And in the end …

I have not contributed nearly as much as I had hoped to this blog.

I have been a blogger for two years and neither year was I able to contribute as much as I though I would be able to.  However, the past two years, I have grown more as a person than I thought possible before coming to Fisher.  So much so, it is difficult for me to wrap my head around everything that has happened and condense it into simple blog posts that could be easily digested by prospective students.  This experience has been such a developmental one that it is hard for me to fathom anyone connecting to it without it looking like over the top, dramatized platitudes.

Moving to Columbus from Detroit, I was familiar with adapting to new environments, living in a large city, and making my way without much guidance.  That was how I began my time here.  I figured I could get by just fine on my own, without depending on many people because that has always been how I operated.  My life entering the MLHR program two years ago was completely different than it is now.  So much so, I’m not sure I would recognize myself from that time.  I started here in a long-term relationship, with my girlfriend moving with me.  I was excited and nervous about courses and whether or not I had the ability to do well.  Questions constantly circled about how I could find and internship, could I get a job, as well as a number of personal issues that still had to be dealt with.

Being someone who always felt that needing help indicated a sign of weakness, I went through the first year not connecting with many on a real level.  I knew the people in my Cohort were great people, but I kept a distance so as not to appear I couldn’t do something on my own.  As the summer came and went, the relationship I was in ended and I was working as an intern at ExxonMobil in Texas.  Now as background, my family did not come from means in any sense.  Therefore, I did not leave my home state of Michigan until I was 25.  Therefore, living in a new state, in a new work environment, and being newly single created so many obstacles for me to climb, and each one being faced head on.  I found a new confidence in my ability and further engrained the thought that I can do anything on my own.  This thought was further confirmed by being extended a full-time job offer at the end of the summer.

Coming back to Columbus, I was excited to see the people I had missed over the summer.  While I had been extremely successful professionally over the summer, there was a new void.  Being used to having someone around all the time is undoubtedly something that was missed upon my return.  However, I did not feel I had connected with many in my cohort, which lead to a sense of isolation.  I didn’t have the courage nor did I think it was necessary to really open up.  This isolated feeling lead to a lack of confidence in myself.  As if, while I am smart and have a lot of interestes, I didn’t have the ability to truly connect with people.  That has been a challenge for me the entire year.  However, as with everyone, there have been challenges for me this year for which I needed a support system.  Luckily, I have found some members of my Cohort who have truly been people I feel I will forever be able to lean on and will desperately hold on to for as long as possible.

Wes Lin – Wes was the first person I met at the awkward mingling thing that was part of our first year orientation.  We are roughly the same age, although, for the record, I believe he is older.  (I just say that to make myself feel better.)  Wes was someone that I did connect with very early in the first year.  Perhaps it was the age, perhaps it was because we are both secret nerds, who knows.  But going through personal turmoil, Wes was always someone I could depend on talking to without being judged and would get sound advice.  Even if it was to stop being an idiot…sometimes that the best advice to give.

Rachel Brokaw – Rachel and I talked very little in the first year, mostly during group get-togethers.  Early this year there seemed to be a perfect storm of my personal problems, coordinating group work, and a lack of desire by others to go to the VC that caused us to socialize more.  While I was going through some of the worst personal crises of my life, Rachel became someone that I could confide in.  I knew after a short period of time that, similar to Wes, I could open up to her and not be judged by the difficulties that were thrust upon me.  In addition to that, in my personal opinion, she is without question one of the hardest working people I have ever met.  I have the deepest respect for what she is able to do with her time and still be successful at all of it.  Her work ethic inspires me every time I talk to her.

Rebecca Zurek – Rebecca was the absolute first living soul I met when coming to Fisher.  My first thought was “this person has to be the most energetic woman ever, I’m too old for all this.”  We were always friendly, but again, it was not until this year that we became close.  We have come to depend on each other during various emotional roller coasters.  We are rarely the thing that brings the coaster back up, or relieve the anxiety of a steep drop, but are always there as the safety bar to hold onto and feel safer.

Micaela Savage – Only in the last few weeks has Micaela become close…this may be a case of too little too late.  As is a theme, I have come to trust her opinions and her friendship.  I have a tendency to be a little on the negative side, so having a friend who can call me out without judging is a pretty good deal.

There are just a few of the people in the Cohort that have helped me the most during this very trying year.  I could list so many others who have had an incredible impact on my life and who I hope to stay friends with for a long time to come.  Jen Hunt, Shawn Henderson, Amber Stephens, Stacey Falardeau, Dana Wagner, the list goes on.

The point of all this is to say, while I am still the same person I was when I started, I am very different.  I have learned, almost more importantly than the class work, that I absolutely cannot do everything alone.  I need people around me to lean on.  I need people I can trust and who can push me, put my in my place, bring me up, and let me do the same for them.  I do not have a large supportive family like many of my classmates, but I am able to create my own if I choose the right people to spend my time with.  Luckily, this Cohort was not lacking in amazing people to let into my life.

Thank you to everyone I listed here.  You have all made a larger impact on my life than you could truly know.  To those not listed, please do not take offense.  I will remember this group for a long, long time.  Especially since half of you are coming to Houston with me.

Good luck to everyone.  I wish nothing be success for all of you, and if I can ever be there for any of you the way some of you were here for me, you know where I’ll be.


Peace and Love

Get back to where you once belonged

Well, it’s starting again. Everyone is trying to adapt, or re-adapt, to life in grad school. Juggling school and work schedules with homework and family and friends. The nervousness of finding an internship or full-time job. All of the things that make being a grad student so much fun!!

Coming back as a second year student, however, I have a bit of a different focus. I intend to spend more time this year enjoying Columbus and Fisher. I spent so much time last year concerned with grades, internships, and other parts of the grad school life that I didn’t get to enjoy some of the social parts of student life. This year, I am determined to make more connections with The Cohort, and get to know some of the first year students as well.

Last year, it seemed my class connected really well overall. While there will naturally be groups of students who have more in common and thus form stronger bonds, everyone has always been really supportive of each other. Many of us hope to be able to pass that on to the next class as we move through this year.

With that in mind, many of my classmates and I were happy to volunteer our time to take part in the orientation events to bring in the next class of students.

Summit Vision/ARC Team Building

The first event that we were able to take part in was a team building activity at the ARC. For this event, students are put into teams and are instructed to complete a number of tasks within a certain amount of time. After each activity, they had to pass on the instructions to the next team, and that team must complete the same task going strictly on the instructions of the first group. These activities were meant to get the students working in groups, obviously, but also begin thinking about how the activities apply to different aspects of leadership, teamwork, and communication. It also gave us second year volunteers and chance to interact with some of them, and talk about our experiences and how they can me linked to the activities the students were taking part in.

This also was the first event that I was able to see some of my classmates whom I hadn’t spoken with over the summer. In particular, I got to spend some time talking with fellow bloggers Garren Carbal and Eric Dosch. I had the pleasure of interning with Eric in the same company this past summer, but my interactions with Garren outside the classroom have been limited. He is without a doubt one of the funniest people in the program, and let’s be honest, his new found skinniness is pretty impressive.

Varsity Club Social

Immediately following the team building, all of the incoming first year students and a good portion of the second year students all gathered at the Varsity Club for some food and socializing.  It was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other and to see The Cohort again.  Besides the lack of a few of my favorite classmates, i.e. Wes Lin, it was a great night.  I also got a chance to see some of my second year classmates talking the first years and was happy to see how open they were with them, and really seemed to want to pass along as much helpful information as they could.  Orientation is a rough couple of days for the first year students, considering all of the information that they have to take in.  It was good to see my class offering help.

The Next Episode

So it is has been quite a while since I have posted a blog. I mean with the amazing content that has been coming out of my favorite blogger Wes, it was difficult for me to come up with something. But alas, I decided to take a few minutes to write on the end of my first year.

This year has been one of the most amazing, stressful, difficult, incredible, and rewarding experiences of my life. When I moved here from Michigan last August, I didn’t know what to expect. I have written previously about how when preparing to move here, I thought a lot about what the courses might be like, the job prospects, the University, but didn’t give much thought to the people I would be going through this experience with. It turns out, that has been the best part of this whole experience. I have bonded with people in a way that I never thought I could in such a short amount of time. We are all struggling and succeeding together, and it is an experience that will only happen once. I have made friends that I hope I’ll have forever.

So just as we are coming to the end of the year, which most of us finished our last class yesterday, there is a sense of both relief and anxiousness. With the end of the first year comes the beginning of the internship. Myself, along with three other classmates will be working at ExxonMobil this summer. Others will be at Cardinal Health, Rolls Royce, Dow, and other major organizations. So as our bond with each other grows, we are now going our separate ways for the summer. We won’t have each other to depend on as much through our struggles, and some of us will be far away from the rest of our friends and family, myself included.

There are two big things that I have learned about myself this year. First, if I am afraid to do something, I should probably do it. In every instance where I have been afraid or really nervous about something this year, when it was all over, I was really glad I did it. That goes for the Case Competition, Summit Vision, and other challenges I faced. Second, I am a stronger person than I thought. With all of the work that comes with full-time grad school, a part-time job, and personal responsibilities and difficulties, I have gotten through it.

So with that said, I am nervous about starting this internship. I leave tomorrow to drive to Texas, and I will start work the week after. It is going to be a lot of work and my projects are going to be challenging. But I know it will be a great experience. I look forward to this new challenge and I know I will grow from it.

MLHR Case Competition – Review of Day 2

The second day of the case competition was all about presentations.  One of the things we were told was that, no matter what strategy your group has developed, if you cannot communicate it well, you can’t win.  This was kind of a concern for me since I have never felt like I was a great presenter.  I get by, but I always get pretty nervous before a presentation and sometimes I let that control me more than I’d like.

So as soon as my group came to Gerlach Hall that morning, the first thing we had to do was turn in our presentation and get our room and time assignment for the first round of presentations.  We got our assignment at 7:30 and didn’t have to present until 10:05.  This really worked out for us because, since we were so tired the night before, our attempts to practice were a bit unsuccessful.  For the two and a half hours that followed, my team remained locked in the breakout room that had become home away from home, practicing our presentation.

As time passed I got more and more nervous.  Practicing helped, but  the thought that we would be presenting our solutions to actual HR Executives at Whirlpool ensured I was a little more anxious than usual.  I think the rest of my group felt the same way.  To remedy this 15min. before we were to present we took some time to walk off our nervousness by doing laps around the table in our room.

The next thing I knew, we were lined up outside the room we were presenting in.  We all felt great about our idea,  but greatly miscalculated the amount of time we would have to communicate it.  I was the anchor, my responsibility was to go over financials, but by the time I was to present we only had about two minutes.  We knew the judges would ask questions but we didn’t expect there to be as many as there were, and we ran out of time.

Somewhat defeated, we went back to our breakout room knowing we hadn’t fully expressed our strategy and feeling a little beaten up.  We were served lunch and sat in our room watching an episode of The Office with a couple other first years, Sultan Yildrim and Yajing Cai, waiting to find out who the room winners were.

Finally we all gathered into the room where first round winners were announced.  To our surprise, we won our room!  We had another opportunity to present, and would be competing with the winner of the other room.  We were drawn to go second so we filed back into our breakout room to discuss strategy.  We made some changes to some of the things we said, and the second time, I was actually able to talk for more than a minute and a half.

After presenting, we had about a half hour for judges to deliberate before finding out winners.  While we didn’t win the competition, Lauren Hall did win best presenter, and my group got second place.  Also, my GHRA Buddy Jennifer Cargile won best presenter for her room.

All-in-all, it was an amazing experience.  It was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever taken part in.  Looking back now, two weeks later, I know i learned a lot and it was one of the most educational experiences thus far at Fisher.  I would strongly recommend that any student entering the MLHR program, or any student who didn’t participate, enter next year.  You won’t regret it.

MHLR Case Competition – Review of Day 1

Now that all of the excitement is over, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about the first ever MLHR Case Competition.  Not just the first ever at Fisher, but to my knowledge, the first grad HR competition ever, anywhere.  Case Competitions are common in business schools, but they are usually for MBA students.  One thing that the faculty here at Fisher as been telling us from day one is that it is critical for us as HR students to develop our business acumen.  We need to be able to understand not only the HR function, but how a business functions, as well as how our decisions as HR leaders will impact the business.  This case competition really drove that home for me.

From what I understand, most case competitions are designed such that participants receive a written case at the beginning of the competition and have 24 hours to analyze it, identify key issues, and develop a strategy for addressing them.  This case, however, was a live case sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation.  When we arrived on Friday morning, HR executives from Whirlpool presented us with an HR issue that they are currently facing.  We were then allowed 40 minutes to ask questions to gather as much information as possible before splitting off in teams to work on the issue.

The team I was a part of was made up of students who all worked as Graduate Assistants in the Graduate Programs Office at Fisher.  The team was Lauren Hall, Stacey Myers, Emily Rohn, and me.  I have to say, this was one of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, which is a good thing since we were stuck with each other for a better part of 48 hours.  We essentially were locked in a breakout room at Fisher from 9:00am until 9:00pm.  I know many other teams were there much later than we were, but when we made our schedule that morning we set an end time of 8:00pm just to ensure we got enough sleep to be prepared for the presentation the following day.

Much of Friday is a blur of reading over presentation slides, doing research on key HR issues, calculating budgets and return on investment, with a few meals and an episode of The Office thrown in to recharge the batteries.  As stressful as this day was, it was actually a lot of fun to work on the challenges we were given and come up with a solution.  Plus, the stress of Friday was nothing compare to Saturday.  My next post will be about the presentation day for the competition.

Hoop Dreams

Way back in high school, I was a basketball fiend.  During those summer breaks that we all wish we still had, I would play basketball from the time I woke up, until the time I was ready for bed.  Even when school was in session, on Wednesdays, classes didn’t start until 9:30, but I would get there at the normal start time just to play basketball for an hour and a half.  I would play in summer three-on-three tournaments, at the playground, or wherever there was a game.

That, however, was a long time ago.  Pretty much as soon as I walked off the stage with my high school diploma, I never picked up a basketball again.  I really don’t have a reason for it.  I wasn’t bored of the game, I didn’t have any injuries that prevented me from playing, I just stopped.  When the time came for the planners of the Fisher Games to put teams together, a second year student I work with in the GPO asked me if I wanted to play anything.  The choices were volleyball, dodgeball, and basketball.  I knew right away that I wanted to be on a volleyball team as I played fairly regularly back in Michigan, but was a little worried about signing up for basketball.

There were a few concerns I had; (1) I am 10 years older and 25lbs heaver than I was the last time I played, (2) even though I am a pretty quiet person normally, I am still competitive and dislike losing, and (3) last time I played I was fairly good, and I knew if I didn’t meet the expectations I had for myself I would be angry.  I put all that aside and signed up anyway.  It was a good thing I did since there were only two other people in the HR program who wanted to play and we needed a minimum of 3 for a team.

Today was the day of Fisher Games.  It was a lot of fun, even though our team got beat in the first round.  I did not play as well as I hoped I would, and I am as out of shape as I expected, but I still had a great time.  It also made me want to start playing again.  My timing was off, as well as my jump shot, but I plan on spending some time at the ARC throughout the rest of the year and getting back into “game shape”.  Hopefully I can get back into my old rhythm in a couple of months, and have a better showing next year.

Break Breakdown/Introducing…Columbus

So over winter break, I went back to Michigan to spend the holidays with family and friends.  It was a relaxing and much needed break, as I’m sure everyone would agree.  It is always nice to see family during the holidays as we have never been very close in general so the holidays are the only times I get to see many of my aunts and uncles.  My sister also recently gave birth to my nephew, so I got to see him for the first time.

Break also gave me tons of time to do some pleasure reading and music searching.  I have felt a bit of music withdrawal since starting classes.  One of my favorite things to do is dig up new music and collect records, as well as dabbling in songwriting and playing guitar.  I decided to leave my guitar in Michigan when I moved to Columbus, and I have missed almost all things music since I’ve been here.

It was great to have time to spend with an amazing group of friends.  Since I was in Michigan for so much time we were able to get back into some of the things we did before I left.  We had a regular schedule; wallyball on Tuesday nights, trivia at one of the local bars on Thursdays, skiing normal once a month through the winter.  Being here in Columbus I miss those friends and activities.

While I was there, I started planning to have some of them down here one weekend soon.  However, since I spent so much time on classes, internship hunting, and all of the things that go into surviving grad school, I didn’t have too many opportunities to explore Columbus last quarter.  Because of that, I am a bit at a loss for the best way to introduce visitors to Columbus.

As much as I’m sure many of you would rather not have a group of Michiganders down here in Buckeye territory, I wonder how someone from Columbus would welcome visitors to the city.  Do you take them to a game, Schmidt’s, somewhere in the Short North?

Please feel free to comment and let me know how you would introduce visitors to Columbus and OSU.

On a side note, some of you may have heard about the Beard Competition that took place at Fisher after the break.  The way it worked was, if you wanted to participate, you grow your beard all through break and at the end there would be judges over the course of three days.  The first day was the full beard, the second day was facial hair design, and the final day was the mustache.  I decided to give it a shot.  I had to trim my beard a couple weeks before the end of break, but even with the mid-growth set-back, I’m proud to say I took Third Place.  No prizes, just man/beard pride.

Lighten the Load

It has been far too long since I’ve posted my last blog.  The past couple of weeks have been a mix of the normal school work stress and internship search, with a broken computer and a few days of sickness thrown in for good measure.  The good news is that much if the semester stress is coming to a close with the approach of the end of the quarter.  Many of the largest projects are completed and I only have one presentation left and a few exams.

The best news is that I accepted an internship offer with ExxonMobil for next summer which really takes a lot of stress away from the remaining quarter and will allow me to focus more on school work.  The combination of the job search and class made me feel as though I was never quite caught up on anything.

The experience with ExxonMobil has been positive so far.  After receiving the offer, they flew myself and a few other classmates who had offers down to Houston to attend a couple of networking events and what was really an extended info session, similar to what we all have experienced here on campus.  It is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but this was only the second time that I have been on a commercial airplane.  As I’ve hinted at in previous posts, I did not grow up with much money so if we couldn’t drive there, we didn’t go.  The body scanners that are currently in the news so much were in place in Houston, and to a lesser extent, in Columbus.  All but one of the group, including myself, had to go through them.  I was not comfortable with it, or happy about it, but once you are in line you don’t have much of a choice.

As for Houston itself, overall my impression was good.  While driving from the airport to the hotel there was a torrential downpour which flooded the expressway, but shortly after the rain stopped and it was nice the rest of my time there.  It was nice to be in 75-80 degree weather in November though.  The interesting thing is that there isn’t one downtown.  There are a few different areas in which there are skyscrapers and different business districts with a lot of areas in between that feel sort of suburban.  The great thing was, while the trip did allow me to get to know the company better and briefly experience a new city, I was able to get to know a few of my classmates that I didn’t know very well.  Spending the better part of two days with people will do that.  And the nice thing was we already had offers so a good part of the “networking to find a job” act wasn’t as necessary.

One final comment on the trip.  During the scheduled events, I was able to meet and speak with many students from other top Universities.  I’m not going to go into details about any particular thing, suffice it to say that on the whole, it made me grateful for my classmates.  As mentioned in another blog by Eric, study groups have been created to help one another with classwork and we know we can go to that group if we are having problems.  I have seen students giving interview tips to others who are going for the very same position, essentially helping their competition.  And when classes are done, students get together with the classmates they spend most of their days with to wind down at Varsity Club.  After having a glimpse into what other schools are like and how their students interact,  I know I made the right choice.

It’s All About Perspective.

As is the theme with so many blogs lately, we all have a ton of work to do.  This past Sunday however, I decided not to do any.  I was going to take the day, go shopping and go out to eat with my girlfriend and spend some quality time with my couch.  A welcome change to the busy schedule that I am getting used to, and for the most part, enjoy.

However, around six in the evening I got a knock on my door.  “Do you own a silver Focus?”

“Yeah…”  I responded cautiously to the young couple at my door.

“Someone stole your radio and broke your window.” he said.  “They got mine too.”

Being born and raised in the city of Flint, MI and spending my share of time in and around Detroit, two cities that are consistently among the most dangerous in the country, I’ve seen and experienced quite a bit.  I have lived in areas where it was uncommon not to hear gunshots at night.  I have also had the unfortunate opportunity to live through a drive-by shooting on my neighbors home.

These are just a couple of examples of why I think I have a unique perspective on  having my vehicle vandalized and property stolen.  There are a lot of crimes that one can be a victim of.  Of all these, losing a radio and window is not all that bad.  Myself, nor was anyone I know, physically hurt by this.  A replacement window and radio costs a grand total of $300, of which I only pay $100 thanks to insurance.  Considering some of the things I have experienced in the past, it’s just not that big of a deal.

This goes for how we deal with pretty much everything we do.  Our reactions to circumstances are largely shaped by our past experiences.  We all should be willing to open ourselves up to other people and to new experiences. Sure some are bound to turn out bad, but even those we can learn from and apply those lessons in the future.  It’s just all how we look at it.

So does this experience sour my perspective on Columbus?  Not one bit.  Things like this happen everywhere.  The people I have met here and the experiences and opportunities that have opened up to me far outweigh this one negative thing.  Of course when the repairs are finished I don’t want it to happen again.  But it doesn’t change my opinion of the city or University.

“Is it the fingers or the brain that you’re teaching a lesson?”

After a couple of weeks of committing most of my time to trying to get interviews for internships, going to info sessions, and generally neglecting my school work, I made a conscious decision to spend more time focused on catching up on reading assignments.  Now when it comes to studying, I’ve found there are two groups of people; those who study with music, and those who study without.

I myself am a huge music fan.  I have a collection that is very eclectic.  Some might call it snobbish, but I really try to give all genres of music a fair listen and for various reasons, I generally don’t listen to many top 40 artists.

When it comes to studying, I always have music playing.  I only have two rules for what I listen to when I’m studying.  It either has to be instrumental, or if it has lyrics, it must be something to which I have not learned the words.  If I know what the artist is singing, it takes my focus off the assignment.  That is really the whole reason I like listening to music, it keeps other noises out so I can pay more attention to what I’m reading.

All that leads me to the point of this post.  I wanted to list some of the music that I listen to the most when doing homework.  So in no particular order, here is a list of a few artists I’ve been listening to lately.

The Budos Band – The Budos Band II

The Budos Band II

This album is surprisingly one of my favorites of the past few months and has translated well in my study habits.  I never heard of this band before they received decent reviews on  There is very little variation throughout the record. The entire album sounds like 1970’s movie and TV show themes, or an album made to be sampled by J-Dilla or Danger Mouse.  A lot of horns, funk style bass lines, and great energy for studying.  It’s uptempo enough to keep you awake through the occasionally boring reading assignment.

Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins

A friend of mine tried to get me into this group years ago but it was never something that I liked much.  I ended up with their discography thanks to him, but it just sat there for a long time.  One day a couple of weeks ago they popped up in iTunes as I was studying and it was a great combination of non-lyrical vocals and spacey synthesizers.  It was excellent background music and has been making a regular appearance in my educational playlist.



Another band which I was far behind some of my friends on.  I’ve only just recently reached back in their catalog.  Until a few months ago, the only DEVO I knew was, like most other people, ‘Whip It’.  Since I don’t know most of the lyrics yet, it still fits my criteria for good study music.  The post-punk/pre-new wave sound is great for a little energy after more mellow music, which most instrumental stuff tends to be.

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

It’s not because he made an album named for my home State.  I have been a fan of his since his first album.  I haven’t gotten his newest record but I’ve heard nothing but good things and look forward to hearing it.  I love his songwriting and the instrumentation that he uses.  I broke my own rule here though because I know the lyrics to his songs, but his music is so conducive to an afternoon of studying that I had to include it on the list.

So that is just a sample of the kind of music that I’ve found helps me get through a Sunday afternoon of studying.  There is a ton of other music that cycles in and out of my playlist, but these seem to be the regulars lately.

So if you are reading this and, like me, you enjoy music while you study, feel free to share your favorites in a quick comment.  I would be interested to see what others listen to while studying.