Financial Software Training

One of the unique aspects of the SMF program is the extent we utilize various software applications to advance our professional competencies. With the rise of artificial intelligence and data analytics, being proficient  with different software applications has become a must in the corporate world.

For example, I had an interview with three different people from the same company, and each of them emphasized that their company is seeking students who have had a significant amount of exposure to software applications other than Microsoft Excel. Luckily for me, my time in the SMF had provided me enough exposure to unique software applications that I could confidently bring up in the interview.

Two of the software applications that I have enjoyed learning and using the most are Statistical Analysis System (SAS) and the Bloomberg Terminal.

The Bloomberg Terminal is used extensively in investment management firms, in sales and trading and in financial markets. It provides access to more than 15,000 indices and 100+ metrics, coverage of 45,000+ companies in 108 countries, as well as 2,800 fundamental data items and financial ratios. Bloomberg news offers more than 5,000 original news stories each day from 30,000+ aggregated news sources with coverage from 146 bureaus in 72 countries.

At Fisher, we use the Terminal throughout the duration of the program to conduct research on investment funds, stock performance, bond prices and many more.


SAS is a widely used tool for data management and business analytics, including statistical and econometric analysis, and has strong capabilities with large data sets, such as those used in quantitative investments and risk management.

This program affords students the opportunity to develop coding skills in a relatively easy to understand environment. We use SAS in our Data Analysis class offered during the autumn semester, with the opportunity to dive deeper into the program by registering for the Financial Statement Analysis course offered during the spring semester.

SAS Log & Editor windows
SAS results window

In conclusion, with the trend toward heavy use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, the Fisher SMF curriculum offers students ample exposure to some of the leading and most widely used software platforms, which allows students to be better prepared for post graduation roles.

Lessons From the Second Session

At the end of the first session, I wrote a post about two things that I learned during the first session. I shared them with you because I believe they are important for you to learn and expect if you are admitted into the program. In this post, I want to share one more important lesson from the second session.

The Importance of Teamwork

The importance of teamwork cannot be overemphasized for many reasons. One big reason being the fact that every organization relies on teams and groups of people collaborating together to accomplish goals and drive results. As a result, the SMF program is structured in a way that simulates real life experiences as most of our assignments are team-based assignments.

For this reason, it is important for current and future SMF students to develop teamwork skills. That is, the ability to effectively cooperate with others in a manner that leads to the actualization of the desired goal. There are many teamwork skills that team members can employ to be effective teammates. These include communicating well with others, contributing equally to discussions, completing agreed upon tasks e.t.c. But, there’s one skill I would like to focus on in this post: the importance of striking a healthy balance between virtual meetings and in-person meetings.

In my own experiences in this program, our team has achieved success by striking a healthy balance between meeting virtually and meeting in person. I believe as tech savvy as our generation is, we are susceptible to overly relying on virtual platforms to plan how we will conduct and finish projects.  But  we ignore the adverse effects of relying on virtual platforms, such as misunderstanding each other and failure to promote the development of deep interpersonal relationships. Therefore, my biggest encouragement to future SMF students is to strive to balance between meeting in person and meeting virtually. This will enhance team performance because it promotes clearer communication between team members and promotes the development of deep interpersonal relationships between team members.

Our team before the core capstone project presentation #greatestteammatesever

Tips On the Video Interview

As an applicant to the Fisher College of Business, the final piece you will submit is the video interview. To complete the interview, the platform will require you to submit three or four video responses and one written response. Also, the platform affords students the opportunity to respond to some practice questions before starting the recorded interview.

The best way to approach the video interview is to view it as an excellent opportunity for you to add character to your application. By this, I mean try your best not to be nervous or feel overwhelmed by this process because this is an area were you can really shine and create a lasting impression. Two tips for you to remember as you tackle this task are to practice and to express yourself with confidence.

Practicing allows you to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will encounter in the actual interview. As you practice, assess your rate of speech. You want to make sure you can get your main point across within the allotted time, while avoiding the pitfall of speaking too fast so that you only use, for example, 10 seconds out of the 45 seconds available for you. Also, check were you look as the video is being recorded. This is important because you don’t want to appear as someone who is reading a response. Rather, you want to appear engaged and interested in the task at hand.

Another element that will help you excel in this interview is confidence. When it comes to confidence, I encourage you to imagine yourself as the reviewer of your interview. Would you trust or believe a candidate who is shy and seems unsure about the responses the candidate is giving? The answer is probably “No.” So it’s important to be confident and passionate about your responses. The response you are giving is yours so express yourself in a way that causes the reviewer to experience the emotions you feel about the subject in question.

Good luck as you complete your applications! And remember, practice before your interviews and deliver your responses with confidence. You’ll do great!

SMF Night Out

The past two to two and half months have been all about work for SMF students. We’ve already completed the majority of our core classes, engaged in multiple team projects, and written three final exams. To cut the long story short, SMF students have been very busy. They say, however, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So to maintain a healthy balance between work and leisure, members of the SMF Council organized a dinner for the the class. The idea was to facilitate an informal setting for students and faculty to interact with each other whilst enjoying something that almost everyone loves (especially me)—food.

My excitement was sky high as we arrived at Hong Kong House, which is about 20 minutes from campus. I was looking forward to exploring Asian cuisine so you can imagine how anxious I was to dig in when the waitress was laying down our dishes.

Many thanks to the SMF Council for organizing the dinner. The food was absolutely amazing and the company was even better. Our night out was perfectly timed because it gave us the opportunity to reflect on the previous session of classes and to build stronger bonds with each other and our faculty members. As you continue to consider the many grad school options you have, be confident that although The Ohio State University is a massive school, there is still plenty of room for you to build meaning friendships, and to learn about different cultural norms and practices.


Lesson From the First Session

As I write this, it’s October 10 at 3:33 p.m. and the first session of the fall semester has come to a close. Memories of my first week here are still fresh and palpable. I can still remember the nervousness of being in a new school and the gazillion questions I had about the weeks and months to come. Yet just like that, more than two months have already passed  and the next two months won’t go by any slower.

As you prepare your applications or consider multiple offers, you might ask yourself, “What kind of experience will I get at Fisher?” or “What is it like being in a one year Master’s program?” Well, this blog post is for you. I want to share one important lesson from the first session to help give you an idea of how things might be for you as an SMF student.

Time flies in this program, so it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Seriously—time flies when you enroll as an SMF. Events and activities will come at a fast pace that you never expected. As some of you might know already, our semesters are divided into two sessions and we have a different set of classes in each session. For you to succeed in this program, you will have to adapt quickly to this set up if you are not used to it. Second, deadlines for assignments are a little shorter than they would be if the classes were spanning the whole semester. This means time management is very important. In fact, time management is one of the top three skills students in this program need in order to excel.

If you fail to manage your time wisely, you would have declared war on time, and very few people succeed when they have time as their enemy. With time as your enemy, two things could happen: you could either find yourself missing deadlines or  having to stay up too late trying to complete your work. Missing deadlines or turning in sub-par work will affect your grades and ultimately hurt you GPA.

In contrast, if you are proactive about your work and avoid waiting until the last minute to start or complete an assignment, you will have a much smoother experience because you won’t have to sleep at odd hours doing homework, nor will you miss assignments. Also, you will have enough time to visit your professors in the event that you need help with a certain topic or concept.

Application advice: If you are a person who has great time management skills, use examples and find a way to relay your skill to the Admissions Committee through your essay or video interviews.


A Beast Called GMAT

One of the application requirements for admission into the SMF program is submission of standardized test scores of either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE). In this post, I seek to describe my experience with the GMAT exam and offer advice on how to tackle the exam. defines the word “beast” as “something formidably difficult to control or deal with.” This is exactly how I felt about the GMAT when I was preparing to sit for the exam. The nature of the exam—computer adaptive, time allocation per question and question type—are aspects that I struggled so much to adjust to. By reflecting on the things I did good versus the mistakes that I did, I realize that I made more mistakes than good. It’s through sharing about these that I hope to help you achieve your desired goal of getting a satisfactory score without experiencing the agony of sitting through for the exam multiple times like I did.

Respect the exam

The biggest mistake that I made was underestimating the exam. When I heard that the exam covers Math and English principles that I had encountered already, I thought that the exam would be nothing but just a revision of concepts. With this attitude, as you can imagine, I did poorly on the exam the first time I took it and this served as a wake up call for me to respect the exam and properly study for it. My advice to you, therefore, is to not underestimate the exam. No matter how strong your quantitative or verbal skills may be, do no think the GMAT will be easy because the GMAT takes those concepts students have learned already and then reconfigures them into upper-level application-based questions.

The preparation materials you use matter

The GMAT exam was unlike any other exam I had ever encountered. The way the questions were structured and the reasoning behind the answers were not always easy for me to comprehend. With this said, I realized that the prep materials I used the first time were not enough to help me understand the logic and intuition behind why an answer was correct.

My advice, therefore, is for you to avoid going for the cheap options. This is a short-term solution that will only save you a couple of dollars in the short run, but you might end up screaming in pain if you have to retake the exam due to a low score. Although a higher quality prep course doesn’t guarantee a high score, it increases the chances of a good score.

If you are deciding on which preparation materials to use, I suggest you go for online prep courses that offer a variety of delivery methods such as videos or webinars. Such courses are usually better than just a stand alone book because more information can be packed and concisely explained through a video compared to a book. By using this method to prepare, you can leverage the power of video and audio delivery to your advantage.

Although this blog post was brief and not comprehensive, I hope it provides quick pointers for you all as you prepare for the GMAT.

Good luck!

COTA and CABS Have You Covered

When I was applying for grad school to Ohio State, I often wondered what the transportation system in Columbus would be like. This was a big concern for me because I had become accustomed to living on campus at Fairmont State University in West Virginia were I was studying. Also, I did not, and still do not yet own a car, so I had questions about how I would travel from my place of residence to campus once I started school at OSU.

Likewise, you might be wondering whether you’ll need a car once you start living in Columbus or, if you live in another state, whether you’ll need to drive your car here so you can use it. If that is the case, worry not, dear reader, COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) and CABS (Campus Area Bus Service) have you covered.

To be frank, our campus is huge. Walking from one end of campus to the other can be time consuming and tiring. This is were CABS comes in. This service is available to OSU students for trips within the Columbus campus area. There are bus stops at almost every corner of the Columbus campus area and there is an app that provides students with real time bus tracking to figure out bus routes and arrival or departure times. This makes getting around campus super convenient and hassle free.

Riding the CABS bus.
CABS real-time bus tracking app








COTA, the central Ohio public transit, is the transportation system I use the most. I live in University Village (UV), an apartment complex that’s about two miles away from Fisher, and although UV has a shuttle that runs to and from campus, I often use COTA because the COTA bus gets to campus quicker and there are COTA buses that run as late as 12:10 a.m. Like CABS, COTA also has a real time bus tracking app which makes it super easy to plan a trip. Just remember to carry your BuckID as this will be the means of payment, otherwise most trips cost roughly $2.

For those of you who may be looking to live further away from campus, COTA is a reliable means of commuting because bus routes are extensive and cover a pretty wide area of central Columbus. With that said, I can safely say you shouldn’t feel tied to accommodation options that are close to campus because there is a good public transport system for you to use if you decide to live, let’s say 6 miles away from campus. In your evaluation of apartments and neighborhoods, I encourage you to visit the COTA website to see if the COTA bus services the area in question. Even if you have a car, using the bus could save you some money on gas and paying for campus parking space.


A Little About Tatenda

If you are reading this because you are interested in the Specialized Master of Finance (SMF) here at Fisher College of Business, because you are in the process of applying, or have already been admitted to a program at Fisher, I want you to know that I can totally relate to you because I have been there as well. I remember the hours I spent researching questions like, is Fisher the right place for me? What kind of experiences would I get at Fisher compared to other schools? Is the curriculum sufficient to prepare me for a career in finance? What is life at a big campus like?

My name is Tatenda Ushendibaba and I am the other SMF Student Ambassador. I say other because you will probably read posts from my colleague, Ferny. Over the next nine months, I will use this platform to provide answers to those questions and others that might cross your mind. The power of this platform lies in its ability to give you a taste of what life as a graduate student at Fisher is like. So I encourage you to read the My Fisher Grad Life blog posts as frequently as you can.

A little about myself

My story begins in Zimbabwe where I was born and raised. I did my primary and secondary education there before moving to West Virginia to complete my Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Fairmont State University. In this photo is my buddy Simba. The picture was taken in 2013 after the last basketball game we played together for our high school. The young fella on the left is me—you will notice I haven’t changed much in appearance.


Fairmont State University

I was a very engaged student during my time at Fairmont State University. I was a member of Chi Alpha Cristian Campus Ministry, a resident assistant in the college residence hall, and I regularly participated in intramural competitions. Although the SMF is a one-year program, I hope I will be able to participate in a lot of events and activities, as this will help enhance my time here at OSU.

Resident Assistant desk duty fall 2015
Indoor Soccer Champions spring 2016
One of my greatest undergraduate achievements- Outstanding Accounting Senior of 2018.

My Hobbies

I LOVE TO EAT, but sometimes my bank account speaks louder than my belly. Most people who know me well will tell you I am not a picky eater at all. I’m open to different types of foods, recipes, and cooking methods. Since Columbus is such a culturally diverse city, I am looking forward to exploring the restaurants and exotic eating places around the city. We’ll see how that goes.

Time to eat is no time for games.

I really love to stay active by playing sports, hiking, walking, cycling or anything that can get me moving. I enjoy watching sports as well, my favorites being basketball, soccer and rugby; but I am always open to learning about sports that I am not familiar with. Finally, I love to explore new places and sightsee. One of the best places that I’ve visited is Cape Town, South Africa. I fell in love with the gorgeous beaches and the magnificent Table Mountain. Cape Town, you have a special place in my Heart.

As I go through the SMF program over the next two semesters, I will be sure to share my adventures with you so that you can get an idea about life at Fisher and Columbus. My biggest goal is help you realize that time spent at Fisher is time well spent.