‘How Did I Get Here?’

Those who know me well learn (sometimes to their dismay) that I have a soft spot for 80’s movies. From the classic to the cringe-worthy, I am unable to resist the nostalgic and synthesizer-tinged siren song of the MTV era. The genre has taken on new meaning to me recently, as I feel ever increasingly that I have been plucked from real life and dropped into the middle of a John Hughes montage:

Look at protagonist Michael go—he’s taking classes, doing homework, interviewing for jobs—working hard with his gang of friends towards their common goal! The days are flying off his Page-a-Day calendar as his Trapper Keeper fills with HBR articles! (Music fades as Michael’s car pulls into student parking lot).

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Time and Change: Not even Mirror Lake is immune to the fast pace of life on campus.

This morning I had such a montage moment when through my car radio, I heard David Byrne of the Talking Heads squelch “…and you may ask yourself—‘how did I get here?’” ‘Here’ in this case, meaning week eight of the semester. It was a sobering realization that my academic MBA experience at Fisher is already 1/8 of the way done. I took a moment to reflect as the chorus chanted in the background, “Letting the days go by…”

It truly feels like yesterday that I walked into orientation. Yet somehow here I am, eight weeks in and already finished with the seven-week long Economics and Marketing courses. My only explanation (aside from the possibility that we are in fact sentient beings trapped inside the b-roll of a teen movie), is that time flies when you’re having fun. And boy, have I been having fun.

The 12-, 15-, sometimes 18-hour days that I have become accustomed to as a business student fly by more quickly than eight-hour days during some of my past endeavors. There’s no time in this fast-paced program for busy work. As such, every lecture, every assignment, every group project is intensely enriching and clearly builds towards the goal of becoming an effective business leader. This makes it so easy to stay engaged and motivated. Add to this the limitless opportunities for professional development, networking, and exposure to companies and there truly is never a dull moment. The greatest challenge is forcing yourself to go home and go to bed at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be difficult to fill 24 hours a day with MBA-related activities.

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A sample time warp agenda

Sure, there is plenty to be stressed about in business school, but there’s always equally as much to be excited about. Ultimately, I think that is what separates my MBA experience thus far from my previous academic endeavors. I walk into Gerlach Hall each day excited, knowing that new lessons, new skills, and new challenges await me. I am never bored, I am never sitting still, and I am constantly challenged– and as such, the weeks quickly wash over me in a wave of intense activity. I have lots to learn and I’m far from mastering the many facets of graduate school, but I look forward to the new challenges ahead.

And so a new montage begins. Will protagonist Michael get a summer internship? Will the football team win the big game against their rivals? What misadventures and mischief await our lovable band of buddies? Cue the music—let’s find out.

 

Cleveland Baseball Playoffs & “Work-Life Balance”

In the United States, the month of October brings baseball playoffs. This year, the baseball team in Cleveland, Ohio, has an exciting playoff run. Catch a glimpse of how we have been beating up Toronto. What does this have to do with graduate school at Fisher, you might ask? Well, this is my first challenge with the all-important work-life balance. As a lifelong supporter of Cleveland baseball, this is a big moment.

The Jake: If you need to find me, this is the best place to look
The Jake: If you need to find me, this is the best place to look

First we need to set the stage. Even though Cleveland is not considered one of the best teams consistently, the team has made the playoffs over 50% of my life and historically are in the top third of all teams based on playoff appearances. From this spot, the pressure builds, because they have not been to the league championship in 9 years– and have not been to the World Series championship since losing in both 1995 and 1997. The last time they won the World Series was 1948; the second longest drought in baseball. This is a franchise with a history of great teams that didn’t win the title.

This year is the year they will win! In the league championship series, they have the better record, offensive production, and pitching. This week, they continue play and games in the best of seven series will be almost every night. These games occur at the same time that I usually prepare for class, work on projects, or pursue my job search. What do I do? I have supported the baseball team my entire life. As a kid, I played baseball dreaming of the MLB and plastered my bedroom walls with posters, banners, and cards of the players. Also, I have waited nine years to watch the team play at this level. I can neither abandon my program nor my team.

Cleveland Rocks!
Eight more wins, boys– eight more wins!

Here is advice for the work-life-balance sweet spot.

  1. Balance: No one can do everything, and there is nothing wrong with that. My Dad and I went to the playoff game last weekend and saw Corey Kluber pitch a stunning 7-inning shutout of Boston. My first instinct was to get back at the ballpark this week, but during a busy exam time I need to balance priorities. Everything is best in moderation.
  2. Rest: The playoffs are exciting, but make sure to get enough sleep on those late west coast games. Don’t wear yourself out going to too many games. If you are too tired, your professional performance will drop and you will even stop enjoying the games. Rest up!
  3. Prioritize: Realize that at some point during the day, you will have to do school and watch baseball. What time of the day do you work best? What is your tolerance for watching the recording over the weekend? Know thyself and do value added work at the right time.
    Corey Kluber
    Going for another Cy Young award per usual

    Tribetober is exciting, school is important – enjoy the best of both!

My Summer Internship!

The first session (7 weeks) of my 2nd year of MHRM program has flown by almost as quickly as my summer internship at Huntington Bank HQ in downtown Columbus! The summer was a unique opportunity to not only apply the first year of the program to a more tactical learning endeavor, but also to gain new experiences to then bring back to the 2nd year of the program and share with classmates. Below is a quick recap of my summer internship and unique projects I got to be a part of! I apologize for the delay/lack of blogging; it may or may not have taken me the first 7 weeks to get back into the swing of things!

During the first stint of my summer at Huntington, I tried to quickly apply a book from Business Excellence II – The First 90 Days. The book highlights the importance of the first 90 days of any new job and new transition, and how it is important to make a good impression quickly. Really, a summer internship is just around that time frame, so the book was an easy application for tackling my projects.

Overall, I would say the first year of my MHRM curriculum trained my brain to think a certain way: what is the situation, the outcomes desired, impressions and experiences we want to provide? I loved that through the first year of my program, I had a network of resources to bounce my thoughts off of: both classmates and professors. To kick off one of my first projects at Huntington, I tried to get an understanding of the current state of the business and how I was being asked to make an impact, and then called one of our professors, Dr. Inks for his expertise and experience. There wasn’t a shiny bauble that came from the conversation, but instead a frame of mind that helped guide my project throughout the summer.

I loved my projects, team, and work environment over the summer. One of my favorite experiences from the summer was Huntington’s all-intern project. The entire class of about 60 interns was divided into groups of five cross-functional teams. I loved that I had the opportunity to work with students from different departments: IT infrastructure, Commercial Risk, Capital Markets, and Data Analytics– all extremely different departments that possessed a different perspective. The task was to pick an opportunity for improvement at Huntington and confront the problem: what is the problem, why is it a problem, and what is our solution for the problem identified? What prepared me for this project was the MHRM Case Competitions – hosted by Fisher. The problem we identified was one that most companies are facing today: how do we retain millennial talent? I had seen this trend before in the MHRM Internal Case Competition with PepsiCo. Therefore, I had a framework and mindset to build on that rallied our team behind how Huntington can improve to retain the very people giving the presentation: millennials.

My intern buddy over the summer and fellow Buckeye, Leah, after our team presented to the Huntington Executive Team!
My intern buddy over the summer and fellow Buckeye, Leah, after our team presented to the Huntington Executive Team!

I’m so excited to be returning to Huntington after graduation from the MHRM program and to be part of the talent acquisition team! I can also say that I’m excited to finish up the last 1.5 semesters in the MHRM program at Fisher, and gain further background and experience that will ultimately prepare me for taking on an HR Specialist role. Plus, I still want to live out the last of my college breaks that I might never see again 😉 Until next time. Go, Bucks!

Buckeyes that intern together, stay together
Buckeyes that intern together, stay together

Election Season: Vote No on Packed Lunches

I am going to throw it out there: I am against packed lunches. Why? Let me run you though this:

I am against packed lunches.

I vote “no” on packed lunches.

First, you have to buy the right food at the grocery store well ahead of the night before/morning of when you prepare your lunch for the next day. Next, you have to go through the process of preparing the food, only to store it away to be eaten later. While delayed gratification might be a positive for some, I am more of one who cooks something up and needs to have it instantly. Finally, you have to pack it up and carry it to campus in a lunch box/plastic bag (depending on your fashion style). Talk about a hassle.

Due to this, for the first month or so of the year, I lived at Panera, Bibibop, and other OSU campus restaurants between the hours of 12 and 1. You were not going to catch me packing a lunch and bringing a lunch box/plastic bag to campus. No way.

Now, as it turns out, eating-out at restaurants is incredibly expensive if you turn it into a daily habit, sometimes twice daily. My checking account took a Ray Lewis (professional American football player) kind of hit. Check out the link if you are trying to understand what I mean by that.

So, what happens when you are a broke college student and can’t afford to live that luxurious lunch lifestyle? You resort to, yes you guessed it, packed lunches. But remember, this is not something that comes naturally to me, so I look for help. From where? None other than “How to Pack a Lunch Box” by Wiki.

Over the past month, I have been slowly growing into what some might call a packed-lunch connoisseur. I started with peanut butter sandwiches and like pretzels or chips. Moved on to menu items such as chicken and rice & meatballs with pasta. Recently, I have had beef rigatoni, hummus and vegetables, and even a steak balsamic vinaigrette kale salad. What I have come to realize is that I have begun to save more money, eat healthier, and have been able to save some time during the day by packing a lunch.

The future certainly looks bright for what I can manage to fit into that 4×6 Tupperware container. However, with that said, I still am not sold due to the process of creating a packed lunch and will continue to miss those days of old.

 

Counting My Blessings

I’ve been just awful about updating this blog, but I have an excuse: I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been before in my life. It probably was not wise to start my return to college (16 years after earning my undergrad degree) by enrolling in five graduate-level courses, working as a graduate administrative assistant, and interviewing with recruiters for internships (I do have one offer so far!). In the last seven weeks, I’ve spent large chunks of every day (including weekends) studying, writing, and going to class– along with my other duties. It’s just been cray-cray. I am SO relieved to be down to three classes starting next week.

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BUT one of my mother’s many sayings that she ingrained into my mind as a child is, “Count your blessings.” And I am. Since beginning my time at THE Ohio State University, I’ve met so many kind-hearted, smart, open-minded people; fellow students, staff, and faculty who are good people happy to be here– and intent on bettering the world in some way. It’s an intangible spirit that you can feel on campus and it’s very inspiring. The sky is truly the limit.

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This is Kristina Toliver and me in the Graduate Programs Office. She works at Fisher AND is getting her degree in psychology. She’s one of the MANY nice people at OSU– and I admire her dedication to her studies and appreciate her positive energy!

I also am really enjoying the relationships that are developing in my MHRM cohort. It’s a small group of 48 (I believe), so we already kind of feel like brothers and sisters! For me, getting to know them has rejuvenated my outlook; most of them radiate with the same energy I had in my early 20s.

My new pal, Vinessa, and me.

And they’ve been very kind to me– making sure I don’t feel completely out of place! (although I admit that I sometimes do) Most recently, we went to a … corn maze/haunted house thing (I don’t know what to call it!) and I took part in the fun! 

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Me. Apologies for the fake, cheesy smile!

Next up: the continuation of our Business Excellence class, Talent Management (this is taught by a very well-respected professor and is obviously a critical course) and Organizational Development & Change (also critical and very topical, given the importance of change management today). And registration for spring semester starts on October 28th! I can’t wait!

Undergrad Classes vs. Grad Classes

When I was applying to grad school, I was so focused on where I was going, rather than what exactly I would be doing or what would be expected of me. In this blog, I will share my personal experience as our first session comes to an end in three short days.

In undergrad, I would study for weeks for an accounting test and constantly felt like I was reading textbooks. My hands would even get sore from re-writing problems. However, that’s not what grad school is about. The classes as of first session have been much more of an overview. My advice: keep your intermediate textbooks and notes! You will want to reference them. The learning curve is high, but we are all here because we want to challenge ourselves. It’s nice to focus on the big picture and try to remember the fundamentals of why we are studying this, rather than specific details.

Some major differences that stick out to me:

  • Less homework!!!
    • No busy work is a major pro for me.
  • Group Work
    • Expect a LOT of group work. I was always the type of person that despised group projects and would prefer to do the assignments by myself. Grad school has changed my opinion on this completely. Everyone in your classes is here because they want to be here. With that being said, everyone cares! For every one of my classes I have had at least one group assignment due, but I don’t let it intimidate me. The great thing about Fisher is there is so many people from different backgrounds and majors, there is always someone else with a different perspective that I may not have originally thought of.
  • Amount of time spent on campus
    • Undergrad: I would go to my one or two classes a day and then leave campus as soon as I could. Grad classes: your classes are a bit longer and you want to stay on campus to use Fisher’s resources. As a Fisher student, you have 24-hour access to Gerlach Hall (the graduate business building). You have a lounge where you can eat lunch with colleagues and just take a study break if needed. You can reserve study rooms also, which is especially helpful for group project meetings.
  • Expectations as a student
    • Undergrad was more grade-focused. This program really is about learning. As long as you are alert and paying attention in your classes, you will have no problem completing the assignments.
  • Session vs. Semester classes
    • This was one of my hardest adjustments. My undergrad institution was on a semester basis, meaning classes were 14 weeks. They were a slower pace but went over lots of little details. Grad classes in the MAcc program at Ohio State are session-based. This means that your courses are 7 weeks. 7 weeks is not a lot of time, so your classes are fast-paced. We have finals this week and it is only mid-October.
    • On the plus side, our program is only 9 months! Professors also understand that classes are 7 weeks in length. They do not expect to cram 14 weeks into 7 weeks. Rather, your classes focus on a narrower topic. For instance, Audit 2 builds upon Audit 1.

Finals are this week, so more to come on that. I have a couple of room reservations to meet with my study group. One of my study groups is also having a Jimmy John’s party (you have to make accounting fun). Fisher also brought in therapy dogs and the café is stocked with all our coffee needs. I’m ready to finish off the first semester strong and then I will be ¼ of the way there!

Undergraduate vs. Graduate

In a lot of ways, the Master of Accounting program functions like a fifth-year of undergrad. The majority of the students earn their undergraduate degree mere months before starting the program and therefore have less than a year of work experience. Because of this, I did not anticipate any challenges in adjusting to graduate school. As the end of my first term nears, I feel qualified to say that my expectations were very wrong.

So how is the MAcc different from my undergraduate accounting experience?

1. GROUP WORK. I am part of a group in every class. During high school and college, I did everything in my power to avoid working in a group setting, preferring to complete projects on my own. At Fisher, that is not an option– and I could not be more grateful! I am currently enrolled in four courses, and each one has some kind of group component. I think what sets these groups apart from those I have been a part of in the past is the fact that everybody cares about the outcome and our objectives all align.

2. THE CURRICULUM. Because I did not declare my accounting major until the beginning of my junior year, I experienced a bit of a time crunch in satisfying all of the course requirements. As a result, I was unable to take as many electives as I would have liked. Within the MAcc program, there are only 4 required courses that make up 10 of the 31 required hours; I have the flexibility to fill the rest of my schedule with classes that really interest me. Having so many different options is intimidating, but I am so thankful for the opportunity.

3. THE MATERIAL. It makes sense that the concepts we are covering in class are more advanced than those I learned during undergrad. The work is far less mechanical in nature and requires more critical reasoning skills. One of the core courses is Financial Reporting, which builds upon the concepts taught in Intermediate Accounting. Unlike Intermediate, where the bulk of the workload was comprised of practice problems, Financial Reporting involves actually applying the principles to various cases. There are definitely days when I miss the simplicity of the practice exercises, journal entries, and comprehensive problems, but there is also something incredibly rewarding about applying my knowledge to real-life financial statements.

It is crazy to think that I am about a quarter of the way through my MAcc journey. It has been overwhelming at times, but that is all part of the experience!

A Dude In a Diaper

Do I have a special viewing experience for you! But first, the set-up…

 

As I strive to make a name for myself in the entertainment industry, there seems to be one word I keep coming back to: memorable. There are lots of people who want to make it big in Hollywood, but how do they set themselves apart from everyone else? One of the best opportunities I’ve had to practice memorability at Fisher so far has been the Procter & Gamble case competition.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a case competition is, think of it as a campaign pitch. Company representatives give you fictional or recent scenarios their company has been involved in– and you and your team are tasked with coming up with a solution and pitching that solution. In the case of P&G, we had to figure out how to recapture Luvs’ market share from competitor Pampers.

For someone with marketing experience, I’m sure their mind was racing with a million ideas from the moment they heard what the problem was. My mind couldn’t stop thinking of the image of a dude in a diaper. I thought it would be funny – especially since Luvs has already used campaigns that rely more on humor than heart – but I was worried that my idea would just be too out there. However, when the Luvs representative said, “Feel free to be provocative,” it was like someone had handed me a blank check. The moment my team and I got together, I posited, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we found a way to put a full-grown man in a diaper?” And, well, the rest was history.

Everyone loved the idea and we came up with a slogan “#Luvsforlife” that wanted to sell the idea that despite being the value brand, Luvs were the most durable and long-lasting diapers on the market. To represent this idea, the “Dude In a Diaper” ad was born. The commercial would start with Mom putting baby in a diaper and 30 years later, baby is still wearing that diaper while putting its durability to the test (now baby is rock-climbing or fighting fires).

Being the showman that I am, I convinced my team to shoot a sample commercial to show as part of our pitch. Check it out:

https://youtu.be/_WSYTflb9ws

When it came time to present, I checked my dignity and remembered that I had none left, so I donned a diaper over my pants and the “Dude In a Diaper” was ready to pitch.

Over the course of the two-day competition, I got to hone my skills in a lot of areas: how to create a well-rounded product in a short amount of time, balancing team contributions and workloads, creating memorable ideas. We didn’t win the competition, but there wasn’t a single P&G employee who didn’t come up to us and complement us on our idea and our audacity. I didn’t take home and award, but I’m sure the image of me in a diaper went home with each and every one of them.

And in the end, isn’t that what being memorable is all about?

“Put The Videotape In”

Exactly two months ago, I left my country, my job, my beloved family—and the Olympics, which were being held in my home country for the first time—and prepared to be back at school for the first time in 6 years. After putting in the effort to develop my career in human resources, I had mixed feelings about the journey that was about to start.  I was excited that I was finally carrying out my plan of getting my MBA abroad, but was nervous about being in a new place and not knowing anyone. It was also a special moment because, after being in a long-distance relationship for more than 2 years, I was celebrating the fact that I would be living in the same country as my husband!

After getting to Ohio, the difference in lifestyle was evident immediately. Everything that was discussedin Pre-Term is confirmed everyday: it is intense. It is about learning every day, time management and prioritizing, learning tons of material, sharing wonderful experiences with peers and professors. We also are bonding as teams. There’s been amazing teamwork in zip- lining and a scavenger hunt across campus– as well as in graded group projects. And then there is learning more material, coping with stress, experiencing diversity inside and outside the classroom, learning to adapt our own methodologies, learning even more material and of course: having fun with new friends! It’s a lot of experiences– coming at you quickly!

Reaching the zipline
Reaching the zipline
Team work at Summit Vision
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Team 14 – Scavenger Hunt (That’s me on the right!)

I am originally from Espirito Santo, Brazil, and I lived and worked in Sao Paulo for 6 years. Columbus has delighted me since my interview on campus. The entire city environment, the people, my apartment in Buckeye Village, and all the opportunities here have helped me create a new home (learn more about the city here). I can attest that being an international MBA student at Fisher College of Business has been the best experience of my life so far.

Our professors stressed the idea of envisioning the best outcomes every day when we began this program.  They cited “Put the videotape in”– a mantra originally used by Michael Phelps as his motivational motto for performing his best in every race.  His “videotape” is the perfect race, in which every movement is precise and flawless. The concept is with me every day.

The whole experience is much more holistic than I was expecting and I can’t wait for the coming semesters so I can take more classes, learn new subjects, meet new people and challenge myself in different areas.  I want to “record” and celebrate each of these achievements so that they can become part of my video tape.

Summit Vision

As an extension to our MAcc Orientation, all MAcc students got the opportunity to attend Summit Vision. Summit Vision is an outdoor experience where you work on team building exercises, solve complex problems and bond with your classmates. Last Saturday, we went to summit vision and came away with many memories, and having learned how to be a part of a high performing team.

I was on team six. Our team started out with an activity where you have to balance a seesaw with all 10 of us, which required a lot of strategy and communication. Our team learned the importance of listening to what others were saying, as listening is a crucial part of communication. Trey, our guide for the day, kept giving us more complex problems to solve and our team kept succeeding at them.

After that, we got to go zip lining! Many of the students on my team had never gone zip lining before so this was an awesome experience! We even had a GoPro to catch all of the action. Since the process of getting people up to the 50 foot zip line was lengthy, I got to learn more about my fellow students, including several international students that I previously had not talked to very much.

After the zip lining, we did a couple more team building exercises and our team was very successful at these. Before we wrapped up the trip, each team had to say what they were good at, and what they might not have been good at but with some improvement can become a strength. Our team recognized the success we had in communicating a strategy and successfully implementing it, but also realized that we weren’t perfect at getting feedback from everyone and brainstorming before we came up with plans.

Summit Vision
Team 6 at Summit Vision

This trip will help us in the classroom as well. Not only did we learn how to work together as a team, we learned how to solve complex issues and how to consider who is good for what role within the team. Summit Vision was a great learning experience and I am glad I got to spend my Saturday morning with my awesome classmates.