Since I’ve been in Columbus for almost five weeks I feel like I’m settling into Fisher and what it means to be a graduate student as well as an Ohio State Buckeye. First, grad school is NOT undergrad. They told us this during orientation but I don’t think it really hit home until the first two weeks of classes came and gone, very quickly. We are held accountable to reading because students need to be a value-added body in the classroom that’s prepared to contribute. Grad school means not sitting in a classroom for an hour and fifteen minutes listening to a lecture twice a week, then taking tests to earn your grade. However, both components I love and each lecture you hear another perspective that you may not have originally thought of. You get to know your classmates, professors, and most importantly, yourself, better. Professors and faculty alike also told us at orientation that in grad school we need to possess a certain level of “intellectual curiosity” because of the opportunities ahead and I feel like I am so fortunate to be welcomed into Fisher’s pool of resources. I finished undergrad in May at the University of Georgia and I can honestly say this a whole different ball of wax because of the standard and caliber. Second, being a student at THE Ohio State University means when someone says, “O-H,” you say, “I-O” (still working on my reflexes with this one). I love when I fly home to Atlanta I’m almost always able to find one Fisher alumnus on the plane ride back to Columbus, and we have an instant and special comradery about campus and football season. Being a Buckeye means Saturdays are now committed to cheering on the Bucks on and off the field. I LOVE football season, so this was a major component when I considered where I wanted to further my education. Could it get any better than winning a National Championship the season before? Not in my eyes. Needless to say, I love Fisher grad life and the Buckeyes!
Posts filed under 'Class'
I spent most of Saturday working on projects for school and doing a little bit of reading. The project aspect went fine. However, when I got to the reading portion, I started to get nervous again. A thought occurred to me though. More correctly, I thought about my way of thinking. Up to this point, my readings have been utilizing a limited perspective on absorbing the information. After the class on Thursday, I realized that memorization is not the way to go. I had the idea of supplementing the information in the text with real world examples. My idea for this week is to go into class with a couple questions and a little background research into the contemporary examples of the topics. Already, I feel more competent and confident that this strategy will work. At the very least, I will be better off than I was last week.
Work started off rough this morning. There were a lot of things to deal with this morning and it was incredibly frustrating. I immediately thought about my children and what behavior I would demonstrate in front of them to handle the situation if they were watching me. First step was to listen and absorb. The next step was to respond. I went back to the office and typed up an e-mail to my superiors stating the issues and the steps to address it. I then followed through. To my surprise, I got no response back from anyone. I was very grateful, because it was my superior’s way of saying. Good job, I have no feedback for you! The end of the day brought resolution to the issues of the morning and actually a positive spin on things.
I got lined up with my third team (one for each class I am in). We debated how to divide up the responsibilities and some peripheral chats about scheduling. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to work as a group and also a great opportunity to quickly adjust to different people and their perspectives. I have really taken it to heart that other people have great insights into issues. The lectures definitely have a “higher level” feel to them. Most of these classes we actually are discussing points together. There of course is always the nice feeling we get when we make the big point, but there is now something deeper. Listening to others and absorbing their thoughts into yours. The focus for me is beginning to shift from the “I have a great idea” philosophy into the idea “what can I say that will help everyone think about this in a new way.”
In the three plus years of being a father, tonight was the first night that I did not get to kiss my kids goodnight. On the one hand I am deeply saddened. On the other hand, I am doing my job as a father by working hard to make our lives better. This kind of situation is awful, but I know that when I hold them next, I get to savor that moment a little bit more than usual.
My full time schedule means that I will most likely be spending my weekends reading. Today, I spent most of my day getting through the majority of the assigned readings for the upcoming week. Thank goodness for the ability of my children to interrupt me and provide me with an excuse to take a break from education! I believe that the reading went a little slow today, mainly because it is an immersion into a new culture that I am not accustomed to. Some of the terminology was unfamiliar and my laptop was crucial for looking up the definitions of the words I don’t know. There was a gulp of anxiety about halfway through a 150 page reading assignment. Again, my little girl woke me from this stupor and asked “Daddy, play you with me?” I followed the order and we played with Rainbow Dash, Shutterfly, and Rarity pony.
Despite how little I get to see my family, how busy work is, how much schoolwork there is to do, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have these burdens. I am grateful for the opportunity to develop my abilities and improve the lifestyle for my family.
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.
I sat there in class and connected with a few people that I had met with during orientation. We chatted about various things as we waited for the professor to come in. He introduced himself and very thoroughly went through his syllabus, clearly outlining his intentions for us to learn. He also sincerely professed his desire to help us along the way. We then had a brief lecture introducing us to the fundamentals of HR. I was really grateful to have my computer, because he spoke with such detail, that I would have had a hard time writing everything down by hand.
After the lecture there was a short break. The class seemed to re-energize a little as we broke into small group discussions about the topics we discussed. The class concluded with two of my classmates debating the issue in front of the class.
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.
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!
“What I love most about rivers is
You can’t step in the same river twice
The water’s always changing, always flowing.”
-Schwartz & Menken-
It’s now year two of the MHRM program, and I have to admit, it feels quite different. Upon arrival during first year, most students spend their first month or so in the program getting their feet wet. They’re trying to acclimate to their new home in Columbus and at OSU & Fisher. They’re also adapting to graduate level course work and the new classroom environment, becoming familiar with the faculty and their expectations of students, and building relationships with peers. Upon arrival for second year though, students are much more relaxed, laid-back and comfortable. I am not suggesting that this was not the case first year, but perhaps not immediately during first year. Nonetheless, I do think there has been a shift in attitudes and confidence.
You may be thinking, why? Well, I can only provide my opinion on the matter, but I believe it is the result of the ongoing support of our faculty and staff here at Fisher, as well as the experiences and knowledge gained from summer internships. Throughout our first year we had the opportunity to engage in class discussions and projects with our peers to push outside of our comfort zone in order to learn from one another. We also had the opportunity to build personal and professional relationships with faculty and staff, who offered their expertise, shared their personal experiences and stories, offered a listening ear, and provided guidance when needed. In addition, since one of the program requirements is the completion of a thesis or internship (most students select the internship) during the summer between the first and second year, many students are returning from their internships having gained hands-on experience in HR. Being able to apply theory, concepts and knowledge from the classroom into organizational practices is invaluable, and I think people came back with a much deeper understanding of HR, as well as a greater appreciation for the impact HR can have in organizations.
It’s just the beginning of year two, but I am excited for the fresh perspectives everyone is bringing back into the classroom, and I am excited to see how the year unfolds. What will be…’Just Around the Riverbend’?
*For those who may be unfamiliar with the quote above, reference –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZrg3hhntQY (Classic).
One great aspect of the MBA program here at Fisher (and of OSU in general) is the extent to which the university is connected with the city’s local businesses. Student groups and faculty have hosted local business leaders from small startups to CEOs and CMOs from the city’s array of Fortune 500 companies.
Last semester I took a Real Estate Principles class which basically focuses on the real estate development process from cradle to grave. Taking advantage of the great connections between the university and local business leaders, the class featured 5 site visits to local development projects. At each visit, we had the chance to meet with the real estate developers, project managers, and other key players involved with projects to learn the nuances of their developments and get a bit of first-hand knowledge to accompany our classroom discussions.
The central project for the class was a team-based development project where we were assigned several blocks in a downtown environment and were challenged to put together an investment proposal for the development site. Our class site visits were scheduled such that we had the opportunity to meet with industry professionals, get questions answered, and see live projects to keep our own projects moving.
With an increasing number of online programs and online education in general, a unique and valuable benefit of an on-campus program is the ability to have experiences such as these. Having site visits with local professionals to compliment in-class lectures and readings provides a learning environment that neither format accomplishes on its own. This is just one more way OSU’s strong network provides rare, valuable opportunities for its students.
I am a second year full time MBA student and am set to graduate in about a month. There is a mix of reflection and excitement (even more so from my wife who has endured having her spouse in a full time graduate program).
When reflecting on the past two years and what I’ve gained from them, I’ve thought of the relationships I’ve made and how walking out of this experience confirmed the things that brought me here in the first place. When talking about Fisher, we talk a lot about the small class size being a key component of the overall experience. The small class size lends itself to more intimate settings which, in turn, lend itself to more opportunities to connect with classmates, faculty and career management. This all made logical sense, but I’ve been able to now have the experience of living it out and I can say it’s all true. Friendships-I have been able to get to know several classmates in a deep way over this relatively short period of time, and I fully expect to continue those relationships even after the program is finished. Professors-even having gone to Ohio State for undergrad, I’ve seen a world of difference in the depth of relationships I have with my professors at Fisher. Most of them are in the Ops/Logistics field (my focus in the program) and I have been able to cultivate these relationships and to lean on them for better understanding a concept and also for career advice.
Another area that sticks out to me is the Corporate Mentor Program. As a student, you fill out an “application.” It’s more of an info sheet on what you’re looking for in a mentor, and they pair you with an executive in the Columbus area. The program is only supposed to last for a year, but often the relationships extend for more, and that was the case for me. My mentor has been a great source of advice and has graciously connected me to others in the supply chain profession.
Looking now to the future. Currently, I am searching for a supply chain position in the Columbus area, but am hopeful that something will come through soon. Coming to an MBA program is somewhat of a gamble, albeit a calculated and relatively low risk gamble (92% of graduates last year had jobs within 3 months of graduation). You’re essentially putting all of your chips in and hoping the investment pays off. Thankfully it almost always does, but at certain times tries your resolve. I’ve found in those times it’s been helpful to focus on the good things in your life and to know that life is more than just what job you have. For example, my wife and I just welcomed our daughter to the world a couple weeks ago (see picture below). What a blessing!
The MBA program has been a great re-calibration experience for my career and I’m looking forward to a brighter future than when I entered.