National Diversity Day is a day to celebrate and embrace who we are, despite our differences, no matter what race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, or disability. A day to reflect on and learn about different cultures and ideologies. A day to vow acceptance and tolerance. A day to consciously address these areas at educational and religious institutions, as well as in the workplace and at home. National Diversity day is an annual event on the first Friday in October (Diversity Awareness Month). This year, National Diversity Day was October 5, 2018.
The Fisher Graduate Women in Business and Black MBA Association collaborated together to invite Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League, to speak and discuss with Fisher students about her journey and experience as a minority woman in the business world. This took place in the Mason Rotunda. Over dinner, students had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a discussion with Stephanie over issues that took place in the workplace, home, social events…etc. Overall, it was such a successful event, and we hope to continue having such events. A big thank you to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for sponsoring this event!
This past September, the 40th Annual NBMBAA Conference & Exposition was held at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. For those of you who don’t know, the NBMBAA Conference is the “world’s largest career exposition with exhibitors from 300 of the nation’s top companies.” The event gathers members, corporate partners, and some of the world’s most sought after thought leaders for a week of exploration in the areas of dynamic leadership, technology and innovation, entrepreneurship, marketing, professional development, and education and workforce policy.
This year was my first time at the conference, and it was one of my favorite MBA experiences so far. There were so many top companies from a variety of industries, such as BlackRock, Eaton Corporation, Google, Johnson & Johnson, National Basketball Association, PepsiCo, Inc., Under Armour, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Whirlpool Corporation. The conference also included different breakout sessions, pitch challenges, speaker lectures, and other events, such as “Big Data: Algorithms vs. Human Analysis” – sponsored by LinkedIn, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Microsoft and The Leadership Studio: R.E.S.P.E.C.T – Women in Leadership – sponsored by Georgia-Pacific.
The conference provided me with one of the best opportunities to get my face in front of my target companies. I had a chance to interview with Microsoft, the NBA, and Under Armour—three of my potential employers. I never imagined I was going to be able to speak with any of those companies, but the conference made that possible.
A few other benefits I received from the conference were being able to watch our case competition team present, speaking with local high students and undergraduates about The Ohio State University and the Fisher College of Business, getting invited to the NFL Kickoff Event at the Detroit Lions Stadium and the Microsoft Meet & Greet, attending an Under Amour Detroit Brand House event, and building relationships with other black professionals. I will always remember this event and how blessed I am to have experienced it, all thanks to Fisher, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and the NBMBAA.
Here are some other perspectives from a few first-years and second-years:
Neethi Johnson, second-year: “I had a wonderful experience at the NBMBAA conference in Detroit where I was able to connect with amazing employers, engage in fruitful conversations, and meet other driven, conscientious MBA students from around the country. As I continue to interview with companies I met at the conference, I look forward to maintaining and cultivating my NBMBAA relationships.”
Chineze Okpalaoka, first-year: “Last month, I attended the National Black MBA Association conference in Detroit. It has been the highlight of my semester so far. I had the rare opportunity to have enormous face time with recruiters from organizations whose work I admire. I was also able to connect with other young black professionals from universities across the nation. One of my favorite moments was from a breakout session I attended on black women entrepreneurs. It gave me the motivation I needed to keep investing in my own ideas even while I am pursuing my MBA.”
Tomilola Abiodun, second-year: “The Black MBA Conference was exciting and fulfilling for me. I had the opportunity to network and even interview with some of the top companies in the United States. I am grateful for the opportunity granted to me by Fisher and the Office of Diversity to volunteer and attend the conference.
“I was able to make the best out of the conference by preparing very early. I started applying to jobs on the website in July and started my Interview prep with career management in August. The conference provides great networking opportunities for a second-year MBA like me but can be very overwhelming if one doesn’t prepare adequately. I will advise students to make good use of the resources available to them at Fisher to ensure they gain maximum success at future conferences. I look forward to Houston next year where hopefully I will be at the other side of networking. Thank you, Fisher!”
Anique Russell, second-year: “I attended the National Black MBA conference in Detroit last month and the experience was unforgettable. As a first-year MBA student, it felt so rewarding and beneficial to network with established professionals. As an entrepreneur, I was inspired by the breakout sessions geared specifically toward women in business. I also attended the FedEx small business competition, it was very exciting to watch startups pitch for $50,000 in funding. I can’t wait to attend the conference next year.”
Have you ever felt hesitant to speak your mind in a meeting, own up to your recent accomplishments at work or take the first chance to raise your hand in class? These are thoughts common to many women in the business world. Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) just hosted a workshop to help bring women together and begin combatting these very issues.
The first of four workshops in the series, “Raise Your Hand: A Workshop for Fisher Women,” led by Dr. Claire Kamp Dush, was both encouraging and inspiring! We learned and compared with other women how much we are affected by imposter syndrome, or the tendency for successful individuals to not accept their own accomplishments and develop a fear of being seen as a fraud. We shared stories and created action steps to support one another in preventing some of our default imposter syndrome actions moving forward. Overall, the workshop provided a confidence boost through developing aspirations for being fearless in work, life and school. I am looking forward to the next workshop focused on the best ways for women to self-promote.
Throughout my time at Fisher, FGWIB events and workshops like these have helped bring women together in support and empowerment. I am also a Forté Fellow, and as a part of the Forté Foundation, I am able to expand my network beyond the Fisher community. All female MBA students are able to join Forté as soon as they start the program. Through Forté, I attended one of their annual conferences to network with organizations and other schools, I have listened in on inspiring webinars led by female business leaders across the US, and I have leveraged their job center through posting my resume and interviewing for several positions targeting Forté members.
Overall, despite some of the challenges we face as women in business, being surrounded by conversations bringing these challenges to light, workshops to rise above and resources to expand and grow professionally has made a significant impact on my experience here at Fisher. I look forward to seeing these experiences continue on into the year and for future Fisher women!
As a JD/MBA student, I am taking a little bit of a non-traditional route to employment after graduation. I am looking for a path that allows me to use the skills I acquired from both programs to find a dynamic career. Thankfully, thru Fisher Career Services, I was given the opportunity to work for L Brands this summer in somewhat of a unique role.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do over this past summer. I had always been interested in real estate, but wasn’t sure exactly in what capacity I wanted to be. When I had the opportunity to work in retail real estate, I was intrigued. Despite seeing all the “malls are dying” stories in the news, I am a firm believer that retail is changing, but certainly not going away. My experience at L Brands this summer solidified this.
I spent 12 weeks at the fashion retailer in their real estate department, working in the department that handles the leases for all brick-and-mortar locations across the globe. L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Pink, La Senza, Henri Bendel) has some of the best real estate assets in the retail world, and I got to see first hand why this is true.
I was given the opportunity to see all sides of the process, including the forecasting, negotiating, and execution of making the most financially compelling deals for the company. I viewed each task I performed thru the lens of being a real estate investor— and acted as if my own personal money was on the line.
The coolest part of my experience was getting to travel on-site and see how the different brands operate in different types of venues. One of my trips this summer to a market outside Columbus allowed me to view the market holistically, see how the brands operate in strip centers vs. enclosed malls, and what capital investments make sense to produce the highest return.
I was thankful for the opportunity to negotiate with landlords, participate in the capital forecasting process, validating tactical planning strategies, and see how each deal in each venue is completely different. Luckily, I will be able to continue working there part-time during my last year of graduate school, and am excited for the opportunity to learn more.
While it may tempting to spend the summer before business school taking a bit of a break from work, there are a ton of great opportunities and resources that you can take advantage of before school starts. Search for “Pre-MBA Boot Camps” and find something that fits your interests or career goals. There are numerous opportunities across a wide range of industries including The Forte Foundation’s Financial Services Fast Track, Google’s Student Veteran Summit, and P&G’s Brand Camp, to name a few.
Use your Resources
Take advantage of the awesome resources and staff at the Fisher College of Business Office of Career Management (OCM). Career consultants from a variety of backgrounds help students narrow down career goals, fine-tune resumes, and practice elevator pitches and behavioral interview questions. In addition to the one-on-one sessions that students can schedule with career advisors, the OCM routinely holds seminars and workshops to prepare students for the job hunt.
Know your Deadlines
There can’t be a worse feeling then checking a job posting for your dream company and realizing the deadline has passed. The best way to stay on top of deadlines and other important dates in the recruiting process is with an Excel file. Keep track of important deadlines, as well as the dates that you applied for and interviewed for positions. If you haven’t heard back in a few weeks it may be a good time to follow up with your company contact.
Dress the Part
When it comes to recruiting events and interviews, the rule of thumb is that it’s always better to overdress rather than underdress. If you are looking for some more affordable options to purchase a suit, check out the Tanger Outlets or Ohio State’s Career Closet. The Career Closet occurs every fall prior to recruiting season and has lightly used business attire, shoes, and accessories offered to students for free!
On the days where classes have been getting out at noon providing only a hour lunch break before the next one begins, and there are no job or club info sessions providing the ubiquitous pizza, the Fisher Grad student has been left with a simple question: What the heck am I doing for lunch?
Ignoring the overachievers who choose to pack, the rest of us are left to find our own way into the Fisher campus culinary experience.
Starting off we have Mason Hall’s own Rohr Café, always good for a Starbucks coffee or espresso to get the caffeine boost one immediately begins to rely upon when Student becomes one’s job description. This quick café is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the crowds generally forming before 8:30 a.m. classes and around lunch. Offering a selection of sandwiches and other baked goods, it is a reliable option for a quick bite.
Only a five-minute walk away from Gerlach Hall, the Lane St. Panera has quickly become one the most popular nearby restaurants for lunch. Offering a wide range of sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads, this lunch spot provides a nice change of pace for those looking for something a bit healthier than the universal Domino’s pizza. Along with their Rapid Pickup app, allowing people to preorder and skip the line, it is a speedy and healthy stop for the grad on the go.
Located in the nearby and gorgeous Blackwell Hotel, Bistro 2110 offers a high scale experience at an affordable price and easy access. Their lunch buffet, coming in at $12.95/person, offers a changing rotation of options, ranging from sirloin steak with butternut squash to a seared salmon over rice pilaf. For those looking for a more specialized option their lunch and dinner menus offers a mix of made order items, the Blackwell Burger and Sriracha Fried Shrimp Tacos are always a solid choice.
This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with Health Care Services Corporation also known as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of IL, MT, NM, OK, and Texas (Quite the mouthful). I was a member of the internal audit team, assessing our internal business practices and identifying ways to more efficiently deliver care to the patients insured by Blue Cross. It was a fun summer, to say the least.
My journey to Blue Cross started nearly a year ago. Last fall, I met a director of audit at the National Black MBA Conference held in Philadelphia. A quick sidenote: The National Black MBA Conference is a must for students and the OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion typically sponsors a group of students every fall. Another compelling factor is that these conferences put you in a great position to both network and meet global companies.
Once the summer came around, I was ready to dive into the internship. One of the great things about Blue Cross is their structured intern program. Between the Illinois and Texas offices, there were 150 interns (including 15 graduate interns). One of the best events was “Lattes with Leaders,” a weekly event where interns would grab coffee with a member of executive leadership. Some of our guest speakers included the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Medical Officer, and the President of the Illinois Blue Cross Plan. I took notes in every meeting and reflected on ways to grow as a leader.
Another compelling attribute of the internship is the annual Intern Innovation Challenge. For the competition, I was paired with four other interns and had to devise an innovative solution addressing the mental health challenges faced by high school and college-aged students. Our group created Bearable, a chatbot driven referral network that will provide students with rapid access to a clinical provider. We had an incredible team who worked hard to on the project. Without a doubt, the hard work showed because we won 1st place!!
It was a memorable summer and I will never forget the wonderful team that I met. I can’t thank Blue Cross Blue Shield, the National Black MBA Association, and Ohio State enough for their roles in making it happen.
On the morning of August 4, 2018, I jumped into a host’s car to start my journey in Columbus. With jazz music playing on the radio, I was attracted to what I call “new antique-style” buildings—those with a rusty, red-brick color. A short time later I asked my host, “When will we arrive at the Ohio State campus?” She responded, “Oh, we’re already here.” We had already been driving around campus for a number of minutes! I was impressed by the expansive campus, specifically because university campuses in my country are much, much smaller. I could not believe that I was joining a campus 238 times larger than my former one!
My name is Ting Fan Chang, and I am from Taiwan. I previously studied Public Health at Taipei Medical University, and I am currently pursuing an MBA degree at the Fisher College of Business. Fisher definitely delivers when it comes to resource availability. Specifically, I have only been here for six weeks and I have already attended several key events, such as the Fisher Fall Career Fair, the Fisher Graduate Student Career Fair, a variety of company information sessions, and many others. Fisher students have many opportunities to build connections with company recruiters and gain detailed information on full-time job and internship opportunities. More importantly, at Fisher, students are able to utilize the Office of Career Management for insightful, one-on-one sessions with the Office’s many career consultants. The OCM team gives customized advice corresponding to each student’s particular background and interests.
To gain some other perspectives, I interviewed other first-year international students at Fisher to learn about their stories, and what they’ve experienced in the last couple months at Fisher, OSU, and throughout Columbus. Here is what they had to say:
Sai Chandra Pujita Vazrala — Guntur, India
Q: What is your impression of the Fisher MBA classroom setting?
A: Fisher MBA classrooms are interactive and relaxed – different from the more formal setting back in my home country. Students are encouraged to contribute to discussions and meaningfully challenge each other’s viewpoints. Overall, an engaging and dynamic classroom environment!
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being a part of the Fisher MBA program?
A: I truly believe that the biggest advantage of being a part of the Fisher MBA program is its diversity! We are exposed to a great blend of not only cultural diversity, but also professional diversity, in an intimate setting. I hope to learn more about the intricacies of what makes us the professionals and individuals that we are, while building a lasting network for years to come!
Fahd Jehangir— Lahore, Pakistan
Q: What do you think is the biggest advantage of the Fisher MBA program?
A: The faculty and Office of Career Management staff are extremely approachable, helpful and dedicated. You feel lucky to be part of the FTMBA batch by the sheer level of resources dedicated to your success.
Q: What do people do for fun in Columbus?
A: It all depends on what you want to do. If you’re a sports lover, it takes almost no time to plan a pickup game of soccer, basketball, volleyball, what have you, within the class. If you’re interested in nightlife, there are tons of domestic students who will not only guide you to the best spots in town, but also invite you to join in!
Q: What is your most impressive experience since arriving at OSU?
A: Within one month of arriving at OSU, I was hosted by more than five domestic students, and many more international students. I’ve made many new friends and gotten to know almost everyone in my MBA class. Yet everyday someone’s new experiences are shared in class. The level of diversity and intellect accumulated within the MBA group is fascinating!
Chih Chien (Jeff) Chiu— Tainan, Taiwan
Q: What is your most impressive experience since arriving at OSU?
A: Comprehensive career services at Fisher amaze me because they personalize their support and allow us to leverage the power of such a large university. Compared to business schools in my home country, Fisher provides more customized career consultants, broad alumni networking, recruiting events, and career workshops. All of these resources along with solid technical training help us effectively stand out among others.
Rattaporn Puikaew— Bangkok, Thailand
Q: What do you like to do for fun in Columbus?
A: Classes are wonderful, but we know, spending time outside with super cool, new friends is way more enjoyable! There are copious interesting places to explore near OSU’s campus: cool bars in Short North, the vintage-style book loft in German Village, and many more fun activities always going on. Most importantly, the Buckeye football games are huge! To be honest, the first game of the season was my ‘Football 101’ experience. I’m not a big sports fan, but time will be well spent cheering on the team and watching with friends! (Warning: remember to buy tickets for the whole season – it’s a must!) If you’re not a big sports fan like me, Friday nights with friends are another way to get together and let loose! To me, hanging out with friends is the fastest and easiest way to get to know each other. (Hint: the best moments are ones we all share!)
Fisher MBA students often talk about GAP. What exactly is GAP and why is it such a focal point of our program?
Global Applied Projects (GAP) is an opportunity for MBA students to gain international consulting experience by working on a business challenge in a global location (non-US). It is a three-credit, graded, elective course that allows students to lead, plan, and execute global consulting engagements across multiple functional areas for a wide variety of corporations, not-for-profits, and governments in locations outside of the US. A typical GAP project timeline looks like this:
January: Project client and Office of Global Business work to define the business problem and formulate a high-level scope.
Late February: Student participation begins with the section of MBA team members chosen to meet the needs of the project.
Next 10 weeks: Team is directed by a second-year MBA team coach and a faculty functional expert. Students attend weekly classes that teach best practices in project management and global consulting, and develop cultural awareness. They also meet regularly with teams, advisors, coaches, and clients, and submit class assignments that support the development and execution of the projects.
May: Three-week, in-country, primary research phase with a presentation of findings, an in-depth analysis, and specific, actionable recommendations to the client.
As a second-year MBA student, I would love to share with you my most recent GAP experience, where I had the opportunity to work with Technical Rubber Company, based in Johnstown, OH, as well as Salvadori, based in Rovereto, Italy.
Client: Technical Rubber Company
Team members: Luke Barousse, Abhishek Chakrabarti, Adam Kanter, Andris Koh, Vaibhav Meharwade, Carl Shapiro, Sangyoun Shin, Kristen Stubbs
Cities/Countries we visited: Rovereto, Italy, and Munich, Germany
Activities: Visited TRC’s corporate headquarters, Salvadori’s headquarters, as well as attended the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management.
Project Title: Rubber Molded Products Business Plan
Objective: To define a pathway for TRC to forward integrate from the equipment business to manufacturing and selling products made from recycled rubber.
Submitted Deliverables: A 100-page business plan that contained our industry analysis, strategic recommendations, as well as financial, operational, and marketing plans. We also delivered a final presentation to TRC’s and Salvadori’s executives.
What were some takeaways from this GAP experience?
1. Even though I had no experience in the manufacturing or recycled rubber industry, I was extremely fascinated by it. By keeping an open mind, as well as the willingness to learn, changed my perspective of recycled rubber and the manufacturing industry.
2. Italians absolutely love good food, wine, and espresso.
3. Working in a team of eight within close parameters is not easy. There were many memorable moments, but there were also moments of tension. It is important to talk through these issues, instead of letting emotions breed over time.
4. Take some down time for yourself. I decided to stroll along the river one evening in Rovereto, where I enjoyed the perfect sunset with a glass of wine.
5. Communication is key. One of our team members was unable to travel internationally, so we had to find a way to deal with different time zones, interact and engage with our teammate, as well as communicate in a way that made him feel as part of the team even though we were not physically together.
6. Take time on the weekends to explore nearby cities, take a break from work, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I visited Rome, Venice, and spent the last weekend in Munich visiting the Neuschwanstein castle.
7. Rely on each other’s strengths to get things done efficiently. For example, when we were working on the business plan, we had Carl work on designing our logos, Sangyoun/myself on market research, Adam/Abhi on financials, Luke/Vaibhav on technical viability, and Kristen in putting things together. We each had our own strengths and we used them to maximize our output.
8. Having the opportunity to work as a consultant for a global client is something really unique and special. I know that having these relationships with clients and colleagues will carry into the future as I embark on more global projects in my career.
It’s day one, and we’re excited to begin a new chapter. We’re all bright-eyed and in a new environment, with new people, with multiple expectations, and with thoughts of what’s the year going to be like.
Then day two comes. We’ve sat through all our first days of classes and received our syllabi. Panic sets in, worry seeps through, and we’re sitting there with “omg” looks on our faces. We knew going back to school to pursue our MBAs wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but little did we know just how far off we were.
Skimming though the syllabi, nervous and uncertain about how we’re going to handle everything makes the future look scary. Day two is probably the first day anxiety hit. As we head into week five, we’ve already been stuck at Gerlach Hall until late at night, probably sleep deprived, and feeling like we’re barely making it through. There are classes, student organizations, activities, cases, job search and preparation, and hundreds of other things we’ve all just dived right into and have on our plate, and now we’re swimming in the unknown. It’s during these highly stressful times that it’s important to take some precautions. First and foremost, make sure to give yourself some “ME” time. Your health and well-being are most important, so managing stress is key.
Here’s what I like to do to de-stress. I like to start off each week by writing out my weekly schedule and to-do list. Afterwards I’ll make sure I at least give myself a break during the weekend. Over the weekend, I usually sleep in to catch up on missed sleep. I’ll catch up on my favorite shows for an hour or two. Right now, I’m watching Power. It’s amazing!
Going out for a walk helps me get in the right headspace to get ready for my day and to process everything. I’ll usually call my family and talk to them. It makes me happy to hear their voices and to have them reassure me that I’m in the right place and doing what I need to do to reach my dreams.
One activity I recently started trying was yoga. I was very skeptical at first, but it really helps you meditate and relax the mind to be present in the now. It forced me to stop my mind from racing and to feel a sense of peace.
On weekends, I like going out with my friends to different events like football games, speaker events, or to new places that we haven’t been to on Ohio State’s campus or in the city, like the Easton area. The outlet there will give you a nice shopping experience. I’ve also ventured out to downtown Columbus for a Food Truck Festival. This is where I had Jeni’s, a famous ice cream spot here, for the first time, and ate the juiciest and most seasoned jerk chicken I’ve ever had. I’m from Chicago, and we have amazing food, so I was shocked to be so impressed by all the restaurants I’ve been to so far.
Going out is probably a #1 go-to for most people to de-stress, which is great because it’s also important to socialize and let loose a bit. Watching movies or TV, going for a run, shopping, adventuring around Columbus, meditating, getting a massage, the list goes on and on for things to do for “ME” time.
We need to remember that, yes, we’re here for a reason and it’s going to be tough, but our journey throughout the MBA program should be an exciting one.
Some of my classmates ride bikes on the Olentangy Trail, go bar crawling, play soccer, go to the ARC to workout, or even use meditation apps like this one called Headspace. You know what kinds of things and activities bring joy to you. What you need to do is make sure you manage your time, prioritize YOU, connect with others when the stress seems unbearable, and keep your head up.
Remember that you were chosen to be here for a reason, remember why you decided to be here, and lean on each other through the good and the bad times. We all came in together, and we’re all going to survive and successfully leave together.