Business Excellence 2: My Favorite Course

It has been 3 months since I arrived in the U.S. and started my graduate life. It is hard to believe that the first semester is almost coming to an end. In this semester, I learned a lot from different courses, but my favorite course is MHRM 7321: Business Excellence 2, taught by Professor Schaffner.

Every class began with Professor Schaffner’s question: “What is in your mind or what did you find interesting about HR this week?” Then students brought their different topics and discussed. We might spend half of the class in these topics. In these discussions, we can talk about the problems we met in HR work and then classmates offer opinions and suggestions. Overall, we are free to voice our opinions and Professor Schaffner always pushes us to think deeply by asking thoughtful questions.

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The exams of MHRM 7321 are different, too. Instead of concluding and remembering authors’ opinions, we analyze a certain case with what we have learned in the course. There are two principles of these exams. First is “show off what you have learned.” I think applying the theories, models, and approaches we learned in the class to a case maybe is the best way to link theory to practice. And the professor really encourages us to think beyond the case to our work experience. Second is “creative,” in which we can use different materials and our own experience to support our opinions. As Professor Schaffner says, “Surprise me. Teach me something.”

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Last class was even more interesting. We spent almost one and half hours to “design a wallet for your partner.” It was not an activity but a process in which we learned how a design process works. What surprised me most is the result of design process: some really cool or even amazing designs! It is not just a process to design something different, but is a process to think differently.

I was not very used to the course at first because it was so different from classes I had before (both in China and in America). Actually, I never had a course as creative and thoughtful as MHRM 7321. After three months, I found that my mind was changed: now when I analyze cases or read an article from other courses, I tend to use the thoughts I learned from 7321. Some said this course will affect them in 5 years, while I think maybe this course will affect me in my whole lifetime.

Fisher Impact Day

On Nov. 11th, I participated in a volunteer activity held by Fisher: Fisher Impact Day.

My friends and I arrived at Fisher Hall at 8:30 a.m. It was cold in the morning but I found many people already arrived, with immense zeal. After I signed in, we went to Mason Hall for breakfast: doughnuts and coffee were provided.

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At 9:00 a.m. we went outside Mason Hall for Kick-off featuring the OSU Color Guard. From the speech, I knew it was the first time that Fisher held Fisher Impact Day. It was an honor to take part in the first Fisher Impact Day! But I really hope speakers could make their speech shorter as it was so cold standing outside.

Because my friends and I signed up for an off-campus location, we then got on bus and headed to our destination: Harmon Kitchen. After a brief welcome, the leader told us that Harmon Kitchen was set up for providing people who need food. To my surprise, they also provide food to their pets. The leader explained that because pets are these people’s families and friends, they deserved to be treated well. It was really thoughtful. We were assigned for different work: 6 of our group members worked in the kitchen and my friends and I (4 people) helped to pack tableware.

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There were a set of requirements on packing tableware. For example, the knife must to the left, the fork must be above the knife and the spoon must be on the top. There were also requirements on napkins, too. Because I was not good at folding napkins, we followed the leader’s suggestion and decided that I place the tableware while my friend folded the napkins. As time passed by, we worked faster and better. Look at what we packed, they looked nice, right?

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Time flied by fast. At 12:30pm, the bus picked us up and back to Fisher. Although I was hungry and tired, I felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement. My friends were also excited about our Fisher Impact Day. In my opinion, Fisher Impact Day provided an opportunity for us to do something meaningful for society, gain a sense of responsibility, and meet different people.

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Pumpkin Carving

Last Friday (October 30), I went to an activity held by IFI. In this activity, I learned how to carve a pumpkin and I made my first pumpkin carving. Just like make-up party and “trick or treat,” pumpkin carving is a tradition for Americans to celebrate Halloween.

Thinking “Do in Rome as Rome does” and believing it would be fun to learn more about American culture, I joined the activity. When I came to the activity, I found most people who came here are Chinese. After the host introduced how to carve a pumpkin. I picked a pumpkin and several tools.

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At first, I was not sure how to carve a pumpkin. After the introduction, I first made a draft of the pattern that I wanted to carve. As it was my first time to carve a pumpkin, I decided to choose the simplest design. Then I stopped because I hesitated on where I should make my first carve. I was afraid I would ruin the pumpkin. A man noticed my hesitation and came to help me. With his help, I succeed to cut the top of the pumpkin and scooped out the flesh.

After that, I felt more confident about my carving. So I affixed my design to the pumpkin. But when I trace the design by poking holes with a sharp awl, I found the pumpkin was a little bit hard so that I had to carve hard. I first make holes in the pumpkin for eyes, then for a nose, finally the mouth. When I finally finished it,  I took many pictures and you can see from above, I was very happy!

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Soon, people around me all finished their pumpkins. When we turned out the light and light the candles inside the pumpkins, it was like going into a fairy tale world. I was surprised that there were so many wonderful pumpkin designs: Statue of Liberty, Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh… I thought these people must be pumpkin carving masters and their rich imaginations really surprised me.

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In China, we also eat pumpkins. Actually, we have different ways to make pumpkins: pumpkin soups, pumpkin congee, fried pumpkin and so on. But we do not eat pumpkins for a special season: they are just like other common vegetables we eat for our daily life. We do not carve pumpkins, either. I knew when fall season comes, Americans have all kinds of food with pumpkin favor. Pumpkin kind of means fall and harvest for Americans.  It is interesting to know this culture difference and experience a different tradition.

MHRM Pumpkin Patch Day

On October 24th, I went to our MHRM pumpkin patch trip held by FCOB MHRM council. It was an excellent experience.

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Although it was a cold, rainy day, the bad weather did not reduce our interests in the trip. When we met at St. John’s parking lot at 1:00 pm, I found about half of my classmates came to the trip. Some of us (including me) also brought our friends: I brought my roommate, Susan brought her friend, and Steve even brought his two little daughters! As I did not have a car, my classmate, Dan, drove me to our destination: Lynd Fruit Farm (Thank you, Dan!). After half an hour drive, we arrived at the farm. I was surprised that there were so many people at the farm. There were a lot of farming products, too. Vegetables, pies, jams…they looked delicious! I bought a bag of popcorn, it tastes good but seemed too sweet for me.

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But what excited me most is the corn maze. We were divided into several groups before we entered the maze. Our task was not only to find the exit but also find different signs in the maze. Unfortunately, we got lost soon after we entered the maze. As a result, we spent most of our time trying to figure out where we were. The map was also confusing: there were 8 colors on the map and each represents a different area. I am really not good at reading maps, so Susan and my roommate took the responsibility to lead the group (Look at the picture below, they are reading the map carefully, but still confused about it.). As for me, I just trust them and follow them:).

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Finally, we found the exit and we also found 5 signals (I thought we relied more on luck than map in finding these signals). Although we did not find all 8 signals, this corn maze experience was excellent for me as I have not entered a maze since my childhood, let alone with my friends, talking and laughing all the way!

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We finished our trip at about 4:30 pm. When I went back to my home, I was tired but excited. I thought this trip was not only fun but provided a great opportunity for our classmates to communicate with each other and meet others’ families and friends.

Exams. Exams? Exams!

It has been 2 months since our program started. Since I have gone through several different exams, I think it is interesting to talk about them.

My roommate is a PhD of geophysics, and when he received his exam paper, which just included 12 multi-choice questions, via email, I complained to him about my exams as his seemed so easy. He argued,” You do have multi-choose, you can choose two from three essay questions.” He was right. The exam of MHRM 7301: Foundations of Labor and Human Resource is an essay-questions exam. We can choose to complete 2 from 3 essay questions and each accounts for 50 points. When I got the answer sheet I was shocked: it was a booklet! The questions were not easy, either. In order to solve these questions, I had to use my logical thinking and refer to the theories learned in class and from textbooks (Yes, textbooks because we must finish reading three textbooks for this course.)

The exam of MHRM 7302: Markets Organizations and Human Resource Management was even harder, even though it was a virtual exam, which means we can refer to our textbook and notes and complete it at home. The professor said there would be 12 questions and we could choose 10 of them to complete. He also said the exam would be finished within 3 hours. However, when my classmates and I received the exam e-mail, we found it actually contained 10 questions and each of them had 2 sub-questions! As a result, I spent 2 days completing a 10-page-essay-question exam.

Exams for MHRM 7321: Business Excellence 2 are more fun because we have no exams! But we are asked to complete 2 papers: one is an individual paper and another is group work. The paper is limited to 2 pages, but we should first read a case that is provided by our professor and then use our analytic thinking to find out situations and solutions of the company discussed in the case. We should also base our thinking on what we had learned in the classes. As what the professor said, he did not want a summary but his students to push themselves a little bit and show off what they have learned.

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When it comes to the topic of exams, students always have a lot to talk about. But my opinion is although exams in our program are pushy, by taking them seriously and preparing well we will receive good marks. Any way, good luck with mid-terms and go buckeyes!

 

My First Presentation at Fisher

Last Wednesday, I made my first presentation for the course: Foundation of Labor and Human Resource. Actually, because of my undergraduate background (I did my undergraduate in business school), I often made presentations in classes. But it was my first time to make a presentation in English and in front of my American classmates! What is more, the presentation was too long- 15 minutes! Just imagine if you were asked to do a presentation in Chinese for 15 minutes and you will understand my feeling.

This presentation was a part of our group project. In the project, we had to choose an organization, evaluate whether it is a high performance organization, and then give our suggestions. Luckily, I was on a “high performance team”: we were efficient and everything went smoothly. However, because one of my group members had a business trip on presentation day, the other member and I had to do the presentation. I felt a little bit stressed as I was afraid the presentation would suffer from my not-so fluently spoken English. So I spent a majority of my time practicing my presentation, which made me less nervous.

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But the nervousness just came back to me on my presentation day. When the previous group were making their presentation, I could feel my hands were cold, my heart started to beat fast and I kept thinking “Come on, just make everything finish as soon as possible.”

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Finally, it was my turn. I even could not remember how I got to the stage. I just remembered some of my classmates gave me encouraging smiles. I felt better. I found my classmates were nice and patient, which made me feel comfortable. After the presentation, I felt a sense of achievement: I made it. I knew there were still some opportunities for me to improve my presentation skills: for example, because I was so nervous, I spoke too fast. But with this successful experience, I knew I would do better and better.

 

My Chinese Cuisine

I still remembered on my first day of orientation, one of my American classmates asked me “What is your favorite Chinese cuisine?” I thought for a moment and said,” I can’t answer this question because there are so many cuisines in China and they are all delicious.”

When I came to the U.S., one of the things I missed most about my home country is its different-kinds of delicious cuisines. Actually, people in different parts of China have different cuisines. There are eight famous cuisines in China and each of them has its unique favor. For example, Benbang Cuisine origins in Shanghai and is sweet. Sichuan cuisine origins in south-west of China and is famous for its spicy favor. Below is a picture I took this summer when I dined out with my friends, looks delicious, right? They taste delicious, too!

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As I am in America, far away from my hometown, I started to cook traditional Chinese cuisines for my roommates and myself. Soon I found I love cooking: I love the feeling that different food materials turned to delicious dishes in my hand. I also love the feeling that my roommates are surprised by what I made. When I am interested in a new dish, I will search the recipe on the Internet. When my “experiment” on a new dish was successful, I had a sense of achievement. Here are some dishes I have cooked.(Yes, I am just showing off! :))

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Among all dishes I made, what I enjoyed most is the soup. Just image on a rainy afternoon, I sat in the living room, reading, with soup cooking on the oven. When I am tired of reading, I just stand up and walk into kitchen, uncover the pot, suddenly, delicious smell fills the room. What a warm and relaxing feeling! Chinese cuisine culture is broad and deep. It is quite true. Cooking now becomes one of my interests as it gives me a sense of belonging, relax and satisfaction. My life becomes more colorful because of these different dishes.

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Chinese Parties

It is true that Chinese always gather together. I think it is partly because of our tradition. For thousands of years, Chinese people have lived in big families that may contain 3 or even 4 generations. As a result, we are afraid of “loneliness” and tend to join a “circle” to be surrounded by others, especially in an unfamiliar environment.

I live in University Village, where many Chinese students live. Soon after moving in, I held a party and invited my neighbor (who are also Chinese – one of my neighbors even comes from my undergraduate university). We got familiar with each other when eating hot pot together that night. Thanks to hot pot!

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In my “hot pot” party, I knew one of my neighbors, Huang, is very good at cooking. When my roommates and I were quite familiar with him and his roommate, we sometimes would go to his apartment for dinners. Below is what he made for us, looks delicious right? With delicious food, beer (we are all over 21 years old!), and talk, we always have great time!

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Apart from parties with my neighbors, Chinese in Ohio have other kinds of parties. For example, I was invited to a party on Labor Day. It was held by the Southeast University Alumni Association in Ohio. These members held an annual party so that they can build relationships with each other.  The party was held in a park. For me, it was a new experience to have lunch in such an environment: with sunshine, wind, and grass, people grabbing food and talking around me, and with children laughing when they are flying kites. It was wonderful!

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It is true that Chinese like gathering together. But it is not because they lack confidence or are dependent. Parties for us are not a celebration but an opportunity to meet with each other,  share food, information and feelings, and to get support.

Career Fair

I attended a Career Fair on September 8th. It was my first time to get involved in a career fair. At first I was so nervous: I didn’t know what would happen in my first career fair. Luckily, the Fisher Career Management Office held a round table meeting for international students in which we spent one hour talking about how to prepare for a career fair. I learned that I should target companies, search their websites, look for job descriptions, and prepare my questions before a career fair. Then I felt better and believed that the upcoming career fair is not a “terrible” event for me any more.

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However, although I prepared carefully, my first career fair is not so successful. As suggested in round table meeting, I first walked toward a company to get some practice.When I was just about to introduce myself, the recruiter started the conversation first. Suddenly, I lost my mind and did not remember what to say. But the recruiter was nice and patient, so our conversation went on but just for 2 minutes. Then I tried several companies, things got better but not as good as I expected. After the Career Fair, I was tired and upset. I thought I was not supposed to be at the career fair. I also heard that it was difficult for an international student to find an internship. I even thought “It was a waste of time since I have no chance to get an internship.”

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The next day, we had another career fair in the Ohio Union. I did not want to go but I told myself I must not be afraid of a career fair. This time I realized that a conversation with a recruiter is not reciting a self- introduction but an interaction with them. With well-preparation and a confident smile, I talked to a recruiter of my target company. It was more successful: I linked my questions with my strengths and experience. I felt the recruiter was interested in me as she asked me to apply for their position online. I felt a sense of accomplishment afterwards. I know I was on the right track and my practice is making things better.

After the career fair, I sent a follow-up email to the recruiter. I did not know my e-mail was appropriate as I am not used with follow-up activities. But I am not afraid of failure any more because I know that if I keep trying and practicing, one day it will paid off.

Classes in Fisher

It has been 3 weeks since my classes started. Although I have been an exchange student in United States for 4 months, I still feel a little bit stressful with my academic life. First of all, we have a mountain of pre-class reading: I read 200 pages per week on average. Therefore, I spend most of my time at Fisher reading these materials. The first thing I have learned is to use different reading strategies on different reading materials. For example, in the “Foundations Of Labor and Human Resources” course, we have over 200-pages of reading for a week. At first, I read so carefully that I realized I wouldn’t finish this task before class begins. So I changed my strategy and just focused on the main points of each chapter. However, when I read cases, I have to be more careful to be prepared for class discussion. It takes about 2 hours for me to finish reading a case. I should first know the situation of the company and then clarify what problem the company is facing. After that, I analyze causes of these problems and try to figure out solutions. So here is one of my ideologies of Fisher courses: we do not focus on memorizing all content in a book but absorb the author’s thoughts and apply them in practical cases.

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In addition, we really emphasize class participation. We may have a discussion, debate or presentation in classes. In the course “Fundamentals of Business Excellence II,” every class begins with the professor’s question: “What’s in your mind this week?” Then students start to talk about what they found or thought about recent HR issues.

Last week, we had a group discussion on a case. As a group, we analyzed the situation and gave suggestions. We spent about 2 hours on the discussion. It was like we were hired by this company to make a change of this organization. The professor told us it was a real case that he had worked on. He talked about how he dealt with this case. It was great since we made a link between classroom teaching and real organizational practice.

Since the Chinese education system is so different from that in the United States, I am still trying my best to adjust my academic life to here. My undergraduate life was quite relaxed. But here at Fisher, I have to deal with course assignments, group projects (we value teamwork and have group work for each courses), career fairs, and hub activities at the same time. I need to be energetic everyday!