January Already

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be a more frequent blogger, so here we go! Last semester I always had a mental list of ideas I thought would make good posts and would think, “Just as soon as I have a free afternoon, I’m going to write all these up.” But somehow those free afternoons never seemed to materialize. Now I’m scheduling some blogging time into my week to make sure I actually get to it.

The Dowager Countess never had to take Finance II.

First of all, winter break was amazing. I stayed up late watching addictive TV, I read non-business books, I took naps in the middle of the day—everything I love that I hadn’t been able to do with so much schoolwork. I also picked up some shifts at the bakery where I used to work, so I got to spend time with some of my old co-workers, decorate fun Christmas cookies and bûches de Noëland get a paycheck—it was the perfect arrangement.

I went to Ohio University for my undergrad, which was on quarters (though has now switched to semesters with almost every other school) and we had the most holy six-week winter break that stretched all the way from a few days before Thanksgiving to a few days after New Year’s Day. So part of me was still missing those extra two weeks from my break, but mostly I was excited to come back to school and be busy again. After about eight straight days of doing nothing but sitting (ok, laying) on the couch watching Downton Abbey and occasionally wandering into the kitchen to eat leftover pie, even I start to feel like a bit of a schlub.

This first week back has actually been very exciting. First, I went to the kickoff of the Corporate Mentorship Program, which I applied to way back in September. The program is basically what it sounds like: students apply to be matched with a business professional in the Columbus area to be their mentors. I’m always looking for people with more experience to give me a little guidance or push in the right direction, so I’m very glad Fisher has a program like this. In September I filled out a form explaining a little about my background and what I was looking to get from a mentor-mentee relationship, then the magic elves in the Leadership Development Office spent the last few months pairing my fellow students and me with our mentors.

I found out my mentor’s name and brief background information on Monday and then attended a reception on Wednesday evening for all of the mentees and mentors where we finally met. She’s great! We don’t have identical backgrounds, but there’s a lot of overlap and I could see immediately why we were matched. Not only that, I found her very easy to talk to and very helpful already, as I explained how my internship search was going and what parts of my professional development I was looking for help with.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, since my only knowledge of mentors has been watching Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock or George Christopher on Bored to Death, neither of which are perhaps the most shining examples. Fortunately for me, this first meeting with my mentor was great, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know her and benefiting from her advice and experience.

The second big thing this week is that my ongoing process of internship search/application/interview has kicked into high gear. I’m applying for marketing internships, and right now is when a bunch are popping up and coming due. I made myself a document that I’m calling an “Internship Matrix,” though it’s more of a spreadsheet, really, and I’m keeping track of the dozens of positions I’ve found and am applying to and then hopefully interviewing at. So far this week I’ve been on a pretty good clip of applying for one almost every day and checking them off the list. This is going to be the norm for the next several weeks, in addition to interviews and pre-interview events, both of which I have next week as well.

Anyway, overall I’m really glad to be back in school, even if it interferes with my love of lazing about. Fortunately I’d gotten so used to being busy all the time last semester that it’s easy to slip back into that mode. As long as I can keep up my work ethic and time management, and squeeze in some blogging time, I’m feeling pretty good about the next four months.

Believe the Hype

When I visited MBA programs before I came to Fisher, I heard the same thing over and over again: The first semester is a killer. You will be extremely busy. You will be busier than you’ve ever been. At the time, I felt like I was taking these warnings to heart. I felt prepared to work hard and not have much free time. Plus, I told myself that I’ve gotten through busy periods in my life before. In undergrad I took a full schedule of classes and worked two part time jobs. After graduation I had an internship and a job at the same time. I know what it’s like to be busy.

my Friday night plans

Except I actually had no idea.

A few weeks into this first semester, I finally realized what those students were trying to tell me. I realized that I have never actually been busy before in my entire life. And as much as I thought I was prepared for the workload coming into my MBA program, I was definitely underestimating how busy I would be. Busy like a workshop speech, a two-day case competition, a marketing team project, an economics exam, a data analysis exam, and an accounting exam all in the past ten days. Busy like I only see my boyfriend two or three times a week and he lives two blocks away from me.  Busy like I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for the last three weeks and can’t justify the time away from my regular MBA work to do it.
It’s not only the number of assignments, projects and tests that I’m tackling at once—it’s the time I need to spend working on each one. Like all my fellow MBA students, I consider myself a smart cookie. In my high school and undergraduate classes, I could snooze through lectures, spend an hour looking over my notes the night before a test and still pull off an A or B. I could wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment or paper and still turn in a decent product. Of course none of that will fly in an MBA program, and for probably the first time in my life I’ve had to study like I should have been all along. Study like spending five hours on data analysis homework problems, six hours on exam practice problems and still squeaking by just below the median score. Study like staying up until 3 a.m. making it rain cash flow statements, taking the accounting midterm the next morning and then dreaming about accumulated depreciation during my post-exam nap. Even when I’m asleep my brain can’t catch a break from business school.

But the point of this post is not to scare off potential MBA students with horror stories of being chained to an Excel document while your loved ones resort to looking at old photographs to remember what you look like. Because for all this work and time and effort, the first seven weeks of this MBA program have already been one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I’ve worked harder than I ever have, but I’ve also learned more than I ever have. Yes I thought I was a smart cookie before, but this program has shown me how much I didn’t know. Taking classes in these new and different subjects, and filling my head with so much new knowledge has been extremely thrilling and rewarding. All the busyness has been worth it– really!
And as I’ve gotten more accustomed to the level of work, I’ve figured out ways to thrive on the energy and still fit in some fun and relaxation. Last night I went to karaoke for the second time in these two months (an activity I used to do twice a week), and I enjoyed it more by virtue of the fact that singing Meatloaf to a room of strangers is now a treat instead of a given. Similarly, sleeping in used to be my norm every weekend, but now when I (much more rarely) find a Sunday morning to lounge in bed until noon, it’s even more wonderful than when it was the default behavior. Because I know I’m putting in the work, I know I’ve earned the rewards.
So future MBAs take heed: The first semester is a killer. You will be extremely busy. You will be busier than you’ve ever been. Be prepared to put in the work, but also be prepared for the exhilaration of it all paying off in the form of a brain buzzing with new knowledge, a glorious set of midterm grades and the extra enjoyment of the occasional break.

Living in the University District: Pros and Cons

I’m not from Columbus originally,  but I have pretty good knowledge of the city and surrounding area from the eight months I lived here during an internship. So even though I love the Short North and my former neighborhood of German Village, and I have friends living in Grandview and Clintonville, I picked an apartment in the University District.

I call my part of town “north campus” when I describe it to my classmates, but technically it’s “University District 1,” or to be less Hunger Games about it, “Old North Columbus.”

Talking to my fellow MBA students at Fisher, I’ve found that most of them either live at Fisher Commons, the apartment complex specifically for Fisher students, or in nearby neighborhoods and suburbs like Grandview, Victorian Village or Easton. A few also live in the University District (“UD”), but it’s not many.

Obviously living in the UD is not for everyone. For instance, those with partners and families might be better suited to the quieter suburban areas rather than the thick undergraduate culture near campus. And those who need a yard for pets won’t find many options where I live and could opt for more green space in a different part of town. I would never try to convince people who are happily living in a different part of town that they should move closer to campus, but I still love my apartment and enjoy my neighborhood. So now that I’ve been living here for about a month and a half, I came up with a handy list the benefits and drawbacks of living in the University District to help future students decide if living near campus would work for you.


  1. Travel time– After dealing with rush hour traffic for the last two years as I drove 30 minutes to and from work, I didn’t want to spend another two years driving 20-30 minutes into campus every day. That’s time in the morning that I could use for an extra half hour of sleep, and I always need more sleep. Plus, the frustration of sitting in traffic is now replaced with exercise and fresh air as I ride my bike or walk the 5 blocks to Fisher. When one of my teammates was 15 minutes late to Marketing class last week, he told me that it took him nearly an hour to drive in from Easton that morning because of all the traffic. “How long does it take you to get here?” he asked me. “About six or seven minutes,” I said. He shook his head in disbelief.
  2. Travel cost– I drive a relatively fuel-efficient car, but as I learned from my previous commute, even at 27 mpg I was using 3/4 of my tank on just my commute. It was almost 300 miles a week! Add in the milage on my already 100,000+ car and the pricey parking passes and I knew I’d be saving a lot of cash living close enough to walk or ride my bike.
  3. Rent prices– Before I’d officially decided to live near campus, I researched apartments all over town and found that most of them were outside my price range. Yes, Victorian Village and The Short North are awesome areas with nice places to live, but $900 a month for a 1-bedroom was breaking the bank for me. I don’t plan on having a job for my first semester and possibly first year of my MBA, so I’m probably on a tighter budget than most. Knowing that I could live for cheaper while being closer to school made living in the University District especially attractive.
  4. Restaurant and bar options– As you’ll see below, I’m cheating a little and including this as a pro and con, since there are good and bad aspects. One of the good parts of living in such a student-concentrated area is the huge number of food and drink options within walking or biking distance. Not just all the college staples like McDonalds, Cane’s, Jimmy Johns and Pita Pit, but awesome authentic ethnic choices for Indian, Korean, Greek, Chinese and Mexican cuisine. One of my favorite restaurants in the whole city, Taj Mahal, is four blocks from my apartment, which is wonderful and dangerous at the same time. This is also true for bars. There are dozens of sports bars to choose from, if that’s your thing, but there are also cool dive bars and even some more upscale options nearby as well.


  1. Inconsiderate neighbors– The University District is populated with mostly undergraduate students, so most of my neighbors are younger and in a different phase of their lives than I am. Five years ago, I might not have minded the loud music at 2 a.m. (I might have even been the one playing it), but now that I’m older and taking school more seriously, noise disruptions can be derailing when I’m trying to study more and get to bed earlier. Like the noise pollution, many residents in the UD don’t seem concerned with littering. It’s not uncommon to see empty beer cans strewn on the grass in front of nearby houses, though trash pickup does come through for regular clean-ups. Personally, I’ve made peace with the fact that living in this area means dealing with these issues, and I go to the library when my neighbors are loud and watch where I step to avoid trash. But if these sound like deal-breakers to you, then living near campus probably isn’t a good idea.
  2. Intense apartment hunting required– If you start looking at apartments near campus and think, “Wow, all these places are dumps,” you’re not wrong. To use some concepts from my Economics class, because the demand for housing near campus is higher than the supply, the landlords have market power and therefore have little incentive to keep their properties in good condition because they’ll find renters no matter what. I looked at hundreds of places online and only  eight or nine places were worth seeing in person. Of those, only one was somewhere I would actually want to live; the others were dirty, had appliances older than I am and generally suffered from a lack of care and upkeep. So when I found that one apartment I wanted, I scooped it up immediately. Not only has my apartment been recently renovated with new carpet and fixtures, it has air conditioning, a dishwasher, a disposal and an in-unit washer and dryer. For less than $600/month, it’s a steal. Apartments like this aren’t the norm in the UD, but they are out there if you have the time and resources to hunt for them.
  3. Parking– I’m lucky enough to have  a parking lot directly behind my apartment for residents-only, but in general, parking near campus can be a hassle and a hazard. Driving down the narrow one-way streets, you’ll see cars crammed into every possible spot, and trying to turn onto a busy street is nearly impossible when a line of vehicles is parked directly in your line of vision. Even more unnerving is the number of cars with scratches and dings. I don’t know if the marks were inflicted as a result of being parked in such a high-traffic area, but it’s enough to make me worry. There are also lots of parking rules, like street-sweeping days and permit-only areas that need to be followed if you don’t want a big towing ticket.
  4. Restaurant and bar options– Like I said above, the number of options for food and drink is huge near campus, but the downside is that they’re typically very busy and most of the customers are the population of undergraduate students. If I want to get away from the throngs of people and accompanying noise, it usually means going to a different part of town which have chiller crowds. If it’s just my boyfriend and me getting a quick drink on a weeknight, we’ll pick a campus bar. However, if I had friends visiting for a weekend and wanted to show them a good time, I would definitely take them somewhere like The Short North where we’d have a better chance at getting a table to ourselves and having an audible conversation.

I could probably keep digging for more pros and cons, but I think this is a good starter, and I’d be happy to address specific questions or issues in the comments. Overall, I think that if your primary needs are space and quiet, living in the University District is probably not for you. However, for those looking for convenience and lower costs, the UD can offer some good housing options if you put in the effort to look for them. Even with the negatives I listed above, I love where I live and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.