Real-Life Stuff

Tick tock, tick tock…

What’s that sound?

It’s the real world—you know, that thing you put on pause almost two years ago.  It won’t stay paused forever!

Those of us in the MBA Class of 2018 have learned that the second year is a huge departure from the first year of the program—sometimes it truly feels like an entirely different program altogether.

Where the first-year core curriculum is highly structured, the second year brings autonomy and flexibility with both class times and subject matter.

Where the first year is defined by the demanding academic workload, the second year offers more time for introspection and hands-on growth through leadership roles in student organizations.

Many of these changes are welcome, though I don’t mean to speak ill of my first-year experience.  I do miss the close camaraderie of seeing all my classmates in lecture every single day and spending time with my core team.  I’m proud to know that I navigated the first year successfully, but let’s just say that I’m glad a younger Michael was there to tackle it.

The 11th floor of Thompson Library—a great spot to ponder life’s big questions.

The second year, however, is not without its own unique challenges—and while the stresses of the first year were anticipated, the stresses of second year can catch you off guard. This is because during the second year, you start to feel the real world encroaching.

Where will you work?  Where will you live?  Have you picked the right career path?  Will you relocate?  Will you be uprooting a significant other, spouse, or child in the process?

These are some of the questions you must find final answers for during your second year.  No doubt, these are fortunate problems to have and part of the great growth of the MBA experience—but their permanence and weight can make them rather slippery.

Stop to smell the roses…or watch them change color (?).

The good news is that you are never alone.  Every day, I’m surrounded by 91 friends going through the same process, asking the same questions, thinking the same thoughts.  Then, of course there are the other resources all around us—career counselors, professors, staff.  The key is to remember to enjoy the ride; with patience, the right answers have a way of finding you.

Our time here may be winding down but it is far from over, which means our task is to make the most of what is left.  The real world will have to wait… for now.

Spring Break: From Germany to German Village

Last week’s Spring Break saw members of our graduate programs spread out across all corners of the world; visiting family, soaking up the sun, and exploring exotic places. I spent my break right here, in the snowy Columbus corner of the world—and I regret nothing.

One group of students spent their week in Germany as part of our Global Business Expeditions program. During the trip—led by MBA Program Director Shashi Matta—the travelers visited famous German companies such as Audi, while also enjoying the culture and scenery.  I was with them in spirit as I made a day trip to German Village.

German Village is a historic neighborhood just south of downtown Columbus, and a true gem of the city. It was settled in the mid-1800s by German immigrants and today is nationally recognized for its historical preservation efforts—in fact, the entire neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  The area is instantly recognizable by its brick streets, quaint and meticulously-maintained brick homes, beautiful Schiller Park, and German dining options.

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant is a neighborhood institution that has been serving up traditional favorites in the same location since 1886. The spicy Bahama Mamma is my go-to.  Served on a platter with sauerkraut, German potato salad, and house-made applesauce it truly makes you feel like you are far away from Columbus.  Be sure to save a little room for dessert, because Schmidt’s legendary cream puffs (about the size of a softball) are not to be forgotten!

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant; Image: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/70650287877835756/

The Book Loft is another German Village favorite. One of the nation’s largest independent book stores, this quirky labyrinth of literature features 32 themed rooms throughout its winding hallways, connecting what were once three separate properties.  The experience of wandering around is in and of itself an Alice in Wonderland style adventure.

The Book Loft, German Village; Image: http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/the-book-loft-jack-schultz.jpg

German Village is just one of many unique neighborhoods that comprise the vibrant city of Columbus. We are very fortunate as Fisher students to have opportunities to explore the world directly through study-abroad programs, and indirectly in our own backyard—no matter your choice, adventure awaits!

 

Dylan Goes Electric

When it comes to classroom technology, I’ve always been a bit of a traditionalist, cipherin’ with my slate and chalk.

Ok, maybe not that traditional.

For those who don't understand the reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Dylan_controversy
The story behind the obscure pop culture reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Dylan_controversy

I have, however, always preferred a good old-fashioned pen and notebook, foregoing the laptop system favored by many of my classmates during my undergraduate career. In my opinion, handwritten notes are considerably more effective for capturing the graphs, illustrations, and charts so common in a business curriculum, which is why all my attempts to computerize my note taking have usually been short-lived.

But as an admitted neatnik, I have always admired certain elements of a digital system, namely its ability to keep all materials in one place, eliminate stray papers which are easily misplaced, and even replace cumbersome textbooks. I recently became the owner of an Apple Pencil and decided to give the electronic world one more try—it has only been two weeks, but things are going better that I could have ever hoped.

The Apple Pencil is a simple, but very effective tool. I was very impressed by how natural and accurate it feels to write with it on my iPad.  In fact, my handwriting was not adversely impacted at all (though it admittedly was bad to begin with).

Pencil and iPad
The notebook of the 21st century?

The real power of this tablet/pencil system is the ability to replace my need for textbooks, notebooks, binders, and printing all with one 9.7 inch device. Using a note-taking app called Notability alongside GoogleDrive, the Canvas (Carmen) app, and the Harvard Publishing app, I am able to import electronic textbooks, PDF articles, PowerPoint presentations, and more into Notability, where I can organize them into folders and virtual “tabs”, and then draw notes directly on the screen (including multiple colors, highlight styles, even typed text boxes).  This system has freed me from heavy backpacks, trips to my locker, time in the computer lab printing, and the fear of being unprepared for class, since all of my materials I could ever need are with me at all times.

A look inside the Notability app.
A look inside the Notability app.

It is still quite early in the semester to declare full victory, but I am cautiously optimistic that this new system is here to say. I think this implementation of technology will also help me as a professional, where I will be expected to be prepared, agile, and up-to-date with technology.  I am getting good practice now in integrating technology into my life, so I will be better prepared as I head off to my summer internship and beyond.

 

‘How Did I Get Here?’

Those who know me well learn (sometimes to their dismay) that I have a soft spot for 80’s movies. From the classic to the cringe-worthy, I am unable to resist the nostalgic and synthesizer-tinged siren song of the MTV era. The genre has taken on new meaning to me recently, as I feel ever increasingly that I have been plucked from real life and dropped into the middle of a John Hughes montage:

Look at protagonist Michael go—he’s taking classes, doing homework, interviewing for jobs—working hard with his gang of friends towards their common goal! The days are flying off his Page-a-Day calendar as his Trapper Keeper fills with HBR articles! (Music fades as Michael’s car pulls into student parking lot).

mirror-lake
Time and Change: Not even Mirror Lake is immune to the fast pace of life on campus.

This morning I had such a montage moment when through my car radio, I heard David Byrne of the Talking Heads squelch “…and you may ask yourself—‘how did I get here?’” ‘Here’ in this case, meaning week eight of the semester. It was a sobering realization that my academic MBA experience at Fisher is already 1/8 of the way done. I took a moment to reflect as the chorus chanted in the background, “Letting the days go by…”

It truly feels like yesterday that I walked into orientation. Yet somehow here I am, eight weeks in and already finished with the seven-week long Economics and Marketing courses. My only explanation (aside from the possibility that we are in fact sentient beings trapped inside the b-roll of a teen movie), is that time flies when you’re having fun. And boy, have I been having fun.

The 12-, 15-, sometimes 18-hour days that I have become accustomed to as a business student fly by more quickly than eight-hour days during some of my past endeavors. There’s no time in this fast-paced program for busy work. As such, every lecture, every assignment, every group project is intensely enriching and clearly builds towards the goal of becoming an effective business leader. This makes it so easy to stay engaged and motivated. Add to this the limitless opportunities for professional development, networking, and exposure to companies and there truly is never a dull moment. The greatest challenge is forcing yourself to go home and go to bed at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be difficult to fill 24 hours a day with MBA-related activities.

calendar
A sample time warp agenda

Sure, there is plenty to be stressed about in business school, but there’s always equally as much to be excited about. Ultimately, I think that is what separates my MBA experience thus far from my previous academic endeavors. I walk into Gerlach Hall each day excited, knowing that new lessons, new skills, and new challenges await me. I am never bored, I am never sitting still, and I am constantly challenged– and as such, the weeks quickly wash over me in a wave of intense activity. I have lots to learn and I’m far from mastering the many facets of graduate school, but I look forward to the new challenges ahead.

And so a new montage begins. Will protagonist Michael get a summer internship? Will the football team win the big game against their rivals? What misadventures and mischief await our lovable band of buddies? Cue the music—let’s find out.