Hello from the (Other Side of the) Classroom!

Speak to any educator and they will tell you about the most important part of their job: summer! Recharging and preparing for the next school year is critical to effective teaching. As a second-grade teacher, my need for summer was no different.

But this past summer, instead of preparing for another group of amazing students, I was preparing to be on the side of the classroom—this time as a student! While I did take some much-needed time to relax and visit friends and family, Fisher connected me with resources throughout the summer to prepare me for success in the full-time MBA program.

Soon after my admission to Fisher, The Office of Admissions put me into contact with a current student as well as an alumni. I got to learn about course options, career paths, as well as skills to brush up on before the start of class. As the fall semester inched closer, I received access to a plethora of information. From academic modules to career and strength assessments, Fisher made sure I hit the ground running before the first day of class.

About two weeks before class, all full-time MBA students participated in a “pre-term” program. Pre-term is an all-encompassing experience that gives you a taste of what the next 18 months is going to be like. We got to meet with faculty, participate in case discussions, and meet with alumni and recruiters from every industry—from consulting to marketing. The highlight of pre-term was meeting my “core team.” Your core team is a diverse group of four to five students that will work alongside you during your first year in the FTMBA. We spent a morning at Summit Vision (picture below!) completing team-building activities. It was truly amazing getting to know everyone and just having a fun time.

With the first week of classes officially DONE, I can ecstatically say that Fisher has done a great job of connecting everyone with resources to help ensure success in the program. I cannot wait to see what the next 18 months will hold. Stay tuned for more!

My Core Team at Summit Vision!
My Core Team at Summit Vision!

 

Better the Devil You Know…


In the weeks leading up to my arrival at OSU, I was filled with a potent mix of anticipation and anxiety.

The anticipation came from the nerdy schoolboy in me jumping for joy at the prospect of being back in a classroom. “Imagine all I’ll get to learn!” “I wonder what interesting people I’ll meet!” “I can’t wait for football games!”

The anxiety came from my inner skittish recluse pulling his hair out at the prospect of being back in a classroom. “What if I can’t keep up with what they’re teaching?” “What if people don’t think I’m interesting?” “I don’t even like sports!”

I suppose this anxiety would be a little more palpable if I explained my background. I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ School of Filmmaking in 2014 with a focus on film directing. I moved back home to Youngstown, OH after graduation where I did a mix of videography, editing, volunteering at a ballet company, participating in community theater both on- and off-stage and working a variety of part time gigs. I decided an MBA was the right choice after my experiences told me that my passion for film had grown to all arts. I decided I wanted to be the guy who could talk to the stuffy suits as well as the airy artists.

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My mom made me take this photo!

No time in a big corporation. No use of what math skills I had. No sports. Does that anxiety make sense now?

Fast forward two weeks and that potent mix has been replaced with something much more powerful.

Coming back to school has felt more like a coming home. I had been to OSU only twice before, but within 48 hours, I felt like a prodigal son returned to his joyous father. Being here has felt like digging an old baseball glove out of a dusty attic and finding that it still fits after all this time (sports!).

I don’t know what a pivot table is or what exactly a consultant does, but orientation at Fisher has made me feel like I’m going to be the best businessman the world has ever seen. The faculty and upperclassmen have not been stingy in telling me how hard I’m going to have to work to make it through the next two years, but without attending a single class yet, they’ve managed to make me feel like I’ve learned a lifetime’s worth of information.

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My core group and I during our preterm scavenger hunt.

Adoration has replaced anticipation and until class starts, the anxiety still exists. Now, though, I know better what I’m getting myself into. I know who to turn to for help. I know what boundless resources I have at my disposal. I know who Urban Meyer is (sports!!).

I feel I’m staring into the abyss and the abyss is staring back, hungry. You know what I have to say to it, though?

Bring it.

 

The Year is Coming to an End

Technically, there are two days of class left in the semester. For the sake of this post, let’s say classes are over and all that remains between the student body and summer are those pesky exams.

Here in Gerlach Hall, there are two camps. First-year MBAs are eagerly preparing for GAP assignments and summer internships that will hopefully turn into full-time offers. Second-years are staring employment directly in the face. Try and picture the fleeting look of carefree senioritis on a 28-year-old’s face as she realizes winter break, spring break and Fridays off will forever be in the past. I fall squarely into the anxious, exhausted first-year camp. In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Tanzania working with the Global Water Institute on a water well program. In less than six weeks, I’ll be interning with The Wendy’s Company in its marketing division. Bring it on!
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On one hand, I cannot wait to ditch homework for four months. No more late nights at the kitchen table with a strategy case for a company. On the other hand, I’m essentially going back to work for 13 weeks. Work stress and effort are totally different than school stress and effort. Grades and participation points are great, but real life company-related implications and a paycheck are vastly more important in the long run. A dumb answer or a half-hearted deliverable will not ultimately sink a ship here in the safe classrooms of Fisher. Not so in the real world. All the theory and case studies will finally be put to the test. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Fisher Follies Variety Show 2016

Fisher Follies is honestly one of my favorite organizations here on campus, even though I am unfortunately not directly involved with it. Follies was set up with the purpose of raising money for students who may come across an unexpected need during their time here at Fisher. The major fundraiser put on by the organization is our Follies auction, which is held each year in November. The auction features items to bid on in both a silent and live auction.  Everyone from faculty and staff to students can donate items to auction off and there are always such great items (think an all-expenses paid trip to California, the chance to drive a classic car or a signed OSU jersey). While I love the auction and especially love the cause we are raising money for, I couldn’t possibly forget to mention another recent major event Follies puts on: Fisher Follies Variety Show 2016!

On Friday, March 4th, we had our variety show, which is essentially our year-end celebration for the successful auction put on back in November. The variety show is a mix of filmed and live skits/performances, which are 100% produced and run by our students. I am sure that many of you participated in variety shows in high school or at other times, but I have to say, Follies put on quite the production this year.

We had two hours of skits, many of which tied together with a great overarching plot line and were produced with some ‘real deal’ video equipment. There was a 007 spoof, a Pure Barre class taken by some lovely gentleman at Fisher, a live serenade of songs about our faculty director and many more amazing videos. The great thing about Follies is that every graduate program can, and does, get involved. Most of our skits had actors/actresses from all of the Masters programs and featured jokes and story lines that everyone in the audience could relate to. Quite a few of our professors and staff members also participated and it was amazing to see the culture and friendships here at Fisher come to life on the “big screen”.

The variety show was hosted at our student union in its U.S. Bank Theater by two “MCs” from our second year class. Students and their friends/family, faculty and staff all came to watch and we had quite a large turnout. There were even a few awards handed out for things like best Facebook post and the acceptance speeches for these were just as entertaining as some of the skits. While the variety show really is just an opportunity for everyone to have fun and sometimes, poke fun at our life as grad students, it always reminds me how great life is here at Fisher. We all become such great friends during our time here and these student-run skits truly bring that to life. Now that I am a mere 6 weeks from graduating, events like this really make me appreciate my two years at Fisher and everything I have gotten to experience. Here come the graduation tears….

Rounding Third

It’s hard to believe that we only have five weeks left of our time at Fisher, which is both exciting and sad. This is my second graduate degree, so I knew it would be fast, but somehow, I’m still surprised to find myself this close to graduation. So here is my advice to the current first year class and the incoming class of Fisher MBA’s, as the Class of 2016 rounds third base and heads towards home:

1) Do you. I said this in a post I wrote last year, and I stand by it. You will be in class with people who are brilliant, people who already have established careers, people who have started successful businesses, and people who already have graduate degrees. There won’t be anyone who is exactly like you or who wants the same things, and if you find that you’re on a more non-traditional career-path like I was (non-profits) that’s perfectly okay. Don’t compare yourself to others. Twirl down your own road. There are opportunities at Fisher and ways you can network to get yourself where you want to go. I joined Fisher Board Fellows simply because it was something I loved, and that’s how I got my job.

2) Find kindred spirits. They will advocate for you harder than anyone else. I doubt I would have made it through my program without Dr. Shashi Matta, Michelle Petrel, and Professor John Barker. They are wonderful human beings and I am so grateful for them. If you aren’t finding help through what seems like the more traditional pathways, start knocking on office doors and see who will sit down and talk with you.

3) Never stop asking for help. Ask for help from your teammates, from your friends, from professors, from staff, and from alumni. People are much more willing to help than you think they are, because everyone had someone to help them (or several someones). So ask. And make sure to follow through with a thank you and maybe some chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate.

4) Learn how to be a team player. Work hard to learn how to work with other people. This doesn’t mean be a pushover or a people-pleaser, it means learn how to work together to accomplish a goal. Be a leader when you need to be, but know that the best leaders know how to step back and let others lead, too.

5) Network. Look at everything as a networking opportunity, and a way you can meet new people. Don’t think of it as work. Don’t think of it as asking someone for a job. Think of it as making friends. And you can never have enough friends.

6) Take a leadership position in a student organization. My time on a leadership team pushed me in ways I didn’t expect it to, and it taught me how to adapt to the very different needs of the people on my team. I learned the most about leadership by being on that team, and I’ve seen the most growth in myself because of it.

7) And last, but not least, try not to stress out too much. Two years goes fast, folks. So go to follies, go to girls’ night, and hit all the happy hours. Because the work will be there, whether or not you panic. So try not to panic, and enjoy the time you have at Fisher.

Chicago Marketing Hop

One of my favorite memories from the end of the first semester was attending the Chicago Hop, hosted by the marketing student organization, AMP! We had about 50 students across all disciplines attend the trip immediately after finals were over. On Thursday 12/17, we first stopped in Dearborn, MI to visit Ford’s headquarters and then hear a presentation from their creative agency, Team Detroit.

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Fisher MBA students visit Ford headquarters and Team Detroit agency.
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“Making a good sports point…” “SPORTS!!”

Then, onward to the Windy City! At the alumni networking event, we met many Chicago-based Ohio State alums and enjoyed hearing stories of their experiences at OSU and in their careers. Dean Makhija teleconferenced in and shared the college’s vision for the future with the alumni. After experiencing a little of the city night life (but I’m sure everyone was home at a reasonable hour, of course), we prepared for a big day on Friday.

Friday dawned bright but cold. We first visited the Big Ten Network and had a great time trying out the commentator desks and pretending to talk about sports. Elizabeth Conlisk, VP of Communications, spoke to us about how the Big Ten Network starting in 2007 as a new entrant in a saturated market. People thought they were crazy to start this, but they’ve turned the brand into a success in just a few years.

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Yeah, I knew you needed photo evidence of the cat in the spaceship.

From there, we went to Groupon’s offices, which run counter to everything you thought you knew about offices. Open floor plan? Check! Swings? Check! Fake fairytale woodland themed meeting area? Check! Luau with fake palm trees and probably not fake bar? Check! Spaceship with a giant cat head? Double check! It was great to hear from a brand that’s built a completely different business model than what was previously out there and strives to stay innovative and fun.

After a quick lunch, it was time for Tyson/Hillshire Farms! We were able to tour their office and see their great facilities. Several of their assistant brand managers came in to talk to us about their jobs and represented a variety of different brands: Sarah Lee, Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, Tyson, and more. It was interesting to hear about their day-to-day activities in charge of brands large and small.

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From Tyson, we visited Ogilvy & Mather, a full-service agency that was founded in 1948 at the beginning of the rise of advertising. Many people believe that the founder, David Ogilvy, was the inspiration for Mad Men’s Don Draper. The Ogilvy team shared advertisements that they’ve worked on, discussed the relationship between the agency and their clients, and gave advice for people interested in working for agencies.

What a full and exciting day! One of the goals of the Marketing Hop is to showcase different sides of marketing and give real-life examples of the types of careers a marketer can have.  With an upstart cable TV network, a discounting website, a traditional CPG food company and a well-known agency on the agenda, it was hard to not see the breadth and excitement available in marketing careers.

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On the social side of things, we had a great time at dinner and at various bars around Chicago. It was great to get to know my fellow students better outside of class and mix more with the 2nd years too.  While there, many of the international students experienced their first snowfall, so it was really fun to be a part of those memories, and connect with people on a personal level. The Chicago Marketing Hop was a whirlwind trip, but hugely valuable for the 50 of us who went, both in a professional sense and a personal sense. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip!

Time Management: If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late

In the midst of a two and a half week onslaught, I write to you during a brief respite to talk about time management and the dire importance of learning how to manage your time, for sanity’s sake.

The past two weeks have, on top of the normal demands of daily MBA coursework, included seven team projects, two individual assignments and a marketing case competition. Sounds like a lot, right? We haven’t finished just yet. The cherry on top of the sundae is a blitz of finals this coming Monday and Tuesday to round out the term.

running man time management

To give you some insight, the breadth and depth of our assignments included:

  • Team Operations Management II Case
  • Team Presentation in Global Business Environment
  • Team Strategy Case
  • Team Marketing Management II Case
  • Team Global Business Environment Term Paper
  • Team Global Business Environment Term Presentation
  • Team Marketing Management II Term Project and Presentation
  • Individual Strategy Case
  • Individual Operations Management II Assignment
  • Macy’s Marketing Challenge
  • Yet to come:
    • Operations Management II Final
    • Marketing Management II Final
    • Global Business Environment Final

My classmate Danny already touched on the importance and ever-present inclusion of group work into our MBA experience. I can whole-heartedly say that the bulleted to-do list above would not be possible without an accountable core team. Thankfully, my team and I successfully worked together and spent hours and hours pushing to ensure we had quality deliverables. Yes, tensions can run high. No, you cannot escape it. It’s these experiences that best mirror working under tight deadlines with a team in the business world. Setting aside the individual for the betterment of the team, sharing responsibility and depending on each other to shoulder the burden each weigh heavily in the foundation of a high performing team.

time manaegment clock

Now, I’ve got to get back to it. If you think you possess great time management skills, be prepared to back it up. I thought I was pretty good, but I still have plenty to learn. The good news is, we all survived and by 2:45 pm Tuesday afternoon, we’ll have a chance to take a deep breath.

That is, until we start our next term the following morning at 8:30 am.

Case Competitions

As you may know, a big part of getting an MBA is competing in case competitions. There are numerous case competitions focusing on different subjects – “Marketing, Finance, Venture Capital, Supply Chain, Strategy, Operations, Data Analytics, Marketing Analytics, etc.” – across the country and even the globe. Ohio State prides itself by competing in and performing well in all of these case competitions. Recently Ohio State took first place in the ACG case competition in Cleveland and second place in the Strategy case competition at the University of Illinois.

Teams from Ohio State have competed or plan to compete in the below competitions.

  • Procter & Gamble Marketing Case Competition
  • The Lincoln Challenge
  • Macy’s Marketing Case Competition
  • Venture Capital Investment Competition “VCIC”
  • The Big Ten Case Competition
  • ACG Case Competition
  • International Supply Chain Case Competition
  • Deloitte Supply Chain Case Competition
  • The GE Case Competition
  • And many more

What are the prizes you ask? They range from a cool trophy to $40,000 CASH!!!!

I have competed in three case competitions and plan to complete in more. They are a great learning experience, fun, tiring, stressful and a fantastic networking opportunity. Many students end up with internships and full-time jobs from competing in case competitions.

Uncovering the World of Career Conferences

It was my first year in the MBA, and school had started just a couple of weeks ago. I received an email from the president of the Fisher Graduate Latino Association (FGLA) telling us about this conference happening in Philadelphia: NSHMBA Career Expo (National Society of Hispanic MBAs). It was a 3-day career conference hosted by NSHMBA, an organization dedicated to “increasing the number of Hispanics graduating with MBAs; and to assist in networking by helping secure leadership positions and enhance professional development.” I had only been in the MBA program for a couple of weeks, and I had no idea what this event was, or the great opportunities it provided.

After talking to the president of FGLA and my advisor, I decided to attend, along with 5 other first years and a couple of second years. We arrived in Philadelphia Thursday night, and would be attending the Conference first thing Friday morning. The night before at the hotel, we all researched the companies we were interested in, and took a look at the conference map. There would be so many companies attending! The map, however, only conveyed the scale of the conference to a small degree. When we arrived there Friday morning before the conference started, it was a busy, crazy scene of hundreds of MBAs in suits and with portfolios, eagerly waiting to go talk to the company they were interested in.

The doors to the conference finally opened. I decided to walk around the conference and get a feel for the environment before I talked to any recruiter.  It was an overwhelming experience, since it was my first time in a conference such as that one, but it was also so energizing and thriving. So much talent and opportunities everywhere. I walked around the floor and observed the layout of the conference. Once I felt comfortable and ready to take part of this experience, I put down my coffee and looked at the first company name in my list. It would be a great, long day ahead of me – and I felt as ready as ever to start!

Touring Philly the day we arrived
Touring Philly the day we arrived
Right before starting the conference
Right before starting the conference

 

Redeeming the dreaded GROUP WORK!

What does your group work scar look like? Maybe it’s just me, but I was all messed up from a few particularly dysfunctional group work experiences in undergrad. If you had asked me a year ago, I’d tell you that group work is where at least 1 person doesn’t pull their weight and everyone is trying to just get through it, but doesn’t really enjoy it.

Enter in Fisher CORE team to my life. 5 people (including me) assigned intentionally to work together for all of the 11 CORE classes. This system is brilliant, and something I like to highlight when people ask me, ‘what has surprised you about your time here?’ Here are a few quick reasons why the CORE team has been a redemptive group work experience for most folks.

  1. Desire: Everyone wants to be here and is much more mature than undergrad. You don’t just pause your career for 2 years without some serious intent to learn and grow!
  2. No more free loading: Having the same group for every class means we are all incented to put our best foot forward and build trust with a team for a whole year. #incentivesaligned
  3. Friendship: Teams often become good friends with each other given all the time you spend together. I recently hosted my team member Sahil (from India) at my parents’ house in Austin TX over winter break (pictured below).Core Team 4
  4. Logistics: Scheduling with just 1 group is much simpler than multiple groups for 1 class.

Thank you Fisher (and CORE TEAM #4!) for redeeming group work and giving my group work scar time to heal! I’m even more ready to enter the workforce and work in teams than when I started here. #teamlearning