Posts filed under 'Class'



Resources at Your Fingertips

If you are pursuing a career in finance, it is important not just to have a conceptual understanding of the discipline, but also to keep up on the news and to know how to use different software programs. The Specialized Masters in Finance (SMF) program at the Fisher College of Business places a premium on just these two things.

With respect to software training, the program has adopted a curriculum that forces students to learn how to use Excel in their sleep, use certain Excel add-ons like Crystal Ball (which includes Monte Carlo analysis), CapitalIQ, and the ins and outs of Bloomberg terminals, the industry standard for gaining corporate information. In order to teach these software programs, Fisher has retained a former institutional investor, Professor Matt Sheridan. In addition to these software programs, Fisher students have free access to a plethora of other resources, such as IBISWorld Industry Reports, Thomson Research Reports, and LexisNexis, all of which are very helpful in researching companies, sectors, and markets for class projects. Knowledge of these programs is often prerequisite for many of the positions to which finance students will apply. In my interviews, I haven’t gotten brownie points for having these programs on my résumé—but I doubt I would have gotten an interview without some of them.

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This is a typical screenshot of a Bloomberg terminal. Look confusing? Trust me, it won’t be after a few weeks in the program.

Dr. George Pinteris, the director of the SMF Program, likes to tell students that when finance professionals get together, they don’t talk about the risk premium over a risk-free asset that they use in the Capital Asset Pricing Model or whether they use the current portion of long-term debt when calculating the cost of debt. Instead, they discuss current events. Dr. Pinteris and other professors expect (but do not require) that students read the Wall Street Journal., Financial Times, and/or The Economist. Personally, I like to supplement my reading of WSJ and FT with American Banker. Whether students access these resources through online university library resources or through special discounts Dr. Pinteris distributes to students, students have access to very valuable resources. A full year’s subscription to American Banker costs about $1,400, while full year subscriptions to WSJ and FT cost a little over $300 each. During some of my interviews, mentioning a recent relevant article I read in FT or AB has often been a catalyst that made a good interview a phenomenal one.

The SMF Program not only gives students a solid academic background in finance, but also an excellent technical and professional background as well.


Get Ready to Negotiate

Negotiations has been one of the most engaging classes I’ve taken all semester !  I opted for the once-a-week night class, and I’m glad for two reasons –

1. It’s better than the Tue/Thu day class combination since every class is designed in a way where you come prepared with the scenario, split into either team-on-team or one-on-one negotiations for roughly the first 90 minutes, and return to debrief in the second half to unpack what just happened. So it’s nice to be able to do that all at once without losing continuity.

2. The Working Professionals peer group makes for a very interesting class discussion. This is my first class with the WP students and it’s refreshing to hear their insights drawn from such a wide range of experiences, in addition to my own classmates whom I’ve come to know quite well over the past year.

Besides, if it’s a night class at the end of a long day, why not go for an interesting class like Negotiations where there’s a lot more ‘doing’ than ‘listening’. Some of the deals we are doing include job negotiations, multiparty deals, labor negotiations and dispute resolutions. There was even what I think was a ‘trick negotiation’, which was really a situation where walking away from the deal was the right thing to do. But we’d been making successful deals every week until that time and for some reason I felt the pressure to just make the deal.  Fell right into that trap, I should say.

Apart from learning useful tricks of the trade that will  help me enormously in my professional career, this class is a great confidence builder. And Professor Lount never fails to entertain !

ressume-negotiation

 

I  highly recommend Negotiations to students of all majors – it’s one of those classes with plenty of great takeaways. And for me personally, it’s a safe place to fail and learn as I continue to refine my leadership style.


Fisher Family Network

One of the first things the Class of 2016 learned about during our two weeks of orientation was the Fisher Family. Community was one of the top buzzwords of the faculty and staff who presented to us, and they emphasized that everyone at Fisher – faculty, staff, and students – is here to help us grow and learn both academically and professionally.

And over the past few weeks, our class has bonded and become a family – a real one. Half the time I don’t even have to ask for help – people offer before I can.  Last week, one of my classmates, Michael, gave me the contact information for one of his friends who had interned with a company I was interested in.  “E-mail him!” Michael said.  “He’ll definitely be able to tell you about the culture and what their internships are like.”  So I did.  His friend wrote me a detailed mini-essay about the company.  It was awesome, and it really helped me.

Then, during the weekend, another classmate, Vlad, spent over two hours helping a group of people (including myself) figure out an accounting case. Two.  Hours.  It was a struggle-fest, let me tell you, as we slowly pieced together how to complete the case with Vlad acting as safety net in case we wandered too far off-track.  That was two hours he could have been napping.  Naps are scarce and highly valued commodities in grad school.  But he helped us anyways.

And it isn’t just our class that has become a family – the Fisher Family extends outwards to past students, too.  On Sunday, I was talking to my friend, Jessi, who recently graduated from Fisher.  I mentioned that I was interviewing with a certain company.  “Oh!  You’ve got to talk to Brian!”  She gave me the contact information of one of her classmates who had interned with and was currently working for the company.

And when I e-mailed Brian?  He immediately suggested we set up a time to talk.  When he found out I was a career-switcher, and a little overwhelmed by the tough marketing questions asked in interviews, he offered to give me interviewing help and said to e-mail him anytime I have questions.

I’ve never had so many people helping me succeed.  It’s pretty amazing.  If you have a weakness, your career counselors, classmates, and professors will help you strengthen that skill set.  The people at Fisher – both past and present – support one another and want to see each other succeed.  The Fisher Family is one of the things that most defines Fisher, and what makes it so special.


Midterms, Accounting and Networking: Not that Bad!

Things have kind of ramped up here in the Fisher Full Time MBA program over the last couple of weeks. Even though we were already busy, our first set of midterms were upon us, our first accounting case was due and graduate careers fairs were beginning.

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My Husky Energy dog from the Career Fair says “Arpha!”

This is going to sound as bizarre as having a football team with nobody over 5’10, but midterms were probably the easiest and least stressful part of the middle of September. There was only so much to study three weeks into school. Our Marketing Math quiz was literally based off of three pages, our Marketing exam was more application than memorization, Econ was more art (literally) than science and Finance could have been about 1000000% harder than it was. Like they say in business school, learning more than grades are what matters and once you realize the professors aren’t going to absolutely kill you on exams, the focus on learning becomes a lot easier to handle. It’s all about application and not rote memorization like many undergraduate exams tend to be.

The real big bad in all of this was an accounting case worth about 2% of our grade, if even that. Accounting has supremely thick barriers to entry, at least in the way we have been taught, and with CPAs being exempt from the class, it seemed like absolutely nobody knew what was going on. Thankfully, because our CPA Fisher Family brothers and sisters love us so much, they were happy to help us with our homework and at least give us a push in the right direction. We had study groups the two days before the case was due and even if nobody could completely figure it out, we’re learning and I think that’s all that matters. I hope, anyway. I’ll let you know how the next case goes.

And then there was the Fisher Graduate Career Fairs. The big one was in the Blackwell on the Fisher Campus and brought companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Nationwide, Wendy’s and PolyOne. It was a chance to try out our pitches of ourselves if nothing else and get used to talking to people at these booths about their companies and learning about places we could potentially intern next summer.

To say my first attempt at this was a trainwreck would be a lie as it was far, far worse than that. I’ll keep the details of this talk classified but let’s just say I won’t be getting a job with this employer. I slowly got better, however, and once I got to the companies I was actually interested in such as Wendy’s, as I am a longtime consumer of their wares, I felt like I was doing a decent job. Anyway, these fairs aren’t the end all be all of the job hunt but are good practice if nothing else.

Anyway, once these trials and tribulations of business school were over, there was still time to play soccer, do homework and do some intense Friday night networking in the Short North.

The best parts of all of these things though is that nearly every one of your classmates is going through the exact same thing and it helps you all bond and really become a Fisher Family (copyright someone, I’m sure). A lot of us have gotten closer or just met more people through studying at Gerlach Hall or going to talk to the same employers at info sessions and then having some hardcore networking seshes on Fridays.

This part’s really been my favorite as I haven’t always had the easiest time making friends in the past. In law school everyone was dispersed and it was hard to see anyone outside of class. Undergrad was more of a bizarre experience for me, personally. But here, I’ve done the best I’ve done since about 2nd grade socially and am apparently the class mascot somehow. My face is on the top of this Grad Life blog. I couldn’t have made a better decision to have come and even things like midterms and horrible accounting cases and scary career fairs haven’t dampened that in the least.


Time Management: It’s a Thing

This guy set the bar pretty high for the rest of us bloggers when he wrote about his 11-year-old self coming up with a pretty sound proposition for Barnes and Noble employees to let him buy a not-so-11-year-old-friendly CD. But not all of us have that much swagger.

In fact, it was a shock I got into the Fisher MHRM program at all as I tend to stumble over words when put on the spot. One of my interview questions was, “What recent news stories regarding business have you heard?” My response? “Umm…we don’t have cable…but I do know that Bob Costas who reports on the olympics has an eye infection so he just had Matt Lauer take over. Ahem…must be some sort of PR move.” I’m not kidding. My exact thoughts were [insert favorite expletive here]. And you know what happened literally a month and a half earlier? The Target security breach. Face/palm.

What I am good at is time management (great segue, right?) Having an active two-year-old while reading, writing, organizing group projects, and studying for classes has definitely been a challenge. Unlike my undergrad self, I’ve learned that time management is actually a THING. And incredibly helpful (sorry to point out the obvious). What are your priorities? What’s at the top of that list? Get it done. What’s next? Get it done and check that off of your list as well. Repeat repeat repeat.

My main priority: Making sure my kid feels valued. Is he learning? Is he eating? Is he having fun while avoiding activities that have the potential to cause severe injury? Yes? Good. Next thing.

Reading for class. With a two year old, it’s been surprisingly manageable.

Parenting Win

What’s better than making the bed? Teaching a two-year-old about economics and HR’s role within business.

Next priority: studying for tests. In the MHRM program, our first test was almost immediately after the semester began. I have learned that I’m a visual learner (as well as experiential…but generally most everyone learns from experience). I can’t just read and memorize. I have be able to see it it. In my undergrad, I learned a trick that has never let me down: color coding.

I will only take notes in black or blue ink. Before I begin fully studying for a test, I condense my notes from the readings and class into the information I think is the most important and will likely be on the test. Instead of writing these notes in black or blue ink, I use a weird color. Red, pink, green, etc. I then use another color to underline and emphasize things I am positive will be on the test. It ends up looking something like this:

Color Coded Test Notes

Color Coded Test Notes

Using colors I’m not used to seeing in my notes has been a successful study approach for me. It allows me to visualize my study notes. I’m happy to report I did very well on my first test, thanks to time management and color coded test notes.

Rather than focusing on what you’re not-so-good at (like talking about the possible business implications of Bob Costas’ eye infection), focus on what you’re great at. What you’re great at is likely what got you (or will get you) into the Fisher College of Business and will definitely help you succeed in your program.

Time management is my thing. I doubted myself entering grad school with a kid and having different priorities. But after the results of my first test, I know I’ve got this.


Midterms, Quizzes, and Cases … Oh my!

Reality hit this last week … grad school is not all fun and games. We Fisher MAcc students had multiple midterms/quizzes/case studies/assignments and they all seemed to fall on the same couple of days. Isn’t that how it always works out? In order to keep my head above water, here are a couple tips I like to follow!

Busy week tips –

1) Stay Organized – During the busiest of your weeks it is so hard to keep track of everything and the worst thing would be to allow something to fall through the cracks. I would highly recommend a planner! I know some people are more on top of their game and use an electronic calendar but I like to keep it a little more old school, paper planner for the win. This allows me to stay on top of all my assignments and *hopefully* never miss a due date.

2) Prioritize – I think one of the hardest things to do when you are extremely busy is to realize that maybe not everything will get done or get done with the quality of work you normally do. While it isn’t ideal to hand in less than fantastic work, sometimes it is absolutely necessary. In order to know what to focus on and how to allocate your time wisely, I always make a list of priorities. This allows me to quickly scan and know what is first to get done and what is last to be done. This way you are more efficiently working and if all goes well and time is allocated correctly, everything will get done!

3) Quality of study time > Quantity of study time – It may seem like it is necessary to devote hours and hours to studying, but in my opinion it is not the total hours you spent studying but rather the quality of the time you put into studying. After a couple hours of studying where you are focused and working hard will always beat a day of studying with frequent computer/snacking breaks (my favorite kind of break). If you study hard and really devote yourself to an exam, the results will probably beat days of mediocre studying.

4) Rid yourself of distractions – I cannot study at my apartment, it will just not get done. There are too many distractions from the TV, to the kitchen, to the possibility of taking a nap…it is just a complete fail. I also think a library is just way too quiet and serious (though it is better than trying to study in my room), the best place to study for me is a coffee shop. The perfect mix of a relaxing environment but not relaxing enough that you want to take a nap. For the last couple exams/quizzes I have gone to various coffee shops and managed to get some good quality studying in. There is also the added perk of delicious coffee which can really help the studying process (I highly recommend Stauf’s and Luck Bros‘ in Grandview!)

5) Sleep – I know everyone always tells you to get a good night’s sleep but it actually does help. You wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to go instead of waking up dreading getting out of your bed. Before I go to sleep I like to review my notes once more and then put it out of my mind. It doesn’t help to dwell on journal entries while trying to fall asleep, put the textbooks down and relax…it will all be okay!

So these are just a few things that help me stay sane during a crazy week. The nice thing is that everyone is going through it together so you always have a friend to commiserate with. One good thing about a busy week is the following weekend, that is always the light at the end of the tunnel!

 


Leadership Lessons

All first year students take a leadership course during their fall semester, which is taught by Dr. Tony Rucci. In this class, each team of five students is required to do a community service project and write a reflection paper about their experience.  My team chose to participate in Meals On Wheels.  Meals On Wheels is a program where volunteers deliver food to the homes of those who cannot afford to buy food, and who are either partially or completely house-bound.

My team of five was assigned to two delivery routes and given instructions on where and how to deliver the meals.  Some deliveries required signatures, and others did not.  Hot meals and cold meals were sealed inside individual trays, and hot meals came with a slice of bread and an apple.  Drink choices were skim or 2% milk.

I was prepared for the poverty we saw – probably better prepared than my teammates.  I grew up in a town where poverty is normative, and I was a volunteer tutor in an inner-city school while I was an undergrad.  I’ve seen hunger on children’s faces – in the ways they act and react – because I’ve studied next to and taught these children.  I was also prepared for the dirt and decay we encountered in some homes because I worked for a cleaning company in the summers.

But what I was not prepared for was the complete and total isolation we encountered.  Most of the people we brought meals to were elderly, and many were handicapped.  I wondered where their children were – their grandchildren.  I wondered it for at least the first hour.  That’s how long it took me to realize that they probably didn’t have children.  Or their children were dead.  Or lived in another state and couldn’t afford to visit often or financially support their aging parents.  And if you or your children can’t afford to hire an in-home nurse or move into assisted living or a nursing home, there isn’t much choice.  You’re stuck.

I was also unprepared for how little food we actually delivered. I greatly respect what Meals On Wheels does, and I think it’s a wonderful program.  I fully realize the funding and man-power limitations they face on a daily basis.  I also understand that, as an Italian, my beliefs in portion size are dramatically skewed.  But despite all of these things, the bottom line is that we only delivered one meal to each person.  One meal per person.  One meal per day.

Think about how much you eat in one day.

 

Our route took my team two hours to complete, from start to finish.  Two hours and we got to go home to full cupboards, clean floors, and air conditioning.  Two hours and we were back to being students, with all the academic, intellectual, social, and economic privileges that students have.

After an experience like that, you have to ask yourself what you’re doing with your life.  How are you helping anyone besides yourself?  And maybe you aren’t.  Maybe you’re just trying to survive grad school.  And maybe that’s the point.

Our leadership project was a good way for us to give back, to remind us of what is important, and to remember that despite the lengthy class discussions about profit margins, supply and demand curves, and increasing shareholders equity, money isn’t everything.  It isn’t even close.

 


New environment, new challenge

It has been two weeks since I started my new journey. I am here to pursue my master degree, business logistics engineering. Fisher is a  totally environment for my classmates and me. We have a relatively busy schedule, which is at least two courses a day, various seminar and info session to attend. What is more important, everyone has to face the stress from both homework and job hunting.

Strategy Logistics Management impresses me most. We just have attended the class twice. We are lucky enough to have two guest speakers, one from Verizon and another from Walmart. Most of my classmate are Chinese student just graduating from university without working experiences, so the first people cannot be engaged. Fortunately, this week we had a presentation from International Logistics Department of Walmart. We all know Walmart more or less, so the atmosphere is amazing, most of my classmate put forward their questions, ranging from corporation strategy to shopping experiences. Both the guest speaker and we enjoyed a lot. One more thing, to our great surprise, we had to take a quiz at the time we just attended the class only one time. We are still not used to this kind of rhythm, which forces us to read the textbook and supplemental materials.


First month at Fisher SMF!

I have realized two most important things in my first month at Fisher SMF program. One, the breadth of resources and two, to succeed here you need to prioritize!

Once you are admitted to Fisher SMF, even before the program begins, the Fisher Career Management Office (CMO) starts communicating with you to offer you personalized career search services. From how to network in US (especially for international students) to how to dress formally (important for all the female students) and how it is different from business casual to how to brand yourself, everything is personalized. In my previous academic life (trust me, it’s a long one) I have never come across such a depth and breadth of services/ resources offered.

And CMO is just one office there are many such offices and organizations here which offer ample professional and social development opportunities. When there are so many opportunities around its very important for us, as students as to how to allocate our time. For example as an international student I had to take English as a Second Language (ESL) test and it had some conflicts with my finance classes. After discussing this issue with SMF program director Professor Pinteris and advisor Jennifer Bennett, they helped me reschedule it for the next semester, which was such a relief for me. I would have missed a very interesting class. So in a nutshell, if you know what you want, Fisher SMF gives you ample opportunities to explore your path!


Jessica Reynolds, MBA

I GRADUATED!

This past weekend was such a mix of emotions, family, friends, graduation celebrations — and lots of food and good times. Maybe a little bit too much food and good times, but hey, it was graduation!

Reynolds  family at graduation!

Reynolds family at graduation!

On Saturday, May 3rd, the Fisher College of Business held its “hooding ceremony” for all graduates. It was a great ceremony, and perfect for family, friends and loved ones to attend. The hooding ceremony (or pre-commencement) occurred at Mershon Auditorium, and is the first step of graduation weekend. All Fisher master students are encouraged to attend the intimate ceremony, and it’s a great opportunity for pictures. What can I say? I am a sucker for capturing all of the great memories. :)

As an undergraduate of OSU, I attended the big graduation in The ‘Shoe. Because the school was still on quarters, I graduated in the month of June. Personally, I thought it was HOT and LONG. However, it is a cool experience for those that have never attended – and now graduation is in May, so it is significantly cooler. If you chose not to attend the OSU graduation on Sunday, you can pick up your diploma the following week.

jr and kn - hugging - complressed

One of my best MBA buddies – Kelly!

For the Fisher pre-commencement/hooding ceremony, a few speeches were given, and then graduates for each program were called by name. You walk across the stage and a professor puts the Masters’ hood around you neck. Lucky for business students, it’s the beautiful color of drab (we all know it wasn’t a marketer that came up with THAT name!). At the end they play a slideshow (only part where I got slightly choked-up), and a brief reception is held after. It was a great time, and I was very happy that my parents and best friend were able to attend.

Me and the beautiful Melissa!

Me and the beautiful Melissa!

So, I am closing the MBA chapter of my life, and starting my journey as a young professional. I will begin my career at Alliance Data in a few months, and can’t wait to see what happens next. Entering this program was one of the best decisions I have ever made – and the laughs, tears, struggles and TONS of learning were absolutely worth it. I know that I am going to miss my business school friends that are moving across the country like crazy, but am so proud of my entire class and all our accomplishments. And, this means I have lots of people to visit!

I have made best friend, found mentors and created relationships that will last forever. None of this would have been possible without the support of my family, friends, everyone in the GPO and the Office of Career Management — and for that, I am extremely grateful.


Still feels a little weird to consider myself a Master of Business – but hey, that’s what my degree says. :)


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