Gonna Make This Place Your Home

Despite living in Ohio my entire life, with the exception of my undergraduate years in South Carolina, I was relatively unfamiliar with Columbus prior to moving here in August. As a result, I spent my first couple of weeks (okay, months) feeling like a lost, overwhelmed tourist in my new hometown. I still have a lot of exploring left to do, but I thought I would compile a list of my current Columbus favorites to help guide future MAcc students as they acclimate to this wonderful city.

If you are hungry for pizza … try Harvest Pizzeria. There are three locations – German Village, Clintonville, and Dublin. They use local, farm fresh ingredients and offer reasonable prices. Oh, and the pizza is delicious!

If you are looking for somewhere to celebrate “Taco Tuesday” … Condado Tacos is the place to go. This casual eatery lets you design your own taco creations. They also offer great Happy Hour deals if you want to treat yourself on a budget! Pro tip: Get your tortilla in the Sweet Lucy style (both soft flour and hard corn shells with queso and guac).

If you are a fan of BBQ … check out Sweet Carrot. Fresh ingredients, unique menu, and a cool atmosphere. Pro tip: get the Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Pulled Pork.

If you are in the mood for ice cream … you have two choices:

  • Jeni’s is a certified B-Corp that calls Columbus, Ohio home. The company is known for its quality ingredients and Fellowship business model. Jeni’s sets itself apart by offering unique flavors, such as Wildberry Lavender and Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet.
  • With its corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, Graeter’s is a family-owned business that offers French Pot ice cream made in small batches. The company has more traditional flavors than Jeni’s and is its signature flavor is Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

The Columbus Museum of Art is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Ohio State students can get free tickets through D-Tix. The CMA offers free admission on Sundays.

Be sure to get to the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo during the holiday season!

For all your shopping needs, Polaris Fashion Place and Easton Town Center are the places to go!

If you want to get outside, you have lots of options! Here are my top picks:

  • Hocking Hills – Located in Logan, Ohio, about an hour and a half from Columbus, Hocking Hills is worth the drive. My favorite hike goes from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls and back, via the Grandma Gatewood (Buckeye) Trail (6 miles roundtrip). You can also take the Grandma Gatewood Trail to Cedar Falls (3 miles) and return to Old Man’s Cave via the Gorge Overlook Trail (3 miles).
  • Clear Creek – If you are looking for something more challenging, Clear Creek is the place to go. I like to park in the Creekside Meadows Picnic Area and take the Cemetary Ridge Trail to the Fern Trail to the Hemlock Trail to the Creekside Meadows Trail.  
  • Battelle Darby Creek – This is a great option if you are looking to avoid the crowds but do not have the time to drive all the way to Hocking Hills or Clear Creek. I like to park in the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area and take the Cobshell Trail to the Indian Ridge Trail to the Terrace Trail Loop and back.

Other things worth mentioning:

Columbus Crew

Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus Clippers

Columbus has so much to offer and while it is easy to get bogged down in schoolwork, be sure to take the time to get out and enjoy the city!

Maintaining Balance

It seems like “balance” is the ultimate buzzword nowadays. Nobody really knows what it is, but everyone is trying to find it. Experts cannot seem to agree on whether or not it is possible to “have it all.” Early in my college career I was introduced to the idea that there are 3 S’s: social life, sleep, and studying (good grades), and you can only excel in two of the three areas.

During the autumn semester, my primary focus was on my grades and career search. I opted to forgo a lot of social opportunities for the sake of getting a good night’s rest because I knew my academics and recruiting efforts would suffer if I was not sleeping. This certainly paid off – I was thrilled with my grades and I received the job offer I was hoping for. Looking back, however, I definitely missed out on some fun experiences. Though I was “successful,” my life was not as balanced as I wanted it to be.

This past semester, I shifted my focus in an attempt to make the most of my remaining time in the MAcc. My academics continued to be my top concern, but I also prioritized having fun. There were definitely weeks where I was not as well-rested as I would have liked, but I would not trade the memories for anything. My grades have stayed about the same but I feel much more engaged in the program, which has made an already fantastic MAcc experience that much greater.

I think there is a misconception that “balance” is this all-or-nothing thing. I have come to believe that you can have it all, just not all at once and not all the time. For example, in January and February, I was preparing to take my first section of the CPA exam – BEC. For several weeks, my focus was entirely on preparing for my test. I pretty much nixed both “social” and “sleep” from my life. While this period was not the most enjoyable, it was only temporary. After taking (and passing!) BEC, I was able to return to a more “balanced” life since I no longer felt compelled to spend every waking moment immersed in Becker. I know I will have similar phases for the rest of my life, but there will also be plenty of times where I have the flexibility to get a good night’s rest, go out with friends, or take a hike.

At the end of the day, it comes down to knowing what you need to prioritize when. Sometimes that may mean opting to stay in on a Friday night in order to catch up on schoolwork. Other times that may mean putting the textbooks away for a spontaneous weeknight dinner with friends. Though I know balance is something I will continuously have to work at, I feel like this past year has helped me figure out what I need to feel both grounded, successful, and happy.

MAcc Madness

My March started out with a quick trip to Washington D.C. to see my best friend from undergrad. Though small, the Columbus airport still offers service to a number of destinations around the country. Even better, I was able to snag my round-trip tickets for an incredibly affordable price. It was a wonderful weekend getaway, full of lots of laughs, sightseeing, walking, and delicious food.

I also had the opportunity to jet out west to Salt Lake City and Park City to see family over spring break. I prefer mountains to the beach, so this was definitely my idea of a perfect vacation. In addition to simply hanging out with some of my favorite people, I got to enjoy some rock climbing and yoga while I was out there!

March also marked the start of the Intramural indoor soccer season! I was incredibly nervous about being a part of the team because although soccer was a huge part of my childhood, I had not played for years. While I am certainly not as a fast or in shape as I used to be, joining the “MAccletes” is definitely one of the highlights of my MAcc experience thus far. Continuing on the soccer trend, I also went to my first Columbus Crew game this past weekend where the Crew beat the Portland Timbers 3-2.

Because of how classes are scheduled, there are no Friday classes during the second term of the spring semester. To take advantage of this free day, the MAcc Council has several events planned over the next couple of weeks. This past Friday they hosted the MAcc Olympics which was an afternoon of fun and games. We played basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, and kickball. It should come as no surprise that there was definitely some friendly competition on the playing field!

I have also made it a point to take advantage of the warmer temps to get back out on the trails. I went to Clear Creek Metro Park this past Saturday and am looking forward to going back this upcoming weekend. I am also going to try to get to Hocking Hills this weekend as well, weather permitting.

Looking into April, there are plenty of other activities on the calendar. MAcc Gives Back, a day of community service, is scheduled for the morning of April 7th. That same day, we have Fisher Formal in the evening. I am really looking forward to spending some time giving back to the Columbus community and Formal is sure to be a blast – I love any excuse to get dressed up!

It is hard to believe that graduation is just a few short weeks away. While I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life, it is bittersweet to think that my time at the Fisher College of Business is quickly coming to an end. I did not know what to expect when I started my MAcc experience, but it is safe to say that the past year has been amazing and I have so many wonderful memories that I will forever cherish.

Defining My Legacy

One of the things I love the most about The Ohio State University’s Master of Accounting (MAcc) program is the fact that the curriculum is primarily electives. While I certainly enjoy my accounting courses, I think there is tremendous value in having a well-rounded education in which you have the opportunity to explore interests outside of your chosen career path. During the first term of the spring semester, one of my classes was “Building Your Leadership Legacy,” and it was absolutely transformational.

The course is taught by Tony Rucci, whose resume is impressive to say the least. Over the course of his 28-year career, he had the opportunity to work for three different Fortune 100 companies, serving in various executive capacities. Despite this professional success, he is one of the most down-to-earth individuals I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

We primarily used the book  Discover Your True North by Bill George, which walks through the steps to authentic leadership.  The text was supplemented by various articles. In addition, we had the opportunity to hear from several guest speakers throughout the 7-week term. I find learning people’s life stories to absolutely fascinating, so this aspect of the course was especially valuable.

The end goal was to successfully define my leadership legacy in fewer than 20 words, a seemingly simple task that proved to be far more challenging than I anticipated. The purpose of this legacy statement is to provide direction to my life – it contains key themes that embody the kind of person I want to be remembered as. During the last three class sessions, all students had the opportunity to share their desired legacies and how they chose it. It should be noted that in a class of 50 graduate professional students, the common themes among these statements had nothing to do with business and everything to do with compassion, kindness, serving others, etc.
I can say with absolute certainty that this has been one of the most influential classes I have ever taken. The power of introspection is often overlooked, but awareness of self is critical to effective leadership. I may not have all the answers as to what I want the rest of my life to look like, but I now have a clearer idea of what direction I need to take to live out my legacy.

Vroom Vroom VITA

In addition to a wide variety of social activities, MAcc students also have the opportunity to give back to the community through a number of volunteer efforts. VITA, a tax clinic for low income-taxpayers, is one of the most popular community-service options. Participants get hands-on experience with preparing tax returns while making a difference in the lives of many.

I interviewed current MAcc student and VITA volunteer Carly Jackson to get her take on why all MAccers should participate in this great cause.

What is VITA?

VITA is a program where volunteers prepare tax returns for low-income individuals and  families for free.

How can MAcc students get involved?

MAcc students can get involved by attending an interest session during fall semester and then completing the required IRS training. During tax season, volunteers are typically assigned 3-4 volunteer days.

Do you have to have experience with completing tax returns to volunteer?

No prior experience is required!  You will be thoroughly trained and will have an IRS publication with the information you need next to you, so you can use that for reference during preparation. Also, there will typically be people on-site with prior tax preparation experience to answer any questions you have and to help you through the experience.

Can I still do VITA even if I am planning on doing audit post-graduation?

Of course you can! A lot of the people that participate in VITA are planning to do audit. I personally feel that it is advantageous to everyone to learn about the basics of taxes because they’re unavoidable and the more you know, the more equipped you are to handle them. Regardless of your intended career path, learning a little bit about tax preparation and using that knowledge to help others is a great thing to do!

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned while working the tax clinic?

Surprisingly, the biggest lesson I’ve learned while working at the VITA clinic was not tax-related. One of the clients I worked with was going through one of the toughest times I could even imagine, yet still had the most positive outlook on everything and had a genuine joy in their heart. Working with them taught me to never take anything for granted, and to always look for the good in life, because if you look hard enough, you will find it.

 

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The Final Countdown

It is surreal to think that my final semester of school is well underway! We are already wrapping up our third week of classes and I have a midterm in just a few days. In order to make the most of the time I have left, I compiled a list of things I am hoping to accomplish before graduation in May:

  • Take a trip to Chicago. One of my cousins lives in Chicago, so I really want to spend a weekend visiting her. Southwest has super cheap flights out of the Dayton airport, so this could be a relatively easy and affordable getaway. [editor’s note: Southwest also offers several daily flights out of Columbus]
  • Explore German Village. Although I have been living in Columbus since August, I have yet to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. German Village is located just south of downtown and is a fun neighborhood with lots of different restaurants and shops.
  • Go to Hocking Hills. This one will have to wait until it warms up a bit, but I am eager to go hiking in Hocking Hills. It is a bit of a drive, a little over an hour from my apartment, but I hear the scenery is well worth the trek.
  • Going off #3, I would also like to get back to Clear Creek Metro Park. I was able to go once during the autumn and it was phenomenal. It is about an hour drive and there are several trails to explore.
  • Cheer on the Columbus Clippers (minor league baseball), Columbus Crew (soccer), or Columbus Blue Jackets (hockey). Though often overshadowed by The Ohio State University Buckeyes, Columbus is home to several professional teams. I have yet to go to any of their games, but I would love to get to at least one before the semester is over.

These next couple months are sure to fly by, and I am eager to make the most of the time I have left!

Surviving Syllabus Week

I thrive on routine; while it was nice to have a few weeks off during the Holiday Season, I was more than ready to get back to school for the second semester. That said, no matter how excited I am about classes starting again, it is always a bit of an adjustment to go from having plenty of relaxation time to an abundance of responsibilities.

During undergrad, especially freshman and sophomore year, professors tended to ease us back into the swing of things. We fondly called this adjustment period “Syllabus Week,” because at least the first day of class simply involved going over the syllabus, defining the expectations for the course, and answering any questions. Things are not quite that laidback at the graduate level. Professors still tend to briefly outline the syllabus, but then are quick to get into the material. Because of this, it is important to come into Day 1 prepared to start the semester on as strong a note as possible.

Here are some of my tips for making the most of “Syllabus Week”:

  • Review the syllabus prior to the first day of class. Most professors in the Fisher College of Business utilize “Carmen” (also known as “Canvas”) to house their course materials. This means that students generally have access to at least the syllabus, if not some of the readings. Take advantage of this! If you are familiar with the syllabus, you’ll be better prepared to get questions answered.
  • Research what books you will need. I know a lot of people are adamant that you should not purchase anything until the first day of classes in case a professor has a book listed that you won’t actually use. I, on the other hand, prefer to have all my books ahead of time. Not only does this afford me the opportunity to shop around to get the best deals, I am prepared to dive into the readings and don’t have to waste time trying to locate a copy of the text. At the very least, even if you don’t buy any of your books, take some time to figure out what books are required and where you can get the best price.
  • Make time for fun! Do not overlook how important this is! It can be easy to get overwhelmed but it is critical to keep everything in perspective. I definitely made the mistake first semester of not allowing myself to do more enjoyable things. For example, this past week, I went to see “La La Land” with two friends from the program. Obviously the academics are incredibly important, but the MAcc program is about the entire experience, not just what happens in the classroom.

First Semester Favorites

It is surreal to think that my first semester of graduate school has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday I was beginning my first day of orientation, yet here I am, half a “Master.” As I reminisce on the past 15 weeks, I thought I would highlight my five favorites of the semester.

  1. Ohio State Athletics. It goes without saying that The Ohio State University is a football school, through and through. I had season tickets, which meant I spent many Saturdays at the Horseshoe. Not only did the Buckeyes have a great season– Mother Nature did her part, giving us beautiful weather (with the exception of a rainy Tulsa game).
Ohio State vs. Northwestern {10/29/16}
Ohio State vs. Northwestern {10/29/16}

As part of my Business of College Sports class, I also had the opportunity to attend a basketball game. Athletic Director Gene Smith and his wife Sheila hosted us in their suite for the men’s game against Providence. The Buckeyes pulled off a “W,” and it was so nice to relax with classmates after a particularly stressful week. This was my first Ohio State basketball game but it will not be my last!

Living the "Suite Life" with Gene Smith
Living the “Suite Life” with Gene Smith

I also went to my first hockey games this fall! One of the major components of my Sports Marketing class was doing the promotion activities for both a men’s and women’s ice hockey game. In addition to marketing the games beforehand, we were also responsible for running in-game promotions. I had no idea what to expect, and ended up having a great time. I am definitely going to make a point to get to more games during the second semester. Not only does the sport’s fast pace make it a lot of fun to watch, admission to the games is free with a valid BuckID.

Ohio State Men's Ice Hockey vs. Bowling Green State University {10/22/16}
Ohio State Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Bowling Green State University {10/22/16}
  1. MAcc Activities. Each MAcc class has a MAcc Council, tasked with providing various social opportunities for students enrolled in the program. Some events are geared toward only MAcc students, while others are hosted in conjunction with the other Fisher graduate programs. These activities included a scavenger hunt, a Halloween party, tailgates for every home football game, a white elephant gift exchange, and the Lights at the Columbus Zoo. It is so nice to have the chance to spend time with classmates outside of the classroom and I appreciate that so much effort goes into planning these happenings.
MAcc at the Lights at the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
MAcc at the Lights at the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
  1. Classes. While the Business of College Sports was definitely one of my favorite classes, another favorite was Professional Research. The course was designed to teach us how to use the FASB Accounting Standards Codification online database and how to apply the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to various cases. The professor was outstanding and while the assignments were incredibly challenging, I really liked learning the “real world” application of GAAP.
  1. Group Work. Never in a million years did I imagine this would be the highlight of my semester, but I have truly come to love working in a group. This is partially attributable to my teammates. Everyone I have worked with has been so much fun, which makes for really enjoyable meetings. I have also come to appreciate how much easier it is to do things with the help of others. Everyone brings a different set of skills and a new perspective, which means the final product is that much stronger.
  1. Being a Buckeye. I can honestly say that I love coming to campus every single day. I love my classes, the people I am surrounded by, and my job in the Graduate Programs Office. It is so fulfilling to be a part of a university where there is so much pride for the institution. While it will be refreshing to have a break to get some much needed rest, I am already looking forward to the second semester! Columbus definitely feels like home.

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Grad School – Expectations vs. Reality

Though I consider myself a relatively rational person, there are still times where I let my imagination get the best of me. Before beginning the MAcc program, I had plenty of preconceived notions about what the next year was going to look like. Now that I am about halfway through, I can safely say that things have not played out exactly how I thought they would…

Expectation: I will finally learn how to cook. Healthy, home-cooked meals will become a part of my everyday routine.

Reality: Despite having a plethora of recipes saved on Pinterest, most nights I settle on grilled cheese, pizza, or scrambled eggs for dinner.

Expectation: I will make it to the RPAC to workout at least 5 days a week. Who wouldn’t want to work out at such a nice facility?

Reality: No comment.

Expectation: I will take advantage of living in a new city. Columbus has a ton to offer (restaurants, events, etc.) and I want to explore it all.

img_2045-minReality: I have been to a few new restaurants and a couple different Metro Parks but have not done nearly as much as I planned or hoped I would. Most of my weekends involve lots of sleeping and studying.

Expectation: I will be challenged on a daily basis, learn a lot, and make new friends.

Reality: I have been challenged on a daily basis, learned a lot, and made new friends.

Though I am looking forward to having some time to rest and recharge over the Holiday Break, I am equally excited for all the adventures second semester is sure to bring!

#blessed

Maybe it is because Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, but recently I have found myself reflecting on all the things I am grateful for. I could write for days about all my reasons for giving thanks this year, but I will stick to just three highlights of my MAcc experience:

  1. I have a job! The recruiting experience was definitely stressful but I am proud to say that I made it through to the other side and have officially accepted a full-time offer with Deloitte in Columbus. I will be a part of their audit practice and I could not be more thrilled about the opportunity!
  2. I am back in the Midwest! Being in South Carolina for undergrad definitely had its perks, but it has been so nice to live within 150 miles of my hometown. The two-and-a-half-hour distance is perfect – it’s close enough to justify weekend trips while still far enough to prevent me from simply jumping in the car and making the drive just because. I love that I have so many more opportunities to stay involved with things in Perrysburg.
  3. I am almost half a Master of Accounting! It is surreal to think that I am almost halfway through the MAcc program – not sure where the time has gone. This semester has been difficult at times, but on the whole it has been beyond incredible. I feel so privileged to be surrounded by highly-motivated peers and phenomenal professors. Every day has brought a new set of challenges, which has only made these past few months that much more rewarding.
Living the "Suite Life" with Gene Smith
Living the “Suite Life” with Gene Smith