Interning in Chicago – The Blue Experience

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.

What Has Impressed Us? Let’s Hear From International Students!

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!)

 

 

My GAP Experience: Italy and Germany

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.

At the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management
World’s Largest Tire at Salvadori’s Headquarters

 

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.

An espresso vending machine

2. Italians absolutely love good food, wine, and espresso.

Best pasta ever had

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.

Rovereto, Italy

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.

Rome
Venice
Munich

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.

Original Hofbrauhaus
Our Team!
Pork knuckle, anyone?

 

 

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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.

Organization Design Strategies: A Look at the Global One Health Initiative GAP Project in Ethiopia and Kenya

Rolling out of bed after finals week at the end of our second semester in the MBA program, it was both exciting and nerve-racking to be packing for a three-week trip for Ethiopia and Kenya. After making it through final group projects and coursework, I kept wondering if I was truly prepared for our in-country portion of the GAP global consulting project. On May 4, 2018, most of the members of my GAP team met at the Columbus airport for our journey to Addis Ababa. We were headed to our client’s regional office that was recently opened at the end of 2017. Our client, GOHi, is an NGO based at The Ohio State University focused on education, research, training and outreach programs to build capacity toward a global One Health approach.

My amazing GAP team!

Before leaving for Ethiopia, our team of seven MBA students met with GOHi several times to work through project objectives and develop a plan of action during the in-country experience. We were working toward developing recommendations for their organization structure and a list of potential partners for GOHi to establish a sustainable presence in the region. The months leading up to the trip, we identified organizations with similar missions to connect with in-country and learn more about their strategy and operations on the ground. We prepared interview guides, developed spreadsheets, laughed late into the evenings in Gerlach Hall, made nicknames for ourselves and bonded over Graeter’s Ice Cream.

After all this time, May 4th finally came around, and we embarked on our journey. Our team spent the first week in Addis Ababa getting to know the GOHi team and beginning our interviews with similar organizations working in the region. We were able to walk to the office every morning from the hotel where we stayed, passing by the ongoing building construction and liveliness of the capital city. The GOHi staff was extremely welcoming and supportive, inviting us to learn about their daily activities, taking us to a traditional Ethiopian lunch and dinner where we tasted our first authentic injera and later experienced the traditional dance of eskista, and allowing us to observe project sites and learn more about the on-the-ground project work taking place.

We met with organizations like Amref Health Africa, PSI Ethiopia and the Ethiopian branch of the CDC. We learned about the importance of maintaining relationships with government entities to gain support for organization success, we identified potential partnership opportunities and recommendations for increased visibility and flexibility in organization structure. 

Meeting with GOHi team and PSI Ethiopia

After our week in Addis Ababa, we traveled to Kenya to further our research with organizations based in Nairobi. There, we met with and learned from organizations like the International Livestock Research Institute, World Animal Protection and the University of Nairobi. Although most of our time was spent in meetings, we had time for a quick weekend safari to Maasai Mara as well!

After a week in Nairobi, we flew back to Addis to bring together our final report and presentation to the GOHi team. Throughout the entire project, we had established a strong group dynamic that enabled a strong final product for the client, one that they are still using today! Although a short trip, I found this to be an amazing experience, full of learning, the chance to build new relationships and the opportunity to consult for an organization working toward an important mission.

Beautiful sunrise on our last day in Addis!

A huge shout out here to my amazing Fisher MBA GAP team: Aziza Allen, Ariel Cooper, John Cox, Kaitlyn Kendall-Sperry and Obi Nnebedum

And to the GOHi staff and leadership team: Wondwossen Gebreyes, Emia Oppenheim, Ashley Bersani, Getnet Yimer, Kassahun Asmare, Tigist Endashaw, Tewodros Abebe and Joshua Amimo

Dear Class of 2020,

Before I get into the heart of this post, I want to apologize to my readers who may have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months. The answer is all over the place! My spring semester was pretty crazy, so here’s a very quick summary of what I’ve been up to:

Traveling

Between the fact that my family all lives in New York, and I generally love to travel, it seems as if I was barely in Columbus last semester! In March alone, I spent a weekend in Philadelphia for the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference, a weekend in Boston for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a weekend in Lexington, Kentucky to visit some famous thoroughbreds (like Triple Crown winner American Pharoah), and a week in Singapore as part of Fisher’s Global Business Expeditions program. Finally, I spent a fantastic three weeks in Ethiopia and Kenya with six of my classmates as part of the Global Applied Projects program. I will dedicate a later post to my GAP experience (I would HIGHLY recommend it if your internship allows), but for now here’s a sneak peak of how we spent some of our free time in Kenya:

Internship hunting

I’m not going to lie to you: my internship search was incredibly long and painful. I watched and celebrated as classmates landed great offers, while I continued to scramble even as I headed off on my GAP trip. In the end, I got a fantastic offer from Boehringer Ingelheim, a large pharmaceutical company, to join the Equine Marketing team in Duluth, GA for the summer. As a horse lover, working in the equine industry is my dream, so I could not be more excited. I will dedicate another post to my internship search process. Shout out to Allison Jones from the Office of Career Management for the incredible support I received throughout my search!

Classes

If you think that your Fall semester classes are rough, I am sorry to say that you’re in for a rude awakening. The group projects that come with the first half of the spring semester will hit you like a ton of bricks. I ended up enrolling in 18 credits this semester (including the GBE and GAP), and it is not something I plan to do ever again. Between my classes, internship search, and travels, I didn’t have much time left to breathe!

Student Orgs

One exciting thing that happens in the Spring Semester is student org elections. As the second years depart, it is up to them to figure out who should take over club leadership for the coming year. I was chosen as the VP of Communication for the Fisher Sports Business Association and the VP of Major Events for the Association of Marketing Professionals. I am excited to work with the rest of the team that was chosen by both clubs and can’t wait to meet our new members!

As I begin my summer internship, I  have been thinking a lot about the Class of 2020, who will arrive on campus in a few short months. There are so many things that I wish I had known before the first day of Pre-Term, and many things I heard as a first year from the Class of 2018 that I know my class is going to repeat. So, without further ado, here are a couple of things you might hear from the second years and during your first year of business school and how to handle them:

“Grades don’t matter.”

If like me, you’re not that far out of school, this will be a hard one to swallow. After all, everyone is expected to maintain a certain GPA to remain in the program, besides the fact that certain companies will ask for your GPA when applying to internships or jobs. On the other hand, as long as you put in the work, you will be successful in class, so it’s not something you should be stressed out about either. I’ve learned more from my experiences outside the classroom than I have in it. The courses set a great foundation of the underlying business knowledge you will need to navigate the business world, but the networking events, conferences, and company visits I attended during my first year provided valuable experiential learning that shaped my decisions as I chose electives and searched for an internship. In short, classes are important, but they aren’t something to be stressed over. Don’t pass up an opportunity to network with representatives from a company you are passionate about or even spend some time learning about your classmates because you’re panicking about the exam you have next week – opportunities abound at Fisher and the larger Ohio State community, and this is your time to take advantage of them!

“My core team was incredible” or “My core team was the worst.”

Team 12 bonding during pre-term

The core team experience, whether it works out for you or not, is an essential part of your first year. You will probably go in with certain expectations, colored by testimonials from previous students about their own experiences. After the first few weeks of classes, you will find yourself either hearing from other students about how much they love their core team and wondering why you don’t feel the same way, or listening to the gripes of those who are having some challenges with their team and feeling fortunate that you can’t relate. The best way to handle the core team experience is to go in with an open mind and be prepared to learn a lot about yourself and how you work with others. You will likely spend the rest of your career working in teams, so your core team will help you figure out what kind of team member you are and leave you better prepared to work with groups in the future, regardless of whether you become best friends or go your separate ways when the year is over.

“Your class doesn’t seem as interested in going to events as ours was”

Here’s the thing that second-year students tend to forget: the first year is HARD. You have little say over your schedule, tons of group projects and assignments to work on, and are navigating the internship search, leaving virtually no breathing room for anything extra. The second years have it relatively easy in comparison, with full control over their schedules and many returning from their summer internships with job offers already in hand. The issue of low attendance at events is typically brought up by the second year students who took the time to plan them. After all, what’s the point of hosting a cool event if no one wants to come? Do the second years and yourselves a favor by attending all the events you can. The student organizations put a lot of time and effort into making sure there is always something happening at Fisher, and there were few events I went to in the first year that I felt weren’t worth attending. In fact, I found myself wishing that so many people hadn’t missed out. Don’t let anyone feel like your class is the only one resistant to attending events – every single class experiences similar struggles in the first year. Make sure you’re one of the students that makes time in their busy schedule for events. 😉

Good luck, Class of 2020, and to all future incoming first-year FTMBAs!

More Than a Case

Nervous and a bit unsure…

Two feelings I endured while walking into the office of Professor Marc Ankerman. A couple of weeks before the start of the MBA program, I received an email from him about potentially representing The Ohio State University at the 2017 National Black MBA (NBMBAA) Graduate Case Competition. I chose to attend The Ohio State, in large part, because of the legacy built by David Harrison and Fisher’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, so I was eager and hopeful for a chance to represent the University.

Professor Ankerman is… animated. He sat me down and asked me why I was interested in competing. He shared that the competition would be fierce. The team would have a month to prepare the case, while also acclimating to the program. Toward the end of the conversation, he extended his hand and offered me a spot on the team.

I would never have guessed that my decision to accept his offer would be one of the most transformative and rewarding experiences of my life.

Nervous and a bit unsure…

Two feelings I felt at the start of the MBA program. Coming from a small liberal arts university, I wondered if I belonged in the program. Have you ever heard of the “Imposter Syndrome”? Imagine going from a school without a football program to The Ohio State University—100,000 football fans pack out the stadium for home games. 100,000.

Growing up, my mother worked late nights to provide me a better life. She taught me about grit, hard work, and sacrifice. She always told me she believed in me. I leaned on her words as I felt pulled in every direction as a first-year MBA. New city. New school. New classes. New friends. Mixers. Info sessions. Interviews. Interviews. Interviews. Add to that the Case Competition… and attempts at a personal life.

It’s almost funny even mentioning a personal life. I bought football season tickets and didn’t make it to one football game. Looking back, some of the only things that kept me sane were my 5k and 10k runs through the trails. During those runs, I would often wonder if I had made the right choice about getting my MBA and if I had what it takes to succeed in the program. After my runs, I would call my mother and she would tell me she loved me and to keep at it. I needed that.

Nervous and a bit unsure…

Two feelings I felt waiting as the announcer called out the 10 teams that would compete in the final round of the NBMBAA Case Competition. Honestly, I didn’t expect to hear our name called. I had put my heart into preparing the final deck, but top schools from all over the country were there competing for their share of $50,000. Cornell was there. So was NYU.

I remember looking over to Professor Ankerman in disbelief when they announced that we had made it to the finals. Riding up the elevator, tears welled up in my eyes. When I finally got a minute alone, I called my mother. Crying over the phone, I told her we had made it to the final round. I had done it. I couldn’t hold back the tears. She told me she wasn’t surprised.

Thinking back, I can’t help but laugh. I would have never imagined that at 25 years old, I would be crying to my mother about a case competition. But it was so much more than a case.

It was so much more…

I went on to win one of ten Best Presenter awards at the competition. Later in the year, I was privileged to captain my own team in KeyBank’s 14th Annual Minority MBA Student Case Competition in Cleveland. My team took first place in Cleveland and it was the first time Fisher had won that competition in over a decade. We brought trophies back from both competitions, and I personally placed each of them into the trophy case on the first floor of Gerlach Hall.

As a two-time National Case Competition Finalist and Best Presented Award Recipient, I am no longer nervous nor unsure. I know I belong. Case competitions changed my life. Professor Ankerman changed my life. David Harrison changed my life. The Fisher College of Business changed my life.

Will you let them change yours?

“Now In My Day…”

Ohio State has been a central force in my life for almost a decade now.  As an undergraduate (2010-2014), employee (2015-2016), and graduate student (2016-2018), I have been able to see the University from many angles.  What always amazes me is this place’s ability to re-invent itself based on where you are in your life.  It never feels small, it never feels predictable, and it never feels like you have outgrown it—because there are constantly new worlds of opportunity opening up to you.  Eight years ago, I never thought I would work at a University.  Four years ago, I never thought I would get a master’s degree.  Yet, here I am!

Thinking back to my earliest days on campus, sometimes it is almost difficult to believe they really happened.  So much has changed in the world and in my life that it can be challenging to relate, fond as the memories may be.  That is why we have traditions—rituals that do not change with time—to help us connect with our past and with each other.  Time-honored traditions are what make higher education so special—because while everybody’s individual experience is unique, much of the experience in earnest is universal.  These shared experiences allow us to connect with past versions of ourselves and fellow alumni from all different eras.

One of Ohio State’s many notable alumni is Milton Caniff (1930), famous cartoonist and artist.  Caniff is an Ohio native and his instantly recognizable style is considered one of the most significant influences on cartoon and comic drawing of the 20th century.  Original copies of his work can be found around campus, both in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and the Ohio Union Cartoon Room.

Caniff drew this self-portrait (including samples of some of his popular work in the background) for the cover of Newsweek in 1950. Source.

Caniff has a wonderful poem he wrote in 1930 (his senior year) which captures the memories of his college years and the special connection all Ohio State alumni feel with this campus.  He made an illustration in 1968 to accompany the poem, which captures famous campus landmarks that any Ohio State student will recognize.  I am always struck by how relatable the words are, even though my experience at Ohio State was nearly a century apart. I am sure if you have ever spent time on campus you will understand!

So, to sign off my final post before graduation, I will leave you with Caniff’s words, “Now In My Day…”.  Wherever you are, I hope it brings back fond memories of your time on campus, as it always will for me.

Milton Caniff – “Now In My Day…

 

Spring Conference 2018

On Friday March 30th, 2018, the current full-time MBA students welcomed back the alumni of the Fisher College of Business for the “Spring Conference.” The Spring Conference is an annual alumni conference where alumni are invited back to speak to current students about life after the program and to share tangible insights for students heading off to their summer internships.

We welcomed back 13 successful, engaging, and knowledgeable alumni– all experienced in different aspects of business: finance, marketing, operations, and human resources. They represented well-established organizations such as Nestle, Nationwide, Abbott, NetJets, Ford, Wendy’s, P&G, and others.

The current students began the day with a high-level discussion about Transforming Data into Insights and The First 100 Days. Then, students attended presentations about Taxes, Savings, and Personal Investing, All About Buying a Home, and the informative Managing Up, Down, and Sideways. In this session, students were thoughtfully reminded to be authentic, on time, and present. It is important to present your best self at your workplace; people always notice. Then, students were able to go to a breakout session of their choice where they could earn more about the data and skills used in finance, marketing, and operations. The breakout sessions were one of the most important aspects of the day. One student said, “My favorite part of the day were the breakout sessions. I was able to ask specific questions I had pertaining to operations. I was able to gain clarity and felt more confident as I headed into my internship this summer.” Here, students were also able to ask the alumni about tangible skills used while on the job. Many students found this to be very helpful. We finished the day with all-encompassing presentations about Work/Life Balance 2.0 and The Intern’s Final Presentation. During The Intern’s Final Presentation, the students learned how to communicate recommendations for the company. After running the necessary tests and analyzing the data, what do we think the company should do next? Organizations want to see how each candidate goes beyond the data to deliver solutions and results. This puts our creative minds to the test. What is incredible about this insight is that at Fisher, we are given many opportunities to put this into practice. Through classes and group projects, we are consistently encouraged to go beyond what the data says and effectively find solutions. At Fisher, we not only learn how to sustain a business but propel it.

We ended the day with a delightful happy hour where the students and alumni we able to chat and connect. Here is where meaningful connections were made. Students engaged with alumni in a more informal setting which allowed students to feel comfortable asking more questions. The very kind and humble alumni not only offered their insights and expertise, but their willingness to connect further with the students. As the day was coming to an end, an alumni who currently works in the marketing department at Nationwide shared, “I felt extremely prepared for my position at Nationwide after going through the MBA program at Fisher.”

Students left the conference with new insights and new connections but most importantly, with a confidence that Fisher provides through its unparalleled alumni network and invaluable education.

Seattle Trek!

MBA student Rajat Gugnani reflects on creating a career trek to Washington state and the opportunity it provided to graduate students at Fisher to connect with industry leaders Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft and Starbucks.

With the academic year coming to an end and everyone finishing final presentations and papers for various courses, I look back and feel blessed to have spent a wonderful first year with some fantastic people at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business. One of the things I feel passionate about is serving as an MBA Ambassador. It gives me a chance to speak with prospective candidates from across the world, show them our campus, and take them for coffee and lunch while sharing my perspective about our program and school.

I recently took the initiative to build a new “career trek” to Seattle. My motivation for creating a new career trek targeting tech companies came from innumerable phone calls I answered while working with the Admissions Office during my first semester at Fisher. Many students asked if we have established connections with organizations on the West Coast, and I always wanted to say “Yes!” This consequently led to the development of a formalized trek to Seattle.

As soon as I decided to undertake this initiative, I approached a current second-year student, Thais Batista Ronconi, who interned at Amazon and will be joining Amazon in a full time-role this year in Seattle. She was enthusiastic about the idea and was happy to mentor me throughout the development of the trek. We approached the process step by step and started reaching out to alumni and talent acquisition heads/recruiters at various organizations in Seattle. In the meantime, we gauged interest from current students and started working on the timing.

The response we received from students was massive — something that kept us going even after hearing “no” from some of the organizations. After working with companies for almost three months, we got our final “YES” list: Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft and Expedia. Yes, the Big 4 in Seattle.

The timing worked out well with the organizations. We visited in mid-March during spring break with a group of 15 first- and second-year MBAs.

Seattle’s Ferris Wheel at Pier 57

Day 1 started at Starbucks! As soon as we entered Starbucks’ board room, we received a bag full of coffee and goodies for each of us. We started with a session from one of the executives on Sourcing and Global Operations and then learned more about how Starbucks is differentiating itself by investing in technology. We toured Starbucks HQ, which was one of a kind. Every wall illustrated the company timeline by connecting Starbucks’ different product releases with prominent historical events. Also of note: employees can contribute to the less fortunate by buying coffee at a special store inside the building. People from across all departments also meet weekly to discuss how they are impacting people’s lives. From its coffee-tasting space to roasteries, everything at Starbucks is distinct.

Starbucks’ first logo!
At Starbucks’ HQ (top floor)

We commenced Day 2 at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. The first activity took us to the visitor center, a place that has a neat display of everything Microsoft (it features all of Microsoft’s current and upcoming products). From Xbox to Surface book, and from HoloLens to Microsoft’s Age Detection API, we experienced everything.

We were introduced to some cool initiatives at Microsoft and learned how it is utilizing technology to make the world a better place to live. One of the projects that stood out was how Microsoft is helping to find missing children in China. After spending some great time with the recruiter, we met a panel of Ohio State alumni who answered our questions about “all things Microsoft.” Concluding our visit with lunch, it was overall a great day spent in sunny Seattle with our alumni members. Big shout-out to Rafael Williams, university recruiter at Microsoft!

Outside Microsoft’s Visitor Center

Expedia welcomed us with an overview of its organization and later gave a detailed description of its global network of brands. The best part of the visit was a Q&A with the recruiter, who answered more than 50 questions from us.

At Expedia Group’s headquarters in Bellevue, Seattle

Amazon came at last — marking a perfect ending to our Seattle trek. This organization never fails to surprise me — it has now surpassed Google as the best place to work in the United States, according to one survey. We started at Amazon’s “Day 1” building (they consider every day at work to be the first day creating an entrepreneurial start-up environment) with a panel discussion featuring the head of Product Management and a mix of people covering different areas at Amazon! Conversation with each of the panelists gave us more clarity on what Amazon is seeking from its future employees and how its current employees live those 14 leadership principles in their day-to-day work.

After touring the building, we went to the newly opened Amazon Spheres. These spheres serve as a “haven of carefully tended nature geared to letting Amazonians break free from their cubicles and think disruptive thoughts.” Going through each of its floors while experiencing more than 400 different species of cloud forest plants from all over the world was an exhilarating experience. It is definitely a “must-visit” for everyone visiting Seattle. Amazon will soon open the spheres to public.

Amazon Spheres (photo from https://www.instagram.com/seattlespheres/)
Inside Seattle Spheres (I am at the extreme left in a white shirt ;))

It was absolutely a delight to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event and to learn new things about all these organizations. I hope this new trek becomes a legacy at Fisher College of Business.

Organizers (From left to right: me, Rajat Gugnani, current first-year MBA; Thais Batista Ronconi, current second-year MBA, and Alexander Toomey, advisor at the Office of Career Management)