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A Bittersweet Goodbye

This is my final week in Columbus- my last week as a graduate student and as a resident of this city that I truly love. I am amazed at the difference that two years have made- I finally feel ready to enter the workforce! But graduating means leaving behind the life that I have built here, which is not easy.

Here’s where the story starts: I applied to OSU because of a boyfriend. He was moving to another city in Ohio and I wanted to be close by- so I added OSU to the long list of schools that I applied to. But when I took a tour of campus a few weeks later, I knew that I belonged here and that this was my choice. Receiving a graduate assistantship (which meant that I would have no student debt) sealed the deal, and I moved to Columbus about a month and a half before classes started.

It felt like the longest month and a half of my life. I had very little money, nothing to do all day, and knew no one. I spent those agonizingly long days going to the local public library (for the free internet and glorious air conditioning), exploring the business school, trolling the Fisher Connect site to apply to internship positions that had already been posted, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

And then the day of the MLHR bootcamp arrived- I finally got to meet my classmates and some of the faculty and staff. I realized that the class work would be difficult, finding an internship would be even harder, and feeling like I was smart enough to deserve to be here would take time.

Over the past two years I have written countless papers, delivered individual and group presentations on topics ranging from work/life balance programs to HR information systems, and debated in class with professors. I have read and re-read what feels like every HR-related Harvard Business Review article and case study; gotten frank feedback about my leadership strengths and weaknesses; and with a wavering voice and tears in my eyes, shared my struggles and vulnerabilities with the rest of the Leadership Legacy class. It has been the developmental experience of a lifetime.

While your class work is important and you are in the MLHR program to further your education, don’t forget that this can be so much more than two years of schooling. It is with a heavy heart that I leave the comfort of graduate school and move on to the next stage of my life. I plan to walk through campus each day this week, drinking everything in so that I won’t forget- but I have a feeling that remembering this place won’t be hard at all.

Before I sign off with my last blog post, I leave you with a few photos I took this afternoon of my favorite spot on campus: Mirror Lake.


Some Advice When Graduating and Moving Out of Columbus

Since some of my first blog posts were about moving to Columbus, I thought I’d come full circle and make my final posts about moving out of Columbus. Here’s how my move-out is going so far, and my tips on how to have a stress-free move.

Pick a move-out date

My move-out is fast approaching, and the first thing I did was call my landlord and let him know when I was planning to move out. My roommate and I will both be moving out before the lease is up, and we decided not to take on the risk of subleasing the apartment for the summer to someone else. For those who aren’t from the U.S.- all landlords will do a “walkout inspection,” and I prefer to still be in town when the inspection is done. The landlord will go from room to room, inspecting the apartment for damage or dirtiness (which they will charge you for, in the form of a subtraction from your security deposit). So the next week I will be busy cleaning, patching holes in the wall, and washing every surface in the apartment. I’ve always gotten back my full security deposit when I moved out of an apartment, but I know plenty of people who have been charged obscene fees for not cleaning, or leaving items in the kitchen cabinets, or forgetting to replace burnt-out light bulbs.

Once you have a move-out date in mind, go ahead and reserve the moving truck or van that will transport your belongings. Nearly all moving truck companies will let you reserve equipment online, and then pay the rental fee on the day that you pick up the equipment. I highly recommend reserving a truck two weeks in advance- your moving date may be a popular choice among other students and you don’t want all the trucks to be rented to other people by the time you decide to reserve one.

Start sorting

Because I knew that I would not be staying in Columbus after graduation, I began sorting my belongings about two months ago. I went through all the clothes in my closet, taking out anything that I hadn’t worn in the past 2 years. With armloads of clothes, shoes, and purses that I didn’t want to pack up and move with me, I hauled everything to local resale shops and Goodwill. There are quite a few clothing resale shops in the area that will buy your gently used clothing, and Goodwill accepts virtually anything that you don’t want. So instead of throwing your old clothes into the garbage (and then the landfill), please take them to a resale shop (you can treat yourself to dinner with the profits) or dump them at Goodwill (you can get a tax deduction).

http://www.platosclosetcolumbus.com/

http://www.goodwillcolumbus.org/

Any furniture that you don’t want to bring with you is also pretty easy to get rid of. As with the old clothes that you won’t be packing and moving, there are a few different ways that you can offload your college-student-y furniture. I’ve been selling things left and right on Craigslist and have been enjoying the extra cash in my pocket. Selling anything on Craigslist is an art- you must be particularly skilled at taking quality pictures of the items you want to sell, writing up accurate yet enticing descriptions of these items, and then sorting though the email responses that you get in order to find the serious buyers. I have had great luck with finding people who want to buy my stuff, including lamps, a desk, book shelves, a futon, bedside tables, and stereo equipment.

*If you decide to sell anything on Craigslist, always be a smart seller- do not let a prospective buyer come into your home to see your furniture if you are alone. Bring small items outside and do not let the person in your house. If you have larger items, invite a friend over so that the prospective buyer is not alone with you. And ALWAYS ask for the money before you let the buyer load the item into their car.*

Next week I’ll tell you more about the packing and moving process, along with all the miscellaneous moving details that most people overlook when their minds are focused on graduation :)


The place where you should have grabbed dinner tonight!

Graffiti Burger, a Columbus mini-chain of restaurants, is a place you need to check out. With a menu that is strictly burgers, fries, and shakes, and an interior that has been artsy’d up with some eye-catching graffiti, this place makes a mean fast-food feast. But don’t take my word for it- read what a few other people also have to say:

As eloquently written by G.A. Benton for Columbus Alive! magazine:

…if you’re a hamburger fan but have never tried a Graffiti Burger, you should go pronto. Why? Well, because they use never-frozen, 100 percent Angus beef and hand-sliced potatoes to make – without question – the best fast-food burgers and French fries you can buy in town.

According to the restaurant’s homepage: “The Graffiti Burger environment is high-energy and absorbs the flavor of the local area. The atmosphere of a hip burger joint appeals to the community and is inviting to family and friends. We believe in the communities in which we do business, and we do our best to support our community in every way we can.”

Graffiti art that even upper middle-class folks find charming :)

This is one of my favorite places to hit up for a quick lunch and the prices won’t leave you with an empty wallet. I typically order the original turkey burger ($5.49 for a double burger with cheese and any topics you like), a regular size order of fries ($2.99), and a regular sweet tea ($1.99 for all the fountain refills you can slurp). You can check out the entire mouth-watering menu here.

A cheese-normous, meat-normous, fry-normous festival


“Um…Could you please repeat the question?”

At this point in time, some of my fellow 2nd year MLHR students have job offers in hand- and some do not. Some have been done with interviewing since October- and some are spending their free time prepping for additional rounds of job interviews. I’ve had my fair share of HR interviews, and thought I’d share with you all some of the more challenging interview questions that I’ve been asked. No matter how hard you prepare or how many practice interview questions to dream up, there will always be a few curve balls- and it’s all about keeping your composure.

  • What do you consider to be your biggest setback or personal failure?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments to date?
  • Why do you want to work at this specific company location?
  • Why didn’t you get a 4.0 GPA in undergrad? (this applies even if you got a 3.99/4.0!)
  • When were you on a team in which you were not one of the high performers?
  • Where do you see yourself in 15 years? (yes that’s right, 15!)
  • Tell me about a time when you confided in someone that you shouldn’t have.
  • Tell me 10 words that people would use to describe you.
  • What makes you sure that HR is the right career field for you?
  • Which of our competitors do you consider to be a high performance organization?

I tend to beat myself up over answers that I give to curve balls- the perfect answer always comes to me when I’m in my car, driving home after the interview. I guess what I’ve learned after having to field all these questions (and more)  is that you should never stress about saying something that sounds perfect. You just might be more memorable and authentic if you’re the one interviewee among all the others who offers up the unvarnished truth, the one who says “To be honest, here’s what happened…”

The panel interview: because there's nothing so enjoyable as having 3 people fire questions at you, sometimes at the same time


The Leadership Legacy of a Non-Profit CEO

This term I am taking Leadership Legacy, a course co-taught by Professors Rucci and Rodek. As a daytime course that meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30am to 10:20am, this course is often overlooked by MLHR students- but I would highly recommend that you find time in your schedule to take this course at Fisher. Stopping for coffee on the way to class each morning can also help immensely.

Each week we have a recognized leader come to class to talk about their legacy and how they lead others. Where else could you ever hope to hear CEOs talk about their personal lives, professional lives, and the lessons they have learned? Among the exceptional speakers we have had was Charles W. Gehring, the President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance. Think you haven’t heard of this company? They are best know for the Meals on Wheels Program that they operate, which provides over 1,000,000 home-delivered meals annually to those in need.

Charles Gehring joined LifeCare Alliance in 2001 when the organization was facing decreasing revenue, increasing numbers of clients in-need, and a culture that was resisting change. Gehring has led the organization to not only a climate of stability but has also spear-headed much needed growth to accommodate the rising numbers of senior and chronically ill individuals in-need within Franklin and Madison counties during his time as President and CEO. Gehring was able to accomplish these results through a successful capital campaign, two mergers with other agencies, by addressing employee retention issues and effectively leveraging volunteers.

If it sounds like he knows a thing or two about HR, you’re right! :) Although the leaders that we hear from come from finance/accounting/marketing backgrounds, all of them recognize the importance of the “people side” of the business. Mr. Gehring was a phenomenal speaker because he provided us with specific advice about how to manage people and go above and beyond what your business does in order to serve your clients. When he first said this, we all looked at each other like he was crazy. How do you make any money at all if you are always trying to find ways that you can meet your client’s other needs?

Here’s how:

LifeCare Alliance has partnered and in some cases merged with other entities that serve their clients. Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver meals to the homes of those in need, most of whom are elderly, chronically ill, or rely on government assistance. These volunteers noted that many of the meal recipients had pets that they could not otherwise feed, and that meal recipients often shared their food with their pets. LifeCare Alliance responded by partnering with Walmart and pet supply stores to collect pet food that the stores would otherwise throw away. These stores used to dispose of pet food from broken bags, or bags with old designs and logos. Now the Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver meals and pet food to their clients! LifeCare Alliance is serving its clients better, with little to no additional cost and effort.

This got me to thinking- when I am working, how can I better serve my company’s clients? By thinking outside the box, can I find strategic partnerships that could help my company serve our customer’s unmet needs? This is definitely something that I will be pondering as I think about building my own leadership legacy. And there are still 5 more speakers to hear from before the term is over- I wonder what other insights I’ll gain from each of them!?!


Grow Your Hobbies

Literally and/or figuratively- growing your hobbies can help you keep your sanity amidst the all the homework, team projects, and tests you’ve got going on in school. My roommate’s hobby is brewing beer and I have a friend in the MLHR cohort whose favorite pastime is cooking gourmet meals with her significant other. This past weekend I spent some much-deserved time focusing on my own hobbies, scrapbooking and gardening. The de-stressing powers of cutting things out with zigzag scissors and playing with dirt are amazing!

Scrapbooking has been a hobby of mine since middle school, when I would help my mom create family scrapbooks full of pictures taken during summer break, holidays, and family vacations. Photographic evidence of the bad perm you had when you were 13 is definitely something that you want to cherish forever in a scrapbook. I’m currently working on a scrapbook of the trip to Germany and The Czech Republic that I went on last summer, and reliving my amazing travels as I complete each page. Scrapbooking can be an expensive hobby and there is definitely a learning curve; I can easily drop $40 at the craft store on paper and stickers, and my work has gotten increasingly fierce over the years. That’s right, I said it- scrapbooking can be fierce. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fierce

Scrapbooks- a great way to keep evidence of bad haircuts, unfortunate clothing styles, and awkward faces you make.

Gardening is a hobby that I enjoy, but at which I am an utter failure. The only plants that have not died under my care thus far have been cacti and other desert-climate succulents. But I keep trying. This weekend I bought two young strawberry plants at Lowe’s for $2.98 a piece and re-potted them in containers that fit neatly inside a windowbox that formerly held dead ivy. Here’s to hoping that they stay alive and provide fresh berries all summer!

A windowbox full of future deliciousness

Regardless of what your interests may be, it’s important to spend time every week doing something that you enjoy. I’ve had weeks where all I did was schoolwork- and it turned me into a grumpy and anxious basket case. Cultivating a hobby is a common way my classmates and I relax outside of class, so that when Monday comes around we’re refreshed and ready to play nicely with one another. So put aside that boring amazingly interesting HR Information Systems textbook for 20 minutes and delve into your hobbies!


I’m So Over Spring

This is the time of year in Ohio when the weather is absolutely awful.

I do not exaggerate. It has been raining for the past 3 weeks, with just a few precious days of warm and sunny weather scattered in between. My parents live in Louisiana and they make a point of calling and bragging about how its hot as blazes and they forget what an umbrella even looks like. And the five-day forecast for this week doesn’t look any better:

Courtesy (if you could call it that) of www.weather.com

Here’s what isn’t so great about all of this:

  1. You need to invest in a sturdy pair of rain boots and a large umbrella
  2. You need to invest in a replacement umbrella for when you inevitably lose the first one
  3. The Graduate Programs Office keeps umbrellas on-hand for when you realize that you can’t keep track of your replacement umbrella
  4. It’s not exactly easy to pay attention in class when water is pelting the windows and the trees outside look like they’re about to snap in half from the force of the wind
  5. Getting homework done is equally difficult- it’s hard to muster the motivation when all you feel like doing is staying in bed with a good book and cocoa

Here’s what isn’t so bad about all of this:

  1. At least it isn’t snowing and icy
  2. Most buildings in the Fisher Business complex are connected by underground tunnels
  3. Graduation looms on the horizon

For Ohioans, this kind of weather is nothing new. But for those of us who do not hail from this fair state, the weather can be quite a shock. Here’s what I’ve learned during my two years here: keep a collapsible umbrella in your backpack and another in your car, plan on spending an additional 5 to 10 minutes commuting to campus- the drivers in Ohio drive verrryyyyy slooooowly in the rain, and make the Grad Pad in the basement of Gerlach Hall your new study area- there are no distracting windows!


The MLHR Master’s Examination

Although visions of graduation are dancing in our sweet little heads, we’re not there just yet. During your final quarter in the MLHR program you must successfully pass the Master’s Examination- for all those graduating in June, the case was released this past week. So naturally, we MLHR folks been more nervous and harried-looking than usual.

What is the exam? Here’s the brief description that you’ll see when your own day of reckoning arrives:

The master’s examination is mandated by the OSU Graduate School, and is the final validation of performance in meeting the program’s degree requirements. The master’s examination for the MLHR program consists of a thoughtful analysis of a case study. The purpose of the case study requirement is for a student to demonstrate mastery of knowledge learned throughout the MLHR program, and the direct application of concepts and frameworks learned to topical issues facing the HR profession.

The case was posted this past week and we have a week to read the case and write an analysis. The objective is to demonstrate that you know how to put everything that you’ve learned during the past 2 years to good use. Students are asked to analyze the case from the perspective of an HR professional (which we will be in a few short weeks!) and present their own, original recommendations. Each of us will submit a work of about 15 to 20 pages, which will then be blindly reviewed by faculty and deemed “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

While some of my peers are freaking out about it, I seem to have a much more devil-may-care attitude. I’m confident that I’ll be able to tackle this case and utilize everything that I’ve learned during my past 5 years of HR education. But maybe, just maybe, I should buckle down and focus on the case instead of working on my blog :)

Results will be posted on May 11th- good luck to everyone taking it now and everyone who will be taking this in the future!


Graduate HR Association elections – cast your votes!

Here at FCOB it’s that wonderful time of year where student organizations elect next year’s executive boards and choose who will take the reins from those of us that are graduating in June. As VP of GHRA it’s been very challenging, yet very rewarding to be involved in planning programs for our members to take part in this past year. Although this statement is guaranteed to sound like it’s dripping with EZ cheese, I’ll say it anyway- being on a student organization’s executive board is certain to provide you with a wealth of personal growth and development opportunities. I strongly encourage every student to think about running for an executive position with any of Fisher’s student organizations.

There are two fantastic first-year MLHR students who are duking it out to fill my position next year and I am cheering both of them on! Easy now, ladies- being on an FCOB executive board isn’t just an amped up version of high school student council. For those unfamiliar with GHRA or this position, here’s a run down of what the VP of a student organization does:

Vice President (VP of External Relations)

  • Oversee execution of mentoring program by:

o   Maintaining a working relationship with the designated HRACO liaison

o   Ensuring the completion of HRACO mentee application forms

o   Training all potential mentees regarding program expectations

o   Coordinating the mentor/mentee matching process

o   Collecting and reviewing mentor and mentee Mentoring Agreement forms

o   Hosting  networking events for mentors and mentees on or off campus

o   Facilitating completion of end-of-year mentoring program evaluations

  • Assist President in regular duties and responsibilities (e.g. acquisition of speakers and planning of summit) that contribute to execution of organizational goals
  • Act as point of contact for incoming students/prospective members
  • Review and revise GHRA bylaws as needed to reflect new organizational goals and changes in operations
  • Oversee completion of annual SHRM Merit Award application by:

o   Creating an ad-hoc committee to assist with the application process if necessary

o   Working with GHRA committees to identify and plan events that fulfill award requirements

This has been an exciting year for GHRA and the new executive board will certainly have the talent and the passion that makes GHRA the premier student organization for all Fisher graduate students with an interest in Human Resources.

Election candidates will be making their pitches to GHRA members and promoting their candidacy during our meeting on April 11th at 5pm. Here’s to an evening of munching on delicious Adriatico’s pizza (this one’s for you, Eric Dosch)  and hearing an array of interesting and diverse candidate platforms! Stay tuned for election results.

Check out GHRA’s mind-blowing, amazing, winning website here: https://groups.cob.ohio-state.edu/ghra/

Oh how I will miss scarfing down Adriatico's pizza at GHRA meetings!


The OSU parking lot is not a demolition derby…

From everyone else’s blogs, I think you get the idea that it’s been a busy, hectic, stressful week. Spring break felt far too short, and getting back into the familiar groove of graduate school has been rough for most of us this week. Instead of telling you about this, I thought I’d share a story that’s equal parts tragedy, drama, comedy, and romance. What kind of story could this be? Well, it’s the story of how my car got hit in the demolition derby OSU parking lot this evening.

Tragedy:

As I left Gerlach Hall and walked towards my parked car, I saw another vehicle pull into a parking spot next to my car (allegedly). Unfortunately, this individual cut their steering wheel a little too soon and misjudged the parking space- I heard their car scrape against mine as it moved into the open parking spot (allegedly). Afraid of the damage that they had just caused, the other driver accomplished all of the following activities before I reached my car: got out and inspected the damage on the two cars, took a package of wet wipes out of their car, wiped down the side of their car now that had my car’s paint streaked on it, looked at me, ignored me when I said “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!”, and then walked away (exit alleged offender).

The damage is not major, my car is still drivable- but the lovely new car that I haven’t even had for a year now has scratches, a tiny dent, and some paint transferred across it. How great. Apparently this is what life is like when you are an adult- I turned 23 yesterday.

Drama:

I then proceeded to call the most intelligent and trustworthy person I know- my dad. He advised me to call the campus police and report it. So I dialed the telephone number for OSU Transportation and Parking Services and told them that there had been an accident; within 5 minutes two officers arrived at the scene (enter  2 Transportation and Parking Services officers). I told them what had happened (allegedly), wrote a statement about the events that I witnessed, showed them the damage, and filled out some brief paperwork. While inspecting the damage on my car and on the offending vehicle (wet wipes don’t erase everything!), one of the officers noticed that the parking tag hanging from their rear view mirror looked a bit strange. A bit fake, if you will (enter 3rd Parking Services officer).

Comedy:

After a bit of investigation, the officer determined that the parking pass in the vehicle of the alleged offender was fraudulent. He proceeded to explain to me that a certain number of students try to use fake parking passes instead of purchasing legitimate passes- but it’s only a matter of time before they get caught. The penalty for a car that is displaying a fraudulent parking pass? Towing to the nearest impound lot.

Romance:

The temperature was hovering near 30 degrees, I was tired and wanted to go home, and the incident in the parking lot was not what I had in mind as I left Gerlach Hall this evening. But the officers came to the scene in hardly any time at all, were so friendly and helpful, and made my day when the truck came to tow that stinkin’ car to the impound lot.  What could have been an even more stressful evening turned out to go quite smoothly- only 35 minutes had passed from the time that I first called them until the moment that I got in my car and headed home. Transportation and Parking Services is such a great resource! While I hope that you never have to call my new secret crushes to report a vehicle incident, here’s their phone number anyway: 614-292-2121. Write that down and stick it in your glove box!

http://www.tp.ohio-state.edu/

HA! You can't MacGuyver your way out of this one!


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