The Other Side Of The Table 2

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

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

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

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

Extending Your Offer

I didn’t want to say anything until I had it in writing, but I’ve been extended again at OCLC in my HR Intern role.  What was supposed to be ten weeks, has turned into a full year.

Even though I’ll be moving to DC at the end of March (blog to follow), the miracles of modern technology and the graciousness of my employer are allowing me to work remotely for OCLC until June.

Thanks to Citrix, a remote desktop application, I can access my work hard drive from anywhere using my security token, an internet connection and my laptop.  I can work from anywhere essentially.

Working only one day a week in the office, and remotely the rest of the time, has presented an interesting challenge this quarter.  My day in the office is when I get to do all the physical things like put up marketing, take face to face meetings and coordinate with my manager.  Once I move, I will be coordinating with my manager over the phone and will return to Columbus twice a month or so, for a few days or so at a time, and work in the office.  I’ll probably put in more days in the office AFTER I leave than I have this quarter.  It has been a challenge, but very rewarding at the same time.

OCLC has been an incredible experience and when my 10 weeks were up, I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to see through some of the projects that could not be pushed through during that time period and I wanted to work on some of the projects that were coming up in the pipeline.  So I asked to stay.  Simple as that.  Being that the position was local, I had the opportunity to do so.  I cut back my hours (boy did that first part-time paycheck shock!), and scheduled my work week with help from my managers so it would fit with my class schedule.

The HR Intern position for this year is actually structured so the intern will stay on for the fall semester on a part-time basis.  And don’t worry, if you’re a candidate or the future intern, don’t worry. I WILL leave before you start.

My advice to first years who will be starting their summer internships in a few short months is this: I recommend you do the same if you can.  Even if the position is not local, you could possibly work remotely.  It’s great experience, looks wonderful on your resume, and a regular paycheck never hurt, even if diminished.  It also doesn’t hurt to ask.

Good luck to all the first year MLHR candidates!

Making That Hard Decision

If the current first years are anything like my MLHR Cohort when we were first years, some people are making hard decisions right now.

Those months in the beginning where you were getting antsy because some of your colleagues were picking up offers left and right are suddenly a thing of the past.  You’ve realized now that a lot of great companies come to Fisher in Winter and Spring because that’s when their fiscal years allow them to commit to a budget for interns.  And now, you’re feeling antsy for an entirely different reason.

When it rains, it pours.  And you don’t know if you should run into the closest building for shelter or wait for the storm to clear so you can clearly see the horizon.  This metaphor, of course, refers to taking the first offer you get or waiting to see if those other interviews and second rounds pan out.  No one blames you of course for feeling anxious about what’s on the other side.  The grass honestly could be greener.  This internship will be a big part of your resume when you graduate and the experience will help you determine your specialty.  It is not a decision to be made lightly.

I had one of my first year buddies message me on Facebook the other night.  She was in this exact situation:  she had a great offer from a company.  They are not as well-known and do not carry the “big name” prestige that future employers might look for.  On the other hand, she would be on the ground floor of a major change effort and reorganization, would be working directly under the VP and felt like it was a very good managerial and organization fit.

On the other hand, yes that makes three hands, she has interviews lined up with some bigger names and doesn’t know too much about what the opportunities would be like.  The offer has an expiration date and she doesn’t know if they will let her wait until she has had the opportunity to interview with the other companies and get offers.

I was in this exact same situation.  I went with OCLC, a name that is VERY big in the industry we are in, library sciences technology.  On the other hand, there were concerns that future employers wouldn’t recognize the name and downplay my experience because they don’t know the organization.

On the third hand, I have had an amazing experience with OCLC, a lot of latitude, incredible breadth and depth of experience, and made connections and networked with people that will help me open up my future as an HR professional.

My buddy wanted guidance.  All I could offer was my point of view, and that is all.  Everyone’s experience and needs and luck are different.  I have colleagues who went with the “big names” and have been afforded wonderful opportunities.  They also have not put down any roots and are younger and more open to opportunities, wherever they might take them.  I have roots in DC, a family and relationship that are waiting for me, and am not as open to these options.  I want to be in DC and must tailor my search to there and there only.

My only advice to anyone reading this is: Go with your gut.  If your gut says that a “big name” like Exxon, Cardinal Health, Anheuser-Busch, etc., are the best choice for you, go with your gut!  If you go on an interview with a lesser-known company, but it feels like the right fit, do that.  I went with my gut and have not looked back at all and have not regretted it for a minute.

The Other Side Of The Table :: 7 tips if you’re going to a career fair

I did a lot of recruiting when I worked for Aerotek, a national, private staffing firm with an office here in Dublin, Ohio.

But that recruiting was for seasoned engineers, finance professionals and high-level customer service agents for Fortune 500 companies here in Columbus and around the nation.  So when I started my internship with OCLC, we decided not to put any focus on recruiting and to instead put it on areas where I needed more development.

Recruiting season has really kicked up at OCLC recently, however, so I have been lending my services and doing career fairs for the organization to fill our summer internship and fellowship positions, focusing on candidates that are just emerging from their programs.

I’ve been to career fairs as an undergrad student and again as an MLHR candidate to find my summer internship last year.  I have to tell you, it was strange being on the other side of the table/booth and being able to walk right in without filling out forms, registration or name tags because I was an employer.

I know that some first years out there are still looking for summer internships and there are quite a few of us second years looking for full-time positions, post-program.  Here are some of my tips for career fairs, having been an insider and outsider now.

  1. Be prepared –  Come with lots of resumes and a cover letter if you are targeting a specific company or industry.  The candidates that came up to me without a resume did not get the full benefits of the experience.  Without a resume, I can’t look for hidden talents that might make you fit for a position you never knew existed.  And have questions ready.
  2. Know what you want – I had a lot of International Studies, Communications, English and Marketing majors come up to our booth.  My first question after introducing myself was, “What are you looking for?”  The answer, “Uh…” or, “I haven’t really thought about it…” immediately turned me off.  Many of these candidates were seniors and should have a solid idea about what they want to do with their four years of hard work and effort.
  3. Be open to options – On the other side of the coin, I’m ok with candidates saying they’re open to options and haven’t nailed down exactly what they want.  In that case, it’s better to say, “This is what I have done before and this is what I might be good at it.”  That answer actually excites me much more than “UH…”.
  4. Be comfortable with yourself – I had some pretty twitchy candidates come up to me.  Their nervousness was understandable, but remember this: Recruiters are busy, under pressure and desperately trying to fill their positions.  They are sometimes just as nervous as you are!  And if you feel like you are truly a great candidate for a position, act like it and own it.  Confidence makes a world of difference
  5. Work on your hand shake –  It is the second thing I notice about candidates.  It is your introduction to the recruiter while you make your verbal introduction to the recruiter.  Clammy hands, not as big of a deal.  People get nervous, palms sweat.  Discreetly wipe your palm inside your pocket before extending it.  A flimsy, weak handshake on the other hand?  That’s an impression killer.  When making a handshake, aim to line up your palms, not your fingers to their palm, and give a solid squeeze to the area behind the fingers so you don’t crush them, and give a gentle pump and a smile.
  6. Look the part – This is the FIRST thing I notice about candidates.  This should be obvious, but people tend to wander in when they see a career fair if it’s at the Student Union.  But nothing hurts your impression on the recruiter more than showing up in sweatpants, flip flops and a hoodie.  If you see a company you like on the brochure, run home, put on a shirt/blouse and pants/skirt at least, and come back.  If you do dress up, make sure your clothes fit, you have a belt if your shirt is tucked in and for ladies, don’t dress like you’re going to the local bar or club.  And if you wear a suit, make sure it is a solid color and fits well.
  7. Finally – don’t insult the recruiter.  I had people say, “I’m sure I can handle the HR internship.  I mean, how hard can it be?”  These people had no experience and assumed they could do an HR professional’s job with no training or prior knowledge and education.  This was extremely insulting and earned them a lot of negative points in my book.

Hope these tips help and good luck on your internship/job hunt(s)!


OSU Arts & Sciences Internship Roundtable

A VERY Belated Welcome Back

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for quite a while.

I was unpleasantly surprised by how busy the end of Autumn quarter was, and am therefore not too surprised by how hectic Winter quarter has been thus far.  Hard to believe we’re in week 4 already!

Look for some posts soon about recruiting, accepting internships, making tough decisions, saying goodbyes and getting by.

Welcome back everyone!

The More Things Change…

The more they stay the same?  FALSE.  Everything has changed and nothing is the same as it was in my previous quarters here.

I have to say that this has been one of the toughest quarters of my academic career in the MLHR program.  Some of my colleagues feel the same, some think it has been incredibly easy!  I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation as to why except that we all have different strengths.  I like a challenge!  So I suppose I should be thankful for that at least.

One of the biggest challenges for me so far has been the shake-up in the professor roster.  It is a brand new slate of professors for us and we are not familiar with their styles, what they want from our exams, papers and projects, or what they are teaching us.

I am currently taking Strategic HR as my elective this quarter.  Professor Wilk is an incredible professor who really knows her stuff.  Her teaching style is dynamic, engaging and focuses on discussion rather than lecture.  If she does lecture from a PowerPoint, it is only to give us a jumping off point for our discussions about the cases we analyzed and the articles we read.  I am really enjoying this class, but I cannot seem to nail down what she is looking for.  I had taken an elective last spring that focused on case analyses, and did well discussing them in class as well as doing one-page summaries.  With Professor Wilk, not so much.

I didn’t do great on my first assignment, but paying attention to her feedback and comments on it has helped me better understand her expectations.  Armed with this knowledge, I am hoping to do substantially better on my second and final case analysis for her.

One of the required courses this quarter is Labor Law.  The first half focuses solely on labor laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act and mostly on the National Labor Relations Act.  Robert Weisman, Esq. is a labor lawyer who has extensive knowledge of the these acts as well as experience trying labor cases in court.  Because of this extensive knowledge and experience, he has been brought in to teach this first half of the course and did a good job trying to make this difficult material more manageable.

I have experience with enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act rules and regulations in just about every position I’ve had, and surprisingly mostly in my experience as a retail manager.  I have never worked with labor unions and had no intention of doing so in my career, so the NLRA is like a foreign language to me.  I use this simile loosely because I am actually quite good with foreign languages!  Instead, I’ll say that the NLRA is like gravity to me: I know it’s there, I know it’s important and I have a gist of how it works.  Ask me to delve into the specific mechanics of it and you’ll have me at a loss.

The second half of the course focuses on diversity.  So far, it is unlike what I have learned about diversity in my role as a Diversity and Inclusion intern at OCLC.  My experiences here have focused on programming, strategy, culture change and sustainability of these practices in a business-oriented manner.  This diversity that I am learning is like meeting someone from a different planet that speaks something similar to English, acts in a manner comparable to myself, but in the end, is a wholly different creature.  This will be interesting and challenging.

Finally, we are also required to take HR Negotiations this quarter.  Focusing again on labor issues, I am at a loss.  The professor who previously taught the course, Professor Marcus Sandver, unfortunately passed away the weekend before the quarter started.  His replacement, Professor Hills, is from a very different era than those of the professors that we have come to know and appreciate in the program.  I find him to be the most difficult professor to connect with this quarter and that is a very big struggle for me.

I applaud the MLHR program for their efforts to avoid “homophily” (a big word I learned in Strategic HR meaning hiring people who are all the same.  Read the full definition here), and for keeping us on our toes and challenging us.  Hopefully my colleagues in the Cohort and I will be able to applaud each other for making it through this very trying quarter alive and without being put on academic probation.

PS – as much as I would love to put a picture into this post, I do not think there is one adequate enough to capture all my thoughts, even if it was worth a thousand words or more

My Buddy… My Buddy…

Or should I say, My Buddies?

I decided to take part in the Fisher Connections program that was set up over the summer.  The purpose of the program is to match up incoming students who might be moving from other parts of the state, country or even world, with students who are already here.  These current students can then help with living arrangements, furniture shopping, tips on where to eat and live, etc.

My Fisher Connections buddy is Leanne Tromp, a very cool fellow blogger here.  Even though I wasn’t able to help out much with the above-mentioned, I think it still helps to have someone to connect with and I was able to tell Leanne about some of the classes she would be taking this quarter as well as the professors and where to get books and such.

I’m also a member of the GHRA and their buddy program that matches up first years with second years.  I was really lucky to get not one, but TWO GHRA buddies, both of whom are very cool.

Laura just moved back from DC, my hometown, and so were able to immediately bond over that.  Laura also worked in the hotel industry, which I always thought sounded fun.

I also got matched up with Anja, an international student from China.  I had the chance to hang out with Anja at the GHRA mixer and also at the GHRA Buddy Dinner.  (See Amber Stephen’s blog post about the event here.)  It’s always fun and interesting to meet someone from your own culture and talk about the similarities and differences based on where our families are from and where we grew up.  I even got over my shyness of speaking Chinese to native speakers because of their tendency to make fun of my Taiwanese pronunciations and my American accent.  Thankfully, Anja kept the fun-poking to a minimum!

Over the course of the next few weeks as the quarter comes to an end, I plan on having lunch with each of them just to catch up and see how their first quarters went.  I remember what a whirlwind my first full quarter here was and having a little reinforcement and debriefing would have been a big help to me.

I’ve already scheduled a lunch with Laura, and don’t worry Anja and Leanne, your invites are coming soon!

You can see Leanne and Laura in the photo below.  Not sure where Anja was, but I was behind the camera!

GHRA Buddy Dinner at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill

Domestic Travel For International Students

The holidays, and therefore traveling season, are coming upon us.  Quickly.

For myself, I will be going home to DC for Thanksgiving a week late so my sister and niece can spend it with her husband and in-laws, and also to avoid holiday traffic since they either drive or take the train from Manhattan generally.  This also means that I can avoid holiday travel, and if you read this post and this one too, you’ll see why that’s a good thing for me, my blood pressure and all those unsuspecting and innocent bystanders that are my fellow travelers in the airport.

Though I loathe doing so, I will be driving out to DC on 12/16 after my internship at OCLC ends, spending a few days with my boyfriend who lives there, spending the Christmas holiday with my family, and then driving back to Columbus the day after Christmas with my boyfriend; he will then spend a whole week with me in Columbus all the way through New Year’s and fly back to DC the day after.  It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly, even with the 6.5 hour drive taken into consideration.  I consider myself lucky.  I have a colleague who is considering driving back to South Dakota for Christmas and that is a 13 hour drive at the least, not even factoring in inclement weather.  Best of luck to you, Eric!

But what about all of our international friends whose homes and family are far far away?  Thinking about the holiday travel made me revisit some of the holiday plans that my international colleagues made and were kind enough to invite me to.  Like I said before, their homes are far away and traveling back to Asia or Turkey or wherever else can be difficult considering the short amount of time they have and the prohibitive costs.  When my family goes to Taiwan, we try and stay at least a week, preferably 10 days, and the plane tickets cost at least $1000.  Not exactly grad student friendly, is it?

So last year, I know that a bunch of the international students went to or considered some domestic destinations during our winter and spring breaks.  These destinations included:

Orlando – flights starting at $190

NYC – flights starting at $333

DC – flights starting at $199

Chicago – flights starting at $148 (on Southwest, flying to Midway.  Midway is less congested than O’Hare); Round trip bus fare on Megabus starting at $50

I’ve listed the current prices from Travelocity, Southwest and Megabus.

If you haven’t heard of Megabus, it is a double decker luxury bus with wi-fi, comfortable seats and one stop in Indianapolis.  Picks you up in Downtown Columbus, drops you off in Downtown Chicago.  Great deal and I’ve done it a couple of times!  It also doesn’t take much longer than a normal drive to Chicago, even with the stop.

The flights are priced assuming departure on Friday 12/9 and a return on Tuesday 12/13.  Flights tend to be cheaper with a weekday stay.  And if I’ve learned anything from the Traveling Gnome, Tim Gunn and the woman who looks like Milla Jovovich but isn’t, it’s that you save money by booking your flight and hotel together.

So even if you aren’t an international student, you can still use this as a guide to kick off your winter break excursion.  Enjoy and safe travels!

Travelocity's Traveling Gnome (all rights reserved)

Why Being a Grad Student Is Like Being My Parents

I’m sure by now that even the first year MLHR students are realizing what a weird schedule we keep as graduate students.  Classes are at night, some of us work during the day, project meetings happen whenever we can get all the people involved into the same place at the same time.

As a second year MLHR student, I’m realizing that I have more and more in common with my parents not only as I get older, but because of my schedule and habits from being a grad student.

Eating Habits:

My parents eat dinner at 4:45PM every day, on the dot, without fail and are usually done by 5PM.

I eat dinner on school nights at 4:45PM, pretty much on the dot, and am done by 5PM so I can get on Highway 315 before the traffic starts and grab my seat in class by 5:30PM

Where Am I?? :

My mom sometimes forgets where she is or where she’s going.  Stop laughing, it’s not funny.  OK, it is a little funny, but it’s not senility.  She sometimes is late because she has to turn around since she started heading to Point B when she should have been heading to Point A

I sometimes forget what room I’m supposed to be in for class and if I have to wake up for school or for work. I have headed up I-270 on the 70W split at times thinking I had to be at work, when I should have been going up Highway 315N for my MW morning classes

Sleep Schedule:

My dad keeps a tight sleep schedule and gets up at 4:30AM every morning.  My mom gets up between 8A and 9:30A depending on what she has going on that day

I get up at 6:15A on workday mornings and 8:30A on class day mornings.  I have my alarms set on my iPhone and if for some reason they get messed up, I am toast that day

Remembering People’s Names:

This is a funny one, so feel free to laugh.  My mom will sometimes look straight at me and run through the names of me and my siblings and hope one sticks.  Sometimes I also get called Kali, Coco or Long Long, which are the names of our current dog, our old dog that passed away 10 years ago and what my mom calls her little brother

I have been to parties where I look right at someone, someone I am good friends with and have known for years, and cannot for the life of me remember their name.  I have to discreetly describe this person to a friend in hopes that they can remind me what their name is.  Sometimes I also mix up the names of my professors and what they are teaching.  I have yet to call anyone Luna, my cat’s name.  It might be another 20 years till that one happens.

Things I Can Look Forward To In The (Hopefully) Distant Future:

That thing where my parents have to hold a piece of paper really far away so they can read what it says.  It happened to me once when I got my laser eye surgery.  I thought it was hilarious and immediately told my parents and commiserated.  And then laughed at them.

All the Chinese herbs and medicines, and Western medicines, that my dad takes because of his bad back and knees

Being able to get away with all the above-mentioned stuff that my parents do after I’m no longer a grad student

PS – My parents are older than they look.  Heck, I still get carded for R-Rated movies sometimes…

PPS – Some people might think that I am an awful son for writing this blog about my parents, but I love them and they love me and I think they’ll get a kick out of it


My Parents and My Adorable Niece in Greece (I made a rhyme)


The Layered Approach

It works on so many levels.

On the most superficial one, wear layers to class.  It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside, it will be the exact opposite in the classroom for the first 30 minutes of class, then it will be like the weather outside, and then after that, it’s just a free-for-all.  So wear layers, you’ll be happy you did.

But in a more applied manner, it also works when you’re looking at school.  One thing that I’m noticing this quarter is that there is a lot of overlap between our courses since two of them focus on labor, either in the sense of negotiations or the law.  It’s been easier, but sometimes more confusing, to apply principles and concepts from one class to another.

And that’s one of the great things about this program.  They really make sure that we have a very rounded and well-defined education that builds upon itself, like layers, that ensure that we have a very thorough and great comprehension of the theories and practices that we will have to use in our future careers.

I suppose my main point here is for the first years and prospective students that may be worried about being ready for work after the program or your internship: Don’t worry, Fisher has you covered.

And when in doubt: bring a jacket