The days are long…

…but the years are short.

This is my last day in my second home Gerlach Hall. To be candid, I’ve been avoiding this blog post for weeks now. I sat down to write on multiple occasions only to be overcome with such nostalgia that I couldn’t ever actually begin writing.

The last two years have absolutely changed my life. I’ve learned more about the field of HR in terms of technical knowledge than I knew existed. What’s more, I’ve learned more about myself than I ever could have anticipated.

I know I’ve talked about this point for some time now, but to be explicit: I believe grad school is about so much more than classes, exams, and projects. Grad school is about pushing yourself to think in different ways. It’s about confronting the anxiety of presenting in front of 50 people. It’s about managing through the hurt of not getting that internship you thought you’d nail. It’s about sleepless nights, and not having the right answer all the time, and learning to dance in the grey area. It’s about learning to fight fair with your classmates and professors and respecting each other at the end of the day. It’s about failing small, learning from your mistakes, and remembering how to be a beginner again.

It’s about all this and so much more. But I wanted to challenge myself to choose my most meaningful learnings from my time in the Master of Human Resource Management program. Here’s my triple-distilled final list of takeaways:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. The business world is fast-moving and always changing. People move quickly and shake things up and make mistakes. Grad school has taught me that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. Don’t know the answer? Give it a shot anyway. Don’t know how to start that paper? Just start. One of my classmates has often said: “you either succeed or you learn.” Grad school is about learning how to use your energy and effort in the direction of productivity.

Take care of yourself. What recharges you? Do that thing, and do it often. This year, even when I thought I’d run out of hours in the day, I made time to exercise–for just one hour. I knew I’d be able to think more clearly afterward. Everything that needs to get done will get done.

You get out what you put in. As I move through life, I realize that in nearly every organization, team, program, and job there are going to be two groups of people–1) those who put in discretionary effort, and 2) those who do the bare minimum. On paper, these two groups will look virtually the same. They’ll have the same credentials, degrees, and experiences, and positions, and they’ll probably have access to the same opportunities as a result. The difference is in the amount of time and care they have invested into each of these items on their resume. Did they do it to check a box or did they do it for the challenge, learning, and growth? I can tell you with confidence that merely checking boxes will catch up with those folks, so choose wisely which group you want to belong to.

How you do anything is how you do everything. Don’t wait to put your best foot forward. I run across people every day who are so engrossed in the next “thing,” and admittedly I am also guilty of such future-tripping. It was said best by MHRM class of 2017 graduate (and my good friend) Kacielife happens now. It is so easy to get caught up saying, when I nail that internship, get that job, graduate this program, get married, have a family, that is when my life will start. Try to remember your life is happening every day and all around yoube present for it.

To all my followers over the last two years, thank you for the honor. Best of luck in wherever your future endeavors take you! And to all my graduating classmateslet’s do this.

As We Go on, We’ll Remember…

As my MHRM journey comes to a close, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time in my head reflecting over what the the last two years have meant for me. But because you only ever hear from me, I wanted to give a voice to some of my classmates. Below, graduating MHRM students share some of their fondest memories in the MHRM program.

My favorite part of the program is the family I’ve created within Fisher. Being surrounded by students and faculty who are passionate about HR like I am have made me even more excited to start my career. Grad school can be intense, but I’ve had so much fun attending events like grad school prom, Fisher Follies events, Varsity Club outings after class, intramurals, and football games. The people are what I’m going to miss most! I can’t wait to see the success my classmates achieve and to continue to share ideas as the field of HR changes.

– Kelly Mayer

Fisher Follies Fall Auction 2017 (Kelly is on the right)

My favorite part was really day one. Sounds super cheesy, but being separated and away from Georgia for the first time ever was a daring (and scary) adventure. I just remember doing the scavenger hunt during orientation and meeting a lot of excited, eager people. That really brought to light that Ohio would be home for two years or more and I was ready.

– Chase Lakhani

Chase rushing the field after an OSU win

I will never forget winning the HR External Case Competition (Jen was on my team). I was so tired and so proud of our recommendation and presentation. It was really rewarding to win and be recognized for our hard work.

Also, on a lighter note, I really loved how good we were at potlucking. I don’t know if that’s an HR quirk or if we are all just awesome. We could have a potluck for anything and we always came through, it was so fun.

– Kate Clausen

MHRMsgiving = Thanksgiving for MHRMs

My most memorable day was when I realized that I had been accepted among all the domestic students here. It was the last day of Professor Shepherd’s class and we had a potluck. I had a chance to bring in an authentic Indian food. I was reluctant as I didn’t know if everyone would like Indian food, but then  I received a lot of appreciation from all of my classmates. I was overwhelmed with the amount of love and support everyone has shown. Be it group projects or team meetings, I have always been treated well.

– Divya Selvaraj

MHRMs celebrating Utsav together at the Fisher College of Business (Divya is on the left/second “row”)

Grad school can be really hard and life-consuming, especially when you are at a business school. We are consumed with cases, strategy, ROI, and all kinds of other things that many people don’t ever think about. The “business school bubble” is what I call it. Tell any average person outside the school what you obsess over in your studies and they just look at you with wide-eyed confusion. So with that in mind, one of my favorite grad school memories is the Fisher Follies Variety Show. At the end of the spring semester, we have a chance to pop our self-made bubble and make some fun of it. It’s always entertaining to step back are realize how ridiculous our business cocoon can be, and to have fun and laugh about it. Each year I attended, I was entertained and delighted by the level of craftsmanship and wit in each of the short videos. And in those moments, I realized how amazing our Fisher community is.

– Chris Schoo

MHRMs Chris and Billy Dunn posed for a partner headshot after class.

One of my favorite memories will always be winning Internal Case Comp my second year. I still can’t believe how much better Case Comp felt after a year in the program; just a real testament to how valuable the Fisher experience was for building my business acumen and professional presentation style.

Having the Varsity Club Thursday night tradition really was a special part of business school for me, too. Knowing you’d always have some time each week to catch-up, decompress, and just have fun. This is my second master’s, and my cohort never had anything like that in my first grad school experience. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for “the VC.”

– Billy Dunn

Team OSU after the 2018 HR Invitational Case Competition

When I think about my favorite memory from my time here, I wouldn’t say it’s a particular event. Rather, I think I would say it’s the overall closeness of our class with students at a wide variety of stages in their own lives– ranging from fresh out of undergrad to a recent grandfather or from being local to moving across the country and the world. Witnessing the relationships that have formed and the lifelong friendships that have developed is what I will truly value and remember for the rest of my life.

– Matt Shaffer

“MHRMs” doing the iconic O-H-I-O at Frito-Lay headquarters in Dallas at the start of their summer internship

To Work or Not to Work

The million-dollar question:

Should I go directly from undergrad to grad school, or should I work first?

If you’re asking yourself this question, rest assured you are not alone. It feels like I’ve been having this conversation a lot lately with juniors and seniors who are grappling with the question of “what’s next?” Of course, the decision for everyone will be personal and will “depend” on many factors. But we hear “it depends” too much already in my opinion, so I thought I’d outline my thoughts around what, exactly, it depends on.

It depends on… the job you want.

When I was considering grad school and what program/course of study would best fit my goals, I found it really helpful to work backwards. I sifted through LinkedIn and Indeed and other job boards to put labels on the types of work in which I was especially interested. Then I looked at the “required and desired qualifications” to see what combination of education and experience I might need to get a foot in the door.

And it depends on… if you are competitive for the job you want.

HR is an attractive field for many reasons: the opportunity for frequent personal interactions, the excitement of varied work and the notion that “no two days will be the same,” the ability to design and improve processes that directly impact employees, for better or for worse. One of my favorite quotes from MHRM senior lecturer John Schaffner: “HR is the ethical heartbeat of the organization.” HR professionals hold power and are expected to wield it humbly and responsibly. All that said, you can imagine why HR is a difficult field to break into with little experience.

Several years ago, there was a trend toward the grad-school-right-away path.  A master’s degree allows you to differentiate yourself against candidates with more work experience. These days, it is much more common to see language like “master’s degree or bachelor’s degree + 3 years work experience” in a job posting. In fact, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that future demand for master’s level degrees is rising. By 2022, the number of jobs requiring a master’s degree is estimated to grow by 18.4%. So, in some companies, a master’s degree is sort of a barrier to entry. You need the degree plus work experience.

It also depends on… the industry and size of the organization you want to work for.

That being said, some organizations–middle market, start-ups, and not-for-profits, for example–may struggle to pay a competitive wage for a master’s-level HR professional, and they specifically target folks with less education and experience whom they may be able to attract with a lower base salary but robust benefits package – like more vacation, flexible/remote working, autonomy. In other words, the size of the organization, type of HR position, and specific industry in which the company competes will greatly influence what level of education and experience is required. Important to note is that these positions may be slightly more difficult to come by, given smaller organizations have much smaller HR departments with fewer openings.

Of course, these are just some strategies I used in my own process. I hope these are helpful thoughts to chew on as you consider what decision is right for you and your career goals–and remember, it’s okay if your path is different. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Grad School Hacks

As a GA Ambassador for the Master of Human Resource Management program, one of the questions I always ask prospective students when I connect with them over the phone or in person is,

“what is your biggest worry about grad school?”

Of course, the choice to return to school for graduate study is not insignificant. For some, the decision means putting off full-time work for another year or two as you transition directly from undergrad to grad school. For others, it means leaving a job to return to academia after many years away. And for many, it means moving your life from home to an unfamiliar city to pursue a degree you hope will position you better for your career aspirations. Every person’s circumstances are different, but most experience the full gamut of worry, excitement, and anxiety as they begin to prepare for this major life transition.

Over my time as an ambassador, I’ve collected and compiled a few of the most common concerns from prospective students. And, as a current student who went through this same process just a year and a half ago, my intention is to provide some additional perspective on these points to hopefully alleviate some anxiety. This is supposed to be exciting, after all!

5. Getting a Job: It is no secret that the reason most of us have decided to pursue grad school is because we want to position ourselves more competitively for the types of jobs we want. This is not to say that everyone has or should have it all figured out. We all have the raw materials for success in the HR field–ambition, passion, and grit–but many of us are still exploring where our specific interests land. Organizational Development? Performance Management? Training & Development? The beauty of the MHRM program is that is exposes us to all of these areas so that we can begin to dial in where we may want to end up in our careers.

Life-Hack

Jazz up your Linked-in profile and practice using the platform. You’d be surprised how helpful it can be with forging connections along the way as you meet people throughout your time in the program. The Fisher Office of Career Management is integral to this piece of the process. Use their resources too! (Oh, and don’t worry, Fisher provides professional head shots at the career fair Late August!)

4. Workload: Many prospective students I talk with express worry about being able to “keep up” in class. I will say that the time spent outside of class is similar to undergrad, but the nature of class work in grad school is different than what many will have experienced. There is more reading outside of class (textbooks, Harvard Business Review cases) and classes are discussion-based. Without homework assignments, there are few “checkpoints” along the way, and professors expect you to have read before class. In other words, it requires discipline.

Life-Hack

Look at the readings due for the following week on Friday and plan out when you’re going to accomplish each. Writing down my assignments allows me to stop thinking about them incessantly.

3. Night Classes: To be honest, this was a huge concern of mine. Something I love to do is see live music, and so I like to keep my evenings free. I was afraid I would miss out on opportunities to do what I love. I found out quickly though that three evenings a week is very manageable, and I really haven’t missed out on anything. What’s more–I love having my days free to sleep in a bit, work out when I want, and get outside.

Life-Hack

It’s all about reframing. I assumed that because I had been living according a certain schedule that I would be unhappy otherwise. I didn’t consider that I might actually enjoy having my days free more. One of my classmates Vinessa wisely said that this is our last chance to enjoy our daylight hours before entering the full-time workforce, and I’ve come to appreciate that.

2. Making Friends: MHRMs are a friendly folk. Even after the first day of orientation I felt connected to my classmates, and some of my closest friends I’ve met through the program. You’ll find that because a lot of MHRMs are transplants to Columbus, everyone is looking for a community.

A couple of MHRMs at the Fisher Follies Fall Auction.

Life-Hack

Say yes. Take advantage of opportunities to be social with your classmates–and there are plenty. We tailgate together, go bowling together, see movies together, and even decompress on Thursdays after class at Varsity Club together. Position yourself in a living situation where you have easy access to activities and people you want to be around. This makes it much more convenient to say yes.

1. Housing: Although the first four are in no particular order, concerns about housing are perhaps the most common I hear about. Fortunately, we have a handy-dandy housing packet that is helpful in identifying different neighborhoods that Fisher graduate students are attracted to.

Life-Hack

2018 Columbus Housing Packet

I hope these hacks are helpful in relieving some of the nervousness and uncertainty that comes with such a significant life transition. At the end of the day, I hope excitement prevails as you embark on a journey that will pay dividends for your future career success and happiness.

HR + Brainpower + Snacks = Magic

Question

What do you get when you combine a real-life HR business problem, a room full of PepsiCo products and snacks, and brainpower from 8 of the highest-ranked HR Master’s programs in the United States?

Answer

The 2018 HR Invitational Case Competition!

The lovely Team OSU-Fisher: Adam Daniels, Ashton Preston, Whitney Flight, Billy Dunn

Every February, the Fisher College of Business invites teams from 7 of our peer schools to participate in the “External HR Case Competition,” giving students an opportunity to stretch their problem-solving muscles against students from other HR master’s programs across the country. This year, we had teams representing Cornell, University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois, and West Virginia University– and competition was fierce! (okay, friendly, but fierce)

The case competition is structured such that the business problem is presented by the sponsoring organization at 8:00am on Friday morning and teams have 24 hours to generate a solution, organize a pitch, and prepare to defend their ideas in front of a panel of judges from the sponsoring teams. This year, PepsiCo and Eaton co-sponsored the competition, providing both a challenging, real-life HR problem and a variety of Pepsi and Frito-Lay treats to keep teams sufficiently sustained over the course of the weekend.

The Case

The case is kept top-secret until the big reveal the morning of the competition to ensure no team gets an advantage. This year, the challenge turned out to focus on compensation. Specifically, Eaton wanted ideas for how to structure compensation for a new branch of the business which was home to mostly software developers and engineers. These folks did not fit into the traditional compensation structure, and they needed a compensation system to match and reward innovative product development. It was a doozy!

A variety of solid and creative ideas surfaced with the ultimate goal of driving innovation and retaining tech talent at Eaton. Some of my favorites include Hackathon, training simulations, and spot awards for extraordinary ideation. All of these were strategies to appropriately reward employees for innovation and to ensure they felt that the company invested in their success. Competition was tough and I am proud to report Ohio State took third overall.

Basking in the post-presentation glow.

Last year, I had the honor of representing Ohio State on the external team, so this year was all new for me as an observer. Although I wasn’t judging the competition, I sat through all the presentations and was able to glean some insight into what judges look for in a winning teams. A few of my takeaways are below.

Are you answering the question? But really, are you?

1. Answer the question. I recall a piece of general feedback from the judges last year. I remember it so vividly because it was both shocking and accurate. He said, “You’d be surprised how rare it is for us to see an answer that actually answers the question.” Thinking back on the day prior when we were prepping our presentation, it was so easy to lose sight of the “why.” You get caught up in wanting to be different, or creative, or edgy with your idea that you lose sight of the reason for the Ask in the first place. I cannot stress the importance of returning to “why” in every step of the ideation process, and especially when organizing your pitch.

Image result for the golden circle idas why how what sinek

2. Give them a road map. If this problem made it to the case competition in the first place, you can bet it’s complex. You can also bet on the fact that the organization has likely tried most of the obvious solutions. So think about it: the last thing you would want after having pored over an issue for months is an idea you can’t wrap your head around. So, your role as a consultant is to find the intersection between simple and clever. You want the judges to walk away with a clear understanding of the idea, and an even clearer understanding of how to go about implementing it. Give them a road map.

 

3. Don’t be something you’re not. People think that in order to win, you have to have all the answers (or at least convince the judges you do). This just isn’t true–at least not anymore. It is refreshing to see a team present with humility and authenticity–to be thought partners rather than parents telling them what they should do. Offer your recommendation, and what you believe are the positive consequences that will result from it. The best consultants built trust and buy-in by solving the problem with their client.

These are just a few of my musings after reflecting on last weekend. As always, I was impressed with the respect and graciousness of all teams that attended. Not only was it a robust learning experience for students, but I think Eaton got some exceptional ideas for solving their challenge.

 

“And What Else?”

This semester I am taking Intro to Organizational Business Coaching taught by instructor John Schaffner (“Coaching”, for short). This is the second time I’ve had  Mr. Schaffner and he is authentic, relatable, insightful, and brings a sense of humor to the classroom – with just the right amount of snark sprinkled in. I thought I would give the world a taste of just that in this interview with the man himself.

John Schaffner, everybody.

Jen: Okay, what exactly is coaching?

Schaffner: Coaching—and this is the definition we use in class—is taking a very important person from where they are to where they want to be. It is oriented around this idea of the “ideal self,” and is predicated on the belief that the person you are coaching has all the answers within them. A coach is both someone who co-creates a relationship to an ideal goal and is a thought partner for the person they are coaching.

Jen: And why is coaching important in organizations today?

Schaffner: Well, my research really talks about the headwinds of VUCA—Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. And I think in a lot of organizations where coaching is prevalent—Google, for instance, has a Director of Coaching—it is because the issues that the folks at these organizations have to deal with involve paradoxes.

Related to that, in class we discuss the difference between a puzzle, which has a finite amount of pieces arranged to form one solution… a problem which can have a myriad of viable solutions—think work-life balance. Problems have a multiplicity of solutions while a puzzle does not. And finally… the idea of a dilemma, which is a problem that isn’t really solvable—world hunger and racism are gnarly problems that we can’t seem to figure out, at least not in the way that we’re thinking about them. All of these exist in the workplace, and coaching can help us begin to tease apart some of these issues that are roadblocks to our goals.

Jen: What are the three most important qualities of a good coach?

Schaffner: Oh, three most important? So we’re in this like “top 10” list world right now, aren’t we?

(Jen laughs)

Schaffner: Well, I would say compassion. Compassion is empathy in action. I can feel bad for you, or I can ask you about how you’re feeling and truly listen and explore that with you. Compassion is elemental to being a good coach.

Then there’s listening—listening is fundamental and it’s something that we struggle with these days. There are more distractions these days that inhibit our listening than there are augmentations. The digital world, the internet– are things that preclude us from listening as well as we should or could.

And, I also think there has to be a sort of core curiosity and desire to help if you’re going to coach. Curiosity helps you guide the individual to think around the problem in ways they haven’t before. The motivation to help is part of this new world of coaching which is oriented around compassion, compared to coaching for compliance. Example—imagine if I said, ‘Jen, you really haven’t met your goals this month. Why haven’t you met your goals? Okay, now I’m going to suggest some ways you can meet those goals.’ No– those goals may not be your own, but rather the agenda of the organization. That’s really where coaching started. Coaching with compassion, which is the basis for this class, is oriented around the goals of the individual.

This ties into your previous question—why is coaching needed in the workplace? I think the business world is entering this new consciousness where concepts like well-being and looking at associates very holistically is relatively new. When I was in business school 17 years ago, that was far from the way we thought of things. Well, people in HR have been thinking about this forever, but what has recently emerged is this notion that things like well-being have an impact on the business from a quantitative perspective.

Jen: In class, you talk about how important it is to “ask a good question” when coaching. How do you do this?

(Laughs). There it is! That’s a good one right there. Let’s break that down and find the source code. A good question has to do with getting people to think differently and make connections differently than they have before, much like a good metaphor does. That opens up a part of your brain where abundance and creativity live. So, asking a good question kicks you into that mode. We’re the only creatures on earth that create metaphor—unless, like, Dolphins are doing it and we just haven’t figured them out yet. I think they might be. Anyway, and it sounds corny, but a good question allows you to get to a very human level with someone. It’s free of judgment, and in many ways it’s focused on getting at truth—and we can discuss what truth is but that’s probably for another conversation. A powerful coach seeks the truth for the person they’re coaching.

____________________________________________

So far, the class has helped me practice strategies for listening to truly hear and understand (not just respond) and craft questions that are powerful and thought-provoking to move the conversation forward. I had my first practice session coaching a fellow classmate last week, which was awkward and clunky and an exercise in vulnerability for both of us. But it feels good to be improving and I’m excited to continue to become a more powerful communicator with clients I am coaching. And, for when I’m really stuck, Schaffner gave us a fail-safe if we run out of things to say to our client:

A.W.E – “And what else?”

Let’s Get Strategic

My favorite course so far this semester (and arguably the MHRM program so far—although I’m finding it remarkably difficult to choose between it and my former favorite Organizational Development & Change) is Strategic Management of Human Assets taught by Professor Steffanie Wilk. The course is required in the MHRM core curriculum, but what makes it different than most MHRM core classes in structure is that many MBAs choose to take it as an elective. We have the option to take it during the day (Tuesday & Thursday 1:00-2:30 PM) and Thursday evenings (Thursdays 6:15-9:30 PM). I personally chose to take the daytime option because I was excited to learn from and interact with some MBA students I don’t as often get to interface with.

In short, the class is about strategically aligning human resources policy, practice, and decision-making with the strategy of the organization. During the first week of class, we defined the three primary strategies by which businesses compete: cost, quality, and innovation. We took some time the first week to define what each of these strategies can look like (and not look like) based on industry, sector, and product, and then we dove right into debate about competitive advantage. Some insider thoughts from Jen’s notebook:

Strategy

Cost

Business seeks to find efficiencies to ultimately provide a lower cost product or service than competitors  (example: Costco)

Quality

Business focuses on quality of product or service and precise “moves” hinge upon how customers define quality  (example: Wendy’s)

Innovation

Business focuses on differentiating products or creating new product lines to leverage new markets  (examples: Amazon & Apple)

Competitive Advantage

a condition that, when present, makes magic

In other words, your competitive advantage differentiates you from competitors, makes money, and is sustainable over time. In other, other words, it’s the secret sauce of the organization.

We are currently in the midst of what Professor Wilk likes to call “Airplane Week.” We are discussing the commercial airline industry and how two distinct airlines—Southwest and JetBlue—compete using their respective strategies and competitive advantages. Today we debated what, precisely, differentiates Southwest from competitors and how the strategy impacts culture, recruiting, hiring, training, rewards and performance management processes.

I was genuinely fascinated by the discussion, and impressed with the effort it takes for organizations like Southwest to appear like they function effortlessly in day-to-day operations. And, I’m already looking forward to Thursday when we’ll talk about JetBlue and how they approached the competitive landscape as a start-up airline in the late 90s.

Surviving Winter in Columbus

Every year, around mid-October, the anxiety starts growing among my MHRM comrades. I get it—the Midwest can be an intimidating place during the winter, especially if you’re from more temperate environments like some of my more southern classmates. After all, we are just a 6-hour drive from Chicago, or as we fondly refer to it here in the Midwest, “Chiberia.”

All joking aside, winter in Columbus is really not that bad. From December to February, typical lows are in the high teens and highs are in the mid-40s (Fahrenheit). It does get windy, and we experience a fair amount of precipitation in the form of snow. It actually can be quite beautiful on sunny days.

This is an old picture of Mirror Lake in the winter. It’s currently under construction. When done, the site will look more like it did when it was built in 1870.  

I’m personally grateful to experience all four seasons. When I lived in Oregon, we had a long summer and a long winter, and almost no shoulder seasons on either end. And I really didn’t realize how much I loved fall and spring.

Believe it or not, though, people do live in Columbus year round. And they do so successfully with a curated wardrobe of very warm and sensible items. Here are my winter non-negotiables:

It’s pretty much a wearable sleeping bag.
  1. Long, down parka. This is the coat I wear all winter long. It even functions as a blanket in my house when I’m trying to warm up quickly. Down is one of the best natural insulators, and it cuts wind like no other. Wool is also a good option.

 

No furry animals were killed in the making of this hat.

2. This hat. It covers your ears and is as soft as fake fur on the inside. It is also filled with down so you don’t have to worry about your noggin getting cold–all of your knowledge will be warm and protected.

Bonus: you might be confused for a fisherman while wearing these puppies.

3. You’ll see a lot of these around campus. They’re waterproof, and if you want the upgraded version, you can get them with faux fur on the inside (pictured above, highly recommend). I wear boots like these walking across campus, and change into my work shoes when I get to Gerlach Hall. There’s really no substitute for a sensible winter boot.

Investing in high-quality, durable outdoor clothing is completely worth it. The last thing I want to worry about in the midst of school and work is my comfort. And I promise–it is possible to stay warm all winter with a little time and preparation on the front end.

Tip: Join Student Government

This year, in the spirit of involvement, I decided to join the Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) student council. Every graduate program here at the Fisher College of Business (including MBA, MHRM, MAcc, SMF) has its own council representation that is responsible for being the collective “voice” for the students in the program.

Each council is comprised of students who are elected by their classmates. For 2-year programs like MHRM and MBA, the council is primarily 2nd-year students. For 1-year programs like MAcc and SMF, obviously all council members are in their first year. Each council decides how to delegate responsibilities amongst members and establishes the scope of what they hope to accomplish as a team over the course of the year.

Meet the MHRM Council

“Chief of Everything”

Kate Clausen – President

“Comedic Relief”

Jen Marchese – VP, Professional Development

“Queen of Funds”

Megan Condon – Treasurer

“The Details”

Kelly Mayer – Case Comp. Co-chair

“Stubborn Negotiator”

Irinka Toidze – Case Comp. Co-chair

“The Height”

Matt Shaffer – Social Chair

Obviously, we have a good time. But we also take our jobs very seriously. I view the role of MHRM Council as the heartbeat of the MHRM program. We are the eyes and the ears of the students, and it’s our responsibility to keep the pulse of what Fisher students are experiencing, saying, and feeling about the MHRM program. Then, the most important part: what we do with that information.

I think our most noble duty is to represent the interests of the students by passing along feedback to faculty and staff with regard to possible additions or revisions to the program. In a field where technology advancements are affecting nearly every aspect of what HR professionals do—recruiting, talent planning, compensation, training, you name it—it is critical that our curriculum is agile enough to keep up with current best practices. And I feel fortunate to belong to a school that respects its students and actively listens to our suggestions.

Beyond being a bridge between students and faculty, the MHRM council also puts on additional events to engage outside of class and keep the Fisher MHRM community alive. This year, we’ve had football tailgates, pumpkin picking, bar crawls– and this week, we went to a comedy show.

For professional development, we just had our first event of the year. It was a TED Talk-inspired event (no surprise for those of you who know my obsession). The idea was inspired by some feedback we had heard from last year—students want more opportunities to engage with smaller companies that may not have a presence on campus, and they want to do it in ways other than traditional networking. So we brought in HR Professionals from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Marathon Petroleum, CoverMyMeds, and Cardinal Health to talk about innovative things they are doing in the HR space. It was really exciting to be able to interact with some folks we don’t normally get exposure to and the event was a great success.

On the whole, it is really rewarding to be able to give back to a program that has served me well in my time here. It also gives me a chance to stretch my leadership muscles in preparation for future roles I may have.

Business Jargon 201

Several weeks ago, I launched a multi-part educational series titled Business Jargon. Well, here it is: the next installment that you’ve all been waiting for:

Out-of-Pocket (adj.)

I just learned this gem this week. This is another way of saying you are “out of office” or otherwise “unavailable.” I’m not sure why this expression exists, but it’s probably because it sounds cool and implies that eventually, you will be back “in pocket” which conjours up a silly image of pocket-sized businesspeople. But maybe that’s just me.

Parking Lot (n.)

See that there? That’s your idea. Way out there in the parking lot.

Let’s expand upon our previous lesson in Business Lingo 101 where we discussed how to “table” something you don’t want to talk about right now. Taking it one step further, you can now put that thing you really don’t want to talk in the “parking lot,” where it will never be seen or heard from again.

The Ask” and “The Solve” (both n.)


It would appear the business world has made swift work out of turning verbs into nouns. I can “ask” you to “solve” a problem, but I can also give you “an ask” or ask for “a solve” to a problem, and it means basically the same thing, but it’s more complicated and therefore more trendy.

Let’s Talk That

Ain’t nobody got time [for] prepositions.
Sometimes you’re short on time and need to eliminate words from your commonly-used phrases, even if it violates widely accepted grammar rules. At some point, “let’s talk about that” felt far too cumbersome and was shortened to “let’s talk that.” I completely support this, because come on, who has time for that?