The Million Dollar Questions

Although spring break is nearly here and everyone has VACATION on their minds right now, Fisher will be gearing up for the spring recruiting season as soon as we all come back from the break. For all those who have summer internships secured already, pat yourselves on the back; for all those who are still looking for summer internships, get ready to work what your momma gave you.

Thinking back on the many interviews that I had before accepting Alcoa’s offer, I’m reminded of all the questions that pretty much every single employer asked in some way or another. Whether you’re graduating in June, a first-year in the program, or have just been accepted for the fall 2011 cohort, take a few minutes to think about your answers to these popular questions. You might be surprised by your own answer- or lack of an answer altogether!

1. Why are you studying Human Resources?

Personally, I am one of those over-achieving nerds who keeps a map of the next 5 years of her life in her back pocket at all times. Really- I’m not joking on this one! About 4 months prior to any vacation, my family members and I create a spreadsheet detailing our itinerary for each day of said vacation- so planning is in my blood. But back to the question at hand- in 7th grade we had to shadow someone for the day to see what they did at their job and then write a report about the career prospects for that type of position. I job-shadowed one of my favorite aunts, who was working in human resources, and discovered that HR was my calling (yep, it’s also in my genes). HR combines my talents with my passions and is something that I would want to do even if I won the lottery tomorrow.

2. Why are you at OSU?

I researched schools that offered a B.S. in human resources and decided on Ball State University. I loved what I was learning, but knew that I would need a higher degree in order to have the type of career that I wanted (were there spreadsheets and planning documents involved in this decision? yes!). After my first year of undergraduate studies, I started researching schools that offered a master’s degree in human resources and here I am today- one quarter away from graduation! I picked OSU because I fell in love with Columbus and the campus- sometimes you just know when a choice is the right one for you. Fisher was my kind of school- of all the schools that I applied to, OSU was the first one that I heard back from and the one that consistently reached out to me with recruiting materials. I wasn’t even a student there yet, but Fisher staff members treated me like I was important and valued. As a woman who prides herself on her professionalism with a heavy dose of enthusiasm, I felt that Fisher and I had the same values and that I would find myself most at home here.

3. Tell me about your ideal job in HR.

I’ll answer this one in next week’s post 🙂

The longest 2 days of your life (AKA the Case Competition)

This weekend Fisher College of Business and Whirlpool hosted the first MLHR internal Case Competition. The event began at 8am on Friday and ended at 4pm on Saturday- and we all needed the remainder of the weekend to recover from it.

Not for the faint of heart, a case competition provides teams with approximately 22 hours to come up with recommendations about how to solve a current business issue. My team went into the competition with a plan for staying on track- here’s what it looked like:

  • Spend the first 30 minutes individually reading the case and thinking about recommendations
  • Discuss the case for 1 hour and then divide the issues amongst group members
  • Individually tackle the business issues for 1.5 hours and then discuss findings with the rest of the group
  • Start working on the powerpoint presentation slides by 4pm
  • Practice the presentation by 8pm

Ha! All plans and schedules seemed to go out the window once we got started and hit a few snags. Here’s how things really went for my team:

  • Spent the first 45 minutes individually reading the case and thinking about recommendations
  • Discussed the case for 1.5 hours and then divided the issues amongst group members
  • Individually tackled issues for 1.5 hours
  • Spent 30 minutes talking about how tired and burnt-out we were feeling
  • Discussed our findings and recommendations for about 4 hours
  • Started working on the powerpoint presentation slides at about 7pm
  • Spent 1.5 hours working on Excel charts to add to the presentation
  • Reviewed and then debated each recommendation we had come up with
  • Finished the powerpoint presentation slides by 10:30pm
  • Decided to call it a night and practice the following morning

At 10:30pm on Friday night, I think everyone was feeling tired or frustrated and wondering what on earth had motivated us to sign up for such a grueling competition. But after the first round of presentations on Saturday, we all couldn’t stop smiling and talking about how much fun we had presenting our recommendations to Whirlpool. There’s nothing quite like presenting your recommendations to a panel of judges, addressing all the tough questions that they interrupt your presentation to ask, and then being able to pat each other on the back when you walk out of the presentation room still in one piece. And it didn’t hurt that there were plenty of cookies and pastries waiting for us after we presented. 🙂

"What's that- you say there will be cookies at this case competition? Ok- sign me up!"

“Hey Barbie, you’re looking pretty sassy in that swimsuit today…” ~ Ken

You won’t believe some of the sexual harassment that goes on when Ken and Barbie go to work!

For MHR 868 (Employment Law), we recently presented the group training projects that we had all been working on for the past few weeks. Regardless of whether you eat and breathe FLSA regulations or can’t stand memorizing what a prima facie case of discrimination is- you couldn’t help but enjoy the presentations each group made. Each group of students was assigned a training topic about a juicy legal issue such as workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, or workplace reductions in force. On Wednesday each group presented its training session and a panel of local HR professionals critiqued the merits of each video.

My group’s training scenario: “A water park in southern Ohio is getting ready to bring in 30 summer employees, who are primarily teenagers and college students who may not be familiar with sexual harassment. All of these new employees need to be trained on how to spot sexual harassment on the job and how to report it.”

Take a look at my group’s sexual harassment training video here:

[youtube 7FepZfEAsmo]

*I voiced the entire “Pest” scene and hope you enjoy it 🙂 *

When you work at a waterpark, wear swimsuits all day, and have plastic hands- sexual harassment is more common that you'd think!

Embracing the Anti-Consumer in You

Sustainability is one of the vital issues of our time, and I am absolutely convinced this university will lead the way in finding solutions.
– E. Gordon Gee

A few weeks ago, I happened to stumble upon a very interesting documentary on Netflix – No Impact Man. Looking to generate some new material, a New York City writer and his family decided to challenge themselves to live a “zero environmental impact” life for 1 year. There are plenty of people out there who recycle, use solar panels to power their homes, or load their groceries into cloth bags brought from home. But he was looking to do far more than make a few easy changes- and decided to document the year that he, his wife, and their baby embraced their inner anti-consumers. Needless to say, their journey was a bit painful and you will enjoy watching it 🙂

Totally fascinated by the documentary, I spent the next few days reflecting on the amount of waste that I produce. Word of caution- thinking about this will make you feel guilty. Very, very guilty. I’ve had my share of marketing courses where I learned about product development (consumers have NEEDS and on top of those needs are the needs they don’t even know they have yet) and marketing techniques and I live very comfortably in a capitalistic, consumer-driven society. But I’ve since decided that I live a little too comfortably and that it’s time to do something about it- more than just recycling my pop cans and milk jugs and patting myself on the back for it. A few weeks ago, this business school student embraced her inner anti-consumer. Shhhh- don’t tell the marketing majors!

I’m very pleased to tell you that OSU is actively reducing waste, energy usage, and carbon emissions through its sustainability efforts. You can find out more about those efforts here:

For the next few weeks, OSU is also participating in the annual Recycle Mania competition– where major universities keep track of waste production and recycling figures and duke it out for the title of Grand Champion Recycler. “Initiated in 2001 as a competition between Ohio University and Miami University, RecycleMania has grown rapidly, with more than 600 colleges and universities registered for the competition this year. A friendly nationwide competition to promote waste reduction activities on campus, the contest runs for eight weeks, from Feb. 6 until April 2. Ohio State is joining 28 other campuses across Ohio and 600 nationally to demonstrate that Ohio State is a recycling leader.”

Taking a cue from No Impact Man and Gordon Gee, here is just some of what I’ve done to reduce my environmental impact:

  1. Started buying milk in glass bottles or paperboard cartons, because plastics are one of the most complex and expensive materials to recycle and I easily drink 1 gallon of milk per week. Over the course of my lifetime, that’s a lot of waste!
  2. Started buying cereals and snacks in bulk, in reusable containers rather than in manufacturer packaging. I bring my own containers to local stores like Whole Foods or Market District and pay for the product, not the packaging. This has been saving me money and has vastly reduced the number of items in my trash can and recycling bin.
  3. Began recycling everything- including old class notes, magazines, and store receipts. I load everything up into a bin that I bring to campus to recycle, since my local recycling service is a bit expensive to take part in. Cheers to OSU for having recycling bins all over campus so that students have no excuse to throw away recyclable items!
  4. Began selling and donating everything around my apartment that I don’t need or currently use. Every week I fill a box with clothes that I haven’t worn in a few months, shoes that normally disappear into the back of my closet, and any random household items that have only been serving as dust-collectors and take said box to the local Goodwill to donate. A crucial action to pair with donation is to avoid buying anything to replace everything that you just got rid of. For an upper-middle class American, this is incredibly hard.
  5. Started walking and taking the COTA bus. It is very challenging to give up the convenience of being able to drive myself to campus and get there exactly when I please, but Columbus offers a decent bus system that people who live close to main streets can utilize without too much hassle. Look here to see if there is a bus route near you that you could be using:

I love OSU for the steps that it is taking to reduce waste from its dining halls, cut needless electricity usage in campus buildings, recycle all the items that used to litter campus parking lots after football tailgates, and so much more! I am proud to be a Buckeye because my school is actively working to become more sustainable with each passing year. So the next time that you polish off a can of soda or a bottle(that is the sound of me cringing) of water, if you can’t find a recycling bin- come to OSU. We’ll take care of it!

Think of all the amazing things that our society could create if we tried to focus LESS on creating SO much of this!

Midterm Week, Je t’aime

Historical fact according to Wikipedia: “Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 include Valentine of Rome, Valentine of Terni, and a third Valentine who is believed to be from Africa.”

Coincidence that we’re honoring martyrs during midterm exam week? 🙂

Although studying in informal groups with classmates has been helpful in the past, I tend to study best when alone and that’s the method I’m using this time around. And I know this is a bad habit, but I like to pile into bed with all my books and notes and study from within the cocoon of my comforter. I have studied at my desk fewer than 3 times in the past 2 years- for now it makes a great place to put my mail, bath products, and the dog’s treats.  So although the desk hasn’t gotten much love from me, this has been a very study-intensive weekend and it’s t-minus 20 hours until my MHR 806 midterm. I should be studying right now, so I’ll make this post short!

I thought I’d share a bit about the midterms that I have this quarter to give you an idea about what you can expect. This quarter most of the second-years are taking 806, 807, and 868. We had our 868 midterm 2 weeks ago, so I guess I’ve got it a bit easier than the folks with 3 or 4 midterms this week. But do I honestly feel like I’ve got it easy as I read my notes for the fifth time, review the text for the 3rd time, and make flashcards? Not so much.

The 868 midterm covered notes from class and consisted of multiple choice questions, which was very much appreciated  since this is an employment law course. The 806 midterm that we have tomorrow will cover notes from class in addition to material from the textbook, and will consist of essays and short answer questions. Bring it on? Not sure yet. And the 807 midterm is a take home exam with 10 brief essay questions. The take home exam situation can be both good and bad- good in that you don’t have to spend hours memorizing your notes, but bad in that your answers need to be far better than anything you’d write during an in-class exam. So perhaps it’s time to buckle down and get back to it…

So as you make merry and exchange Valentine’s Day cards and goodies – think of the martyrs. And maybe those guys named Valentine, too. Just kidding 🙂

If I ask you to be my valentine, will you make the midterm easier? Hmph!- no luck.

We NEDAwareness!

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) kicked off National Eating Disorders Awareness Month just a few days ago, and Ohio State University is supporting the awareness movement with a number of events on campus.

I’m spreading this awareness to you because:

  1. Approximately 15% of college females and 4% of college males have eating disorders.
  2. 91% of female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting.
  3. Ohio State University has a multitude of resources to help its students and is taking a stand on eating disorders treatment and prevention.

The aim of NEDAwareness month is “to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — NOT choices — and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder” (

Here’s how OSU is doing its part to spread awareness:

  • Body Image Bazaar (February 21)
    • “The Body Image Bazaar promotes and educates OSU students and community on body health, acceptance, and awareness, especially regarding body image and eating disorders.”
  • The Body Image Health Task Force (permanent)

    • “Our goal is to provide The Ohio State University, and other communities, with resources for exploring the issue of body image disturbance and eating disorders. At all levels of inquiry we offer an anonymous means to seek what you are looking for.”
  • Counseling and Consultation Services (ongoing and permanent)
    • Housed within the OSU Younkin Success Center, the office of Counseling and Consultation Services provides free counseling services to all full-time students and also has a variety of group counseling opportunities for individuals struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and ENDOS.

And for you marketing students out there, the Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders has some tips about how you can help promote healthy body image: “Ads, articles, web sites, products and window displays that promote healthy body image incorporate…

  • Diverse body shapes, races, classes and genders
  • Images of people eating without shame or secrecy
  • Images of men and women exercising for health and well-being
  • Images that contribute to someone’s self-worth (i.e. you actually smile and feel good after reading the article or looking at the ad)”

You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

But if you’ve got BBQ chicken and sweet potato pie, it’s a totally different story. Earlier this week, the Fisher Black MBA Association won a whole lot of friends by hosting the first ever Soul Food Dinner.

My family lives in Louisiana and I spent part of my childhood in Texas, so I know all about the deliciousness of soul food; but some of my friends weren’t too sure about what to expect at this event. To provide a bit of context, here’s a quick explanation: soul food is a blend of cuisine introduced to Africans during European slave trade explorations, transferred from West Africa to the United States, and then tempered by the selection of foods available in the south. According to my savvy internet research: “Traditionally-prepared soul foods tend to be very high in fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories– qualities once-necessary for sustaining the physically grueling life of a captive worker in slavery-era America.” Soul foods tend to be fried or slow-cooked with oil, which makes them incredibly filling comfort foods, but not the first thing that comes to mind for those on health food diets. But don’t despair! Modern takes on soul food often keep the heart of this cooking style in mind, while embracing more “healthy” methods of preparation.

Yesterday’s dinner was the highlight of the week and students from all programs came out, bringing along family and friends for a great night of  food and community. At the Soul Food Dinner we feasted on:

  • Lip-smacking plain, honey, and BBQ chicken
  • Savory red beans and rice
  • Tender collard greens with turkey
  • Fried corn
  • Gooey baked macaroni and cheese
  • Zesty pasta salad
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Fresh corn bread
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Deliciously tart lemonade

The event was a fantastic success and I had a great time at the event before spending the rest of the evening working on homework. With my belly full and my soul nourished, the evening’s homework was a little bit more palatable. Let’s hope that the Black MBA Association makes this a regular event!

Soul food: way better than another night of eating pizza

“Whoa! You only go to class 3 nights a week at 6pm? What do you do with all that free time?!”

What do I do with all that free time? Contemplate life. Stare blankly at the kitchen wall. Whip my hair back and forth. If you only knew.

Full time students in the MLHR program take 3 classes per quarter and all required classes are taught during the evenings. At first glance, it may seem like we MLHR folks have oodles of free time and that graduate school is a breeze- but that couldn’t be further from reality.

Almost everyone in the program works, because those bills surely aren’t going to pay themselves. Some of my classmates have jobs in HR, some have non-HR jobs, and some have assistantship positions and work for the university. After our respective workdays are over, it’s off to class for the rest of the evening. And maybe there’s a group meeting thrown somewhere in there, or even tacked on after class lets out at 10pm if you’re working with a bunch of masochists. Or perhaps there’s a student organization meeting that you need to attend- before you know it, your free time is zilch.

Here are just a few reasons why the MLHR students roll their eyes when someone remarks about how much free time we seem to have:

  1. Having class from 6pm to 9:45pm three nights in a row after a full day of work  feels as grueling as trying to bike the Tour de France with a flat tire. Going uphill.
  2. The assigned reading is never optional- there will be a quiz tonight and you’d better be able to spout off with an explanation of the Seven S Model if you want to avoid being put in the hot seat during tonight’s class.
  3. Very few assignments are based on what you produce as an individual. Every course features a group project- which means you have group meetings once a week, times three.

This program certainly isn’t for anyone who’s looking to snap up a master’s degree with the same amount of effort that you put into making a bowl of cereal. The coursework is challenging (this coming from someone with a bachelor’s degree in HR) and your schedule will be far more busy than it was during undergrad. But nothing beats that feeling of immense triumph after debating with a professor about the Seven S Model and knowing what you’re talking about- because you did your homework.

What do Joe Biden and I have in common?

  1. He ran for presidential election the same year that I was born.
  2. We each have 3 siblings and were born into Irish Catholic families.
  3. Both of us are vice presidents!

Joe Biden might be Vice President of the United States of America, but deep down he’s just a regular guy. The kind of guy who might join GHRA, the Graduate Human Resources Association. Then he’d be stepping into my vice presidential territory – but I think we’d get along just great.

As VP of GHRA, I’d like to provide you with an update about what we’ve planned for the quarter. To see a calendar-style event listing and read our webmaster’s blog, look here:

1/19: Celebration dinner

This fall the first and second year students in GHRA competed to see which class could donate the most non-perishable food items to the Salvation Army. Both classes were very generous and GHRA donated a total of 534 items to be distributed to those in need. The second years won the competition and will be celebrating with dinner before class on Wednesday night!

2/2: Speaker event

Come listen to Clare Vetrick, SPHR and Director of Enterprise Human Resources & Talent Acquisition at Navigator Management Partners, speak to our membership about talent acquisition. With over 10 years of experience working in HR and about 4 years specializing in talent acquisition and development, Clare is a great resource- so bring yourself and your questions to this event.

2/7: Speaker event

GHRA invites its members to come listen to Greg Vert. Mr. Vert is a graduate of the Fisher College of Business MLHR program, as well as a consultant in Human Resources. He is going to talk about his experience at Deloitte and what it means to be a consultant in Human Resources. If you’re interested in becoming a consultant or wondering about some of the alternatives to having a traditional HR role, don’t miss this event!

3/4 – 3/5: Case competition

The MBA case competitions are a dime-a-dozen here, but GHRA is breaking the mold to introduce the very first MLHR case competition! Brought to fruition by the tireless efforts of our GHRA President, this case competition will provide you with the opportunity to test your skills and business acumen outside the classroom. Teams were formed last quarter and a training event took place last week. Teams that are competing in the event will be given a real case to analyze, have 1 day to prepare a presentation, and then will present their recommendations to a panel of faculty and business leaders.

Mark your calendars for these great events! And if anyone knows Joe Biden, you are welcome to invite him, too.

Electives: the strawberry Jelly on your core curriculum Toast

The core classes that we take may help us to build a foundation of HR knowledge, but the electives that Fisher offers can really play to those specific areas of HR that are the stuff of dreams. Because don’t we all dream about taking more classes?

As both the 1st year and 2nd MLHR students approach the spring quarter and with it the chance to take an elective, I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in. Thus far I have taken the following electives: Managerial Negotiations, International HR, and Business Ethics. Here’s a breakdown of how these courses went- compare these descriptions to those dreams we talked about earlier, because there just might be something that tickles your fancy.

Managerial Negotiations– Professor Dumas

This course was all about learning and practicing the art that is negotiation. Yes, it is an art. But you are in luck, because it can be learned. Most classes started off with some lecture, but the in-class negotiations were where the juice was. Before most classes, we each received negotiation prep materials and were assigned to a role. We then spent a week plotting how to drive the hardest bargain and  make the party on the other side of the negotiating table squirm. Because when your negotiating opponent suddenly loses their memory when it’s time to sign the contact you just got them to agree to, you know you’ve won. It was brilliant. During most class sessions we tried out our negotiating skills on the person (or people) assigned to negotiate with us, and found out what worked and what didn’t. Trying to do the good cop/bad cop bit doesn’t work. No, really- it doesn’t.

International HR– Professor Bendapudi

If you have an interest in developing a better understanding of the working world outside of the U.S., think you might want to work in a foreign country, or have an interest in learning why employee grooming requirements made Euro Disney a failure, this class is for you. There were a lot of juicy case studies that explored cultural differences and the fallout that occurs when a company fails to realize that people and cultures vary across and within countries. If this is such an easy concept, why are so many major corporations clueless when it comes to international HR? You’ll have to take this class to find out.

Business Ethics– Professor Cook

How do you know what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong?’ Do you think that there are exceptions to every rule, or are you more aligned with the notion that rules are meant to be followed each and every time? Find out a bit more about your personal philosophy regarding right and wrong and how that fits in with corporate ethics by taking this class. You’ll talk about how corporations can learn how to “do the right thing” despite major companies like Enron and Ford (can you say: Pinto?) trying to make unethical behavior the new business standard.