create and actively use a LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site in the world.  Notice how the word networking is in bold.  Every time you see your career advisor, or anyone you ask “how do I get a job” related question in Fisher, he or she will tell you to NETWORK.  Last year I just wanted to say to people “Ok. WE GET IT.”  As many times as your ears may ring from hearing that phrase, get some gauze because it is extremely true.  But let’s face it, networking can be uncomfortable and sometimes really awkward face to face.  That’s why LinkedIn is so perfect!  It allows you to professionally network and remove the initial awkwardness.  And by the time you have established some communication with someone over the Internet and actually encounter them in person, it can take away a lot of that initial awkwardness.

(Don’t go just “Linking In” with people you don’t know or you’ll look like a crazed freak.  More on this next week).

My organization, Columbus State Community College, just started using LinkedIn and paid a decent amount of $$$s to set up a contract with LinkedIn.  The reason I deem this important to put into this blog is due to the fact that we are in a transition of having a transactional HR department to a more strategic one.  We don’t even have recruiters or someone who mainly focuses on bringing in our talent … our HR Representatives do it (among the million other things they have to do).  However, our department thought, in our steps to evolving as an HR department, that it was very important to start using LinkedIn.  If a local community college deems it important, than I can guarantee practically every person you are talking to at career fairs are using it.

LinkedIn is transforming the way recruiters recruit.  From an HR side, it gives us access to millions of people/resumes/profiles that we can search for down to what we want.  It has made things so much easier.  I sat in on a webinar a few weeks ago and this recruiting consultant who does training for many corporate recruiters praised it up and down, and he said he enjoyed using it so much that if he weren’t so “experienced” he would be a recruiter again (since this tool was not available to him at the time he coming up through the ranks).  It is also nice because it is one of the few social networking sites that tends to be acceptable to be on at work.

Now, some may disagree that using this at work means you’re trying to leave your job.  Perhaps – but it is actually better if more employees are connected.  It is a lot easier to sift through the connections of your employees (who know good people) than random people who you may not be able to see their entire profiles, because you’re not connected.  All employees should be encouraged to broaden their network (so your HR department can use you through your networks).  Any employer who doesn’t encourage this is limiting themselves, and making the lives of their recruiters a lot harder.

I was going to insert my personal tips on how to use LinkedIn, but I think this post has been long enough.  So I will save that for next week.  Plus, Ringer is about to come on.


And It’s All Coming Back To Me

Hello everyone!  This is Garren: 2nd-year MLHR student, Lil Wayne enthusiast, reality show junkie, and Eric J Dosch‘s biggest fan (especially the molars).  Unlike the rest of the cohort who took off 3 months from classes, I only took off 3 weeks.  However, I feel that even with the short break I had between summer and fall classes, I probably have the same lack of desire to get back in the swing of reading, papers, quizzes, and spending time watching my professors lecture instead of watching quality programming on the CW or ABC Family. However, I only have the time that it takes for a fetus to develop and be born in a healthy time frame (e.g. nine months) before I can consider myself a MASTER of Labor AND Human Resources.  Ever since attending my last negotiations class, I have had quite a few changes happen in my life that I will share in this blog post.


The biggest change to happen to me is that I got a new job at Columbus State Community College as a Human Resources Specialist.  I have been there for almost a month now.  It kind of started off slow (and when I say slow I mean it was actually obnoxiously busy but they didn’t have time to train me on how to do everything, so I was doing just the same few things for awhile), but things are starting to pick up.  I am starting to do some things with LinkedIn at our workplace, and tomorrow I have contract training in negotiating with our bargaining units.  Plus, I’m FINALLY getting my first paycheck this Friday (holla!).

I ended my job with Dining Services at Ohio State last week.  Basically, for about 6 weeks I was moonlighting after I got off work at Columbus State (only because I didn’t have class and needed the extra money), because my boss was kind of devastated when I gave him my two weeks notice.  He knew I had been job searching, but I don’t think he thought that I would manage to actually ever be successful considering the amount of rejection I received from the previous year.  Now it feels great that while all of my classmates are scrambling to find internships and jobs, I will have one less thing to stress about.


My roommate who was in undergrad last year moved out to do a college program through Disney, so now I have a new roommate.  I technically have known him longer than my other roommate, but I never really talked to him.  He has a completely different schedule than me, so I really don’t have much time to talk/be around with him, but he pays bills on time and doesn’t give off any odd scents so I can’t complain.


Well, that actually has occurred like 5 or 6 times since March.  I now have two phone numbers (don’t ask why) and I have finally given up my infatuation with the BlackBerry and have switched to a DROID.  Ironically, the hardest thing to do with that phone is making an actual phone call (I am still really bad at the touch screen and sometimes hang up randomly from hitting my ear too hard on the phone).


This is obvious with a new quarter.  I am taking Collective Bargaining and Labor Law/Diversity (the two classes I have to attend physically), and an Independent Study of Talent Management.


I have finally taken a stand on the raging amount of fat that is accumulating on my body, so I have decided to start running again.  If you read one of my first blogs from last year, this happened for like 2 weeks.  However, I was still “fresh out of undergrad skinny” and had not seen the depressing effects of being lazy that I saw from the past year.  This has also been helped due to now not working for a department that doesn’t serve a deep fried buffet at lunch Monday-Friday (which has unfortunately made me have to spend more money  on groceries and spend more time making lunch which I haven’t had to do since I was in high school…seriously).  Hopefully I am thin enough to be able to put on all of my pants comfortably without jumping or praying to a higher power by December (ultimate holiday present).

Until next week!


PS-Props to those who know what lyric this title comes from (hint: it’s from a Canadian but NOT Justin Bieber).



“The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry”

So I said at the beginning of the summer term that I was going to write about once every other week instead of the usual once a week.  Well clearly that did not happen since the quarter and my internship are almost over.  I have nothing clear to say, so I am going erratically express my thoughts and hope that you enjoy then when you are procrastinating/bored/clearly not doing anything important or significant in your life at this time by reading this blog.

  • I took one undergraduate course this summer.  Introduction to Counseling Psychology.  It literally made me want to drop out of the program and go back to undergrad.  Well actually, I have wanted to do that after the first quarter of being a grad student, but in a different way.  I forgot how easy (well at least now as a graduate student) undergraduate courses were.  I aced every exam, but did not start studying for each one until the day of the exam (I did not ace the final because it was cumulative and I think I got too cocky).  There were LOADS of extra credit opportunities (which I have missed so much).  There was only one assignment, that required no prior reading or course work to be learned or completed before turning in (it was all hypothetical).  I obviously aced the class which is great, because I am finally close to having a GPA I would actually want to put on my resume.  The only thing I have realized is that after a year of classes starting at 6pm in the evening is that I CANNOT take any class that does not meet in the evenings, and meets more than one day a week.  Those classes are long, but it allows you to space out your work and academic schedule at a better pace.  I was not the fan of it when I first started the program, but it is what I prefer now.
  • I think I have learned a lot from my other 2 classes.  With my Teaching Adults Online class, it is very “I am Teacher” and not a “I am Training Coordinator” in how the course is designed and what it teaches you.  I figured that was the way it would be designed, but I am excited to see how I can apply concepts to this class to the Training and Development class I take in the spring.
  • I have also enjoyed my negotiations class too.  Not only have I valued the skills I have obtained from practicing my skills in every class, but I have also appreciated the chance to interact with some of the MBA students as well.  My cohort is great, but one of the things I liked about undergraduate classes (at least my experience) is the chance to take classes with different and new people.  I hope that any second years taking the class in the fall considers doing negotiations and working in groups with some of the MBA students, because they are not as intimidating/scary/evil as you think (well a few are but I mean you could say that about some people in the MLHR program … but NOT me :-)).
  • I really can’t wait until fall for football season.  But most importantly, because hopefully global warming will have subsided and I will not sweat profusely in my house.  None of my other 2 roommates want to pay for air conditioning, so I just sit in my room dying on a nightly basis.  I actually stay at my internship longer just to enjoy the air conditioning.
  • Speaking of internships, mine is about to come to an end.  I did not sign up for the internship blog, so I am not going to go on and on about what I have done.  BUT….I did work on a lot of recruiting for student positions (particularly the marketing for those positions), calculating turnover costs, performance appraisals of our managers, and enhancing the overall process employees have from being an applicant to starting their first day (at this time I cannot think of the HR term to use to describe this).  Thanks to “Excel for Dummies” I’m starting to get better with this Microsoft product as well.
  • I went to the Ke$ha concert at the Ohio State fair and it was awesome.

Well that’s basically been my summer.  I probably will not have anything else interesting to say until school starts so sorry for not meeting your expectations, blog-wise 🙂


P.S.-If there is any member of the cohort I miss the most it would be Eric J Dosch because:

1. His postings about me would always boost my self-esteem like no other and

2. He has the best teeth in the world.

P.P.S-I have no idea how I am going to manage studying in the fall.  I all of a sudden have a TV schedule set Tuesday-Thursday. I am not going to tell you the shows I am watching due to dignity purposes, but let’s just say that my DVR has a lot of ABC Family, CW, BET, and MTV programming recording on a weekly basis.

The Hotter Months So Far

So I said that I was going to blog over the summer, but less frequently as during the summer.  I mean technically I do not have to, but anytime I get some writing published online it makes my bachelor’s degree in Journalism seem somehow a bit more worthwhile.

Most people in the Fisher MLHR program are all over the country and globe working their internships.  I am doing my internship with Student Life Human Resources at the university.  Throughout the year, I work for University Residences and Dining Services which is a branch of the Office of Student Life.  Whereas I normally work with issues related to just Dining Services, this summer I am helping out with bigger projects with Student Life in general, and not my particular branch.  So far, I have been helping with creating the Orientation that every single student who gets a job within the Office of Student Life are required to complete, and organizing qualitative data from focus groups that were conducted about the student employee experience to name just a couple of things.

In addition, I am also taking summer classes.  Emphasis on the plural.  As in like the normal 12 credit hours that we take throughout the year.  Why?  My internship is only 30 hours a week, so I have the opportunity to do so.  Second, as I have told most people, I need to keep at the same “Grad School Garren” pace so that I will have the mental stamina to keep up with this program for another year.  I seriously think that if I were to have an academic vacation over the summer that it would have turned into a permanent vacation.  Because of this, I do not think I will have as hard of a time coming back to classes as everyone else in the fall, but for the fact that classes officially started last week and I have an exam tomorrow, I am currently kind of kicking myself.

So as far as to what I am taking:

Introduction to Counseling

This is an upper division undergraduate course (so I feel super old) – and also cross listed as a graduate course.  It will be over in 3 weeks (hence why I am already taking exams).  I thought it would be a good class in the whole employee relations and counseling coworkers field.  However, they do not teach you how to counsel.  However, it does count as an elective and is pretty interesting.  It is weird that I have class 2 days AND in the morning, but that will help me prepare to get in that schedule for one of the classes I am taking in the fall.

Managerial Negotiations

This is my only class with Fisher.  It is mainly composed of WPMBAs.  I am pretty sure I am the youngest one in the class, but there are some familiar MLHR faces.  I am really interested in the topic.  It is slightly intimidating that it is not an MLHR class, and I am kind of nervous to speak up (not out of being shy but out of not wanting to say something stupid and the MBAs to see me as that “dumb HR person”).  We have discussion groups for every class.  Of my group, there is another MLHR, but I am the only one who does not have a full-time job, professional experience, a spouse, or children…so once again weird.  However, I think I am going to like this class, because it is so different from the other courses I have taken so far.

Teaching Adults Online

This is an online class (don’t be fooled…it is just as jam packed as any other graduate level course at Fisher).  I thought it would be a good class, since I have not taken Training and Development yet.  Also, for the fact that EVERYTHING in the business world is using technology to improve their businesses, it will be nice to have this class under my belt when I do take T & D.

Other than that I have been having a decent summer.  Definitely not the blast I had last summer (this is the first time I have ever taken summer classes EVER), and the few friends I still have in Columbus are leaving me to go be adults.  I believe this will encourage me to be less antisocial next year!


First Year Reflections

As I write this blog, I can proudly tell you that I have wrapped up my spring quarter and…most importantly MY FIRST YEAR OF GRADUATE SCHOOL.  I need to emphasize the latter in all capital letters, because there have been a couple of times where I wanted to drop out of the program or jump off a bridge with an anvil tied to my ankle.  If you asked Garren winter quarter of his senior year in college that he would be living in Columbus, with two roommates, working at the same job, and getting his Master’s of Labor and Human Resources he would have given you major side-eye (intense look of disapproval).

It is so weird looking back a year from now and realizing that I graduated from undergrad.  When I received my diploma, I literally had nothing going for me, because I did not receive my acceptance letter from the MLHR program until about 10 days after (I was using my diploma as a coaster because it currently was not doing anything for me).  Slightly over dramatic, but the MLHR program kind of saved my life.  Not that the degree rescued me from a fire, but I know that I would probably be jobless and living at home with my mother in Dayton which (love her to death) would have driven me insane.

This year has been quite a challenge for me.  As I have stated from previous blogs, the course load was way different then what I studied in undergrad.  Sometimes I felt like I was not cut out for the program and should have maybe have just gotten my master’s in communication or journalism.  I used to claim to my friends that I thought I was the “dumb one” of my cohort, and that when people probably got peeved when they found out they had group projects with me.  I realized that I was not the only person struggling with classes (not too sure about the latter).

It was also different in the friendships I formed.  The people in my cohort are very different than my friends (or actually vice versa because all of my friends I made pre-cohort are weirdos) that I made in undergrad.  Making friends like a first year in undergrad was definitely different than making friends as a first year in graduate school.  I have actually enjoyed making friends with people who are older and more mature then myself.  I think it has helped me to become more mature as a person…not older though.  I still refuse to tell people in my program my age, because I decided that I was not allowed to age anymore last year.

One thing I was surprised about was how much I was not boring this year.  I thought I was going to be super lame all of the time, and that my friends were going to make fun of me, but I was surprisingly more fun than what I intended to be.  Graduate school is not as painful as people think it is.  It is just another level of education that one has to adjust to.  I remember when I was in high school knowing I had to go to college if I ever wanted to be a successful human being, but also being nervous that I was not going to be smart enough to make it through undergrad (God bless freshman forgiveness though).  Graduate school is weird between the education levels, because you normally have 4 years of undergrad, 4-5 years of doctoral education, but you only have 2 years for graduate school.  Like someone explain to me how I have completed 50% of my graduate education within the span of 9 months?

I tend not to regret 99% of my life decisions, and this definitely would not be one of them.  I mean…I still don’t like people, but luckily I have learned that you do not have to like people to go into HR.  This DOESN’T mean I’m not a people person…I just prefer inanimate objects over the majority of the human population.

If I have any words I would like to give to my cohort they would be:

1. Good luck with internships!  Be you in Columbus, Texas, or Antarctica (I don’t think anyone is actually interning there) work hard and have fun (and Eric you are not allowed to be in the sun because I am tired of you, Jen, and David being darker than me).

2.  Make sure you keep updating your Facebooks and Twitters so that I can live vicariously through you (I will be in Columbus for the summer).

3.  Use this time to relax and re cooperate.  I think presentations, group papers, statistics, and FastCat were starting to take their toll on everybody these last few weeks and everyone’s moods were out of their normal sync.  Use this time to take an academic break, so that you can be rested to take the classes that make this program so awesome in the fall.  Read something that you…enjoy.  Knit, craft, bar hop, or do whatever you need to be rejuvenated.  I am actually not following my advice on this one, because I am taking summer classes FIRST TIME EVER IN MY LIFE.  However, as I told a group member…I’m getting older, and if I take any time off I might not just come back.

I plan on still blogging about my internship and classes over the summer.  Columbus is quite fun during the warmer months.  I plan on blogging bi-weekly instead of weekly (so you will still have something to look forward to in the summer Fisher blog readers)!

As I click my heels and celebrate with my friends who are about to graduate from undergrad, good luck to every one and peace be with you.


Putting the M in the MLHR Degree

It’s about week 8 or 9 now (I’m at that point of the quarter when I can’t keep track of the university calendar anymore).  Normally during this time, I start to forget about other classes, and look forward to classes I will be taking for the next quarter.  After talking to people who are either doing the combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, or people who have already gotten their bachelor’s in human resources at Fisher, it seems (at first glance – but not really – more on this later) that the first year of the MLHR program is not really that much different than the undergraduate program.

In talking to my friend/life coach Julie, she had the same professors and classes that I have had now.  She has even been helping me out with my FastCat project (the group project that has consumed the majority of my life in recent weeks).  Undergrads have to take more business related classes and they all have to take Staffing, Compensation, and Training and Development.  They actually use the same books, too.  This is why I have seen some first years in not so many of my classes, because since they already have taken those classes (from getting their BSBA in human resources) they have been allowed to take other classes instead.  So this got me to thinking “What makes the MLHR degree any different than the bachelor’s degree?”

After looking at a preview of the classes I will be taking next year, I got my answer.  I have already taken the e-HR class this year (instead of Economics), so I have a little taste of next year.  Classes we can look forward to include negotiations, employment law, and organizational behavior and development (of the classes that we all are required to take).  I’m also looking into taking strategic HR, and talent and performance management (but I am not a fan of Thursday evening classes and I may not have the mental stamina to take 4 classes in a quarter).  From hearing from the second-year students, these classes will be even more challenging than the classes we had in our first year.  I know that my other friends and coworkers with a human resources background have not had these classes, and not even many people who are PHR certified (Professional in Human Resources…kind of the like an HR version of the CPA) have not had some or all of these classes. (You can get a quick snapshot of the overall curriculum here.)

I am looking forward to the classes that I will be taking next year, so that I can really say that I am a “master” of human resources come June 2012.  Most of my friends have been telling me about classes they have had and advising me.  Come this fall, I will be able to do the reverse and give them a peek of classes they should or will take once they feel like going back to school.

Ole Columbus Town

This blog is dedicated to the city I love and adore … Columbus, Ohio!  When I first thought of the theme for my next blog, I was inspired by my friends.  Then I tried to see if there were any good facts about how awesome Columbus is.  I know that it is one of the top LGBT friendly cities in America, one of the best places to move for recent college grads, and a number of other facts, but I could not find a website that listed a whole bunch of them.  So instead, I will use my own life to tell you about how awesome Columbus is.

I moved here about five years ago my freshman year of college, and fell in love immediately.  I think a lot of this obviously had a lot to do with Ohio State, but one thing that you will find out is that this entire city has Buckeye fever.  I knew that I really loved this city beginning my sophomore year.  Many of my friends would go home over the summer or over the winter and spring breaks back to their hometowns.  I haven’t spent more than probably 3 weeks back in my hometown in about 4 years.  Every time I do go home, it is always for a very brief time (never the majority of the break time).  Well another reason would be for the fact that my mother does not even really live in my hometown any more, and the one friend I still keep in contact with in high school just recently got a job in Columbus, so basically I do not have any real strong reasons to go back home other than to see my mom.

When I originally applied to graduate school last year, it was for a completely different field.  I loved Columbus, but I had not applied to Ohio State, so I was either going to be living in Athens or Oxford, Ohio (these cities will probably give you a hint of the schools I got rejected from).  On the day I received my diploma, I didn’t get my acceptance letter from Fisher for a little more than a week later.  Once I found out I wasn’t going to those other schools, I was determined to get some type of employment in Columbus if I did not get into graduate school here.  Now that I have had another year in this glorious city, I don’t ever want to leave.

Neither did any of my friends.  One of my good friends, who got her BSBA in HR at Fisher here, desperately tried to find entry level HR jobs in Columbus.  Unfortunately, she could not and ended up getting a job in Chicago.  However, she really misses Columbus, and is waiting until she’s been with her company for a year, before she starts to apply for jobs in Columbus (which should be easier now with some work experience).  Some of my friends had no other option to go home, but they made plenty of visits throughout the year.  Some of my friends even decided to take lower-level jobs just to stay in the city…eventually hoping to get jobs in their field.  One of my friends worked at a dry cleaner until she found at job around this past December, and one of my friends just recently quit her job at Hooter’s and found a marketing job.  The latter friend actually loves Columbus so much that she built a website about it and has gained a following through various social media.

Some of my friends who had to go back home were still determined find some type of employment in this city.  One of my friends just recently got a job in Columbus.  She is going to be a correctional officer, and has to work third shift, and is EXTREMELY happy.  Another acquaintance of mine just got a job at a bar near Polaris, and studying for the LSAT at the mean time (presumably to go Ohio State or Capital University, another school in Columbus, for law school).  They may not have the most ideal jobs, but the point is is that they are thrilled that they get to be back in this city.

This blog really doesn’t highlight any of the Columbus nightlife, restaurants, places to go, or anything like that.  I think actually a lot of the other MLHR bloggers have done a good job with that this year.  I think this shows you how infectious Columbus is, and how it pulls you back.  None of the people I have used as examples were born in Columbus, but they got extremely homesick after 4  years.  It may be harder to get into it as a graduate student and older (sorry but not nearly as fun…but still some good times!), but as for me, I never want to leave.

Another Blog About Summit Vision

This past Friday many in the MLHR cohort (mainly first years and a couple of second years) went to a place called Summit Vision.  It is a place where many organizations (corporate and student) go for team-building, group bonding, and in our case, learning how to facilitate.  We were told that HR people may be called to serve as some kind of facilitator for the company we work for in a similar situation.  This is true, because my mom had to do something like this YEARS ago at her job (which I was surprised until I saw video footage).  Actually, probably sooner than receiving full-time job offers since some of us will help facilitate similar activities for the first year cohort next year during their Orientation – which is already weird calling the incoming class first years as I am about 4 weeks from entering my second year.

Now I will be the first one to tell you that I did not want to go to this for a number of reasons.

1.  I am not an outdoors person.  If I was meant to roam the outdoors I clearly would have been born as a jungle cat or something.

2.  I do not like heights due to a fear instilled upon me genetically by my mother.  Apparently I give off that vibe, too, since one group was taking bets on whether I was going to do the zip-line. (Most bet against me and won.)3.  Even though I am utterly terrified of heights, this experience was kind of old news to me.  The first time I did a ropes course was when I was in SEVENTH GRADE.  It was a requirement for my gym class, and I was crying and quite sure I was hitting my classmates below me with my tears.  Then, I was required to do it in high school (and run a mile which is completely irrelevant but obviously my secondary educational system was cruel).  Oh wait…I also did it sophomore year in college too.  Every time I got up there, did activities, and took years off of my heart from shaking on the ropes.  Many people who went had never done anything like this, so I was wondering why everyone was so excited.  For me personally, it was just another trip around the carousel. Plus, since I went to undergrad here, I’m pretty sure that was my 4th or 5th time being at Summit Vision.

4.  Like many others, I would’ve rather not have taken the time out of my paycheck from missing work that day or time out of my studies.

However, even through all of these things, I still went and had a pretty good time.  I got up on one task called the X-Files and was completely stumped on how to get pass the first rope step.  Then I tried the rock wall but kept falling and I kept smacking against the wall, and almost injured myself.  I climbed up halfway through up to the zip-line as well, but was practically choking on my own heart so I came down (thank you cohort bets).

A lot of the other cohorts faced their challenges, fears, and succeeded (my group’s name was SuccessONE…a play on words of succession but I forget where the ONE comes from).  But there were a few others who tried to step out of their comfort zone and gravitated to panic and did not go through everything.  Regardless,  I think everyone made some sort of attempt to step out of their comfort zone.

So if you skipped past all this detail and are still reading, I was basically over the whole ropes thing (you can only be “excited” for something that makes you shake in fear so many times).

What I did enjoy though was what others have highlighted in their blogs.  I was placed in a group with people I really don’t talk to that much (and apparently weigh a whole lot more than), and it was nice to be able to spend the day with them.  I even got to chat it up with someone on the bus ride home, and I’m pretty sure it was the longest conversation we have ever had.  Due to classes, groups, and different social interests, it can be easy for classmates to clique up in the program.  It was nice to talk to different people that didn’t involve class, stress, or who was going to write this part of the paper.

I’m glad I did it and I encourage all of the incoming class to do so as well (even if you have done it a million times)!

I would post pictures but I feel Fisher already did a good job with that!

To Break Or Not To Break

I haven’t conducted a survey or anything of the people in my cohort, but I would say that half of the people have come straight out of undergrad (i.e. currently in their fifth or sixth year of school in a college or university setting), and the other half took some time off before returning to school.  I have never questioned my decision to continue my education until recently.

I honestly think it has been the weather – some people may call it spring fever.  It has been extremely difficult lately for me to focus on school.  On a sunny afternoon, all I want to do is to go hang out with my friends or lounge about.  Classes are interesting, but competency models, pay structures, and HR information systems are not my idea of a good time.  I feel like I have procrastinated so much this quarter that I have a miserable May coming up.

My friends have really influenced me into thinking that I should have “taken a year off”  or “taken a fifth year (of undergrad)”.  One, I have a lot of friends that have graduated that do not have full-time jobs (relevant to what they got their degree in) or are in school.  Some of my friends are currently working at Hooter’s, a grocery store, UPS, and temping.  Some of my friends are currently living at home, and many of them took about 6 months after receiving their diploma before they could find an entry-level job in their field.  Even though many of them do not have the ideal job situation that they (or university statistics) would like them to have, they are still enjoying life and many do not have any qualms about taking time off.  Most of them are currently studying for GREs, MCATs, LSATs, and other standardized tests with acronyms.

Then there are my friends I still have down here who took fifth years.  I will be the first person in the cohort to say that I miss undergrad (I can’t say college because I am technically still in college but undergrad and grad school are COMPLETELY different).  I have had to turn down many a text message or phone call asking me to go do something, because I have had to work on a group project or read.  It is especially irritating knowing that I only have a few more weeks or months with some of them before they graduate too.  Once again, some of them are getting a little too old to be doing what they are doing, but once again they do not have any qualms and are enjoying their lives.

The MLHR program takes a lot of focus, concentration, and personal maturity to handle all that is thrown at you.  Clearly I only have 4-5 weeks of my first year of graduate school left (and I’m doing decent in my classes now), so clearly I have all of these things.  However, I feel like some of the older people in the cohort have a better handle on everything that I do (which makes sense but half may be really good actors :-)).  I have a personal fear of not having some kind of life plan constantly in the motion, and my mom lives in a one-bedroom apartment so it would be extremely difficult for me to go back home.  That is why it was almost a year from today (19 days to be specific) when I was taking my GRE to apply to this program (when the application was due 8 days later) to get into this program, because everything that I had originally planned on doing after I graduated failed to materialize.

When I really look at it, I know that some people really do not enjoy school and have to take a necessary break but I am glad that I kept going to school.  I still get to be a student (but not the crazy freshman) and I still get to be an adult (but the adult who does not have the rigid 9-5 day).  Even though the carefree lives of some of my friends right now can make me a little envious from time to time, I am glad where I am.  I do not think I could give anyone any advice about when they should go to grad school, but from what I have learned from myself and others is that you have to do what makes you happy.

Taking the Lead

Group projects are essential to nearly every class you will take in your first year as an MLHR graduate student.  They teach you how to operate in teams, and work with different individuals that you normally would not work with.  Though many times a hassle in coordinating everyone’s busy schedules (especially since every quarter I have been in a group with at least one working professional who has more outside responsibilities than the average full time graduate student) they are good for you as a student and future professional.  It is nice to interact with different students who have different ideas and experiences, but also great to interact with people you may not normally talk to, hangout with, or sit next to in class.

I will be the first one to tell you that though I have worked in a variety of teams as an undergraduate (through being involved in student organizations) I was not a fan of them in the classroom.  I was always the one who was “so busy”, and my major classes really did not consist of project work.  Journalism is a solo field, and it is rare for journalists to team up on a project (maybe two journalists and that’s it).  Technically, journalists do work on “teams” when you consider that your story has to go through a number of editors, but it is still very individualistic.  You give your editor your story, s/he looks over it, s/he sends it to the next editor, and so on.  The news runs on too tight of a deadline to really foster teamwork with journalists.  Anytime I was in a team in an organization, I had a designated role (Director of this or something this Chair) so I knew where my influence was on the team.

Fisher has been a different experience for me, due to the teamwork and the equal playing field that everyone in a group has.  No one is assigned as a “Team Lead” and no one’s opinions outweighs anyone else’s in the group.

For the most part, I am a pretty laid back person.  A lot of things that would stress out or bother the average individual don’t faze me.  Anyway, that is how I approached group assignments my first two quarters.  I provided support, gave feedback, gave my opinion when I thought it was necessary, and always asked how I could contribution more to what was going on.  However, I was not the first to email everyone about when we should meet, book a space in Gerlach Hall, or divvy up tasks to individual members of our team.  I normally helped to facilitate discussion though, because nothing irks me more than wasting the first 20 minutes of a meeting with useless banter.  Yet still, this wouldn’t have happened unless another person in one of my groups had not chosen to initially take the lead.

Now into my third quarter, I am starting to see the reverse.  I have THREE group projects this quarter.  As much I detested statistics I almost would rather do a chi square than have to coordinate the schedule with a whole new group of people…almost.  Anyway, I have found myself taking the lead more this quarter in my groups.  In one of my groups, I am the only full-time first-year student, and in another, I am the only first-year student.  Though I do not know the second-years very well, I do have a LinkedIn account.  From what I have been able to derive from social networking, many of them have been going to school for 6 straight years, a, have been going on a part-time basis for 3 or 5 years, and had work experience and then went back to school and are getting at that age where they are just tired of school.  To top all of that, they just got done with their master’s case (which is a requirement of graduation and basically proves that you learned something in the program).  On top of all of that, most of these individuals are still trying to find jobs after graduation.  Needless to say, group projects are not on the very top of their list.   I have now found myself as the person getting the ball rolling, getting people to together, and taking those first steps, where I normally would have allowed someone else to do that.

It is not to say that I lack the initiative to do this.  One of the things I have learned in my life that being a good follower is just as important as being a good leader.  You cannot always be the one who takes charge (or may not be meant to), and it’s good to share both the roles.  I am glad that I am able to step out of my “go with the flow” attitude, and switch up the way I approach my work in teams.