My Three Tips for Work, Life, School, and CPA Balance


Have you ever heard of that phrase, “work-life balance?” Well try “work, life, school, CPA balance” for a little extra challenge! The thought of achieving those three little letters every accountant dreams of- “CPA“- can be quite daunting, especially if you are trying to study while you are in school. But, I am here to reassure you, it is possible!

This semester, I am enrolled in 6 classes, I work 10 hours a week, study 15-20 hours a week for the CPA (plus some more for school work of course), and I still have a social life, believe it or not! Some of you reading this might think to yourself that’s crazy, but I can reassure you, it is more doable than you think. The second semester in the MAcc program is a great time to begin studying for the CPA due to the ability to take more elective classes of your choice. So if you follow my three pieces of advice for how to succeed in balancing your work, life, school, CPA grind, you too can achieve success!

  1. Make a detailed study plan for the CPA exam and stick with it.

For instance, I know that before my Monday, Wednesday classes, I will study for 3 hours each day. Also, I don’t have class on Fridays, so after work, I will head to the library to study for about 5 hours, and I will do the same on Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, schedule your CPA exam early on in the studying process to set a deadline for yourself to avoid procrastination.

2. Study with friends and find places that work for you to study.

I find one of the most motivational aspects of studying for the CPA is knowing that other classmates in the MAcc are in the same boat as me! So if you grab a friend and study with them, it will help you both be more accountable with your study plan. Additionally, make sure to go somewhere you feel most comfortable studying. For some people, that’s going to a new coffee shop, but for others, like me, that’s going to the library or studying in my apartment. So remember to do what’s best for you.

3. Designate specific hours of the week to hang out with friends and block that time off.

Every Monday night, for example, I designate time to go to my student organization meetings and then coming home and watching the bachelor with my friends. Then on another day of the week, I will either go to a sporting event or plan an evening activity with my friends. And of course, I still leave my Friday and Saturday nights open for any fun I want to have with my friends. But, it is critical to leave time to hang out with friends every single week to stay sane!!

As easy as those three tips may sound, I highly recommend you follow through. Otherwise, you will either end up being extremely stressed about the process, or you will procrastinate studying!

 

Full-time Job Search Prep

Having just finished the fall semester, that means I have only one semester left in the MHRM program! AKA my full-time job search is in full swing. If you aren’t graduating and this topic doesn’t specifically pertain to you (yet) check out one of my previous posts that talks about Networking for Students. Having established relationships within your network before you start the recruiting process will make it much easier if you have individuals who can support your search as well as chat about potential roles and companies.

The recommendations I list below is not an inclusive list nor the only way to prepare for a job search. Each person’s job search is unique to him/her and the role s/he is looking for. Here are a few of my tips that I’ve used in preparing for my job search.

Do Your Research 

First and foremost you should be able to identify the type of function, industry, company, and job elements within the role you looking for. For example, going beyond “I’m searching for a job in Human Resources” to “I am searching for a role within Training & Development within Human Resources at a firm that is socially responsible, values work/life balance and career development.” That way you can eliminate companies & positions that don’t fit within your values or interests. If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself what courses, activities, previous work experiences you were naturally drawn too and enjoyed being apart of.

Update Resume 

The most important item to have updated is your resume! Keep this clear, concise, and relevant to the type of jobs you are applying for. If you have access to a career management office they often do resume reviews but if you don’t then have a friend, co-worker, or professor review it for you. Many companies use applicant tracking systems to sift through resumes so be sure to use keywords or terminology that they may be looking for compared to their own internal job descriptions. Ensure your resume has no typos and is no longer than one page.

Utilize Social Media

Be sure all of your social media content is appropriate and an accurate representation of who you are because employers do check! If you aren’t already, use LinkedIn to create a brand for yourself and search for open positions based on your profile. You can update your job preferences to let employers and your network know that you are open to new opportunities. There are also many other websites like Indeed or Glassdoor where you can set job alerts to be sent to you to help find positions you are interested in.

Practice, Practice, Practice

A part of being prepared is not only knowing how to search for the right job but also being confident going into the next phase of the process. Interviewing in person or over the phone can be a nerve-wracking process for many people. Practice speaking about your experiences using the STAR method as well as common behavioral questions that are asked during an interview. Practice in front of a mirror or go through a mock interview if you have the chance. All of this will help get the nerves out and make sure you are prepared when you have the real interview. Be conscious of the type of body language you are projecting while doing this and most importantly of all don’t forget to be yourself!

 

 

 

 

Just another crossroad

Coming into a graduate program at the age of 21 with little working experience can be frightening at times. You are constantly surrounded by professionals and classmates who, most likely, have better visions of what they would like to do with their additional master’s degrees. While it’s okay to feel intimidated, you should try to look at this from another angle: you can learn just as much or even more from your peers as you do from your professors in many different areas such as selecting your career path.

 

Another close-up on our amazing SMF cohort for the year 2020
Another close-up on our amazing SMF cohort for the year 2020

One of the competitive advantages of the Specialized Master in Finance program at the Fisher College of Business is the opportunities to customize your career path into four different possible tracks: corporate finance, investment management, risk management, and real estate.

The four different career tracks offered by the SMF program

You can see how this might be difficult for someone with little exposure to the working industry to choose. This is where all those professionals and classmates come in and give you sneak peeks on what attracted them to the respective tracks:

“I chose the Investment Management track because of its competitive and lucrative nature. Some of the brightest minds in the world compete in this space.  To be able to compete among them, while providing a valuable service to investors, is something I find fascinating.”
Timothy Morris, Investment Management
“I chose the corporate finance track to prepare myself for a career in investment banking. After learning about corporate finance in my undergraduate classes, I was eager to dive deeper into the subject. I believe that courses in corporate financing, mergers & acquisitions, corporate restructuring & bankruptcy, and similar classes will provide a great foundation for a successful career.”
Domenik Koch, Corporate Finance
“I chose the track in Corporate Finance as I aspire to work in M&A or Corporate Restructuring. As the competition for these positions is very tough I believe that the courses offered in this track match my needs will add value to my skills and will help me stand out among all the applicants. Courses like M&A, Corporate Financing and Capital Restructuring and Bankruptcy will allow me to gain the right perspective and mindset as well as technical skills in order to accomplish my career goals.”
Andrea Depalma, Corporate Finance
I chose the investment track because the field has been an interest of mine since undergrad. After graduation I hope to have an equity or fixed income analyst job in Chicago.

Nikolas Stella, Investment Management

The point of all this is this: don’t be afraid to make use of all the “resources” available for you! You can make up for your lack of working experience through learning from those around you just by asking.

There’s More to Recruitment Than Free Water Bottles

Some of the recruitment swag given to Fisher students this year.

As you can see above, recruitment provides a ton of opportunities for free swag at every event and tabling session. (Sorry PwC, I already misplaced your water bottle :/) Obviously recruitment is about more than the water bottles and notebooks, so I’m here to give you some tips for the job hunt as a MAcc student.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Recruitment for full time jobs happens right away when classes start in August. It can be pretty stressful to hit the ground running like that, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before coming to campus. The Fisher Office of Career Management will hook you up with resume and interview tips over the summer that help a lot. One of the first things a recruiter for a public accounting firm will ask you are your preferred service line (audit, tax, or advisory) and your preferred location. Having ideas about those concepts going in will make your process easier.

Go to EVERYTHING.

There are events all the time, especially early on in the semester. Especially if you aren’t 100% sure on the size of firm or service line you want to be in, go to every recruiting event you can find and talk to everyone. This can be a good exploratory stage to learn more about future career options, especially for students like me who didn’t get as much exposure to public accounting in undergrad. Be sure to get business cards and use them to send thank you’s and follow-up questions.

Don’t get frustrated.

For the first few weeks of classes, it felt like I had a networking event practically every night to juggle with my group projects, individual assignments, and settling in to Columbus in general. A lot of my classmates felt the same way, commiserating about our busy schedules. Now that the recruitment season is mostly over, we can all look back and be glad about the work we put in as we have offers to choose from. If you ever feel overwhelmed, just take a breath and remember that if you’re a Fisher MAcc student, you are a smart and capable person. It will all work out!

Class of 2014 Gives Back

Over the summer a MHRM alumnus contacted the program about planning a five year reunion for the MHRM Class of 2014 and incorporating that into a networking opportunity for our current students. The MHRM council jumped at the chance to welcome back fellow MHRMs and coordinate the event. With support from the Career Management Office, Alumni Association, and Class of 2014 we were able to host a very special two-part event.

Before our Thursday evening class, there was an MHRM/MHLR panel that

represented alumni 2-3-5-15-25 years out of the program. From organizations such as Wendy’s, Qualtrics, and DHL there was no shortage of diversity. The panelist spoke about how their careers have evolved since they left Fisher and offered valuable insights on career paths. Our most senior alumni on the panel, former CHRO, had just started her own consulting firm called Connect the Dots Consulting.

After class, we also had a Networking Social at Buffalo Wild Wings. This was an awesome opportunity to chat more casually with local alumni, as well as the larger group of the class of 2014 who was in town for the reunion. We had a great alumni crowd at this event and some beloved faculty/staff members too!

3 Months as an MBLEr

We are now standing in the halfway of a semester. Looking back at the memories we made, I found countless sparkling moments. MBLEr is a noun created by me, which includes every student in this program. Once an MBLEr, forever an MBLEr! There are several highlights I would like to share with you here.

This is how we get started

Our new semester started with a lot of outdoor activities, I still remember the scenario at Ohio Union when we rushed to the papers listing out the activities we could participate in. Columbus Zoo left me with a strong impression. That was also the place where I met many of my classmates, and everything was like yesterday. There were a lot of kids in the zoo that day, compared to the animals. I paid most of my attention to the children around me. We were amazed by the third largest zoo in the USA, while laughing and discussing, we had a preliminary understanding of each classmate’s background and personality. This is super cool!

The most important thing as a student!—Study

Our first class started on August 20th. The overall class experience is: fast and inspiring. The most exciting part of the class is that we not only learn about fundamental knowledge but also do projects that are related to real-world logistics operations! Although the project has not started yet, I am looking forward to it now!

When asking about the question: “which course impresses you the most” to our classmates, I bet 100% of them will answer with: “Linear Programming”. Despite the difficulty, all of us worked hard. LP is very applicable for solving problems, for example, logistics, and transportation network. And since this is a data-driven world, learning LP helps us in the future if we learn programming languages. I love LP!

The most challenging thing right now—work

Fisher College of Business provides us with adequate resources to attend a lot of career fairs and supply chain symposiums. Thanks to these events, I got a chance to do an internship and strengthened my understanding of Supply Chain and Logistics. Career guidance is also very helpful. I did not even know how to polish my resume, but after meeting with Steve Singer and GAs, I am very satisfied with it and more confident about how it helps with my future interviews. Career service is one of the reasons that I chose MBLE, and I found that it never disappoints me.

Columbus Weather

As a southerner of China, I only experienced summer and winter. Late Autumn in Columbus is all I have expected for this beautiful season. Autumn colors are orange, yellow and pink. Season transition from summer to autumn takes a blink of an eye, and green turns to caramel. Because of Columbus, autumn becomes my favorite season in my whole life.

The first semester has not ended, but I already miss it! The next inspiring part is that winter is coming!

Undergraduate vs Graduate Accounting Recruitment and Tips

Fall break marks the end of our first session of Fall semester, as well as the end of recruitment season for many MAcc students who are very excited to be done with the process. Though I didn’t go through the process as I did it during my undergraduate program, I recognized some differences between the two experience when talking to my friends so I wanted to outline them below, as well as offer some tips on how to tackle recruitment season when starting the Fisher MAcc program.

1. The process is so much shorter!

This is the clearest difference between the two processes. While undergraduate recruiting season often lasts for almost the

entire semester with many different networking and social events organized by the firms, my graduate classmates started their job searching process around the end of August when classes started, and had most of their interviews done at the beginning of October. So the time pressure was intense. I highly advise you to prepare well during the summer by polishing your resume and practicing your interviewing skills and be ready to jump right into the process when the program starts, or you’ll be very overwhelmed with events and homework.

2. Full-time vs internship.

Most students applied for internships in junior year and completed them in senior year of undergraduate. However, once you’re a graduate student, often you would apply for full-time positions. Since internship is like another round of interview where firms can take another look at your ability before offering you a full-time position, the competition is a bit more lax and firms often hire more interns to cut some out later. Full-time positions can be more challenging to get, especially when firms already retain a decent number of interns, and they often expect more of you to adapt quickly with the way of working as you did not go through the internship with them.

3. Location preferences.

Many of my classmates, including myself, did our undergraduate studies out of state, so attending OSU allows us to apply for firms and offices in Ohio, nearby Midwest states, and other states farther away since OSU is a huge university with a very recognizable brand name and an extensive alumni network. It was more restrictive for me when I applied for internship at my previous college since it is a small liberal arts school so most students went to companies/offices within the same state. However, many of my classmates can apply to positions in cities such as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. That’s why I often recommend my friends, especially those who did not do an accounting internship, to complete their Master’s at a big university like OSU to expand their opportunities.

Those are all the tips I have to prepare you for a successful recruitment season in graduate school. The main restraint is definitely time, as the program lasts for only nine months and you would want to secure a job before graduation as soon as possible. However, if you come prepared from the beginning, you should feel much less stressful about the entire process. Good luck!

 

My Summer Internship: Niagara Bottling

Hello readers! I am back on campus for my second year of the MHRM program at Ohio State. I’m excited to share my experiences over the next 8 months as I close out my graduate school journey.

After going through the recruiting process last year, I accepted an offer with Niagara Bottling and recently completed a 10-week internship with them in Ontario, California. At Niagara, I worked on their Compensation & People Analytics team. One of my main projects was to support the development of a new compensation structure and the implementation of a cloud-based compensation data management tool.  Easy right? Considering I knew next to nothing about compensation, I was pretty nervous how I would add value in my role.

However, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge so I spent my first weeks of the internship studying the fundamentals of compensation, Niagara’s compensation philosophy, and current trends in the industry. After sitting in on many stakeholder meetings and asking plenty of questions I felt confident working with the team. I utilized the newly implemented tool to create templates that defined standard formats and content for job descriptions to ensure accurately priced roles for the compensation structure. I also lead a talent development initiative to increase retention and engagement through evaluation of 12 potential exit
survey vendors.

 

Additionally, I was fortunate enough to go outside of my department and gain exposure to how the business operates. I saw the manufacturing process first hand with a”Pellets to Pallet’s” tour of one their facilities as well as took a yellow belt training on Lean Six Sigma practices. Over the course of the internship, I had a Regional Sales Manager as a mentor who introduced me to how Niagara attracts new clients and manages their current contracts.

Not only did I gain valuable work experience, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to move to the West coast and having the opportunity to spend three months in California working full-time was a perfect way to determine if it was somewhere I would actually want to move post-graduation.

Internship Relocation Guide

If you went through the recruitment process this school year and secured a summer internship then you may be feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief that it has come to an end. For those who are required to relocate for the summer, finding housing is more thing on the to-do list that can be a  timely challenge if you are moving to an unfamiliar location. Questions such as: Where do I live? Who can I live with? How do I find something short term? How much is this going to cost? I found myself asking these questions and more as I prepared to head to the west coast for the summer.  I hope that my experience of finding summer housing can help those reading with their own moving process!

Image result for location icon

Full disclosure, the cost of living and availability of housing will differ between locations and it is worth asking the organization if they offer relocation stipends or having corporate housing options.

Connect with Other Interns 

Most organizations will utilize Linkedin Image result for connect iconor Facebook groups to introduce incoming students to their internship cohort. This is a great opportunity to expand your network and find others who are looking for roommates and housing options as well. In addition, there may be students who already live locally that can offer suggestions on where to live or provide housing resources in the area. If the employer you’re going to be working for doesn’t do this currently, ask if you can have a contact list of the incoming interns.

 Short Term Options

Some apartment complexes Related imagewill offer short term leases but with a premium on top of the regular rental prices. This definitely isn’t the cheapest route to take and I would research other options prior to resorting to this one. Other options include searching for colleges in the area rent out vacant dorm rooms for the summer, hotels that offer short term stay discounts, or utilizing Airbnb.

Subletting

Subletting is more than likely going to be the best value, many students will be looking to sublease their apartments for a lower price than they actually pay. Some of these offers may also include utilities or come Image result for sharing iconfurnished. Search for colleges within the area and see if they have an off-campus housing page. If you don’t find it at first don’t be afraid to call the university and ask for it. A quick google search can also provide many links to sublet apartments in the area.

I hope these options will help you to find the perfect place for the summer! When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to family or friends who may have contacts in the area your looking for. Congratulations on the opportunity to expand your resume and gain real-world experience. Best of luck this summer my fellow interns!

Silicon Valley Venture Capital Trek

The week after spring break, myself and a few of my MBA peers were fortunate enough to go on the Silicon Valley Venture Capital Trek in various cities – San Francisco, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and a couple others. As members of the student organization, Fisher Entrepreneurship Association (FEA), our goal is to learn about Entrepreneurship, Start-ups, Venture Capital (VC), and Investing through networking, events, and experiential opportunities. This was my first time on the trip, and it was by far one of my favorite MBA experiences so far. We met with Managing Directors, IPO Lawyers, Venture Capital Partners, and Founders & CEOs from various companies: Wilson, Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR), Google X, EY (Ernst & Young), DFJ (now Threshold Ventures), Prevedere Inc., and Aeris, and a couple others.

Listening to professionals in this space was eye-opening. There were so many questions myself and my peers had as young minds interested in learning how to get into the start-up space and understanding what type of professional experience and knowledge you need to be successful in it. Hearing success stories, failure stories, stories about the “grind” of this world, and honest perspectives about the start-up and venture capital industry gave many of us the ability to narrow in on what we would love to do professionally in this space. For me, after a few years working in tech and sports/entertainment, I would like to start my own company which will tie my passions together.

Most interesting things I heard during the trip:

  • Most of successful companies created their own market (ex: Facebook, Google, Intel, Cisco).
  • This idea of collaboration in tech is called “coopetition”.
  • Value = product-market fit / risk (execution).
  • NETWORKING is crucial!!
  • Get a mentor.
  • 3 parts to venture: 1) sourcing, 2) due diligence, 3) portfolio.
  • People who start a company aren’t always the ones to scale it.

What venture capital firms look for in entrepreneurs:

  1. How self-aware is this person?
  2. Are they able to recognize the fires and won’t ignore the problems?
  3. Do they recognize their own strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Are they persistent and do they have the mental endurance it takes to build and grow a company?

If you’d like to learn more about VC, start-ups, and entrepreneurship, below is a list of books and videos that were suggested to my classmates and I during our trip:

  • “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
  • “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki
  • “The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company” by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf
  • “Straight Talk for Startups” by Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman
  • “Venture Capitalists at Work: How VCs Identify and Build Billion-Dollar Successes” by Tarnang Shah and Shital Shah
  • “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore
  • “Something Ventured” – Netflix movie
  • “Secrets of Silicon Valley” – YouTube

Below is a list of people you should be familiar with – learn their stories as they either successfully built up billion-dollar companies or founded VC firms with highly invested portfolio companies in the Silicon Valley area:

  • Larry Ellison – Oracle
  • Marc Andreesen – Netscape
  • Andy Grove – Intel
  • Alan Shugart – Seagate Technology
  • Gordon Moore – Intel
  • John Chambers – Cisco
  • Steve Jobs – Apple, Pixar
  • Scott McNealy – Sun Microsystems
  • John Doerr – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • Larry Sonsini – WSGR
  • Lewis Platt – Hewlett-Packard
  • James Clark – Netscape

A big thanks to Fisher College of Business, Professor Oglevee, Mr. Terranova, Mr. Coleman, and the MBA student leadership of FEA for making this trip happen and providing a wonderful growth experience.