‘How Did I Get Here?’

Those who know me well learn (sometimes to their dismay) that I have a soft spot for 80’s movies. From the classic to the cringe-worthy, I am unable to resist the nostalgic and synthesizer-tinged siren song of the MTV era. The genre has taken on new meaning to me recently, as I feel ever increasingly that I have been plucked from real life and dropped into the middle of a John Hughes montage:

Look at protagonist Michael go—he’s taking classes, doing homework, interviewing for jobs—working hard with his gang of friends towards their common goal! The days are flying off his Page-a-Day calendar as his Trapper Keeper fills with HBR articles! (Music fades as Michael’s car pulls into student parking lot).

Time and Change: Not even Mirror Lake is immune to the fast pace of life on campus.

This morning I had such a montage moment when through my car radio, I heard David Byrne of the Talking Heads squelch “…and you may ask yourself—‘how did I get here?’” ‘Here’ in this case, meaning week eight of the semester. It was a sobering realization that my academic MBA experience at Fisher is already 1/8 of the way done. I took a moment to reflect as the chorus chanted in the background, “Letting the days go by…”

It truly feels like yesterday that I walked into orientation. Yet somehow here I am, eight weeks in and already finished with the seven-week long Economics and Marketing courses. My only explanation (aside from the possibility that we are in fact sentient beings trapped inside the b-roll of a teen movie), is that time flies when you’re having fun. And boy, have I been having fun.

The 12-, 15-, sometimes 18-hour days that I have become accustomed to as a business student fly by more quickly than eight-hour days during some of my past endeavors. There’s no time in this fast-paced program for busy work. As such, every lecture, every assignment, every group project is intensely enriching and clearly builds towards the goal of becoming an effective business leader. This makes it so easy to stay engaged and motivated. Add to this the limitless opportunities for professional development, networking, and exposure to companies and there truly is never a dull moment. The greatest challenge is forcing yourself to go home and go to bed at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be difficult to fill 24 hours a day with MBA-related activities.

A sample time warp agenda

Sure, there is plenty to be stressed about in business school, but there’s always equally as much to be excited about. Ultimately, I think that is what separates my MBA experience thus far from my previous academic endeavors. I walk into Gerlach Hall each day excited, knowing that new lessons, new skills, and new challenges await me. I am never bored, I am never sitting still, and I am constantly challenged– and as such, the weeks quickly wash over me in a wave of intense activity. I have lots to learn and I’m far from mastering the many facets of graduate school, but I look forward to the new challenges ahead.

And so a new montage begins. Will protagonist Michael get a summer internship? Will the football team win the big game against their rivals? What misadventures and mischief await our lovable band of buddies? Cue the music—let’s find out.


Election Season: Vote No on Packed Lunches

I am going to throw it out there: I am against packed lunches. Why? Let me run you though this:

I am against packed lunches.

I vote “no” on packed lunches.

First, you have to buy the right food at the grocery store well ahead of the night before/morning of when you prepare your lunch for the next day. Next, you have to go through the process of preparing the food, only to store it away to be eaten later. While delayed gratification might be a positive for some, I am more of one who cooks something up and needs to have it instantly. Finally, you have to pack it up and carry it to campus in a lunch box/plastic bag (depending on your fashion style). Talk about a hassle.

Due to this, for the first month or so of the year, I lived at Panera, Bibibop, and other OSU campus restaurants between the hours of 12 and 1. You were not going to catch me packing a lunch and bringing a lunch box/plastic bag to campus. No way.

Now, as it turns out, eating-out at restaurants is incredibly expensive if you turn it into a daily habit, sometimes twice daily. My checking account took a Ray Lewis (professional American football player) kind of hit. Check out the link if you are trying to understand what I mean by that.

So, what happens when you are a broke college student and can’t afford to live that luxurious lunch lifestyle? You resort to, yes you guessed it, packed lunches. But remember, this is not something that comes naturally to me, so I look for help. From where? None other than “How to Pack a Lunch Box” by Wiki.

Over the past month, I have been slowly growing into what some might call a packed-lunch connoisseur. I started with peanut butter sandwiches and like pretzels or chips. Moved on to menu items such as chicken and rice & meatballs with pasta. Recently, I have had beef rigatoni, hummus and vegetables, and even a steak balsamic vinaigrette kale salad. What I have come to realize is that I have begun to save more money, eat healthier, and have been able to save some time during the day by packing a lunch.

The future certainly looks bright for what I can manage to fit into that 4×6 Tupperware container. However, with that said, I still am not sold due to the process of creating a packed lunch and will continue to miss those days of old.


Reaching Outside the Comfort Zone

First, let me share some background on myself to give you some context for this post: I am originally from Upper Arlington, Ohio—less than 5 minutes from OSU campus. I attended The Ohio State University alongside 50% of my high school graduating class. During undergrad, while most of my high school friends could pinpoint exactly where they wanted to be 5, even 10 years from then, I always felt unclear about what I wanted out of life and unsure of how to figure it out.

In my junior year of undergrad, while many of my friends were securing study abroad opportunities, I knew I wanted to do something different, something that would challenge me and hopefully reveal to what I didn’t already know about myself—strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities. I wanted to know it all! I found National Outdoor Leadership School through a friend of a friend, and I embarked on what was to become one of the most rewarding and bizarre experiences of my life…

I slept in a sleeping bag for 85 consecutive nights next to 16 strangers who would soon become my closest friends. We backpacked through remote sections of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico and the Galiuro Mountains in Arizona, carrying everything on our backs that we needed to survive for 3 weeks at a time. We climbed the incredible granite domes of Joshua Tree National Park– powered by bacon, coffee, and laughter. We navigated class-3 rapids in whitewater canoes on the Rio Grande, paddled past Mexican military clad with automatic weapons, and didn’t see another human being for 18 days. The vastness of the wilderness was exhilarating, humbling, inspiring, and terrifying all at the same time, and I came to learn more about myself than I ever expected.

When I graduated from undergrad, I knew I wanted to marry my education in psychology with my passion for the outdoors to facilitate meaningful experiences for others who might benefit. I took a job as a Field Instructor for Evoke Therapy Programs helping struggling adolescents and young adults work through depression, drug addiction, trauma, and motivational/behavioral problems. In this job, I worked a non-traditional schedule of 8 days in the field, followed by 6 days off. I saw recovering drug addicts celebrate 30 days of sobriety in the field over no-bake pies. I saw teenage boys with autism begin to challenge rigid patterns of thinking and to develop their first real friendships. And I saw adolescent girls with a history of self-harm come to believe that they mattered in the world. I count myself lucky to have been a part of the transformation process for the clients I worked with, whose stories continue to inspire me and put my own struggles into perspective.

Me and my best friend Taylor when we worked in the field. This was the equivalent "business casual" in the industry.
Me and my best friend Taylor when we worked in the field. This was the equivalent of “business casual” in the industry.

It’s clear that the program I attended and the wilderness therapy program I worked for are very different. The takeaway that I hope becomes obvious here is that there is a certain inherent healing effect of being outside. I also think there is a deeper level of learning that comes from challenging experiences with real consequences—learning what is in and out of your control and how to adapt to adversity. I believe my experiences in the outdoors have shaped me into someone who can find hope and happiness in just about any situation, and I’m grateful for that.

If there is any piece of advice I would give someone who is uncertain about their path in life (and trust me, you’re not alone), I encourage immersing yourself in an experience that you’re afraid of. I’m talking the thing that you always wished you could do but could never actually imagine yourself doing. There is deep self-discovery and self-awareness that comes from pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone.

backpacking, Ohio State, High Sierras
The OSU Outdoor Adventure Center traveled to the High Sierras last summer. Seriously awe-inspring stuff.

The great part about OSU is that we have access to so many different experiences– so many that I hear people talk about how they struggle to fit in everything they want to do. Well, here is one more for you: the OSU Outdoor Adventure Center. Of course there is the famed indoor rock climbing wall, but what a lot of people don’t know is that as students we also have access to adventure trips. From rock climbing, to sea kayaking, to dog sledding—there is really something for all seasons and to suit all tastes. The best part is that there is no experience required for most and all are welcome.

rock climbing, OSU
Indoor rock climbing wall at OSU during the Valentine’s day climbing competition. Participants were held together by a paper chain and had to complete the climb together. They also do other silly stuff, like zombie themed climbing hours for the premier of the Walking Dead.

I can’t emphasize enough the benefit of pushing yourself to challenge fears, insecurities, an preconceived notions of your own limitations. From my own trips, I’ve learned to work with diverse teams, lead others in high pressure situations, and accomplish stretch goals with limited resources. These are all skills that translate remarkably well to “real life,” and that I plan to leverage in work and life in the future. Get out there!

Homecoming Weekend

Tradition is in the Air

An exciting part of the graduate life at Fisher is becoming a part of campus traditions. Recently, we celebrated Homecoming Weekend and campus began to stir well in advance of the big events! The two main events were a parade on Friday and the football game on Saturday, but there were lots of events all across campus. Here’s a highlight of what we experienced.

The Game

All Ohio State students get the opportunity to purchase game tickets at face-value and many of our SMF classmates took that opportunity. We met before the game to tailgate and then enjoyed the game together (there are many tailgating areas near the stadium). My favorite part is when the band marches into the stadium from St. John’s Arena before the game. Having family and friends who marched at Ohio State, it is always special see and hear the precision of their practice. The band also puts on an excellent halftime show. There are usually about 100,000 people at the game and everyone is excited to watch the band perform during at half-time. Of course, the football team is the main event, and they are looking good so far this year!

A view of Ohio Stadium!
A view of Ohio Stadium

Family Visit

Homecoming is also a great weekend to host friends and family, and lucky for me, my family made a trip to Columbus! It was nice to show them around campus and share my favorite spots. It was their first time they all got to attend an Ohio State football game. I am excited to share this tradition with them. Even though I am new to Columbus, it already feels like home. Hopefully, this is the first of many excellent homecoming weekends to come here at Ohio State.

The Best Band in the Land
The Best Band in the Land


Throughout the course of this school year, I will be one of the many authors on this blog and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Hailey Nicholas and I am one of the Graduate Student Ambassadors that work in the Graduate Programs Office. I am in the MAcc  (Master of Accounting) program here at Ohio State. I am originally from South Florida and did my undergrad at Florida State University (and received my bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting). Moving out of state and starting a new program has definitely been a big adjustment, but it has been a very smooth transition since we began the program about four weeks ago.

This summer I had the opportunity to intern with Deloitte in their audit practice in the Boca Raton office. I recently accepted a full-time offer with them! I know the MAcc will provide me with even more experiences that will help me grow as a professional.

While I have only been in the program just short of four weeks, some of my favorite things so far are:

  1. Attending football games at the Shoe
  2. Lunch breaks with my classmates
  3. Walking around Ohio State’s beautiful campus

Something unique about Ohio State compared to my undergrad classes is that there is a lunch break built in to your day. From 11:45-1:00 there are no classes scheduled. So rather than having an awkward break in your schedule and pretending to stare at your phone, every day I eat lunch with my classmates. There is a graduate student lounge on the 2nd floor of Gerlach Hall (where all our classes are held) and there is a refrigerator, microwave, couches, tables, coffee machine, and even a café in the building next door. It sounds miniscule, but having this lunch break has helped me make new connections with my classmates. On the first day of classes, a group of about six of us walked to Panera across the street and all got to know each other. Little things like this make the MAcc program feel like a small piece of home.

Grad Student Lounge
Grad Student Lounge (it looks very different when it’s full of students)
A microwave is a college student’s best friend, right?

Taking a Break during my Busy SMF Schedule

“A career fair last week, 3 case discussions this week, 2 mid-term exams  on Monday next week, and FINAL exams two weeks after that.” That’s how I describe my SMF life to my friend. Later, my classmates remind me that we also have one presentation and one case brief due next week.

This is not just busy. It is CRAZYYYYYY!!!!!

But the good news is that the director of our program, Professor Pinteris, adjusts the schedule after our classmates talk to him about this– which is super sweet. (After all, we can’t miss the big game between OSU vs. Oklahoma this weekend!!! GO BUCKS!!!)


Having a busy schedule doesn’t mean that we cannot have some fun!

On weekends, our class usually gathers for dinner and drinks together. We have tried one Chinese restaurant, one Indian and two Mexican so far. In terms of bars, I have no clue because I cannot handle alcohol (I have no intention of fighting against my genes). But if you are a fan of drinks, there are many decent bars in town. You can definitely get what you want here!

SMF dinner
SMF Weekend Dinner

Also, some of my classmates signed up for a soccer team and had a game on Tuesday. Sun, breeze, birds, and a soccer game for that afternoon–relaxing and beautiful!

SMF Soccer Team
SMF Soccer Team

But as I told you before, it was a busy week for SMF student. As I result, I headed back to Fisher before the game ended because I had to go to my next scheduled event — a group meeting for our project!

My team is awesome. Everyone contributes and teaches each other. My favorite part is that we do our project literally together, not just write sections separately and collect the pieces later. After every group assignment and meeting, we learn way more than we expected. I enjoy our days and nights together.

The life of SMF candidates is busy, but we have the support and help from each other. And all the things we do in the program prepare us to change from a student to a professional. We can actually see the alteration from time to time. It is amazing that some of our classmates now sound like investment bankers or financial analysts in class discussions!

10 PM at Gerlach Hall
10 PM at Gerlach Hall

What’s Up, World?

Hello there,

My name is Brett Hornung and I am a Specialized Master in Finance Candidate at Fisher, with a focus on Corporate Finance. I am one of the Graduate Ambassadors this year for the SMF program and will be blogging throughout the year to give you all some insight into what goes on in the world of an SMF student. In the meantime, here is my story.

A picture of me as part of an introduction to who I am.
This is me, the man behind the blog posts.

A couple of random fun facts to start it off:

  • My career goal is to be an Investment Banker.
  • Go Browns, Go Tribe, Go Cavs. Go anything Cleveland really.
  • My favorite type of food is steak.
  • I speak Mandarin at an intermediate level and have been to over 10 cities within China.
  • I enjoy outdoor concerts, (of most genres) with my favorite being EDM, and my favorite artist being Flume.

Born and raised on the West side of Cleveland, OH in the beautiful town of Westlake. Ended up attending St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland and ultimately choosing Marquette for my undergraduate studies. At Marquette, I double-majored in International Affairs & Political Science, and double-minored in Economics & Asian Studies. In addition, I also played NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse for the inaugural team, and last year we won the Big East Championship, so, as you could imagine that was a great way to cap off my undergraduate career.

This is me with the trophy after we won the Big East.
This is me with the trophy after we won the Big East.


When I realized I was interested in graduate school, specifically programs revolving around finance, Ohio State was a natural choice. My older brother was a 5-year student of Fisher, my best friends all went to Fisher, and I had only heard great things about the place. In addition, I had probably visited a million times at this point and knew the campus as well as I had known Marquette’s. So, when I received the offer to come and enroll as a member of the class of 2017, I knew it was the place for me to be.

Since our program starts in the first week of August, I have been on campus for about a month now and have been loving every aspect of it. Classes and professors are interesting, the weather on campus is beautiful, and the people I have met so far have been awesome. Really am looking forward to the next 8 months as a Buckeye, especially with the start of football season upon us. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more posts of mine throughout the year. Take it easy.

Welcome to the MAcc

Hello! My name is Caleb Gruenbaum and I am a Student Ambassador for the Masters of Accounting (MAcc) program here at the Fisher College of Business. I am currently taking advantage of a combined program that allows me to combine my fourth year of studies into a BSBA/MAcc dual program, where in four years, I will have completed my Bachelors in Accounting as well as my Masters. With many states requiring 150 hours in order to sit for the CPA (Ohio included), this provides me a great way to reach the 150 without taking “cupcake classes” all ‘senior’ year.

I spent my summer interning at Deloitte & Touche LLP in their external audit practice. This was a great experience and I am fortunate enough to be able to join them full-time in the Fall of 2017.

Being back on campus is definitely bittersweet. On one hand, I am ecstatic to see all of my friends from school and for classes to be back in session, but I also have to come to the realization that I am done with school after this year. I am on the final stretch towards graduation, and I’m not sure quite how I feel about this.

But I’m going to take advantage of many of my favorite things about attending The Ohio State University:

  1. Ohio State Football– I have been a lifelong, die-hard Ohio State football fan and being able to go to games for $35 each will definitely be missed. I also got a free student ticket through the school for the National Championship vs. Oregon.

    Me and some friends at last years Spring Game (I'm the one wearing the cool bucket hat and a red tank)
    Some friends and me at last year’s Spring Game (I’m the one wearing the cool bucket hat and a red tank)
  2. The Beautiful Campus– Ohio state’s campus is absolutely beautiful this time of the year. Watching the leaves change color every fall is a sight to behold.

    Campus in the Fall
    The Oval in the Fall
  3. Accounting Faculty– Coming from an Ohio State Accounting undergrad, I was blessed with constant interaction with some of the MAcc professors– some of whom are leading researchers in accounting, and others of whom are world-class professors that make the student’s growth their number one priority. I am excited to keep learning from such bright minds in the coming year.
  4. Being a Buckeye– This one has me reminiscing on what has already been the best three years of my life, and focusing on having the best year possible this upcoming year. While being enrolled in classes may last a limited time, I will proudly be able to say I’m a Buckeye for life. With over 500,000 alumni worldwide, you’d be amazed how global of a brand Ohio State is– and how much the school means to those who have attended.

Although this is my final year, I am determined to make the most of it, and I am excited to bring you readers along for the ride.

Week Two: First Monday and EY on Campus!

Monday Morning in Columbus
Monday Morning in Columbus (Aug 29)

“There will be no rest for the weary”, as they say.

Today is the first Monday of this semester since week one started with Tuesday (Aug 23).

Monday is a long day for SMF students this session because we have THREE classes (Corporate Finance I, Data Analysis I & Econ I), from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, with only a one-hour lunch break. So, I was in a bit of a hurry to have a quick lunch at SUBWAY with my friends. When we were heading out of Gerlach, I heard one of my classmates yell, “WOW FREE PIZZA!!!” That’s when I discovered recruiters from Ernest & Young (EY) with DELICIOUS PIZZAS (both Veggie & Meat), EY-yellow sunglasses and EY T-Shirts! This is recruiting season at Fisher– and you’ll often find various organizations on campus. With free food and give-aways!

EY Yellow at Fisher Campus
EY Yellow at Fisher Campus

BTW, I was so relieved that I escaped from SUBWAY for one day because I almost ate there every day in the pre-term. How busy and crazy our SMF schedule in the pre-term is! Just check my previous blog to have a peek! Subway is something that you can eat every day because it is fast and close to Fisher, but you don’t want to! Basically, it is a combination of Meat + Veggie + Cheese + Bread. If you eat it every day for a while, it will taste like the same thing despite various recipes. TRUST ME or TRY IT. You will know what I mean! Or you can prepare your lunch the day before and take it to Gerlach as some of my classmates do. There are two refrigerators on the second floor of Gerlach.  

After a few bites of pizza, I talked to several EY staff in the field, including Adam, Meg, Anna & Harrison. They were so patient and helpful & answered questions from students one by one just as in the career fairs–but under sunshine without air-conditioning and a fancy building.

However, the conversation continued in the “fancy building” (Mason Hall) with AC after 5:30 pm with more EY staff answering questions for more students. Ther students were so polished and professional. I am really impressed and proud of our Fisher family!

Imagine Yourself Thriving

Hi, Friends!

My name is Nikki Villoria and I am a first year MHRM student. Just a bit about me: I am from Alexandria, VA and attended The Ohio State University for my undergraduate degree in Psychology (I’m a proud double Buckeye!). I graduated in 2015 and this past year, I worked as an Educational Leadership Consultant for Alpha Xi Delta Women’s Fraternity. It was a wonderful experience to be able to travel and meet many different women across the nation. Mainly, I assisted in the areas of project management, leadership development, and recruitment and retention. I am excited to be going back to school to become an expert in the field of HR! I’ll be posting regularly throughout the school year so I hope you enjoy following me along on my journey!

Here’s a little look into the early days of graduate school life:

August 22, 2016: The day before classes officially start at Ohio State. The anticipation is quite high! Whether it’s been a few years since we’ve been in a classroom or we’re just ready to start studying a subject that really interests us, it seems that my peers and I are really excited to get going!

Today was also the day for the New Graduate Student Welcome and Resource Fair. This event was held in the Ohio Union to accommodate all the various graduate students from all across campus. Like many of the events we’ve had thus far, orientation to trainings, the morning started with a mingling session (I’ve been meeting new people non-stop!) and of course….breakfast. There were many students coming together from all different types of graduate programs. They mentioned there are about 10,000+ graduate students this year.


(Enjoying the sunshine in the Fisher Courtyard while reviewing all the information from the fair.)

The Welcome Event included a few different speakers like President Drake and Bruce McPherson, the Executive Vice President and Provost, who gave us all a warm welcome into graduate life. A speaker who really resonated with me was Todd Gibbs, Wellness Coaching Program Manager and Doctoral Candidate in Counselor Education. His talk touched on his own graduate school experience and the work he is doing for his doctorate. He talked about “imaging ourselves thriving” through the graduate school program. I really liked this idea. With the uncertainty in starting something new, it is normal to be unsure of why and how I am where I am. There seems to be some fear of the unknown but also excitement knowing that there are wonderful things ahead. I hope that keeping a positive attitude and envisioning myself thriving will help me push through any challenges that might come my way. I am thankful to be where I am today, though there are a few nerves. The idea of “transitions” or “starting a new journey” has been a recurring theme throughout these first few days. I am excited to continue to stay curious and take advantage every opportunity that comes my way!

Go Bucks,

Nikki Villoria


(Buckeyes checking out all the resources and organizations to get involved in as graduate students.)