And in the end …

I have not contributed nearly as much as I had hoped to this blog.

I have been a blogger for two years and neither year was I able to contribute as much as I though I would be able to.  However, the past two years, I have grown more as a person than I thought possible before coming to Fisher.  So much so, it is difficult for me to wrap my head around everything that has happened and condense it into simple blog posts that could be easily digested by prospective students.  This experience has been such a developmental one that it is hard for me to fathom anyone connecting to it without it looking like over the top, dramatized platitudes.

Moving to Columbus from Detroit, I was familiar with adapting to new environments, living in a large city, and making my way without much guidance.  That was how I began my time here.  I figured I could get by just fine on my own, without depending on many people because that has always been how I operated.  My life entering the MLHR program two years ago was completely different than it is now.  So much so, I’m not sure I would recognize myself from that time.  I started here in a long-term relationship, with my girlfriend moving with me.  I was excited and nervous about courses and whether or not I had the ability to do well.  Questions constantly circled about how I could find and internship, could I get a job, as well as a number of personal issues that still had to be dealt with.

Being someone who always felt that needing help indicated a sign of weakness, I went through the first year not connecting with many on a real level.  I knew the people in my Cohort were great people, but I kept a distance so as not to appear I couldn’t do something on my own.  As the summer came and went, the relationship I was in ended and I was working as an intern at ExxonMobil in Texas.  Now as background, my family did not come from means in any sense.  Therefore, I did not leave my home state of Michigan until I was 25.  Therefore, living in a new state, in a new work environment, and being newly single created so many obstacles for me to climb, and each one being faced head on.  I found a new confidence in my ability and further engrained the thought that I can do anything on my own.  This thought was further confirmed by being extended a full-time job offer at the end of the summer.

Coming back to Columbus, I was excited to see the people I had missed over the summer.  While I had been extremely successful professionally over the summer, there was a new void.  Being used to having someone around all the time is undoubtedly something that was missed upon my return.  However, I did not feel I had connected with many in my cohort, which lead to a sense of isolation.  I didn’t have the courage nor did I think it was necessary to really open up.  This isolated feeling lead to a lack of confidence in myself.  As if, while I am smart and have a lot of interestes, I didn’t have the ability to truly connect with people.  That has been a challenge for me the entire year.  However, as with everyone, there have been challenges for me this year for which I needed a support system.  Luckily, I have found some members of my Cohort who have truly been people I feel I will forever be able to lean on and will desperately hold on to for as long as possible.

Wes Lin – Wes was the first person I met at the awkward mingling thing that was part of our first year orientation.  We are roughly the same age, although, for the record, I believe he is older.  (I just say that to make myself feel better.)  Wes was someone that I did connect with very early in the first year.  Perhaps it was the age, perhaps it was because we are both secret nerds, who knows.  But going through personal turmoil, Wes was always someone I could depend on talking to without being judged and would get sound advice.  Even if it was to stop being an idiot…sometimes that the best advice to give.

Rachel Brokaw – Rachel and I talked very little in the first year, mostly during group get-togethers.  Early this year there seemed to be a perfect storm of my personal problems, coordinating group work, and a lack of desire by others to go to the VC that caused us to socialize more.  While I was going through some of the worst personal crises of my life, Rachel became someone that I could confide in.  I knew after a short period of time that, similar to Wes, I could open up to her and not be judged by the difficulties that were thrust upon me.  In addition to that, in my personal opinion, she is without question one of the hardest working people I have ever met.  I have the deepest respect for what she is able to do with her time and still be successful at all of it.  Her work ethic inspires me every time I talk to her.

Rebecca Zurek – Rebecca was the absolute first living soul I met when coming to Fisher.  My first thought was “this person has to be the most energetic woman ever, I’m too old for all this.”  We were always friendly, but again, it was not until this year that we became close.  We have come to depend on each other during various emotional roller coasters.  We are rarely the thing that brings the coaster back up, or relieve the anxiety of a steep drop, but are always there as the safety bar to hold onto and feel safer.

Micaela Savage – Only in the last few weeks has Micaela become close…this may be a case of too little too late.  As is a theme, I have come to trust her opinions and her friendship.  I have a tendency to be a little on the negative side, so having a friend who can call me out without judging is a pretty good deal.

There are just a few of the people in the Cohort that have helped me the most during this very trying year.  I could list so many others who have had an incredible impact on my life and who I hope to stay friends with for a long time to come.  Jen Hunt, Shawn Henderson, Amber Stephens, Stacey Falardeau, Dana Wagner, the list goes on.

The point of all this is to say, while I am still the same person I was when I started, I am very different.  I have learned, almost more importantly than the class work, that I absolutely cannot do everything alone.  I need people around me to lean on.  I need people I can trust and who can push me, put my in my place, bring me up, and let me do the same for them.  I do not have a large supportive family like many of my classmates, but I am able to create my own if I choose the right people to spend my time with.  Luckily, this Cohort was not lacking in amazing people to let into my life.

Thank you to everyone I listed here.  You have all made a larger impact on my life than you could truly know.  To those not listed, please do not take offense.  I will remember this group for a long, long time.  Especially since half of you are coming to Houston with me.

Good luck to everyone.  I wish nothing be success for all of you, and if I can ever be there for any of you the way some of you were here for me, you know where I’ll be.


Peace and Love

How to Love Your Time at OSU

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I absolutely loved my three years of undergraduate course work here at The Ohio State University.  I was very much in the work hard, play hard mindset and think this really paid off for me.  I tried to take advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities made available to me, both academically and otherwise.  However, I don’t think I fully appreciated my time on campus until this past summer, when I had an internship with PwC (this was, for example, one of the great opportunities OSU made available to me).

My experiences with PwC were incredible.  I worked in assurance, and was lucky enough to work on Hirtle Callaghan & Co (a mutual fund), Mettler Toledo (scale manufacturing), The Ohio State University, and Abercrombie & Fitch.  I got to see so many different industries and really figure out what interested me the most.  PwC also did an incredible job of throwing me into the meat of the work so I could really appreciate what a day in the life of a full time auditor looks like.

Needless to say, I worked auditor hours, which are a little bit different than student hours.  This had its pros and cons, but more than anything was just something different to get used to.  The internship also carried a completely different stress than being a student.  Again, pros and cons but mostly just different.  The biggest difference?  At PwC I was getting paid for my hard work, while at OSU I am paying for it.  But one parallel I was definitely able to draw was the work hard, play hard attitude.  It appears as though this never disappears, so master it early!

This all has a point I’m trying to make, I promise.

While I loved working for PwC and being a contributing member of society, it is an incredibly different experience than what I had during school.  Once I graduate, I’ll be able to work and live in the real world for (hopefully) 35+ years.  Depending on the route you take for college, you get 4-6 years.  During those 4-6 years, its far too easy to get caught up in the rush of things and really miss out.  I’m not saying grades and studies aren’t important – I’m just saying relax and make the most of your time.  The recruiters will appreciate you making the most of your time in college, especially as you master the work hard, play hard balance.

So, as I get ready to begin working at JP Morgan in internal audit, I’m again ready to practice my work hard-play hard skills.  I really have loved every minute at Ohio State, but I’m very ready for the next step.  Ohio State (and the MAcc program in particular) has prepared me so well for what is to come, and I am eager to explore this “real world”.

Thanks to all of you who have followed my thoughts throughout the year – I hope you found them entertaining, quirky, but most of all, helpful and informative!  I really can’t speak highly enough of the MAcc program, and hope you will consider applying.  If you’re already admitted and will be here in autumn 2012, allow me to congratulate you and I wish you the best of luck during the upcoming year.  Don’t be afraid to take chances and explore all of what Fisher can offer – you’ll have a great experience.

It can’t be over! … Part 1

I have finished all of my classes, both for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Thankfully, I do not think this fact has fully sunk in yet. I completed two final exams and only have two more standing between me and graduation!

The last week of classes was busy but fun. We made and ordered a MAcc yearbook on and wrote messages for each other! It was wonderful to think back on the year and how close our class has become.

Signing yearbooks made us remember our high school days of doing the same, and another “Are we really grad students?!” moment occurred in the graduate student lounge on Tuesday. The Graduate Programs Office gave us Jeni’s ice cream and a photo booth! We had so much fun taking goofy pictures as a break from studying!

Speaking of Jeni’s ice cream, it was rated the best ice cream in America by US News Travel! Graeter’s ice cream, another Ohio favorite, was ranked sixth.  Although I’m admittedly not ready for this awesome year to end, I am looking forward to a summer being surrounded by the best ice cream in the country 🙂

We had so much fun with the photo booth!

But for Ohio State … 20 Years in the Making

But for Ohio State.

Those four words have led a campaign for students, alumni, employees and others to share their stories of how our great university has transformed their lives. Mine is but one more story.

My journey began in September 1992 when I moved into Haverfield House, Room 2104, on Woodruff Avenue with one of my best friends from high school and two other strangers. I’d like to say that a life-changing campus visit or lots of time-intensive thought and research led me to campus. Truth be told, there were two real reasons I came to Ohio State. 1. It’s where my brother attended and 2. I imagined that the university would offer any major I could possibly want to pursue. On that point, I was completely right.

Soon I was in love. I found a world filled with ideas, cultures, learning, music and people I had never experienced as a girl attending a somewhat rural school district. It was liberating in a way I never knew existed.

Of course I was also in love with my now-husband, Bill–who was once roommates with my brother–and fellow Ohio State student. At the end of my sophomore year, Bill and I were married and people asked me if I would continue to attend school. It seemed like such a crazy question. Of course I would!

In 1996, I graduated with a major in journalism, minor in English. But for Ohio State and my classes with the Lantern, I would not have had published articles to get my first internships, which led to my first job working for a magazine. I loved working as a writer and an editor. In that career I saw and experienced opportunities that would have otherwise been unknown to me. I have stood with bison, talked to people in-the-know, flown in a four-passenger plane on the way to a story, walked until blisters formed, and fired hand guns–all for one story or another. But for Ohio State, I would have never known the beautiful world of exploration and discovery writers experience every time they start a new assignment.

Two years after my graduation, Bill graduated for a second time with a bachelor’s degree in computer science to pair with his bachelor’s degree in nutrition. We often say that his return to Ohio State to pursue that degree was one of the best decisions we have ever made. We didn’t know just how important that decision would be until several years later.

Along the way, we joined the Alumni Association, and I contributed to the OSUAA magazine as a freelance writer while raising our family. In 2003, our daughter, Amelia, was born at the Medical Center, and I could not have asked for a better experience.

By autumn 2008, career turns led Bill back to Ohio State where he joined the Biomedical Informatics Research and Development team developing cancer research software. For the first time, the knowledge he learned pursuing both degrees at Ohio State combined perfectly. Today he is a director for Biomedical Informatics, a position that is both meaningful, challenging and everything he could have hoped for at this stage in his career.

With Bill working for Ohio State, I finally had the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree, thanks to the generous tuition benefit for spouses. In 2009 I started the MLHR program at Fisher and, as they say, I never looked back. Once again, I was in love. The wave of loving learning returned, paired with a wonderful group of classmates.

On June 10, nearly 20 years after my journey with Ohio State began, I will officially earn my master’s degree. Together, Bill and I will have four degrees to frame.

But the story does not end there. But for Ohio State … I would not have my first full-time job in my new career. In April I started a position as an HR Associate with the College of Medicine.

To say that our lives would be immeasurably different, but for Ohio State, would be an understatement. It is the university that once served us and for which we now serve today. But for Ohio State, we would not know the life we live today, and for that I will always be grateful. Thank you, OSU!



Quickly Realizing Graduation Is Imminent

With my last academic holiday break ever coming to an end, this week welcomed the annual readjustment to being back in the classroom… gathering books… reviewing syllabi. This ritual, while familiar, included a facet this time that broke the mold… running an audit of my courses to ensure I will have the necessary components to graduate in June.

It hit me when I reviewed the audit report that graduation is imminent. This was not only important from the standpoint of family booking hotels and ordering graduation materials, but also from the standpoint of ensuring that I get as much out of Fisher and OSU as possible over the next 6 months. I now have a renewed energy to attend as many extracurricular events as possible, a desire to take the most interesting  curriculum possible as I build the toolbox necessary to be successful in the corporate arena, and a mission to make as many lasting connections with peers and professors to carry with me into the future.

I thought I have leveraged everything Fisher has to offer, but as I step back and prepare to leave in June, I realize that is nearly impossible, and there is more to be done! I look forward to seeing everyone soon!… whether it be at Winter Games…. Fisher Follies…. or following the Buckeyes on their way to the NCAA tournament!


And It’s All Coming Back To Me

Hello everyone!  This is Garren: 2nd-year MLHR student, Lil Wayne enthusiast, reality show junkie, and Eric J Dosch‘s biggest fan (especially the molars).  Unlike the rest of the cohort who took off 3 months from classes, I only took off 3 weeks.  However, I feel that even with the short break I had between summer and fall classes, I probably have the same lack of desire to get back in the swing of reading, papers, quizzes, and spending time watching my professors lecture instead of watching quality programming on the CW or ABC Family. However, I only have the time that it takes for a fetus to develop and be born in a healthy time frame (e.g. nine months) before I can consider myself a MASTER of Labor AND Human Resources.  Ever since attending my last negotiations class, I have had quite a few changes happen in my life that I will share in this blog post.


The biggest change to happen to me is that I got a new job at Columbus State Community College as a Human Resources Specialist.  I have been there for almost a month now.  It kind of started off slow (and when I say slow I mean it was actually obnoxiously busy but they didn’t have time to train me on how to do everything, so I was doing just the same few things for awhile), but things are starting to pick up.  I am starting to do some things with LinkedIn at our workplace, and tomorrow I have contract training in negotiating with our bargaining units.  Plus, I’m FINALLY getting my first paycheck this Friday (holla!).

I ended my job with Dining Services at Ohio State last week.  Basically, for about 6 weeks I was moonlighting after I got off work at Columbus State (only because I didn’t have class and needed the extra money), because my boss was kind of devastated when I gave him my two weeks notice.  He knew I had been job searching, but I don’t think he thought that I would manage to actually ever be successful considering the amount of rejection I received from the previous year.  Now it feels great that while all of my classmates are scrambling to find internships and jobs, I will have one less thing to stress about.


My roommate who was in undergrad last year moved out to do a college program through Disney, so now I have a new roommate.  I technically have known him longer than my other roommate, but I never really talked to him.  He has a completely different schedule than me, so I really don’t have much time to talk/be around with him, but he pays bills on time and doesn’t give off any odd scents so I can’t complain.


Well, that actually has occurred like 5 or 6 times since March.  I now have two phone numbers (don’t ask why) and I have finally given up my infatuation with the BlackBerry and have switched to a DROID.  Ironically, the hardest thing to do with that phone is making an actual phone call (I am still really bad at the touch screen and sometimes hang up randomly from hitting my ear too hard on the phone).


This is obvious with a new quarter.  I am taking Collective Bargaining and Labor Law/Diversity (the two classes I have to attend physically), and an Independent Study of Talent Management.


I have finally taken a stand on the raging amount of fat that is accumulating on my body, so I have decided to start running again.  If you read one of my first blogs from last year, this happened for like 2 weeks.  However, I was still “fresh out of undergrad skinny” and had not seen the depressing effects of being lazy that I saw from the past year.  This has also been helped due to now not working for a department that doesn’t serve a deep fried buffet at lunch Monday-Friday (which has unfortunately made me have to spend more money  on groceries and spend more time making lunch which I haven’t had to do since I was in high school…seriously).  Hopefully I am thin enough to be able to put on all of my pants comfortably without jumping or praying to a higher power by December (ultimate holiday present).

Until next week!


PS-Props to those who know what lyric this title comes from (hint: it’s from a Canadian but NOT Justin Bieber).




I graduate on August 28. What’s left? Five classes, two case studies to write, and then one final exam. I plan on participating in commencement, which means the purchase of a cap, gown and hood is planned for this weekend.

It’s a bittersweet feeling. There are some things I will miss from my experience as an MBA student. There are also some I’m glad to be leaving behind. Want to know what they are? Well, here are a couple of lists, one for the good, and one for the not-so-good.

First, the not-so good:

  • Studying on the weekend. After my daughter goes to bed for the night, I’m just too tired to think. I find I concentrate much better in the morning (like most people, I guess), but I have to work, so I spent most of my weekends for the last two years studying and working on projects with my groups.
  • Freezing classrooms. My office is also freezing in the summer, so I’m walking around carrying a sweater when the heat index is 110. Perhaps one is more productive when one is cold?
  • Exit 2B on I-670 westbound onto 315 north. One lane of traffic, and always jammed at 5pm on weekdays.
  • Poor writing in case studies. Okay, I majored in English as an undergrad, so I am probably a literary snob. But I can’t tell you how many cases began: “John Doe, a newly minted MBA, looked out of his office window as he contemplated a momentous decision he must make about Company X.” Bo-ring! It’s much better when a case sticks to the facts and doesn’t try to be a narrative.
  • First day of class every quarter. I’m always a bit anxious about it. With the quarter system, you jump right on in and usually have to get a group assembled the first day.

And now for the good:

  • First day of class every quarter. Sounds weird, since it’s also not-so-good, but I truly enjoy learning, and every new class has been eye-opening in some way.
  • My classmates. Some people make really good friends during their time at Fisher. I didn’t make any BFFs, but some people do (and more)! Besides that, they’re all in the same boat with you. They want good grades like you do, and your group members don’t want to let you down.
  • The RPAC. Especially the pool! It’s such a great facility—I’m jealous of all the students who live on campus. I’d have been so much thinner at age 20. Maybe.
  • Being a student at Ohio State. Partly because it’s a trip down memory lane—I’m already among the Buckeye alumni—but also seeing how the campus has changed has been fascinating.
  • Tai’s Asian Bistro. My fast-food dinner of choice. They’re opening up a sushi bar too!

WPMBA Mini Orientation

Congratulations! You’ve made a good choice to pursue your MBA at Fisher. An MBA will help you develop the skills to succeed in a wide variety of situations, and Fisher is a great place to do it, bringing both academic rigor and real-world experience to the mix.

But attending as a ‘working professional’ is a little bit different from the traditional college experience. I’ve tried to address here some of the issues that are unique to the WPMBA experience.

Core Classes

In most cases, the professors that teach the core classes in the WP program do not teach the same classes in the full-time program. That may mean that the class content is very different, particularly the Marketing and Organizational Behavior curriculum. If you have flexibility during the day, you may find a better fit taking the full-time version of the class. Talk to other students to see what they though of various classes to help you decide.

Don’t take this to mean that there is anything wrong with the WPMBA professors; they are fantastic. I only want to emphasize that you have choices most people don’t realize they had.

GPA and Level-of-Effort

People like to say that GPA doesn’t matter much for an MBA, particularly if you have good work experience. But keep in mind that the extra effort it takes to get an A will also help you get the most out of the class and fully develop your skills.

On the other hand, only you can decide what your priorities are. You also have a career and possibly a family. Seeing baby’s first steps, or a family vacation, may be more important than the several hours it would take to raise your B+ to an A-. Similarly, if you work long hours or travel you should set your expectation appropriately. Just make sure your teammates have a clear understanding of your priorities.

On the third hand, you should take the challenging classes, that may be outside your personal comfort zone. You should do so even if you fully expect it to reduce your GPA – the learning and experience is more important in the end.

No Major

WPMBAs do not have a ‘major’ as such. This is because we take fewer total credit hours, which translates to fewer electives. This makes it all the more important to find and take those classes, seminars and experiences that offer the most enrichment. Several classes have travel as part of the curriculum, some even international. Some classes give you the opportunity to learn from a very skilled practitioner in the field. You can supplement this with participation in some of the many clubs and communities of practice at Fisher (more on these below).

Competing with the Full-Timers

As I advised above, you should seek out and take the most challenging classes available, taught by the most exciting professors. This means that you will be in classes with full-time MBA students (‘Day Kids’) doing the same. Since classes are graded on a curve, you are competing with them, and they have the advantage of having more time available. Additionally, professors that primarily teach classes during the day have different expectations of how much time you should spend on papers, reading, etc, so their assignments may be more time consuming.

Accept the challenge and grow from it. Breaking even in a lopsided competition is its own victory.

Honors, Awards and Opportunities

If you are like me, you don’t spend much time on campus. This means you may miss knowing about the clubs, societies and activities available. Many of them confer special honors in the from of cords worn during graduation and can make for good conversation topics during a job interview.

Go to a Fisher graduation ceremony and listen to the awards and honors that are bestowed. You may find that an activity that sounded kind of interesting is even more compelling if you get an honor cord for it.

Similarly, there is recognition for various forms of leadership and for academic achievement. Find out about them. It may turn out to be easier than you think to pad your resume.

Social Activities and Networking

You may find it difficult to get away from work during the day for the social activities that Fisher College organizes. Similarly, you may find it difficult to break away from your family for evening activities. But it will serve you well to get to know and interact with your colleagues outside of class.

One option, more or less peculiar to WP students, is a standing meet up at the Varsity Club Thursdays after class. Even if you don’t drink, it’s a good opportunity to get to know people.

Another is the Marginally Below Average golf outings for WP students and alumni. Even if you don’t golf well, its a fun time – just let me know when you are teeing off so I can get out of the way.

Lastly, once you are eligible, make sure to get the student season football tickets. It’s a great deal at $170 for 5 home games.

Also, make sure you are on Linked In to connect with your classmates and professors.

Career Services

Placements, internships and career counseling are a bit more low-key in the WPMBA program because of the assumption that we all have jobs already. However, in informal polling, I have found that about half of WPMBA students intend to change employers or even fields when they graduate. So just know that there are services available if you want them; contact the career services office. Special for WPMBA students is Career Beam, which caters more to established professionals and can help you create a killer resume, research potential employers and decide what you want to be when you grow up.

So welcome to the club, I hope to see you around.

A Bittersweet Goodbye

This is my final week in Columbus- my last week as a graduate student and as a resident of this city that I truly love. I am amazed at the difference that two years have made- I finally feel ready to enter the workforce! But graduating means leaving behind the life that I have built here, which is not easy.

Here’s where the story starts: I applied to OSU because of a boyfriend. He was moving to another city in Ohio and I wanted to be close by- so I added OSU to the long list of schools that I applied to. But when I took a tour of campus a few weeks later, I knew that I belonged here and that this was my choice. Receiving a graduate assistantship (which meant that I would have no student debt) sealed the deal, and I moved to Columbus about a month and a half before classes started.

It felt like the longest month and a half of my life. I had very little money, nothing to do all day, and knew no one. I spent those agonizingly long days going to the local public library (for the free internet and glorious air conditioning), exploring the business school, trolling the Fisher Connect site to apply to internship positions that had already been posted, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

And then the day of the MLHR bootcamp arrived- I finally got to meet my classmates and some of the faculty and staff. I realized that the class work would be difficult, finding an internship would be even harder, and feeling like I was smart enough to deserve to be here would take time.

Over the past two years I have written countless papers, delivered individual and group presentations on topics ranging from work/life balance programs to HR information systems, and debated in class with professors. I have read and re-read what feels like every HR-related Harvard Business Review article and case study; gotten frank feedback about my leadership strengths and weaknesses; and with a wavering voice and tears in my eyes, shared my struggles and vulnerabilities with the rest of the Leadership Legacy class. It has been the developmental experience of a lifetime.

While your class work is important and you are in the MLHR program to further your education, don’t forget that this can be so much more than two years of schooling. It is with a heavy heart that I leave the comfort of graduate school and move on to the next stage of my life. I plan to walk through campus each day this week, drinking everything in so that I won’t forget- but I have a feeling that remembering this place won’t be hard at all.

Before I sign off with my last blog post, I leave you with a few photos I took this afternoon of my favorite spot on campus: Mirror Lake.

Two Years

The other day I put in the paperwork to graduate Summer quarter 2011. I mentioned this to Marie, my wife, and she said, “Wow, that went quick.”

Quick? I don’t think so. Only two years on the calendar, but those two years were made up of some pretty long days.  Two or three days a week, for two years, I was busy straight through from 6am to 11pm: get up early to get the kids ready, work a job all day, spend another four hours in class, flop into bed long after everyone in the house was already sleeping.

Weekends were for homework, so were a few hours in the evening during the week when there were no tennis games, school concerts, parent-teacher conferences or community obligations.

School has been at least another part-time job on top of the full-time jobs I have at home and work, plus the other part-time jobs I do.

Two years of deferred home improvement projects, fascinating books not read, magazines piling up and friendships put on ice.

But I did it, and I liked it, and it was worth it. It was only two years, but I feel a lifetime wiser.

And thanks to Marie for putting up with my absences all that time.