Team Projects: Unveiled

One of the cooler aspects of the Specialized Master in Finance program here at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is the Team Projects class that is taken in your last semester.

The course is designed to allow students to apply for teams on projects with real companies who submit real projects, which the teams work on through the months of March and April, culminating in a final presentation during the last week of school. The “objective of the course is to give SMF students an opportunity to practice their analytical and soft skills by working in teams on real finance related projects with clients” (syllabus).

Throughout the program, we have taken core classes in Economics, Corporate Finance, and Investments; as well as our elective classes in our chosen academic paths. We have also developed our professional skills through networking events and extracurricular club activities like the Fisher Graduate Finance Association. In addition, we have developed our teamwork skills through group projects and presentations, as well as through our core Leadership class. All of the skills and knowledge that have been developed during our seven months at Fisher are now going to be tested and applied in real world situations. It is truly an exciting class!

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Last week, the Specialized Master in Finance class of 2017 got together for the grand unveiling of the companies that were participating this year. Professor Pinteris walked us through the class syllabus, as well as the expectations of each student during the time period working with these companies. The projects cover all four of the main tracks within the program: Corporate Finance, Risk, Real Estate, and Investments. Thus, there are plenty of options for each student to apply for in their desired path.

Now we have to submit our applications and will find out later this week which company’s project we have been selected for. Once we have this information and we make contact with the company, our work truly begins. I think I can speak for the entire SMF class when I say that we are excited for this amazing opportunity.

 

Where should I live?

Many people don’t realize that Columbus, Ohio, is the 15th-largest city in the United States with nearly a million people living in and around the metropolitan area. With big cities come LOTS of options, particularly, lots of housing options.

As a Columbus native and having attended undergrad at Ohio State, I’ve lived in many distinct areas around the city including Upper Arlington, Victorian Village/Short North, Old North, and Central Campus. Currently I’m living in Old North Columbus, which is just north of Ohio State’s campus. It is by far my favorite area I’ve lived in. Now I’m going to tell you why.

The Old North is located just north of Lane Avenue on the edge of campus, and extends up until where Clintonville begins further north. Cost of housing here is some of the least expensive in the Columbus area. Most of the houses in the area were built in the 1920s and have a lot of personality. Front porches and backyard space is common, and off-street parking is abundant.

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Old North Arcade is a bar+arcade combo located in Old North. They do a mean trivia night on Mondays and you’re likely to catch a team of MHRMs (“merms”) in the lead.

The Old North tends to be an area where Ohio State students move when they’ve had just about enough of the somewhat more raucous atmosphere that is more common on central campus. The Old North “scene” is a bit dive-y in that the restaurants and bars themselves are older, as is the crowd that frequents them. This area tends to attract young people in their mid- to late-20s and early 30s, resulting in a fun, eclectic, laid-back vibe. The area tends to be more bustling than Grandview or Upper Arlington. I personally think it’s a really accessible, no-frills area for people that still want to be connected to the social scene of Columbus, but don’t necessarily want to be living in the middle of it.

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An Old North favorite: The Blue Danube is a popular restaurant with incredible, cheap nightly specials and they serve breakfast all day. “The Dube Special” is a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and two grilled cheeses for $160. I’ve never seen anyone order it, and it is a bucket-list item for me.

I know from my experience in moving to other cities that housing complexes can be appealing in that you know exactly what to expect and you don’t have to worry about finding roommate. My one piece of advice for anyone coming from far away is to consider looking for a month-to-month housing option for when you first arrive. Then as you explore and acclimate to Columbus a bit more (and meet classmates who could be potential roommates) you’ll know better what area you might want to be in longer-term (for the next year or two of your life—or longer… Columbus tends to have a magnetic effect and it is difficult to leave).

I have heard from some of my classmates that they wished they had done more research, because the area they are living in is not necessarily where they spend most of their time, and they would like to be closer to the Short North, Old North, Grandview—wherever it may be. A great resource for locating housing aside from some of the bigger, more advertised complexes is the Off-Campus Housing website. You can search for available housing with filters for # of bedrooms, pets allowed or not, and other amenities. I’ve found some stellar places through this website and would highly recommend.

Vroom Vroom VITA

In addition to a wide variety of social activities, MAcc students also have the opportunity to give back to the community through a number of volunteer efforts. VITA, a tax clinic for low income-taxpayers, is one of the most popular community-service options. Participants get hands-on experience with preparing tax returns while making a difference in the lives of many.

I interviewed current MAcc student and VITA volunteer Carly Jackson to get her take on why all MAccers should participate in this great cause.

What is VITA?

VITA is a program where volunteers prepare tax returns for low-income individuals and  families for free.

How can MAcc students get involved?

MAcc students can get involved by attending an interest session during fall semester and then completing the required IRS training. During tax season, volunteers are typically assigned 3-4 volunteer days.

Do you have to have experience with completing tax returns to volunteer?

No prior experience is required!  You will be thoroughly trained and will have an IRS publication with the information you need next to you, so you can use that for reference during preparation. Also, there will typically be people on-site with prior tax preparation experience to answer any questions you have and to help you through the experience.

Can I still do VITA even if I am planning on doing audit post-graduation?

Of course you can! A lot of the people that participate in VITA are planning to do audit. I personally feel that it is advantageous to everyone to learn about the basics of taxes because they’re unavoidable and the more you know, the more equipped you are to handle them. Regardless of your intended career path, learning a little bit about tax preparation and using that knowledge to help others is a great thing to do!

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned while working the tax clinic?

Surprisingly, the biggest lesson I’ve learned while working at the VITA clinic was not tax-related. One of the clients I worked with was going through one of the toughest times I could even imagine, yet still had the most positive outlook on everything and had a genuine joy in their heart. Working with them taught me to never take anything for granted, and to always look for the good in life, because if you look hard enough, you will find it.

 

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Happy Chinese New Year

It’s the year of the Rooster! And here at the Fisher SMF program we could not think of a better way to start off the new year than a delicious meal at one of our new favorite restaurants. Recently opened, HY Asian Cuisine offers authentic Chinese and Japanese food– at least as claimed by several students as their favorite restaurant here in Columbus.

Good friends, good food

The above picture shows jut one of our two roundtables. Professors, alumni, students, and friends all joined together. All together, our group was about 40 people.

We had many excellent dishes. My personal favorites were the crab, spicy pepper chicken, and mushrooms. There were many good vegetable dishes and good rice.

The works

The rooster is independent, quick minded, capable, and warm towards others, so lore says. The same attributes can be said of our 2017 SMF class. It was wonderful to celebrate the new year with such good people and I’m looking forward to our next dinner.

Vulnerability

Through participation in the Fisher Leaders program, I have been provided many assessments to help me to understand my leadership style and how others perceive me (“360 feedback”).  This gift of information is wonderful to have to understand how I can improve.  I confess that it has been difficult to integrate that feedback into my life.  It seems as though, almost daily, I realize how my leadership needs improve.  Sometimes it feels like I am stumbling around with respect to leading.

Leadership development is difficult.  I grossly underestimated the emotional impact that the leadership development would have on me.  I confess that I had a hard time keeping up with blogging last semester because of the emotional turmoil through this growth process.

One of the greatest benefits of all of this struggle is the improved relationship with my family and friends.  Before learning about leadership, I internalized quite a bit and neglected to share things with people, because I thought that they already had enough to deal with and felt like I would be adding to the troubles.  The Fisher Leaders program has helped me to understand the importance and necessity to share experiences with the people I care for and that the best decisions in life are “we-based” ones.

It has been very difficult to consider so many new elements in my life.  Hearing where I need improvements, learning a new job, reconciling emotions, and sharing my feelings more with others is helping me to grow.  It is truly encouraging to learn and practice all of these things in a safe context (in school, work, and with my peers).  Although not desirable, it is okay to make errors here without long-lasting damage.  Developing my skills in these safe environments has helped me prepare for after graduation, where I will have greater accountability from more people.

Evening Classes?!

One of the unique aspects that differentiates the MHRM program from the other full-time grad programs at the Fisher College of Business and many other Master’s-level HR programs is that classes are held almost exclusively in the evenings. I have to be honest here—this was a big reservation of mine when I was considering the program. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to adapt my lifestyle to accommodate that sort of schedule—I was sure I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as well at night and I was worried that the schedule would cut into my hobbies (I’m a big fan of live music, trivia night, and happy hours).

I challenged myself to see the forest beyond the trees and keep an open mind about the class schedule. It would require a little “schedule Tetris” on my part, but I knew the program was an investment in my future—and something that I could justify making some lifestyle changes for. Here’s what a typical day in Jen’s life looks like since beginning the MHRM program:

8 AM             Wake up (okay, my alarm goes off at 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, and                                8:45, so, let’s call it 8:45 in the spirit of full transparency)

10 AM           Work-out

11 AM            Read for class/eat lunch (each class’s reading typically fits                                into a two-hour timeframe for me)

1 PM              Go to work

5 PM              Dinner (*options, see below)

6:15-9:30     Class

9:30 PM        Relax at home/socialize with friends

1) Make dinner in advance and bring it from home: this is a popular option for those who plan their meals in advance. I am not one of these people.

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I mean, I really wish I was one of those people.

2) Bring a Lean Cuisine or other frozen meal: When I have them in the freezer, I absolutely opt for this option. Quick and easy– and we have three microwaves in the graduate student lounge so that makes things very convenient.

Microwave station. (Also, that is a coffee machine next door)
Microwave station. (also, that is a coffee machine next door)

3) Order food: Sometimes I wait until the last minute to figure dinner out. It works because of technology. Jimmy John’s delivers “freaky fast,” Panera is within walking distance, and UberEats caters to a wide variety of tastes.

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Deliciousness delivered right to your classroom door. (Disclaimer: I do not actually recommend delivering directly to your classroom; the front door of Gerlach Hall is a safe bet, however)

I quickly realized that with a little pre-planning and self-discipline, I would still be able to fit everything in without compromise. The other important note here is that some of my classmates have turned out to be my best friends, so we can hold one another accountable to a) get our school work done and b) make certain we are finding a balance between work and play.

The Final Countdown

It is surreal to think that my final semester of school is well underway! We are already wrapping up our third week of classes and I have a midterm in just a few days. In order to make the most of the time I have left, I compiled a list of things I am hoping to accomplish before graduation in May:

  • Take a trip to Chicago. One of my cousins lives in Chicago, so I really want to spend a weekend visiting her. Southwest has super cheap flights out of the Dayton airport, so this could be a relatively easy and affordable getaway. [editor’s note: Southwest also offers several daily flights out of Columbus]
  • Explore German Village. Although I have been living in Columbus since August, I have yet to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. German Village is located just south of downtown and is a fun neighborhood with lots of different restaurants and shops.
  • Go to Hocking Hills. This one will have to wait until it warms up a bit, but I am eager to go hiking in Hocking Hills. It is a bit of a drive, a little over an hour from my apartment, but I hear the scenery is well worth the trek.
  • Going off #3, I would also like to get back to Clear Creek Metro Park. I was able to go once during the autumn and it was phenomenal. It is about an hour drive and there are several trails to explore.
  • Cheer on the Columbus Clippers (minor league baseball), Columbus Crew (soccer), or Columbus Blue Jackets (hockey). Though often overshadowed by The Ohio State University Buckeyes, Columbus is home to several professional teams. I have yet to go to any of their games, but I would love to get to at least one before the semester is over.

These next couple months are sure to fly by, and I am eager to make the most of the time I have left!

Best Places to Workout

My New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to workout 5 days a week. The awesome thing about going to a school such as Ohio State is that we have so many Recreational Facilities available for use.  I am going to rank my top 4 places to work out on campus and provide some of my favorite things about them.

1. RPAC – The RPAC is out largest gym on campus. Located right next to the Horseshoe (our football stadium), this facility has it all. It has a pool, sauna, more than 10 basketball courts, 8 racquetball courts, table tennis, and much more. There are also group fitness classes offered that are free to attend such as cycling and yoga.

RPAC: You can see the Scarlet Skyway, which is one of the entrances into the RPAC.

    RPAC: You can see the Scarlet Skyway, which is one of the two entrances into the RPAC.

2. North Recreation Center – The “North Rec” is a brand-new gym built at the beginning of the school year. Located just a few minutes from Gerlach Hall, it is the perfect place to go for a quick workout in between classes. Just like at the RPAC, there are group fitness classes offered throughout the week. There are also four outdoor basketball courts at the North Rec.

This facility was completed in Fall of 2016.
This facility was completed in Fall of 2016.

3. Adventure Recreation Center (ARC) – This facility is somewhat of an unknown around campus because it is located on West Campus. The unique part about the ARC is that they have indoor soccer fields as well as a rock climbing wall. I grew up playing soccer my entire life and it is always fun to go to the ARC and play a game of pickup soccer.

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The ARC at night

4. Jesse Owens North (JON)– JO North is the closest gym to Gerlach Hall. It is literally across the street from the classroom building you will spend most of your time at. While this building is a little old, it is conveniently located and has all of the equipment you can imagine. It also has one basketball court. JO North is a great backup place to work out in case the North Rec is too busy.

JON is located across the street from Gerlach Hall.
JON is located across the street from Gerlach Hall.

Sticking to my New Year’s resolution is no doubt going to be difficult. Since there are so many options for working out, it makes it difficult to come up with excuses to not work out. Hopefully, this blog helps you get a better understanding of some of the recreational facilities offered at Ohio State. Click here if you want to learn more about these and others.

The Beautiful Game: Morning Brunch with the SMFs

(For the best experience, listen to this song while reading.)

On Sunday January 15th, there was a major sporting event that captivated the attention of several SMF students. No, there was not a big Ohio State game that day. Neither did we focus on OSU alumni Ezekiel Elliot playing in the National Football League (NFL) playoffs. Our attention was not actually on the NFL playoffs at all. We instead woke up early to tune into a different type of football. We cheered for our sides in the English Premier League (EPL).

The EPL is not as popular here as Ohio State athletics, or even a U.S. professional league; still, you do not have to look far to see signs of “real football” supporters. Spilling over from across the pond, EPL rivalries are heating up within our SMF class as the competition thickens. One advantage, in my opinion, of our class is that there are no Chelsea fans – on the downside, there is one Manchester United supporter (I kid, I kid). All joking aside, it is a real good time to kick back over the weekend and catch a match together!

Both squads about to take the pitch!

Sunday’s match featured a contested match-up between Manchester United and Liverpool (yes, you caught me – I’m a Reds supporter!). I hosted a game time brunch in my home, and along with several SMF candidates and my roommates we had a full house. We joked around about Pogba being out of position most of the game (too bad he wasn’t out of position when he scored the tying goal), and whenever a Liverpool player slipped like Gerrard (jeering goes both ways mate).

Finishing the game tied ensured that no one was too down to prevent them from enjoying the excellent food. If you are not a soccer fan, don’t worry, the food is almost as important – and a big match deserves a big brunch. Sunday’s match featured breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs, boiled potatoes, fried onions & peppers, and shredded cheese with a dabble of hummus or guacamole. We also had yogurt with fresh mixed berries and granola. After the main course, like any good college student, we snacked on pizza.

All in all, this is just another example of Fisher students building community outside the classroom. Always remember – You’ll Never Walk Alone

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Surviving Syllabus Week

I thrive on routine; while it was nice to have a few weeks off during the Holiday Season, I was more than ready to get back to school for the second semester. That said, no matter how excited I am about classes starting again, it is always a bit of an adjustment to go from having plenty of relaxation time to an abundance of responsibilities.

During undergrad, especially freshman and sophomore year, professors tended to ease us back into the swing of things. We fondly called this adjustment period “Syllabus Week,” because at least the first day of class simply involved going over the syllabus, defining the expectations for the course, and answering any questions. Things are not quite that laidback at the graduate level. Professors still tend to briefly outline the syllabus, but then are quick to get into the material. Because of this, it is important to come into Day 1 prepared to start the semester on as strong a note as possible.

Here are some of my tips for making the most of “Syllabus Week”:

  • Review the syllabus prior to the first day of class. Most professors in the Fisher College of Business utilize “Carmen” (also known as “Canvas”) to house their course materials. This means that students generally have access to at least the syllabus, if not some of the readings. Take advantage of this! If you are familiar with the syllabus, you’ll be better prepared to get questions answered.
  • Research what books you will need. I know a lot of people are adamant that you should not purchase anything until the first day of classes in case a professor has a book listed that you won’t actually use. I, on the other hand, prefer to have all my books ahead of time. Not only does this afford me the opportunity to shop around to get the best deals, I am prepared to dive into the readings and don’t have to waste time trying to locate a copy of the text. At the very least, even if you don’t buy any of your books, take some time to figure out what books are required and where you can get the best price.
  • Make time for fun! Do not overlook how important this is! It can be easy to get overwhelmed but it is critical to keep everything in perspective. I definitely made the mistake first semester of not allowing myself to do more enjoyable things. For example, this past week, I went to see “La La Land” with two friends from the program. Obviously the academics are incredibly important, but the MAcc program is about the entire experience, not just what happens in the classroom.