Posts filed under 'Career Stuff'

Found and Lost

My week ended with the prospect of preparing for my first grad school exam, a presentation, and economics homework.  I got home after work and was looking forward to seeing my family.  My daughter and son greeted me at the door.  I stepped over the baby gate and my little boy started crying because he wanted to pick him up.  I set my things down and picked him up only to hear my little girl asking for me to pick her up.  My wife came over and got my boy, while I picked up my little girl to hug.  We hugged and she kept saying “Found him, I found you Daddy.”  My wife told me that throughout the week, she had kept saying “Lost Daddy, Lost Daddy.”  It was her way of saying that she missed me.  It broke my heart to hear her.  Being self employed, I was able to spend so much time with the kids.  It has been difficult for all of us, but we know that is going towards a better life.

Jumping into the Full Time MBA World!

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A picture of my kitchen table on the first day of pre-term MBA program

I’m a 33-year-old (balding) dad of two young kids with 10 years of non-profit work experience.  How do I fit in at business school?

That was the gut-wrenching question in the back of my head as I entered into Fisher’s 1st year MBA pre-term program just one month ago. Little did I know that most of my peers were asking similar questions about their own identity and status.062515Greenawalt-18

It’s no secret that leaving your job as a budding young professional to pursue a degree will cause you to evaluate your identity.  We have left behind our previous jobs, social networks, and, in many cases, even family to live in Columbus and immerse ourselves in a world of academic, career, and personal growth.  While my first day jitters have subsided, it’s that very process of wrestling with issues of identity that I believe contributes to such a powerful experience here at Fisher.  When else in my adult life will I have another opportunity to jump a different direction in my career trajectory, and remove myself from my comfort zone for 20 months in order to learn, grow, and develop as a person and a professional.

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My CORE team of 5 along with some other 1st year MBAs

From my experience so far at Fisher and Ohio State, I’m so grateful for how our resources are pointed towards my personal (and our communal) growth, development, learning, and future career placement.  This university is vast and it’s set up to help many thrive.  From working with career management to tell my story and clarify my career direction, to networking among other MBAs and learning how they are wrestling with their identities, to reading case studies and engaging in class content that relates to my previous work experience and challenges my paradigms, it is nothing short of awesome to be a part of this program!  I’m one of many students here who is utilizing the MBA experience to shift career directions, know myself better, and have a great time doing it.

In the end, I’m thankful to be a 33-year-old balding dad with unique experience to bring to the table here.  Besides, balding gives you wisdom, right?

Career Fair

What a great experience!  Only two weeks into our program and we are already talking with recruiters from companies.  The career fair started at 3 pm, but I wasn’t able to get there until about halfway into the event,  due to work.  I definitely maximized the time I was there, but left the event hungering for more!  I was torn away only by the desire to see my children and to give my wife some relief from watching them all day.  Despite not being able to stay longer, I was still able to have some nice conversations with employers.  Ironically, I felt that the conversations seemed to flow a little easier with some of the employers because of the difficult class experience from last week.  I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to my teacher after this event.  It may be commonsense to most people, but keeping up to date with the current events (especially in the business sense) really helped to ease the awkward moments in initial conversations and allowed me to contribute more to what the employers were saying.  In other words, it made it feel more like a conversation than an interview.  This format made me feel more comfortable.  One of the other unanticipated benefits of this experience was the interaction with my classmates.  Even in this more “competitive” setting, I felt nothing but complete support and friendliness from my classmates.  That was a wonderful feeling in itself.  I feel so privileged to be a part of the experience and am so grateful to be surrounded by such support.

What’s the plan?

I met with Jill Westerfeld to explore some questions regarding internships, career development strategies and baseline assessments.  It was great to talk to somebody with such deep experience in the field and so willing to help.  It began with a very brief overview of my background, where I am currently working, and my goals.  Through the discussion we were able to identify some methods I can utilize in order to help focus my career search.  One of the things that helped the most during the session was that I came ready to talk about points that were bothering me and keeping open to opportunities.

New Beginnings

Life is full of transitions.

As a married military veteran with a family, I view transitions as endeavors to personally and professionally grow while taking advantage of new opportunities.  Leaving the private sector for full-time graduate school is a long-term investment.  The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University has so much to offer.  I’m proud to be a Buckeye.

FullSizeRender[1]Dedication to lifelong learning seems to be a theme in our household.  I began a graduate degree program, my wife completed hers (while working), and my daughter started Kindergarten – all in the same week!  As a father and a husband, I am so proud of them both.

As the fall semester begins to pick up momentum, we must remember who we are in order to prioritize what is most important in our lives.  I, like most of my classmates, am attracted to pretty much everything that the Fisher College of Business has to offer.  There are so many clubs, organizations, employer info sessions, events, and activities competing over our most precious resource – time.  If we view time as a resource, how do we allocate it?

FullSizeRenderOne place to start is to identify who we are in relation to others (I am a father, husband, son, brother, student, uncle, employee, job-seeker, club member, mentor, mentee, veteran, coach, blogger, etc.).  The list is long for many of us.  Prioritizing this list can also be difficult with so many competing factors taking place simultaneously.  We realize that we cannot be everything to everyone all the time, but we can deliberately plan those aspects that are most important into our lives if we choose to do so.  This process becomes critically important during major transitions when we are faced with new situations, changing conditions, and increasing obligations. It can be difficult deciding what not to do, at least temporarily, during transitions.  Ultimately, our decisions are about trade-offs intended to maximize value.

What we choose to do with our time is ultimately what we value most.  Many of us have roles and responsibilities within our personal, professional, and even spiritual lives.  Intellectual curiosity, respect for diversity of thought, and continual growth and development are important to me in a professional context.  This is why I chose to invest my time at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.FullSizeRender[2]






A day in my life

The day started, as usual, around 4:40 am in the morning.  I played a kung fu form, watched a little bit of the news as I grabbed a quick bite to eat.  I had prepared my lunch and dinner to be ready to go.  By 5:10 am I was on my way to work with my mug full of coffee.  I read over the articles that we were going to discuss in class before I prepared to do a check in for work.  The client that I manage has appreciated the time that I have spent on site at their company and increased their order from our company.  My boss was pretty happy, but I confess it was a little overwhelming, because it also means my responsibilities were growing.  Just in time for the beginning of classes!  The day quickly flew by staying consistently busy and my break around 2 pm was a welcome relief.  I sat at my desk eating my lunch and my thoughts drifted to how my kids and wife were.  I knew it was nap time, so I didn’t want to wake them up.  The rest of the day flew by and I barely had time to finish my work.

I traveled to OSU and as I was parking the car, I got a call from our client and we had an informal chat about the ongoing partnership.  I met up with some friends from class and had a nice time listening to their perspectives on careers and more background.  The professor for the class tonight had a much different style and seemed to be able to engage everyone in the room without much effort.

The professor ended class early so that we could go to a networking event with Marathon Oil company.  I spoke to some folks from the MHRM council and learned a couple of things about the case competition that we will be participating in.  The next group that I floated to included Jill Westerfeld (career development) and an HR representative from Marathon.  I asked questions about his experiences and enjoyed hearing not only about his experiences, but the fact I was asking the questions in front of Jill.  I have a meeting planned with her next week, so it will be interesting to hear her impressions about the type of questions I asked and the manner with which I asked them.  I spent about an hour at the event and said goodbye to a couple of classmates as I left.

I drove home, hoping that I would get the chance to see my kids before they went to sleep.  Luckily, I got to hug my little girl.  My little boy was a little tired, but I got to see him too.  I finished off the night typing up this blog and then preparing for tomorrow.

Another busy day

Another busy day of work today, filled with the normal challenges that helped propel the day forward.  Our boss offered to treat everybody to drinks and food, but I had to say, “no” because I had to teach a guitar lesson and it would be the first time all week that I could sit with both my kids at the same time.  Before I was able to go home though, Jill Westerfeld had arranged for a photographer to come to OSU and took free professional headshots for all the Fisher Grad Students.  My current LinkedIn profile is a picture of me and my daughter playing guitar.  Prior to the MHRM program, I was teaching guitar full time and so it was a more appropriate photo.  Now that recruiters might peek at my profile, I took advantage of the opportunity to put something more professional up.

After smiling awkwardly for the camera, I had to buy two more books for class.  Since I was already on campus, I stopped by the bookstore.  I have two bachelors degrees and a music minor and yet I still keep forgetting how expensive books can be.  On top of that, it would seem that being in a graduate program also means that the price of books are “graduated” to a higher price tag.  Despite the higher price tag, I am excited to be back on campus and look forward to getting into the material.

I got home and my wife had a nice meal for us all to enjoy together.  To be honest, just holding my boy in my lap, talking to my little girl, and being with my wife was what I was really hungry for.  It was like the best kind of reward for a busy week.  All of us are getting used to the new schedule.  We definitely haven’t worked it all out, but I believe it will come soon enough.

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.


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.”


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.

Career Fair 101!!

Elijah Lee - Career Fair

Interviewee: Elijah Lee – “Awesome SMF graduate student”
Interviewer: Didier Hirwantwari aka “Not as Awesome as Interviewee but still Awesome graduate SMF student”

Setup: Beautiful Afternoon at an even more beautiful Gerlach Courtyard Graduate Career Fair at the Blackwell!!!


D: Elijah you look very dapper in your suit, who is your Tailor?
E: Thank you Didier, but I cannot divulge that awesome information right now, maybe after the interview!!
D: I will certainly take you up on it!!

D: Well shall we get started then, I do not want to keep you.
E: Lets!!

D: First and Foremost, thank you for taking part in this Interview, hopefully we can learn a lot and impart it on the graduate student body both international and domestic.
E: You are welcome and it is a pleasure to partake in this Interview.

D: Was this your first career fair and were you nervous?
E: This was my first fair yes and I was a little bit nervous. It was more of a good nervous since I was anxious to walk in there, meet company reps and make good impressions.

D: As we sit here talking, how would you describe your experience at the fair?
E: The experience was great. I learned how to talk with professionals, picked up on nuances of what I should and shouldn’t do as well as what kind of questions to ask. I learned about the interview and application process and more importantly, when to apply as some companies were closing their application windows that same day.

D: How many Companies did you want to talk to?
E: I wanted to talk to as many companies as I could.

D: Has this Career Fair prepared you for the next one and how so?
E: It did prepare me for the next one. I have a better grasp on what kind of questions to ask and how to do company research before the fair.

D: Did you exchange any tips with your fellow graduate students about any particular companies?
E: I exchanged a few tips about certain companies with my classmates because the end goal is for all of us to succeed in our job search.

D: Elijah, I definitely appreciate the time you took to do this interview. I definitely hope to have you back when you land that dream job, and for your time I will not ask you about your suit tailor. Thank You!!!
E: Thank You Didier and good luck to you as well!!!!

Many thanks to our viewers and readers!!! Hope you enjoyed the interview — More to come in the future

The Value of Internships

Welp, Summer has come and gone, and with that, so have most of our internships. In their place, many hope for full time offers or are seeking employment elsewhere. We’re getting closer to honing in on what are the most important things we want out of our careers as far as culture, job function, location, etc etc etc are concerned. But most importantly, we all came back…different people. We’re more knowledgeable not just about business and what we want to do, but who we are.

I personally consider my internship experience invaluable. I found a company that cares about business outcomes AND people. One of the drivers of my company’s success is the fact that they care about their people. They want their people to develop and they want their people to be happy. And they work hard to achieve that.

I’m fortunate enough to have an offer from this company that is not only willing to work with my school schedule, but also fully understand that I have a son who is my first priority.

My internship experience and events over the Summer have made me feel like a different person. I’m so excited about my future and where it’s taking me. Lastly (but not least), I’m STOKED to be back in school (really – but I’ll be singing a different tune come December). Bring on football season!

Go Bucks!

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