Seeing as it is the last semester of my MBA experience, I have taken it upon myself to ensure I am squeezing very penny’s worth out of my tuition. In this particular case, this means branching outside of Fisher to take a class that will help me develop some important life skills not covered by the MBA curriculum. Which class, you ask? Golf I, offered through the College of Physical Activity and Educational Services (PAES).
Golf class quickly became a highlight of this semester. We meet twice a week for a 55-minute session, led by a PGA-certified golf pro, who teaches at a golf course in Columbus during the summer. The class runs for the full 14 weeks of the semester and there are about 15 students in each section. Classes are conveniently held at the Recreation and Physical Activities Center (RPAC), just a few short blocks from Fisher. This facility has an indoor putting/chipping area and a series of indoor driving “cages” where we work on full strokes. The curriculum also covers essential rules and etiquette, and all clubs and materials are provided.
I coordinated with Fisher classmates to sign up for the same class section– and that’s made golf not only informative and relaxing, but also a fun social activity. As the snow melts, we look forward to testing our skills on Ohio State’s two golf courses: Scarlet and Gray.
My experience with golf is emblematic of a larger theme as an Ohio State Student: you can do everything here. Speaking just within the confines of PAES electives, this means similar courses in boxing, dance, fencing, tennis, rock climbing, and much more. The RPAC also offers free group fitness classes daily, across disciplines such as yoga, Zumba, spinning, Pilates. Then consider 36 varsity sports to watch, free events through the Ohio Union Activities Board, and over 1,300 Ohio State student organizations doing, well…more than 1,000 different things… and needless to say, there is a limitless amount to do here. And nearly all of it is free after you’ve paid tuition.
The Fisher MBA experience can be anything you want it to be—and this is a major strength of the program. It is entirely possible to spend two years just here in Gerlach Hall and have a rewarding experience. However, as a “double Buckeye” (having attended OSU as an undergrad), I like to encourage my classmates and future students to branch out and take advantage of the entire campus at our disposal. This can be easier said than done when the rigors of the program kick in, but when you make time for such activities, it is a rewarding way to feel that you are making the most of the “student lifestyle.”
So, here I am, 25% through Full-Time MBA and I never felt time fly this quickly before! My first day at Fisher feels like it was just yesterday. Then, I had a three-week long winter break– something that I was absolutely thrilled about…
The highlight of break was a Fisher MBA “Marketing Hop” where first-year and second-year MBA students (myself included) took a trip to Detroit and Chicago to meet and greet major “movers and shakers.” This is an annual event (and not the only event of its kind– students take organized “hops” to other cities).
I had a few hours to pack my bags after my last final exam on the night of December 13th– before heading out the next day. It was extremely cold on that morning when we were supposed to report outside Gerlach Hall a.k.a. our “MBA academic powerhouse building.”A short bus drive away… and we arrived in Detroit for a stop at Ford Motor Company. Then, we were off to the “Windy City.”
We met brilliant people at LinkedIn, Dyson, Groupon, Rise Interactive and a few other digital marketing agencies in Chicago. We also had some fun on the side! The city (even when freezing) was warm enough to me; I got introduced to Giordano’s deep-dish pizza by one of my Brazilian friends studying at the University of Chicago, the security check at Skydeck Chicago was gracious to offer me a free ticket, and I enjoyed mouth-watering paan in Chicago’s Little Pakistan-India neighborhood. I spent two nights in Chicago before I headed to San Francisco to spend the rest of my break with family.
I began the evening of December 16th by landing at SFO, where a group of my friends came to welcome me! After chatting for hours with my friends while roaming around the streets of San Francisco, my family came to pick me up and the day ended with a lot of homemade Indian delicacies, deep conversations with cousins, and wine. The next few days were exhilarating and packed with a lot of action. My cousins had a plan for every single day and when I look back in hindsight, I believe that I couldn’t have lived any of those days better. Highlights include sightseeing San Francisco: walking along the Embarcadero, experiencing the breath-taking views of the bay; biking the Golden Gate bridge with cousins and friends; riding Lombard Street in an SUV (that’s the really curvy, downhill street that you’ve probably seen in pictures), relishing hot chocolate fudge at Ghirardelli Square, and eating the best Thai food with an unforgettable view.
After just a week, I was enthralled with what California has to offer. The city was dressed in lights as Christmas got closer and the vibe of the holiday season could be felt on every street. Following a last-minute change in the plan, we all decided to visit Yosemite National Park for Christmas. Staying at an Airbnb in the middle of the forest for three nights with no internet connectivity gave me time to reflect and cherish quality time with family. Hiking the Yosemite peak during this time of the year was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I never thought that I could even complete the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail with absolutely no training. What I took back from the visit to Yosemite is a new version of myself. I learned that I can be comfortable with the uncomfortable. The next few days were spent enjoying a lot of New Year’s Eve parties, learning some board games (such as Monopoly, Catan, Ticket to Ride, and playing the lying-bluffing-fib-till-you-win Fibbage), and trying to get better cooking skills some Indian recipes!
With the onset of the new year and my last week in California wrapping up, I got an opportunity to visit the Apple HQ in Cupertino, California, with our Marketing Professor and Program Director, Dr. Shashi Matta, who (every year) takes a group of students to a road trip in California. I also got a chance to visit GoFundMe, crowdfunding platform to raise money,and Asana, an organization that designs a mobile application to help teams track their work. Plus, I met with Fisher alums while I kept my focus on a summer internship. Lastly, I got to spend my last night in California with some 30 Buckeyes in San Francisco over a meet-and-greet event before leaving for my 12:25am flight back to Columbus.
California was definitely fun and I took back a bag full of memories that I’ll cherish forever!
Every year, Fisher hosts an internal case competition for all first-year Full-Time MBA students. Teams who win get an opportunity to represent Fisher at the Big Ten Plus MBA Case Competition, which is held at Fisher, in April. The internal case competition was held last weekend.
Exactly a week ago (Friday), my team, along with 17 other teams, were presented a case at 8 AM. It was a “live” case– meaning that the company is currently going through this situation and we were asked to solve, invent, and/or create a new idea. We had to work with a fabrics and crafts store (one you have certainly heard of) that recently opened a new kind of store specially catered to bulk ordering. Our mission was to find innovative ways that would grow the new store’s customer base without cannibalizing the original brand.
Each team was assigned a room and told to submit all materials by 7 AM the next day (Saturday). We were given snacks and food throughout the day. My team (consisting of Kyle, Mariel, Carl, and myself) came up with a plan of attack: we were going to take some time to generate ideas, do preliminary research, then get together and hatch out a model. We were then going to delegate each a portion of the project to a team member. Carl was our slide deck specialist, Mariel was awesome at market research, and Kyle was our financial guy. I was in charge of putting the different components together and filling in as needed.
We worked in 3-4 hour chunks, stopping for lunch and dinner. I am not going to go into detail for the rest of the day, but there were some unforgettable moments: 1) Mariel brought in chocolate covered espresso beans and we were on a caffeine high for a few hours, 2) Doing push-ups as our group activity in order to keep Mariel’s fitness plan in check, 3) Doing laps around the building to keep my sanity after being in school for 15 hours, and 4) stuffing our faces with fruit snacks.
We left on Saturday at 12:30 AM and were back in the building at 8:30 AM. You could see walking zombies everywhere as some groups left at 3 AM, and others arrived at 5 AM to tie up some last minute details. My team presented well, delivered what we needed to know, and we walked out in good spirits. We celebrated by grabbing a beer at the nearby Varsity Club with some other groups (a popular hang-out for Fisher grad students).
The results came in and my team didn’t win. There was a brief moment of sadness, but we knew that we worked well together and had a wonderful time. The journey and experiences we shared are something that I will never forget. Here are some of my key takeaways:
Find a team that you can trust and respect. Build the relationship by meeting outside of school for meals, drinks…etc. My team met several times at our favorite Condado Tacos several times before the competition.
It is impossible to be productive for 12 hours straight. Mix it up with some funny moments, sleepy periods, and productive sessions to get the best out of everyone.
It is interesting to see how a group works under intense pressure, high competition, little sleep, and in close proximity. It sometimes brings out the best and worst in yourself and others.
If you focus on just winning, you sometimes miss out on special moments shared.
I am proud to present my team: the MACK Consulting Group. Pictured below (from left to right): Kyle, Mariel, myself, and Carl. I’m also proud of Kyle (who won Best Presenter) and Carl (for winning Best Q&A). Go, team!
One of my Sunday traditions since becoming a student in the Full-Time MBA program is visiting the Graduate Student Event Hub to see what exciting things are happening at Fisher over the next several weeks.
The Graduate Student Event Hub, or “The Hub,” as we call it, is a website that lists all the upcoming events for the semester and is updated daily. These events range from student organization meetings to lunch with CEOs, workshops, networking events, volunteer opportunities, and much more.
As I continued my Sunday tradition this week, here are some of the events that sounded exciting:
FGWIB Mentor & Mingle with Undergraduate Women in Business
FGWIB stands for Fisher Graduate Women in Business. FWGIB acts as a forum to discuss and address issues relevant to women in business and build awareness of women in leadership positions through professional and social events. This event allows Fisher graduate students to partner with undergraduate students to speak about their student experience in business school and corporate life. Also, food is provided– which is always a plus!
Fisher Follies Variety Show Info Session
Fisher Follies is a student organization that aims to support Fisher graduate students in need and does this through fun events during the year. The two big “Follies” events are the Fall Auction & Spring Variety Show. The Variety Show was hilarious last year, and consisted of skits, videos and musical numbers that poked fun at classmates, professors, and life at business school in general. I’m excited to see what they have up their sleeves this year!
Tour of Wendy’s Innovation Kitchen
A tour of where new ideas are formed at Wendy’s? Sign me up!
Fisher Follies Presents: The Murder of Oliver Oxenbridge
This is a new event this year that sounds super exciting! A murder mystery dinner at the historic Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, Ohio, with food and drink included. Fisher Follies never disappoints!
BMBAA Legends Lecture Series
BMBAA stands for the Black MBA Association. The Legends Lecture Series is an annual event that brings in business leaders from across the nation to speak with current students about their professional achievements and how they became leaders in their organization. This year, the BMBAA is hosting the SVP of Human Resources at Fifth Third Bank, VP and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Messer Construction, Local Government Affairs Manager for Columbia Gas of Ohio, and Chief Diversity Officer at Ford Motor Company. Free lunch at each event! Another win.
The Business Side of NBA Free Agency
This event is a collaborative effort between FSBA (Fisher Sports Business Association) and FGWIB (Fisher Graduate Women in Business) that is bringing NBA player agents Danielle Cantor and David Falk to discuss their role in the industry. They have represented current and former players, including the legendary Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and many more. Also, free pizza!
As you can see, there is always something to do at Fisher. It’s just a matter of finding enough time to take part in everything!
As I reflect through the past five months of my Fisher MBA experience, one thing that kept me going through this rigorous and fast-paced program was my core team. Yes, you heard that right – my core team! Go, Team #3!
Fisher heavily emphasizes the concept of team. Just before you officially start your MBA, you go through a three-week pre-MBA term. At the end, you find out who’s on your core team, the team you will be working with throughout the first year of your program. Just to offer a glimpse of how a pre-MBA term looks, this is where you get to know about the program structure, professors, resources at Fisher and Ohio State. At the same time, you get to attend executive lunches, seminars, career roundtables, and speaker series.
The whole entering class is divided into teams of four to five, with people not only coming from different backgrounds but also from different parts of the world. The diverse nature and vivid experiences that every individual brings to a team make you appreciate the power of such a setting. We, as a core team, faced our first challenge on the very first day we got introduced to each other. As a part of Fisher Challenge, we had to present a case analysis on one of the budding organizations in Columbus and propose an innovative way to help increase the firm’s profits. This was the first group exercise with my team and to date, we’ve delivered on many such assignments. We ended our pre-MBA term with an experiential learning program with all core teams at a location little outside of Columbus (called “Summit Vision”). This was absolutely one of the experiences that I’ll add to my special memories from Fisher for the rest of my life.
Over time, as I’ve progressed through the MBA program, these are the people who’ve become a big part of my Fisher family. It’s not just the assignments inside class, but the other experiences. Recently, we all planned a day out at the Columbus Zoo. It was definitely a stress-reliever after the end of our first term and simultaneously gave us the time to know each other better in a setting outside of the class.
Overall, working in a team setting has not only helped me in learning the art of coming together as a team to solve a problem but to also appreciate different leadership styles operating within the same team. It, in a true sense, gives you the flavor of how your post-MBA corporate life would be.
My favorite class this semester, and thus far in the MBA Program, has been Organizational Coaching with instructor John Schaffner. This course not only provides the opportunity to learn more about yourself as a leader and how you can improve, but also how to bring out the best in others to help them achieve their personal goals. As an added bonus, Professor Schaffner is hilarious and makes the class very engaging.
I spent seven weeks in this course with about 25 other students. The class began with each student personally reflecting, and included an exercise where we had to create our “Life Map.” This map looks like an EKG reading, where the peaks and lows are representative of the best and worst moments of your life over the years. While this exercise is very personal, it allows you to be introspective, and by going through a coaching session with a partner in the class, you gain additional insight into how some of your life experiences translate into your style of leadership. After completing our life maps, we spent the remainder of the course completing additional exercises to learn more about ourselves and then practicing different strategies for developing and maintaining a coaching relationship.
Coaching is a co-active relationship, and as the coach, you work through the process of deepening the client’s self-awareness by asking the right questions to help them realize they truly are capable of solving any challenge they are experiencing, whether personal or professional. Through practicing effective listening, awareness, and communication, you are able to develop skills that are critical to success in any leadership position.
Fisher just recently introduced a course called LEAP+TC (Leadership Effectiveness through Applied Projects + Team Coaching) where students gain hands-on experience managing a project with a non-profit organization in Columbus to further develop leadership competencies, practice team building skills and apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom. I’m glad to have the opportunity to learn more about coaching to better prepare me for my career post-MBA!
One of the main reasons I decided to pursue the full-time MBA at Fisher was because of the many experiential learning opportunities offered, especially the GAP international consulting experience. However, little did I know that other opportunities would present themselves even within our first semester here!
One afternoon, while exploring the events on our Event Hub webpage, I stumbled across an information session to get involved with “Fisher Serves” and engage in a consulting project for a local non-profit. Fisher Serves is a student-run organization committed to promoting awareness and connecting Fisher students to service-based opportunities in the community. The information session I signed up for was about working on a consulting project for the Columbus Museum of Art.
After attending the session, I realized what an opportunity this would be to not only get more involved in my new community and engage in the art scene of the city, but also build relationships with students outside of my core team and apply some of the key concepts we’ve been learning in class.
After a group meeting and tour of the museum with museum staff, we’re working in two teams to help improve museum event revenues and the café experience. It’s been a great opportunity working with the Fisher Serves team and we’re excited to build out strategies for the museum moving forward. Hopefully, you will see some of our new ideas come to fruition at the museum next year!
I love having the flexibility to work out whenever I want– and to do whatever activity I want. And you can take advantage, too! As an OSU student, you get to maximize the full value of our RPAC (Recreation and Physical Activity Center). It’s located at the heart of campus and attracts hundreds of students and faculty every single day. Autumn hours are from 5:30 AM to midnight. You can also enjoy the view of the Ohio Stadium (you know, it’s only the 3rd-largest college football stadium in the U.S., with 104,944 seats). Here are some other fun facts about the RPAC and sports on campus:
At nearly 600,000 square feet, it is one of six recreational facilities on campus.
It has two swimming pools with spectator seating of up to 1,400 people
3) Speaking of teams, there are 36 varsity sports teams in total- and free admission for students to all events except football and men’s basketball.
4) Back to RPAC… there’s a wellness center, kids zone, kitchen, fitness suite, laundry and locker rooms, cafe and juice bar.
4)Free group fitness classes! You can also play basketball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball, squash, golf, billiards, foosball, or even use the indoor walking/jogging track.
What I love most about the RPAC, is that I get to revisit my favorite childhood sport: badminton. If you’re not familiar with this sport, it’s a racquet sport that’s played with racquets hitting a shuttlecock across a net. It’s most commonly played in singles or doubles. It’s a technical sport that requires aerobic stamina, agility, strength, speed, and precision, and is most popularly played in Asia. If you have never played it before, I encourage you to try it sometime!
As a child growing up in Singapore, I used to play badminton at least twice a week with my siblings, neighbors, or friends. I mastered the sport fairly quickly, so I used these sessions to catch up and hang out with my friends. It was an excellent way to stay fit and have fun.
When I was first told that there were badminton courts at the RPAC, I could not believe it. They’re located at the far south end of the RPAC, close to the squash, and indoor volleyball courts. You can rent the racquets for free, and you can purchase the shuttlecocks or bring your own. The RPAC has 6 badminton courts! What started out as a small group of classmates has now evolved into something larger. We have people who are masters at badminton, and we have others who are interested in learning this sport. We’ve also established a “Badminton” WhatsApp group. It’s only been about four months of school for me, but I feel that these badminton sessions will be good bonding sessions for us all!
It’s the real world—you know, that thing you put on pause almost two years ago. It won’t stay paused forever!
Those of us in the MBA Class of 2018 have learned that the second year is a huge departure from the first year of the program—sometimes it truly feels like an entirely different program altogether.
Where the first-year core curriculum is highly structured, the second year brings autonomy and flexibility with both class times and subject matter.
Where the first year is defined by the demanding academic workload, the second year offers more time for introspection and hands-on growth through leadership roles in student organizations.
Many of these changes are welcome, though I don’t mean to speak ill of my first-year experience. I do miss the close camaraderie of seeing all my classmates in lecture every single day and spending time with my core team. I’m proud to know that I navigated the first year successfully, but let’s just say that I’m glad a younger Michael was there to tackle it.
The second year, however, is not without its own unique challenges—and while the stresses of the first year were anticipated, the stresses of second year can catch you off guard. This is because during the second year, you start to feel the real world encroaching.
Where will you work? Where will you live? Have you picked the right career path? Will you relocate? Will you be uprooting a significant other, spouse, or child in the process?
These are some of the questions you must find final answers for during your second year. No doubt, these are fortunate problems to have and part of the great growth of the MBA experience—but their permanence and weight can make them rather slippery.
The good news is that you are never alone. Every day, I’m surrounded by 91 friends going through the same process, asking the same questions, thinking the same thoughts. Then, of course there are the other resources all around us—career counselors, professors, staff. The key is to remember to enjoy the ride; with patience, the right answers have a way of finding you.
Our time here may be winding down but it is far from over, which means our task is to make the most of what is left. The real world will have to wait… for now.
In the months leading up to my return to school, one question continuously crossed my mind: What does a day as a Fisher MBA student actually look like? Although my campus visits during my interview and Red Carpet Weekend gave me a good feel for the program, it’s hard to know what your day-to-day will be until you actually get here. So, I decided I would give you a taste of a typical day as a Fisher FTMBA. I like to keep myself extremely busy, but this day (below) was an unusually busy one for me. Your own schedule will obviously vary based on what you decide to get involved in and any obligations you have outside of Fisher, so take this as just one example of what life here is like:
7:45am – Roll out of bed after “snoozing” my alarms at least ten times. I hate mornings, but many of our core classes begin at 8:30am so you do what you have to do. Luckily, my roommate (a third-year vet student) shares my sentiments.
8:10am – Head to campus to begin my day. I live in Grandview a little more than two miles from Fisher, so I usually drive and park on campus.
8:30am – Operations I – I’m a marketing major, but I’ve always been fascinated by operations and I have to say that I’m really enjoying this class. Professor Hill leads us in finishing up the value stream map calculations we started on Tuesday. When he’s done, we have time to discuss potential solutions with our classmates based on the calculations we’ve made. Even though my math skills aren’t stellar, I enjoy thinking about how to make processes more efficient. This class is particularly heavy in case studies, and it’s really helpful to apply the principles of operations to real-world examples.
10am – Professor Hill lets us out a few minutes early, so I make my way downstairs to drop off some stuff in my locker and grab coffee from Rohr Cafe. I try to make coffee at home in my Keurig to save money, but I often don’t leave myself enough time to do that before I have to leave for class. On my way, I run into Julee Conrad and Sarah Campbell from Admissions. They offer me free coffee from the Fall Preview Day table. The GPO is the best!
10:15am – Accounting – We just had our second midterm exam on Tuesday, so today we’re transitioning from Financial to Managerial Accounting. Accounting is the quant-heavy class I like the most because the math is fairly basic and Professor Xue (most of us just call her Sue) is the best. Our last Financial Accounting unit was difficult, so I’m glad to be moving in a new direction.
12pm – I pass by my friend Courtney in a study room on my way out of Accounting and stop by for a chat. Courtney is a second-year student and the president of the Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB), and I work closely with her as one of FGWIB’s first-year liaisons. We talk about FGWIB, Fisher, and life in general– and before I know it it’s almost time for my next class! The second-year MBAs have been an incredibly valuable resource and I can’t wait to pay it forward next year. So if you’re reading this and are starting at Fisher next fall, come find me!
12:45pm – Quickly scarf down some leftovers for lunch before heading to Finance class. I’m not always good about packing lunch or cooking in general, but I try. Gerlach Hall, home of the Fisher graduate programs, has fridges and microwaves and there aren’t a lot of places to get food by Fisher. Plus, it’s healthier and more affordable.
1pm – Finance – This is our most quant-heavy class this semester, and the English major in me has been struggling. Luckily, I have awesome classmates and a great TA who help me get through it. Professor Wellman does a lot of example problems in class, and copying down the solutions as he works through them helps me understand the material. Today we continue our discussions on the interest tax shield and capital structure decisions.
2:45pm – I head to the Office of Career Management for a meeting with Chase which is recruiting on campus today. I’ve been working hard on my internship search since I got to campus, and Chase is one of my top choices.
3:15pm – I have a little time to kill before my next meeting, so I stop by the Graduate Student Lounge. I spot Ashley, another one of my second-year friends and the co-president of the Fisher Sports Business Association of which I’m also a member. The lounge is a great place to catch up with friends between classes and do group work. I often pass through just to see if any of my friends are around. I won puppy playtime with Ashley’s dogs at last week’s Fisher Follies auction, and I can’t wait to meet them!
4pm – The Office of Career Management started a Job Search Action Team program, and today is my team’s first meeting. The teams are made up of students across all of Fisher’s graduate programs and led by one of our career counselors. The goal is to support each other as we move through our internship and job searches. We get to know each other and learn about “feedforward,” a positive feedback system we’ll be using in future meetings.
5pm – After the meeting ends, I run over to the Blackwell for a happy hour with prospective students. The admissions team is always looking for volunteers for our Fall Preview Days and I love to help out. It’s nice to unwind with some of my friends after a long week and share my experiences with people who might just be my classmates one day!
5:50pm – I make my way back to Gerlach Hall for Chase’s info session. After hearing more about the company and their opportunities, we have the chance to network with a number of representatives from the Columbus office. I’m inspired by Chase’s initiatives in the digital banking space and impressed by their customer-focused mission. I leave the session exhilarated and look forward to learning more as I move through the application and interview process.
8:00pm – I finish up just in time to give my friend a ride home from yoga class. Normally we both go to yoga Thursday at 7pm at the North Recreation Center, but my schedule was just too full today.
8:30pm – Get home in time to collapse on my couch and watch some TV. It’s Thursday, which means I have no class tomorrow!
Hope you enjoyed a day in my life! If you want to see more posts like this, feel free to let me know in the comments.