Brett Has Left the Building

Dear Loyal Following,

Over the past nine months, we have shared so much. You have witnessed a special and intimate viewing of the journey from the beginning of the Specialized Master in Finance program to this final week. From my introductory blog to my first semester recap to this final thank-you letter.

Roughly one year ago, I submitted my deposit for the program and solidified my change from a Political Science/International Affairs undergraduate student to a Candidate for the Specialized Master in Finance program at the Fisher College of Business. Arguably one of the biggest decisions of my life, I switched from a pre-law track to a finance track. Looking back, it was the defining moment in my life.

I have been exposed to a vast array of financial instruments and models that I will use in my future career. The amazing faculty and staff here have been awesome in supporting my growth as a student of finance and a student of The Ohio State University. In addition, the friends I have made here will last a lifetime, coming from backgrounds all across the globe and from different avenues of business. One thing you may have noticed throughout my blogs was the influence of the different cultures in the restaurants we visited. That is one of the greatest attributes of our program.

With all that being said, this is my final week at Fisher and my final week serving the program as a graduate ambassador. I have never been great at goodbyes and thus will keep this soliloquy short and sweet. To everyone at The Ohio State University, it has been an amazing ride. I am excited to see what the future holds for us in our future careers.

Adiós. 再见. 안녕. Tạm biệt. αντιο σας. अलविदा. Ijeoma. ลาก่อน.               Goodbye, Blog World.

Brett Hornung                                                                                                     Specialized Master in Finance, Class of ’17                                                       The Ohio State University – Fisher College of Business

 

Out of the Scarlet Planet

Goodbye Class of 2017: It is that time of year: graduation. Our group finished our client presentation to Vantiv (A Risk Management M&A Framework) and with that, the SMF class of 2017 is finished. Excitement, bittersweet, earnestness, calm; our class is experiencing a variety of emotions as everyone looks towards their next steps. Personally, I feel content and restful– thankful that I came to Ohio State. As I step away, I would like to take a moment to address the incoming class.

The OSU team after our presentation

Hello, Class of 2018!: Everyone will tell you that it goes fast, it will go even faster than they warned you. One of the unique beauties of our program is its diversity. You will travel from all Earth’s corners to study in Columbus. For some of you, this may be the first time in the United States. Things will be different. Before I left the U.S. to spend a summer in southeast Asia, I didn’t understand how different things could be. Sometimes, it may feel as if you are on another planet. Ohio State is a big school, we like football, etc. It’s OK to be scared, but I assure you, you will feel welcome here.

The Arrival by Shuan Tan: A imaginative novel about the struggles and awe of moving to a new country

One of my favorite authors (C.S. Lewis), tells a story about a man who goes into outer space. He first expects that space will be cold and empty, void of all his comforts. Near the end of the story, he realizes that space is not empty; the entire time it has been full of good things, the beautiful and bright creation of the galaxies. In this story, what was scary from the traveler’s perspective is actually good. It only took some time to be recognized.

If you are new to Columbus, there will be some pros and cons compared to your hometown. I encourage you to recognize and embrace the pros. Don’t hesitate, because your time here will be brief. This is my best advice for the incoming class.

To close, as we are talking about “space,” this is my final shameless plug for our campus. Check out the OSU planetarium. You will be glad you did, and I hope you will be glad you came to Ohio State.

Looking forward to meeting you.

– Ethan

My Top 5 Moments of This Year

1. #3 Ohio State vs #2 Michigan (“The Game”) – Although this year’s rivalry week did not include the Mirror Lake jump this year, this was one of the best rivalry games in OSU history. The only game vs. Michigan that may have been better was the 2006 edition of “The Game” when #1-ranked Ohio State beat #2 Michigan to secure a spot in the National Championship. This past year’s game secured us a spot in the Playoff, but we won’t talk about that. As a lifelong fan, this rivalry means so much to me and once you step foot on campus, you will understand the rivalry.

Omar, Mark and me before rushing the field after we won in OT

2. Random Social Events –This one is sort of a catch-all. One thing I am very grateful for is getting to know my classmates pretty well. I knew some of my classmates before the program, but I also met some really awesome people through the program. Throughout the year, we had many social events with everyone in the MAcc. We celebrated birthdays together, tailgated before footballs games together, and went out on the weekends together. While there are still people I wish I got to know better while I was in the program, I am glad I went to as many social events as possible this past year to get to enjoy my final year with classmates.

Celebrating Heewon’s Birthday

3. Fisher Formal – I was hesitant to buy my ticket for this event, but it was definitely worth attending. Fisher Formal is advertised as Prom for graduate students, and since we are of age this time, an open bar is included! Everyone at formal looked amazing and it was a really great time with fellow classmates. Even though I am horrible at dancing, you would have seen me dancing like nobody was watching. Fisher Formal will be one of my most memorable moments from the MAcc program.

4. MAcc Olympics – I wrote about MAcc Olympics a few weeks ago, so if you did not read that blog, check it out. This event got everyone active and playing childhood sports together. We played basketball, volleyball, kickball and dodgeball. This event was also conveniently timed to be right after our Exit Exam was due, so everyone was pumped to be done with that and we celebrated with one big “recess.”

5. Intramural Sports – I’ve blogged about this before as well, but playing intramurals is a great way to get involved and get to know fellow classmates. There are many sports in which you can play and several competitiveness levels for you to choose from. So no matter your skill level, there is an intramural league for you. If you are still not sold on playing intramurals while you’re in the MAcc, just know that if you win the league you get a free t-shirt and get to call yourself Intramural CHAMPION for the rest of your life.

MAccletes could not win it all, but we looked good doing it.

This past year has been one for the books. I have grown a lot as a person and learned more than I thought possible in just 9 months. I have made lifelong connections and feel blessed to have been apart of this class. As promised, I made the most of this year and I encourage everyone to do the same.

The 7 Things That Will Vastly Improve Your 1st Year in the MBA Program

I wanted to leave some advice for the incoming class that will make your life a little easier as you start this crazy thing called the MBA program. So I present you another Buzzfeed-style list to vastly improve your 1st year.

1. Redefine success.

Guess what? This isn’t undergrad where you got to take awesome classes in your major, like Children’s Literature and write papers on Harry Potter (was that just me? Good times.). Instead, you’ll be taking classes across a wide variety of business subjects and it’s unlikely that you’ll be getting As in all of them; Accounting, Marketing, Data Analysis, Operations and Finance all have very different skill sets. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for the little wins! (laundry, making time to see a friend, turning in all your assignments on time, getting above the average on a test) Which leads into my next point…2. Grades are not important. Focus on the bigger picture.

Most likely, you are not attending business school to stay in academia and become a professor, so getting straight As shouldn’t be your focus. Instead, your goal is to get your MBA and get a great job that you love afterwards. The most important things are to learn new skills, get to know your fellow students, and be better prepared for leadership positions in a company. The school wants you to be successful and go on to be great alumni that strengthen the reputation of the program.

3. Go to happy hours.

Make friends! Your fellow classmates will go on to be crazy successful and you’ll definitely want them in your network now and for years after graduation when they’re all CMOs, CEOs, CFOs, and CHROs. Don’t be the person who no one can remember!

4. Spend time with your core team outside of school.

You will spend a lot of time with your core team in your 1st year. Things will be stressful and there will be weeks that you feel like you spent every waking minute together. So, just make sure to take the time to know each other on a personal/social level. Go to dinner, explore the city, go to a trivia night, do karaoke, drink! It will make the stressful times a lot better.

5. Invest in your mental health.

Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Again, there will be crazy weeks, but make sure you’re doing what you need to do to stay happy and focused. For me, I usually set goals and rewards, or took the time to enjoy a TV show with dinner so that I didn’t get sad or even more stressed than I needed to be. Work smart! For me, it wasn’t worth the dozens of extra hours to get my grade up in Accounting when I knew that I would never use those skills again, but I spent extra time in the classes that I knew I would use after graduation.

 

6. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The MBA curriculum looks daunting at first, so just focus on it week by week, and you’ll get there– I promise! Don’t think about a semester’s worth of work; focus on what you need to accomplish this week and next, and then get it done. Stress can be demobilizing, so as long as you keep moving along, you’ll be fine.

7. You WILL get through this and you WILL be successful!

Other people have done this and you will, too! And trust me when I tell you that there will be intense weeks where you wonder why you’re doing this, but eventually you will learn a lot in a very short amount of time and all of that blood, sweat and tears will be distant memories. You will find strength you didn’t know you had and you’ll find yourself enjoying the coursework, your classmates, your impressive professors– and before you know it, you’ll be looking at graduation and feeling very sad. It’s a crazy journey, but I know I’m stronger for it and well-equipped to go out into the world and do great things. Best of luck! 

Photo Sources

  1. I adulted today. https://rlv.zcache.com/i_adulted_today_sticker-rb3b47fcc102949df97a8b9a9f6e9b130_v9waf_8byvr_540.jpg
  2. Happy Hour: http://www.trainingforwarriors.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/HappyHour.jpg
  3. Yoga pose: http://www.bloomyoganj.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/yoga-pose.jpg
  4. Hedgehog: http://www.funnyjunk.com/You+can+do+it/funny-pictures/5910280#1c0d9c_5909836

 

 

 

 

The 6 Surprising Things I Learned in Business School

As my 2nd year begins to wind down, I was debating about what helpful nuggets of advice I could leave for any current or future MBA students. So I present to you a Buzzfeed-style random list of “The 6 Surprising Things I Learned In Business School.”

1. It’s important to have an answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

Maybe not the first week, but eventually. Probably in the 1st semester. Do everything, see and listen to every speaker, attend plenty of company info sessions, and eventually you’ll figure out what you like and what you don’t– which is the first step in deciding what you want to do.

2. How to interview like a boss

Okay, maybe not like a boss, but you will improve. I got rejected from almost every company I interviewed with my first year, so I’m not really a beacon of shining interviewing success, BUT I’m a heck of a lot better at interviewing than when I joined the program, and that’s a skill I’ll use for the rest of my life! And always remember that jobs are like spouses; it’s not a question of success rates or batting averages, you just need to find the one.

 

3. Super-crazy insane time management

I will let you in on a secret: I watched TV most weeknights. I know, it’s crazy, but I was able to prioritize insane amounts of homework, group work, a graduate assistantship on campus, student organizations, recruiting happy hours and info sessions– and I still had a social life!

I did sleep, but definitely gave up working out, cleaning and cooking, but knew that I needed to do some things to invest in my mental health, and that’s why I watched TV (usually as I wolfed down dinner before diving into homework, but it counts!). Even though I was stressed, it definitely helped keep my life into perspective when I talked to my classmates with children; now, they are the real heroes here!

4. I am not and never will be the smartest person in the room/organization.

Your classmates will be crazy smart! Everyone in the program is smart, motivated and has probably been pretty successful up to this point. So, it can be a pretty humbling and inspiring experience to hang out with these people for two years. It’s also a great feeling to realize that YOU made it into this impressive group too, so it’s a strange mix of self-confidence boosting and some humble pie, too.

5. I have a newfound appreciation for free food.

“Free food” is one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language, especially when you’re a poor graduate student who isn’t earning any money and is too busy to take the time to cook and eat well. I can’t tell you how much pizza I’ve eaten in this program, and I LIKED it.

6. Introspection is a rare and beautiful thing.

I expected to gain technical skills during this program, especially since in my English Literature studies I had literally never taken one of these business classes, and I certainly did. What I didn’t expect, though, was how much the program pushed me and developed me as a person.

In leadership courses, you’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses (some knew what to expect and some people were really taken aback), but it’s very good to know these things about yourself, so that you can continue to improve in those areas. I also recommend taking Professor Rucci’s Leadership Legacy class, where you think about what you want your life’s work to be and how you want to be perceived by the people around you. Since you’ve stepped out of the workforce, take the opportunity to do a little soul-searching and make sure you understand your priorities. That way, you’re prepared for life and can make deliberate decisions about your path that lead to your long-term happiness.

Image Sources:

  1. Baby in suit. http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/03/31/article-2593486-1CB8CB6700000578-692_634x567.jpg
  2. Interview. http://belimitless.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/maxresdefault.jpg
  3. Balancing act. http://imworld.aufeminin.com/story/20140102/candace-cameron-bure-balancing-it-all-154578_w1000.jpg
  4. Average student.  http://0.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/63/67/cc67ed1901e9a3178f44e723c1f6c629-collegehumors-average-student-scholarship-contest.jpg
  5. Free pizza. http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/32/324ee338a4ce69e815a9ef7839eea7830fb46a92b4494b70b9e1c4cc5c56e405.jpg
  6. The Thinker.  http://d279m997dpfwgl.cloudfront.net/wp/2016/05/0512_the-thinker05-wide.jpg

A Day with Warren Buffett

About 20 Fisher graduate students traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to spend a day with Warren Buffett. The highlight of the trip was a 3.5 hour question and answer session with the Oracle himself.

Our group with Mr. Buffett

Mr. Buffett spent a large amount of time speaking about the importance of family. He said that as we grow older, our relationship with our children, (not how much money we have), will be one of, if not the main, measuring stick defining success.

Mr. Buffett supported this point by claiming, “being rich is over-rated, but if you have the chance, take it.” He explained that ease of air-travel was the only tangible “day to day” advantage he has over others.

These two concepts offered an opportunity for us to reflect on our long-term goals and decide what is truly important. Mr. Buffett serves as a reminder that choices we currently make will impact these goals, and that those of us who prioritize family will not “fail.”

I am thankful for the opportunity to meet and listen to Mr. Buffett. Traveling with our group formed a good bond as we all learned more about each other.

Our gift to Mr. Buffett – to match the Tressel ball he keeps on his desk – Go Bucks!

 

Maintaining Balance

It seems like “balance” is the ultimate buzzword nowadays. Nobody really knows what it is, but everyone is trying to find it. Experts cannot seem to agree on whether or not it is possible to “have it all.” Early in my college career I was introduced to the idea that there are 3 S’s: social life, sleep, and studying (good grades), and you can only excel in two of the three areas.

During the autumn semester, my primary focus was on my grades and career search. I opted to forgo a lot of social opportunities for the sake of getting a good night’s rest because I knew my academics and recruiting efforts would suffer if I was not sleeping. This certainly paid off – I was thrilled with my grades and I received the job offer I was hoping for. Looking back, however, I definitely missed out on some fun experiences. Though I was “successful,” my life was not as balanced as I wanted it to be.

This past semester, I shifted my focus in an attempt to make the most of my remaining time in the MAcc. My academics continued to be my top concern, but I also prioritized having fun. There were definitely weeks where I was not as well-rested as I would have liked, but I would not trade the memories for anything. My grades have stayed about the same but I feel much more engaged in the program, which has made an already fantastic MAcc experience that much greater.

I think there is a misconception that “balance” is this all-or-nothing thing. I have come to believe that you can have it all, just not all at once and not all the time. For example, in January and February, I was preparing to take my first section of the CPA exam – BEC. For several weeks, my focus was entirely on preparing for my test. I pretty much nixed both “social” and “sleep” from my life. While this period was not the most enjoyable, it was only temporary. After taking (and passing!) BEC, I was able to return to a more “balanced” life since I no longer felt compelled to spend every waking moment immersed in Becker. I know I will have similar phases for the rest of my life, but there will also be plenty of times where I have the flexibility to get a good night’s rest, go out with friends, or take a hike.

At the end of the day, it comes down to knowing what you need to prioritize when. Sometimes that may mean opting to stay in on a Friday night in order to catch up on schoolwork. Other times that may mean putting the textbooks away for a spontaneous weeknight dinner with friends. Though I know balance is something I will continuously have to work at, I feel like this past year has helped me figure out what I need to feel both grounded, successful, and happy.

Student Perks: D-Tix

Of the many perks available to Ohio State students, I think one of the neatest and least advertised is D-Tix (abbreviation for “discount tickets”). Through OSU’s vast network of community partnerships, the school is able to offer general discounts and discounted tickets to special events through an online lottery system. Everything from Hocking Hills zipline tours, passes to the Columbus Zoo, and gift cards to local restaurants may be available at any given time on D-Tix.

The website is set up similar to Groupon, but with a lottery component. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students can enter the lottery for any particular event they are interested in, and if selected they pay a discounted price for the tickets (anywhere from 25-50% less than face value).

Obviously, the popularity of the event determines the probability of being selected. The recent John Mayer concert at the Schottenstein Center was quite popular (by the way, Chance the Rapper will also be performing there next month), but for other lower-key entries (gift certificates to local restaurants, for one example) students have a relatively high chance of being selected. Also worth noting—for any unclaimed tickets, they are sold first-come, first-served at the Ohio Union.

One of the benefits of attending a large, public institution like Ohio State is that perks like D-Tix come at a very small cost to each student and are included in the student activity fee (hello, economies of scale!). Let us also not forget the general student discounts afforded to students at various establishments around the city by simply presenting your BuckID. I am grateful that we’re able to enjoy so much of the city, even on a student budget!

The Ultimate Settler

For some, holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends, reminiscing on stories of old, and just having a splendid time among company you truly enjoy. While this is certainly the case for my family, we take it one step further with our competitive nature. After all the delicious food, our family takes to the dining room table and plays one of the many games in our arsenal.

The vast majority of these games are card games, including: Rummy, Shanghai, Yuker, Exploding Kittens, and Pinochle. The other games are board games: Labyrinth and Settlers of Catan. All of these games are definitely amazing and enjoyable in unique ways; however, my family’s favorite is Settlers of Catan.

Cover of box for game.

Ranked #1 board game in the world for the past several years (not 100% certain that this is true), Settlers is to board-gamers what peanut butter is to jelly, what cheese is to crackers, and what butter is to toast; it is just an absolute necessity. Now, you may be thinking no way, that can’t be true. But trust me, this game is the GOAT (greatest of all time).

Essentially, the goal is to build up your cities and settlements to obtain 10 points to win. Along the way, there are development cards that throw some twists into the game, as well as specialty point cards like Longest Road and Largest Army. There are different strategies that people argue for: some like to stretch their territory, others (like me) are fans of building a small but powerful community around numbers with the highest odds of being rolled. Either way, this game has it all and can be played in under two hours.

What the actual board looks like during a game.

Last night, after a nice day with extended family: my parents, younger brother, and I sat down at the dining room table for a game. While it didn’t look great for me early on, I pulled away on a three-point play to take the W: combining a victory point (from the development cards) with building one city and one settlement. It was an electric atmosphere after the win and I couldn’t have happier (sorry family).

All in all, go buy Settlers of Catan, teach your friends and family to play, and truly enjoy this epic board game for all that it offers. Happy Easter!

A Formal Affair

If you thought prom was over, you thought wrong. Prom is no longer just an event for American high school students, it is a social event for Fisher graduate students too! This event is a great stress reliever following a long week of mid-term exams. The event is technically referred to as “formal”, however, I prefer to think of it as prom.

A great thing about this event put on by the Fisher Social Chairs Committee is that it is for all graduate programs in the Fisher College of Business. This is a great way to get to mingle and interact with people outside of your specialized program. Programs in attendance were: MAcc (Accounting), SMF (Finance), MHRM, Part-time MBA, and Full-time MBA.

It is a great opportunity to hang out with your classmates outside of the classroom, on a more casual level. Having the same classes with the same 80 people throughout the school year, you get to know your peers pretty well. One of the many positive traits of the Fisher MAcc class is how close-knit of a group we are. Coming from out-of-state, I didn’t know anyone prior to the program orientation, which takes place a few days before classes start. The numerous group projects and social events, like Fisher Formal, really encourage students to get to know one another better. At this point in the year, we are nearing the end with about 3 weeks left of class. This is a great capstone to the end of an amazing school year at Ohio State.

We clean up well!
Enjoying the photo booth with fellow MAcc classmates

 

 

Current SMF student, Brett, having way too much fun with future accountants