A very fun aspect about moving to Ohio from Oklahoma is that it snows a lot more here than it does back home. Some people might strongly disagree with the sentiment that this is fun, but coming from a place that doesn’t receive much snow annually makes it really exciting to live in Columbus where it snows regularly! Growing up, I always loved snow days, and they happened so rarely that I still get excited for snow– even if it doesn’t mean that school is cancelled.
Columbus receives 22 inches of snow per year. This really is not that much in the grand scheme of things, and is actually even less than the average U.S. city, but it is still more than twice as much as the amount that my hometown annually receives. Extra snowfall obviously comes with some additional perils in terms of getting to campus, but if you drive with caution and give yourself extra time, you shouldn’t have too many problems (barring any issues with other reckless drivers). Last week, we received about 4 inches of snow overnight and that meant when I arrived on campus early the next day, there was a beautiful scene of untouched snow all over campus.
A fellow ambassador for the MAcc program, Rachel Cox, wanted to go outside and explore the campus in the snow, so I tagged along with her. As I mentioned, I really love snow, so I got a little caught up in the moment and decided to do a snow angel– business casual clothes and all. If any future students are worried about the weather in Ohio, just remember: it still snows less than the average U.S. city, and when it does snow, it can actually be pretty fun!
As I’ve posted about in previous blogs, I’m originally from Oklahoma, and because of this, I am a huge Oklahoma City Thunder fan. Our franchise moved to OKC when I was 13 years old. I became an instant fan and have supported the team ever since. Obviously, a large part of the Ohio State experience is attending Buckeye football games. Another perk for sports fans, though, is being just a two-hour drive away from Cleveland.
In the last few years, Cleveland has benefited from very successful professional baseball and basketball teams – the Indians and the Cavaliers (they’ve also had a very sad professional football franchise, the Browns). After checking the schedule, I realized that the Thunder would be playing in Cleveland on a Saturday and I would have the opportunity to attend a game.
A fellow SMF student, Jared Ablass, is a fan of the Cavaliers and LeBron James and we decided to go together to watch the game. The final score was completely awesome for fans of the Thunder, and getting to watch some of the best players in the NBA (in-person) after such a short drive was an incredible experience.
After the game we finished off a great day by eating a hamburger at Wahlburger’s. Watching LeBron James play live and taking in the sights and sounds of Cleveland is a must for anyone spending time in Ohio.
I am back in Columbus after an exciting break full of travel, and I was met with cold temperatures and a little bit of snow! I wrote about one of the very fun trips I took over Christmas break in a recent post. Another trip I took over break was to Houston, Texas, to go apartment-hunting and do a little sight-seeing, as that’s where I’ll begin work after graduation.
Since it’s the beginning of a new semester and also since this semester is made up almost entirely of electives, I thought it would be good to do a preview of my first quarter of classes. The SMF curriculum allows you to choose from any of four different concentrations if you wish, but you are not required to follow any track. This flexibility in choosing your classes is one reason I was attracted to the program. I decided to use this flexibility to my advantage by taking classes from all the different areas of concentration offered in the SMF curriculum. In the area of corporate finance, I’ll be taking Mergers & Acquisitions. This course also happens to be taught by the SMF program director, Professor George Pinteris. In the area of investment management I’ll be taking Portfolio Management and Fixed Income. Within the risk management area, I’ll be taking Derivatives Valuation. Finally, within the real estate concentration, I’ll be taking Real Estate Valuation. This course in real estate will also give me the opportunity to pursue a certification in Argus, a real estate valuation software.
I am very excited for all of these classes, as I think they represent the spectrum of finance offered to SMF students. I also think that these different areas of the SMF cur,riculum give me the chance to practice honing different skills. For example, the Mergers & Acquisitions course will help me to hone soft skills through the heavy class participation required, while the investments and risk management courses will be much more quantitative in focus. Finally the real estate valuation course will teach me technical and applied skills by learning a specific software used in industry.
I’m ready for the exciting and challenging semester ahead of me!
Finals are over and just like that, I am halfway through the SMF program. It’s crazy how quickly pre-term and the first semester went by. Since Columbus is a lot closer to New York than Oklahoma, my mom and I decided to go on a trip to New York right after finals were over. I took a bunch of pictures and wanted to include as many as possible. Here are some of my favorite sights from the trip:
Proximity to New York is one of the many perks about being in school at Ohio State. I know that many of my classmates recently attended an investments conference in New York and it provided them the opportunity to listen to some very knowledgable individuals from the industry and to also network with SMF alumni in the city. My trip to New York was a blast and I can’t wait to go back!
I recently enjoyed another of the famous SMF class dinners (the first of which I talked about in a recent blog post). Once again, the turnout was great and this time, we even had several of our professors attend! It was another great evening of chatting with people who we see in classrooms every day in a different setting. However, the best part of the evening was yet to come…
After dinner, a large group of our classmates went to The Ohio State Ice Rink for ice skating! The rink has times that the public is allowed to skate on the ice and students get a discount. There were a ton of students there, most of whom were very graceful on their skates, and I think the SMFs stood out like a sore thumb.
There were a very small number of experienced skaters in attendance from the SMF program, but that’s part of what made it so fun! I’ve been skating just a handful of times in my life and I skate with the grace of a new born giraffe. However, I did manage to stay on my feet the whole time (with the assistance of some strangers who I almost toppled over). I can’t say the same for all my classmates, but for a lot of them, it was their first time skating and there were a lot of really quick learners.
I really was very impressed by how willing everyone was to get out of their comfort zones and be such good sports the whole time. It was great to get to hang out with the general student population and to get to participate with my classmates in somewhat of a holiday tradition in the United States.
I’m here to talk to you about one of the most important things I’ve learned in grad school: how to feed myself. Now, to you, this may seem like something that a self respecting 23-year-old man should know how to do and you would be right. However, I was fortunate enough to have access to a meal plan during my undergrad years and before I knew it, here I was in Columbus, hungry and alone.
At first, I followed my natural instinct and purchased pizza for every meal (this also happened last week – I’m a work in progress, okay?!), but as a self-respecting finance student, I realized that this is not the most cost-effective solution. Plus, that much pizza is really not healthy for anyone. The next phase in my culinary evolution was to just make sandwiches for every meal. There are definitely some pros to this solution (namely simplicity and cheapness), but there are also some cons (namely sad taste buds). Finally, I accepted the fact that I had been avoiding all along: I was going to have to learn how to cook.
While I wanted to learn how to cook, I still wanted to prepare food in the easiest way possible and a very real concern for me was that I didn’t have the time to cook a meal every single night between work and school. Because of that, I felt like I would need to try meal prepping and once I made that realization, everything just fell into place (looking back, you can really see how destiny was guiding me the whole way). All this time, there had been a hidden gem tucked away under the sink in my kitchen: the slow cooker I had been given for graduation.
I attempted my very first slow cooker recipe the next Sunday, and just like that, a tradition was born – Slow Cooker Sundays™. It was clear from my very first meal that I was a natural. A slow cooker savant if you will.
I won’t lie and say that I haven’t stubbed my toe along the way with some not stellar outcomes (it was always the recipe’s fault), and I haven’t slow cooked every single Sunday, either. But what I am proud to tell you is that I am now capable of preparing a real meal, cooked low and slow.
Just a few weeks ago, we had our first SMF class dinner.The SMF Council, one of the student organizations available to SMF students, organized a dinner for our whole class at a local restaurant, Hong Kong House.The Council chose this location because there are many Chinese students in the program and Hong Kong House serves authentic Chinese food (apparently orange chicken from Panda Express doesn’t count).
More than 40 students showed up for dinner, and I had a great time getting to chat with some classmates outside of Gerlach Hall.I realized during dinner that I had been failing to take advantage of a great learning opportunity; being exposed to such a culturally diverse group of people brought up some fascinating conversations and exposed me to some new perspectives.We ordered what seemed like endless plates of food to try, and I can honestly say that I liked every single dish that I tried…
… although I found out part of the way through our meal that Cathy, one of my classmates, had asked to make the food much less spicy than it really should be.She had noticed me chugging water during the first dish and kindly asked them to cool it down for my wimpy taste buds.
All in all, it was a really fun night and I’m really looking forward to our next class dinner!
Fall Break marks the halfway point of the first semester, and fall is definitely in the air in Columbus. I went home to Oklahoma for the break to find 90-degree temperatures and a sunburn waiting for me, but when I stepped off the plane after returning to Columbus I needed to fish my coat out of my backpack to keep from shivering. The stark change in temperature shocked me into realizing just how much time has gone by since I arrived here in August. We learned the importance of self-reflection in our leadership class and I will likely use various markers and milestones in the program as opportunities to look back on my coursework– which is why I am here after all.
Professor Pinteris, the SMF program director, always refers to the program as a transformation and it really is true. It’s easy to see the changes in my classmates from our first day of pre-term until now. The most noticeable thing for me is how much more comfortable all of my classmates have gotten with speaking the “language” of finance. I think that this is one of the really big benefits of using the case method in classes. I personally have benefitted from this method a lot because I actually came into the program after going through an entire undergraduate program speaking rarely in very select courses. Getting pushed out of one’s comfort zone is never easy, but participating in case discussions (which initially took a lot of willpower to do) became second nature for me by the end of the first round of classes.
Since most of the classes in the SMF Program are offered on a quarterly basis rather than a semester basis, I took finals in all but one of my classes right before fall break. My return from break brings a new wave of classes, and I am very excited as I will begin coursework in our investments and derivatives classes. Also, my team will begin work on the core capstone project which allows us to put much of what we learned in the first quarter to work in a relatively unstructured class. I’m looking forward to the exciting new classwork ahead of me and already reaping the rewards from all that I learned in my previous classes!
I recently attended my very first Ohio State football game. I have been a fan of college football for a very long time, and attending a game at Ohio Stadium has always been on my bucket list. Because of this, when I enrolled in the SMF program, I knew I had to get season tickets. In addition to my love for college football, I was really excited to be exposed to some of the traditions and pageantry associated with my new school, especially since football is so heavily ingrained in the culture of the university.
As a loyal Oklahoma State alum, I was extremely excited to watch Ohio State play the University of Oklahoma in football. Rooting against my old school’s arch-rival was the perfect transition into Ohio State fandom, and I was extremely confident that I would finally get to watch “OSU” beat Oklahoma. Unfortunately, anyone familiar with the Bedlam football series knows that Oklahoma is very accustomed to beating up on schools that go by the acronym OSU. I’m sad to say that it was business as usual for Oklahoma, but while the game didn’t turn out how the home fans wanted, it was still a great all-around experience.
Some of my friends from Oklahoma made the drive up for the game and stayed with me for the weekend. We all did our best to get the full game-day experience at our first Ohio State football game. Before game time, we stopped in at Varsity Club which was bursting at the seams with people. After making our way out of the hubbub at Varsity Club and before heading to the stadium, we made sure to go take in a very unique tradition, “Skull Session.” Skull Session was really cool and probably my favorite new tradition that I observed during the course of the day. Overall, the atmosphere at the game was electric and it’s pretty tough to beat taking in a game with 109,000 other people. I highly recommend an Ohio State football game to anyone who hasn’t been, and here’s hoping the Buckeyes get back on track in the weeks to come.
Blogging is a new experience for me and I thought that I would kick off this journey (both through the SMF program and learning how to blog) by introducing myself to anyone who will be following along over the next nine months.
My name is Nicholas Denker and I am a student in the SMF program at Ohio State also serving as an ambassador for the program. In May, I graduated from Oklahoma State University with degrees in finance and accounting.
I am an Oklahoma native and in just a few days’ time, I will have lived in Ohio for all of one month. While this might sound like the beginning of a bad movie, I grew up on a small family farm in Northwest Oklahoma. The population of the largest town I had lived in before moving to Columbus was around 50,000 people. Living in Columbus has been a big change, but so far I have loved everything about living in a “big city.”
Coming from Oklahoma to Ohio State might not sound like the most intuitive decision, but it ended up being a very easy one for me. Grad school was something that I had thought about for a long time throughout my undergraduate studies, but I really made the decision to pursue a Master of Finance at the beginning of my senior year. I was initially attracted to Fisher for its impressive ranking, but my visit to the awesome campus here is what sealed the deal. All the people I interacted with were very welcoming– and taking a tour in the shadow of “the Shoe” was pretty awe-inspiring.
In typical millennial fashion, my main interests are sports, food, and music (I’m a walking stereotype, I know), and as I get the chance to explore my new city, you can expect blog posts on all of those topics and much more over the coming months. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I will keep you all informed every step of the way!