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.

The MLHR Master’s Examination

Although visions of graduation are dancing in our sweet little heads, we’re not there just yet. During your final quarter in the MLHR program you must successfully pass the Master’s Examination– for all those graduating in June, the case was released this past week. So naturally, we MLHR folks been more nervous and harried-looking than usual.

What is the exam? Here’s the brief description that you’ll see when your own day of reckoning arrives:

The master’s examination is mandated by the OSU Graduate School, and is the final validation of performance in meeting the program’s degree requirements. The master’s examination for the MLHR program consists of a thoughtful analysis of a case study. The purpose of the case study requirement is for a student to demonstrate mastery of knowledge learned throughout the MLHR program, and the direct application of concepts and frameworks learned to topical issues facing the HR profession.

The case was posted this past week and we have a week to read the case and write an analysis. The objective is to demonstrate that you know how to put everything that you’ve learned during the past 2 years to good use. Students are asked to analyze the case from the perspective of an HR professional (which we will be in a few short weeks!) and present their own, original recommendations. Each of us will submit a work of about 15 to 20 pages, which will then be blindly reviewed by faculty and deemed “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

While some of my peers are freaking out about it, I seem to have a much more devil-may-care attitude. I’m confident that I’ll be able to tackle this case and utilize everything that I’ve learned during my past 5 years of HR education. But maybe, just maybe, I should buckle down and focus on the case instead of working on my blog 🙂

Results will be posted on May 11th- good luck to everyone taking it now and everyone who will be taking this in the future!

Life Beyond Grad School

It’s kind of intimidating. Okay- really intimidating.

I am one of the fortunate second-year students to have a job offer in hand that I accepted back in October. Every day I feel more and more excited to start working in June and be able to apply all the ideas I have from my classes.  And every night I feel more and more excited to dream about what I’m going to do with my first real salary 🙂

As someone who has been a full-time student for the past 17 consecutive years (virtually 77.2% of my entire life), it’s hard to imagine what life will be like after I graduate and start working. What will I do when I don’t have evening classes to attend 3 days a week? What will I do when I don’t have to spend my entire weekend writing papers and meeting with classmates to work on group projects? Thinking about all this free time has made me think about what I want to do with my life besides go to work every day: I want to buy and remodel houses.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I did some house hunting in Lafayette, Indiana- where I will be living and working after graduation. I’ve decided that I want to buy a 3 bedroom fixer-upper, spend my evenings and weekends rehabilitating it, and then rent it. I consider myself to be a pretty handy person- and everyone who knows me considers me to be the kind of person who goes crazy when she doesn’t have some sort of project to work on! My ideal house is something that also has 2 bathrooms and was build around 1950 or later- something like this one that I saw. Believe me, the inside isn’t as cute as the outside:

The Barbie Dream House

So even though I’m 22, I put on my big-girl-trousers this weekend and acted like I knew what I was getting myself into. I have a feeling that by the time the first bathroom renovation is done, I just might end up wishing that I was back in graduate school- where things were easier!

Applying for graduation!

Well, I have been quite the deadbeat blogger this summer. It’s mostly because I have nothing to really write about — I haven’t had time to do much of anything interesting since the 2nd year summer core classes are VERY time consuming (and also pretty interesting, so I won’t complain too much).

But today I got the little boost of encouragement that I desperately needed: that quarterly e-mail from the GPO asking if I am “Planning to graduate at the end of ___ quarter?”  Finally, this e-mail applies to me! It’s time for me to apply to graduate!

I’m really looking forward to being a normal adult again – who has only one job, has every evening free, and doesn’t feel guilty about having fun when I should be doing homework. The freedom to stare at the TV for hours on a weeknight, or to go to a “happy hour” and let it turn into an “all night hour.” 

For the first time in my life, I won’t be severely depressed when winter comes, because come December, I’ll be freeeee!  =)  

Who’s jealous? Or who’s also graduating? Tell me what you’re going to do when you reclaim your free time!

Oh, this is going to hurt ….

Quarter-to-Semester Update

Any student taking one class per quarter or any prospective student will be facing the Quarter-to-Semester conversion at OSU.  My concern is the student will lose credits or have to review redundant topics in class after the conversion.  This may be especially true in my case where I am cherry picking my electives first rather than following the “standard” curriculum flow.  At the very worst, students will have to take (and pay for) more classes.   I doubt OSU can make any promises to alleviate this concern.  Regardless, here’s a clip from Peter Koltak, former USG President and Member of the Semester Conversion Communications Subcommittee:

Ohio State is committed to protecting the academic progress of its students during the transition to semesters. A pledge to that effect has been developed by students, faculty, advisors, and advising administrators. The pledge is the university’s promise to students that they should see no disruption towards earning their degrees if they:

1. Decide on their major and degree within a time compatible with four-year graduation;
2. Meet the standards for progress defined by their academic unit and continue to complete appropriate course loads successfully; and
3. Actively develop and follow academic plans in consultation with their academic advisors.

Academic advisors will understand how the changes in courses and curricula may affect students’ degree programs, will know where and how programs can be flexible, and will be prepared to assist students in planning for on-time graduation. Students will be responsible for getting and using this advice, which will be essential to their progress toward their degree.

To see the full text of the semester conversion pledge to students, click here.