Defragment your time!

It was 11:00pm at my apartment, with me sitting in front of the computer, watching my poor little PC went through the “defragmentation” process. Staring at the screen, while the screen probably was also staring at me, its tired owner, I suddenly wish “I were a computer”. Oh wait, I was too tired, what I actually meant was, I came up with a very bright idea—I should defragment my time!

A little more than two weeks after the first classes, my schedule already looks messy. A pretty lay-back first week brought me a horrible feeling, in return, when I looked at the “due items” on my second week timetable. Three group projects are due and one quiz is coming up, therefore all my off days were filled with group meetings. With lots of readings and other assignments, plus housekeeping stuff like opening accounts, paying bills, doing grocery shopping, and housework, I was really overwhelmed. The biggest problem is, where had my time gone?!

I did the math a little in my head and figured a large portion of my time was actually wasted on traveling back and forth among different places and being inefficient. Now the problem is resolved, or at least the situation is improved, with my defragmentation idea. So please allow me to proudly announce some tips for you:

1.Make or get a calendar planner. It has to show at least one current month and better if shows the days of the whole quarter so that you can see the big picture and do your game plan. It also has to be differentiated into hours every day so you can schedule in details.
2. Mark down all the “fixed items” in your planner such as classes, events that you must attend. Most importantly, highlight all the due days and exam days!

Now you are ready for the game. Every night before going to bed, list all the things you need to do. Fit the flexible items in time slots according to locations, estimated length of time, and priority. For instance, if you have a class on a certain day, you also need to deposit a check, drop by the grocery store, cook, do laundry, and read an 11-page article. You will first go to class, as that’s a “fixed item”. Then you will deposit the check since the bank is close to school. Get on a bus back home and start reading the article. If the grocery store and laundry place happen to near your house, then drop down the laundry after you get home, grocery shopping will follow. Done shopping, put clothes into dryer, then cook. Enjoy your dinner, do a little work-out pulling your laundry back afterward. Continue reading the article. When you get a little tired or bored, go fold your clothes or organize your wardrobe until you feel refreshed. Finish your reading.

Sounds good? I hope the idea helps! Be a good time manager!

Location, Location… Research

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first couple of weeks in the MAcc program thus far.  It has been extremely challenging with trying to do so much at once, but very rewarding at the same time.  One of my favorite parts of the program is the ability to take classes that interest you.  Outside of the required accounting class, I am currently taking a managerial negotiations class because negotiations interest me; a financial management class that I really enjoy; and finally, an interesting real estate class that focuses on the core principles of real estate.

In my past class on Thursday night (the class is held from 6-10), Professor Hudson challenged the common saying that real estate is all about location, location, location.  Instead, he said that it is now about location, location, and research.   While real estate research is very costly, it is also very, very useful considering that a good real estate decision can last a long time and the owner can reap the rewards of a wise decision for many years.  On the other hand, an unwise decision can be costly and hurt the owner for many years.

In making a decision, it is important to know the land cost, where the customers are, the access that a location has to roads/ interstates, growth potential, and competition in the area.  Our class is split up into groups (similar to all 4 of my classes) , and we are each given the opportunity to develop a very specific real estate project and present it to a jury of real estate professionals at the end of the class.

The opportunity to take such a wide variety of classes that interest me has been one of the many things that I have enjoyed up to this point.

Star Wars Theme!

I thought I was having a hard time with all this school stuff, and then I heard my husband trying to roll his r’s (practicing for “Elementary Russian I”); he sounds like Chewbacca. It’s pretty awesome, and amusing (but don’t tell him I said that, or he’ll stop making my morning coffee).

Of course, the exciting world of FASB Codification sometimes makes me feel like I should be in “Elementary English” (so I can’t laugh too hard at Chewie, or I’ll start crying). As I was looking through its online pages a couple of days ago, when I experienced a nagging feeling that I’d done all this before… and then I realized why: the Ohio Building Code, and construction specifications. So there you go mom and dad, don’t be scared for me, architecture can prepare you for accounting.

And finally, because I can’t tie all this together, I will list the fun things I learned this past week.

1. Sticking with the “soundtrack to my life” theme could save me about 30 minutes of time when coming up with a post title.

2. Fisher students have free access to Rosetta Stone software (I’m hoping I can learn some French).

3. Printing out eleven copies of your weekly schedule (made in iCal or Outlook) is better than buying an organizer (but I might be the only one who thinks that).

AMIS 824 – Corporate Finance

I love all 4 of my classes this quarter, but I want to bring your attention to this particular one – AMIS 824 Corporate Finance. This class is unique in many ways. To start off, in the introduction email Professor Dave Williams sent to the class, he specifically mentioned that we won’t be doing any journal entries, T-accounts, or cite FASB statements. But wait a second, I thought this is an accounting class??? (AMIS stands for Accounting & Management Information System)

Now that school’s been in session for about 2 weeks, I started to get a feel of what he means. Dave (he likes to be informal and prefers to be called by his first name instead of Professor Williams) usually starts the class by reading an article or two on the Wall Street Journal and discuss with the class the magnitude of the news and the effect/consequence/special meaning it has both to the accounting profession and the financial industry. Then we spend the remaining class period analyzing financial statements of various companies in a very fun and intuitive way. You might say, how is analyzing hundreds of pages of the 10-K fun?

Well, first of all we don’t look at the entire 10-K because Dave is environment-friendly and would like to save trees. Second, some day we look at just the income statement, another day we’ll look at the balance sheet followed by the statement of cash flow, or sometimes the combination of them. Then he’ll make the students think hard and fast what lies beneath the numbers. He asks questions like: why do you expect to see a high balance in the inventory account for so and so? What does it mean when you see cash outflows from PP&E every year? Is that a good thing or a bad thing and why? So far we’ve looked at the financial statements of Tootsie Roll, Hershey, GE, Southwest Airline, Whirlpool, Campbell’s Soup, 5/3 Bank, Amazon, J-Crew, American Eagle Outfitter, and Pacific Sun. Next week we’ll talk about revenue recognition and look at Microsoft’s financial statements. Microsoft!!! I’m getting excited just as I’m typing this.

Dave is ingenious in drawing the class’ attention. He tells jokes, makes fun of himself and sometimes his kids, and you can be sure that he’ll call you out (not to embarrass you, but all for good fun) if you say something silly without giving it some thought. He comes at you fast and furious and you better devote 120% of your attention to him if you don’t want to miss anything important (and the jokes). Starting this week I’m bringing a digital recorder to record the lecture so that I don’t have to take notes frantically. Lastly, I tried to imitate his style a little bit and be funny in front of the 211 students (I’m a TA) but so far to no avail.

New Washer and Dryer

While, they were new to us at least. Sarah’s parents drove in from Richmond to visit (8 hours through VA and WV mostly,) and we decided since they had the truck here, we should try and get a washer and dryer. Just to preface, we have the hook-ups for a washer/dryer in our house, we just hadn’t bought one yet, and had been using an awful laundromat down the street.

Laundromats are not particularly fun places to be. One has to keep feeding the machine with quarters, it is a huge waste of time to just sit there etc. So Sarah and I started looking. We started on the appliance section, and struck gold almost immediately. There was a guy who lived in Victorian Village (just south of campus) that had moved into an apartment that came with a washer/dryer already included.  To make a long story short, Sarah and I are now the proud new owners of a brand new (to us) washer and dryer, for only $220. We are pretty excited we never have to go back to the laundromat.

We also decided a couple weeks ago to adopt a puppy. Her name is L.E. pronounced Ellie. She is a Beagle mixed with something, we are thinking either Basset Hound, or Dachshund. She is about 12 weeks old, and weighs about 8 pounds. She is an awesome little puppy, and loves being around us. The crate training isn’t 100% done yet, hence the dire need for a washer/dryer : )

On the career path, things are going well. Deadline’s have already started expiring on Fisher Connect, which is Fisher’s online career portal. I have applied for quite a few positions up till now, and all the networking I have done through Fisher has really paid off. I have already been accepted for one Big 4 interview, and one regional firm in the coming weeks. I am definitely excited to get the interview process started.


How Far Are We From Med School?

Obviously, the title doesn’t mean the physical distance between Ohio State’s med school and Fisher.

Last Tuesday I attended a Fisher Hub event–MIT Global Broadcast. Audience watched a lecture give by a MIT professor on his biotechnology research and, more importantly, how his ideas and products were commercialized. The topic involved networking among various fields, lots of which are between science and business. Besides the business terms and concepts I am familiar with, waves of scientific terminology stroke me. I was glad that my grades in science were not bad and I still remember most of the knowledge, otherwise it would be very hard for me to understand a significant portion of the lecture.

All these things lighted a bulb in my head.

I believe very few graduate students at Fisher think about getting to med school afterwards. Many of us may not touch anything in science because we think that’s “not our business”. But, are we really saying “Goodbye” to all other subjects after we confirm our career path in business?

Same Tuesday, at the MAcc Boot Camp, a partner from one of the large public accounting firms gave a presentation. When asked his opinion on how the economy would affect job markets in these coming years, he said, “I am not sure, but if you know the European history well, you might expect similar situation like what the European countries experienced.”

“If you know the European history well”, we can forecast future economic environment! Right, this was what my history teacher told me in high school, but when and how did I begin to forget all of these?

Everything is related to business. Medical technology is, history is, computer science is, art is, everything is! So my Fisher fellows, once we are in Fisher, we are not saying “Goodbye” to any other fields. Say “Hello”!

Stamp the Last Item of Your Checklist

Once class started, time just flew by. How many items on your checklist (the one that I suggested) are accomplished? Let me check mine!

Year of school established—-checked; Buckeye T-shirt—-checked; watch a football game at the stadium—-(I see the light!) half checked; learn to sing Carmen Ohio—-I did! Checked!

So here comes the last item I left open in my previous entry, “know why our colors are Scarlet and Gray”. If you haven’t found the answer in the library, take out your stamp now, and ready? Here’s the answer:

Original pieces of the Scarlet and Gray ribbons.

The colors of Scarlet and Gray were selected in 1878, before the Ohio State University’s very first commencement. According to the library’s exhibition, “In 1878, the first graduating class wanted ribbons to decorate and to tie their diplomas. A student committee visited a local store, Lazarus, compared ribbons of different colors, and selected orange and black! When the students learned those were the colors of Princeton, they returned and selected scarlet and gray instead, simply because the colors were pleasing and represented no other institution.”

A Great Start

After moving to Columbus last Sunday, my schedule has been nothing short of jam-packed!  I attended the Grad student orientation on Monday to better orient myself with campus after missing the MAcc orientation the previous week.  Several hundred first-year grad students crammed into a lecture hall in Independence Hall to listen to a variety of speakers including President Gee.  I felt that the orientation was well organized and a great learning experience.

On Tuesday morning, I attended the MAcc boot camp.  We were initially given an overview of Fisher Connect (the main job database used to sign up for on-campus interviews and a variety of other career tools) and we were then presented with several panels of speakers ranging from experienced public accountants to HR staff to accountants working outside of public accounting.  It was mainly an open forum to ask questions regarding the interview process and to get more details on what a career in public accounting is like.

Wednesday was the first day of classes and because I live a couple of miles off-campus, I decided to buy a green ‘C pass’ to be able to park on campus.  After arriving on campus, it took me roughly a half-hour to find a parking space.  I admit that I arrived on campus at a terrible time and was not very familiar with all of the lots.  Parking on campus went much smoother the rest of the week after I knew where to go and how to more efficiently look for open spots.  My classes all seemed to go smooth and my professors were very knowledgeable (more on this in a later post).

Thursday and Friday were filled with homework, getting everything set up on Fisher Connect and a mock job fair.  And of course Saturday was the Buckeyes’ game…. another shutout for the Bucks.

Why a MAcc

About 2 years ago I made one of the hardest decisions in my life. This decision has two parts to it: 1. To quit or not to quit my job; and 2. If I do quit, should I get a MBA or something else?

The first part turned out to be pretty straight forward. I was dragging my feet to work everyday and when I’m at work, my morale hit rock bottom. I was chatting online and writing emails to friends constantly asking for their opinions because a number of them ran into the same situation and ended up going back to school for their MBAs. So a decision was made: I’m quitting this job. See ya~

Before I sent in my resignation, I had to think really hard about what I want to do after grad school and hence what I need to accomplish and learn from grad school. My ill-fated start-up experience taught me a lot about running a business and brought out my hidden business side. I took on many challenges and really enjoyed the process and the sense of accomplishment. Okay, so definitely not going back for a master in engineering. Now what? Get a MBA?

I wasn’t quite sure what a MBA is for except that it spells Master of Business Administration. I knew many of my friends were pursuing one. So I began my research by going down the list of some of the most prominent business schools according to the USNEWS ranking.  Stanford, Harvard, U-Penn, Chicago, etc, all of them were very dazzling and what amazed me the most was the number of areas they cover in their programs in order to make their MBA candidates successful. I took a step back and thought, well I’m not big on management (at least not yet), I’m really not a marketing/sales person, and I’m not really interested in HR, logistics, PR, operations, etc. So what did I like the most out of my start-up experience? Yup, you guessed it, accounting & finance.

There’s so much involved to start or run a business. You are in contact with numerous entities daily. Vendors, lenders, customers, employees, partners, etc, all of which require some forms of resource going back and forth, which then can all be translated into money. Without a good information system, you go with what you know and hope for the best. However, if you know some accounting or have someone manage and design a sound accounting system for you, then you can base your decisions and strategies on information you can trust. Lastly, if anything, I used to be an engineer and still think like one so I’m very logical and good with numbers. Cliche? Ha, maybe~

So what are you trying to learn in grad school and what are your goals after you’re done?

Orientation, and finding a job

Orientation was great. I will spare the nitty gritty details, as they have been covered, but it was lot of time learning about the program and what is expected of us, as well as a lot of time spent figuring out how we are going to get jobs in this lovely economy. It really was a HUGE help, and the networking tips, as well as other career search tips have already proved invaluable.

We had a boot camp, with a lot of Big 4 and regional firm employees serving as a panel to allow us to ask questions. This has been my favorite day of the program so far, I really learned a lot, and the networking/ability to speak with recruiters has been fantastic so far. I should be hearing back within the next week as to where I will be interviewing.

Classes started on Wednesday, so it was nice to get that monkey off my back,  and also nice that it was a short week, and I was done by Thursday. Sarah has been in Denver all week for training, so I have had the house to myself. She flies back into Columbus this evening at something like 11:30, which coincides with her parents arrival for the weekend to visit. It will definitely be nice to have company, and we are looking forward to taking her parents around tomorrow afternoon to show them the madness that is an Ohio State pre-game tailgate.

At some point, hopefully soon, I am thinking of letting her write a part of a few entries, so anyone with a fiance or significant other can read her comments about the experience of going to grad school as a +1.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and GO BUCKS!