Surviving the Winter Season: Tips from a Michigan Native

It is the end of November and we all know what that means…

It wouldn’t be the holiday season in the Midwest without the expectation of a snowy, winter wonderland. Having lived in Michigan my entire life, I’ve had my fair share of cold, unpredictable weather. Since the Fisher College of Business has a diverse body of students from all regions of domestic and international areas, I thought I would share my tips for conquering the winter season.

Outerwear: My go-to outdoor ensemble consists of a parka (long winter down coat with hood), snow boots paired with fuzzy socks, and gloves. Additional options include a scarf and hat for added warmth or upgrading to a pair of texting gloves which offer the convenience of texting on your phone screen without having to take the gloves off in the cold.

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Layers, layers, layers: Nothing is more uncomfortable than walking into a building with a bundle of clothing on and immediately feeling overheated as you walk up the stairs. I encourage wearing layers to easily be able to adjust to any temperature inside or out.

Hydrate & Moisturize: The cold weather can have adverse effects on the body and skin so it is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting sick. Keep your favorite drink hot or cold throughout the day with an insulated travel mug. Other items to keep handy that will help you stay moisturized include chapstick and hand lotion.

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Plan Ahead: To avoid being late to class or work, check the weather the night before so you’ll know what to expect the following morning. Don’t get stuck brushing snow or scraping ice off our vehicle with your sleeve and make sure have an ice scraper/snow brush handy.

Enjoy it!: Last but not least, embrace the outdoor activities that come with the snowfall. Go sledding, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or ice skate with your family and friends!

Whether you love or hate the winter weather I hope these tips prepare you for the upcoming season!

What is Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP)

The Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP) is one of the largest graduate student organizations at the Fisher College of Business. While we hold events and activities primarily geared toward those focused in marketing, we have had opportunities to network with non-marketing professionals. Below are some highlights of our annual traditions, as well as new events that we as a leadership committee have implemented. I would say that we have been pretty successful so far! I am proud to be the Director of Professional Development of such a wonderful organization.

Annual events

Columbus Hop – Takes place every fall break. This year’s companies included IBM iX, Root Insurance, Orange Barrel Media, and Watershed Distillery. It gives students an opportunity to network and go behind the scenes to see how each company works.

Fisher MBA students at the Watershed Distillery as part of Columbus Hop

Chicago Hop (upcoming) – We celebrate the end of the fall semester and final exams by hopping on a bus to Chicago! This year’s companies include PepsiCo, BlueCross BlueShield, Tyson Foods, and Ogilvy. If you are not yet an AMP member, you should become one just to be a part of this awesome event!

Attendees at Chicago Hop last year

Marketing For A Better World (upcoming) – Our theme this year is Marketing Ethical & Sustainable Consumer Goods. Agenda includes keynote presentations by Levi Strauss & Co., and Fairtrade America, and a marketing panel moderated by ethics professor David Freel. We are still accepting registrations, and we are raffling off some autographed Columbus Blue Jacket items! You can’t miss this event!

Columbus Advertising & Marketing Practicum, CAMP (upcoming) – This will be our 10th annual CAMP! More details to come, but we will bring students, business professionals, and faculty together to discuss pertinent marketing topics.

CAMP last year

New events this year

Nail the Interview series – a two-part session where different marketing frameworks were introduced that helped with interview questions. We listened to feedback from the first-year FTMBA students and provided them with resources that they needed.

Brand Management series (ongoing) – Over lunch, students get to learn more about brand management from different companies. We have had former Fisher alumni from T.Marzetti (Lucy Liu) and Wendy’s (Emily Jacobson), and we hope to bring in a few more in the spring.

Other events

Happy hours & Panels

2nd-year FTMBA students sharing their marketing internship experiences

Tips On the Video Interview

As an applicant to the Fisher College of Business, the final piece you will submit is the video interview. To complete the interview, the platform will require you to submit three or four video responses and one written response. Also, the platform affords students the opportunity to respond to some practice questions before starting the recorded interview.

The best way to approach the video interview is to view it as an excellent opportunity for you to add character to your application. By this, I mean try your best not to be nervous or feel overwhelmed by this process because this is an area were you can really shine and create a lasting impression. Two tips for you to remember as you tackle this task are to practice and to express yourself with confidence.

Practicing allows you to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will encounter in the actual interview. As you practice, assess your rate of speech. You want to make sure you can get your main point across within the allotted time, while avoiding the pitfall of speaking too fast so that you only use, for example, 10 seconds out of the 45 seconds available for you. Also, check were you look as the video is being recorded. This is important because you don’t want to appear as someone who is reading a response. Rather, you want to appear engaged and interested in the task at hand.

Another element that will help you excel in this interview is confidence. When it comes to confidence, I encourage you to imagine yourself as the reviewer of your interview. Would you trust or believe a candidate who is shy and seems unsure about the responses the candidate is giving? The answer is probably “No.” So it’s important to be confident and passionate about your responses. The response you are giving is yours so express yourself in a way that causes the reviewer to experience the emotions you feel about the subject in question.

Good luck as you complete your applications! And remember, practice before your interviews and deliver your responses with confidence. You’ll do great!

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

What is the GRE?

The GRE is one of the two possible qualifying exams prospective MBA students will be looking to take as they prepare to apply to the Fisher College of Business, the with the GMAT as the other possible exam.  The main difference between the GRE and GMAT is that while the GRE is used as part of admissions for a wide variety of graduate programs, such as business school, law school, or other specialized master’s programs, the GMAT is primarily only accepted by business schools. For the purpose of Fisher, either exam is acceptable.

How the GRE Works

The GRE is broken into three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing, with each section receiving its own score. While the Analytical Writing section does help schools understand a prospective candidates writing abilities and logical thinking, it is the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections that will generally receive the most attention. The Quantitative and Verbal reasoning sections are scored out of a total of 180 points each, with many schools making their composite average score available for prospective candidates to view. For example, the Fisher incoming Full-Time MBA class of 2018, the average composite score was a 312.

How to Study for the GRE

The best advice I can give when preparing to take the GRE is to use books or online resources to practice the types of questions they give in the GRE, and understand what it is the questions are asking. One of the most important skills the GRE tests is the ability to read through entire questions and passages and understand what answer is being sought. There are a number of online resources you can use to find free practice tests and the general questions you can expect to see come test day.

One Last Thing

As you start studying for the GRE, remember that while a high score can definitely help a candidate, business schools will be looking at many aspects of a candidate including work experience and cultural fit. This means a lower-than-expected score does not necessarily place someone out of the running. And if you do receive a score not as high as you wanted, one of the best parts of the GRE is that it can be taken multiple times.

Fisher Follies Fall Auction

Graduate students at the Fisher College of Business can join a variety of student organizations based on business areas, community service, and other common interests. One of the organizations I wanted to highlight this week is called Fisher Follies, a group that supports Fisher graduate students in need by raising funds through a variety of events during the academic year. More specifically, these funds are used to assist students if they run into financial hardships. Examples of this could include a plane ticket home for a family emergency or to assist with unexpected bills.

MHRM students supporting the cause

Last weekend I attended the Fisher Follies Fall Auction. A cocktail-style event held at the Blackwell Hotel that brought together students, faculty, and staff for a live and silent auction. Some of the items up for bid included a trip to Germany, sideline seats to the Michigan vs. Ohio State game, cooking and golf lessons as well as tickets to various events around Columbus. In my opinion, the best part of the evening was knowing that all the proceeds were going directly to the Fisher Follies Fund.

With the fast-paced environment we live in, it is easy for us to get caught up in our work, a job search, homework assignments, or other commitments we may have. Being apart of activities like this allows all of us in the graduate school to come together for a greater cause and support the Fisher community, which I believe is a valuable part of the Fisher College of Business experience.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ―H. Jackson Brown Jr.

I look forward to taking part in the next Fisher Follies event, which will be a variety show that features a number of humorous skits, video, and musical numbers. Thank you for reading!

Turning Theory into Practice

Picture twelve teams, eight judges, two rounds of competition, all in search of one solution—what do you have? The Fisher College of Business MHRM Internal Case Competition! Every October, students form teams to compete against one another to solve an HR-related business problem. While this is a requirement for graduation of the MHRM program, this event allows first- and second-year students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it in a real-world context.

Presentation of the Case

This event was sponsored by PepsiCo, who presented us with an introduction to their organization, supply chain operations, and the competitions business case at 8 am on Friday. The business case was related to a current proposal the company is working on for their plant operations. It was each team’s responsibility to decide whether or not PepsiCo should add a new role to their organization structure. This decision had to take in consideration the following: change management strategy, organizational design, training and development opportunities, and financial implications.

 Once the case was revealed, the teams had about 30 minutes for Q&A. From then on, the competition had begun they had 24 hours to create their own unique solution for the case. During this 24-hour period, the teams worked hard and long into the night in breakout rooms brainstorming and discussing potential solutions. We were fortunate enough to have the second-year students who coordinated the event feed us and deliver us snacks throughout this period.

Team 2 hard at work
Grab-bag of snacks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early the next morning, each team returned to present their solutions in front of a panel of PepsiCo and industry professionals. To keep things fair, no one knew what time they were going to present until the morning of so each team had to arrive equally prepared. There were two rounds of presentations, the first round divided all the teams into three separate groups, essentially to compete against one another to make it to the final round. Those who were declared the best in each group then moved on to present their solution in front of the entire class, a handful of professors, and a panel of judges. After the final presentations were delivered, the winners were declared and there was a networking opportunity following the event with all the judges.

Having competed in this year’s case myself, I can definitely say it was one of the most challenging yet exciting events of the semester thus far! I’m happy to announce that my team won the case competition and now has the opportunity to participate in the External Case Competition that is held in the spring. The top three final teams are also invited to have lunch with the Dean of the College of Business.

My Awesome Team!

Not only was my team able to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it to this case but allowed us to practice our creativity, critical thinking, and presentation skills. Truly simulating what the atmosphere would be like if a manager came to you in the workplace and needed a problem solved in a short timeframe. Participating in case competition also gave us the opportunity to implement and experiment with new ideas that we may have been otherwise afraid to apply in a classroom setting. We were able to treat it as a learning experience rather than a grade.

Additionally, being questioned, critiqued by and given feedback from actual leaders in industry only made it a more valuable experience. I would highly recommend students of all ages to go outside of the classroom and get involved in professional development opportunities such as case competitions. No matter the outcome, it will be a new experience, a chance to network with others, further develop your professional skills and is a great way to build your resume. As always, thank you for reading!

Celebrating National Diversity Day

National Diversity Day is a day to celebrate and embrace who we are, despite our differences, no matter what race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, or disability. A day to reflect on and learn about different cultures and ideologies. A day to vow acceptance and tolerance. A day to consciously address these areas at educational and religious institutions, as well as in the workplace and at home. National Diversity day is an annual event on the first Friday in October (Diversity Awareness Month). This year, National Diversity Day was October 5, 2018.

Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League

The Fisher Graduate Women in Business and Black MBA Association collaborated together to invite Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League, to speak and discuss with Fisher students about her journey and experience as a minority woman in the business world. This took place in the Mason Rotunda. Over dinner, students had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a discussion with Stephanie over issues that took place in the workplace, home, social events…etc. Overall, it was such a successful event, and we hope to continue having such events. A big thank you to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for sponsoring this event!

Enjoying dinner from Sweet Carrot
Fisher students engage in a discussion with Stephanie Hightower

FGWIB and BMBAA Leadership Committee with Stephanie Hightower

 

More than a degree: a real opportunity to be influential

Recently, the MHRM students participated in a case competition where we sought to resolve a current HR challenge that PepsiCo is facing. The reason I want to talk about this experience is not only because it’s a cool activity the program provides, but because of what it means for the entire program’s approach to our development as business professionals.

The case competition consisted of 13 teams who presented in front of a variety of influential HR executives. PepsiCo presented the case early on a Friday morning, then we had 24 hours to come up with recommendations and craft a formal presentation. During the first round, we were split into three big groups so that about four teams presented to four judges per room. Out of each presentation room, a team was selected to move on to the next round. During the final round (as if the stakes weren’t high already), each winning team presented to all other competing teams and to all the judges together. An overall winner was picked at the end!

MHRM team (Julie, Christine, Mallory, Tessa)
“Cha-Sha” Team (Sharmeen, Champaigne, Shannon, Charlotte)

The greatest part of this experience was the opportunity to present in front of judges who would interrupt and ask all kinds of tough questions. It teaches you to answer on the spot, how to read a room, how to clarify your ideas, how to maintain poise in the midst of nerves and challenging questions, among other great presentation skills. It truly was all about the delivery of your idea! Forget about school presentations where everyone knows exactly what they are going to say and how long it’s going to take. My team didn’t even get through four slides!

My team: “Crisp Solutions”

In my team’s case, pretty early into our presentation, one of the judges expressed that he didn’t like the idea. What do you do with that?! It’s not like we could go back to the drawing board and adjust. We had to keep going. I loved that this happened to us, though, because it taught me two key lessons.

The first was that I knew and believed in my presentation more than I thought I did. I surprised myself with how confidently I was able to walk the judges through our thought process and to build on what my teammates were explaining to get our point across. I think the minute we saw we were losing the judges’ buy-in, we looked at each other and knew exactly how we would stand our ground.

Yes, we had just worked 24 hours on developing a solution together, but it was the intentional trust-building efforts that taught us how to move forward as teammates not just as a group. By asking each other questions further outside the box every time, the more we deepened how to be highly in tune with each other. I felt very proud that we gave a powerful presentation despite not winning, and that I walked out of the room beaming with admiration for the way my teammates handled themselves and how they helped me handle my response too!

Crisp Solutions (Megan, Reid, Mai, Sarah)
Alex, Reid, Richard feeling accomplished!

 

 

 

The second key lesson was that you never know what new information you are going to have thrown at you. It may make you feel like all the work you did was for nothing, but in reality it has the potential to elevate your professionalism and expand your comfort-zone like never before.

Right when we left the presentation room, I felt cheated because the judges based their questions on information that we were not given. I complained about it for a while, which I realize was not my best move, but when we went back for a feedback session, I realized it was on purpose! The judges spoke about how well we defended our strategy and tried to connect their observations to our plan despite being caught off guard. Realizing my lack of awareness, I asked them how they have handled situations like this when new information came to light.

I learned a lot from their perspective, but most importantly how I could challenge myself to respond differently. It was a clear uncomfortable growth moment, yet the self-reflection that resulted from it is something I will treasure as I continue to develop my skills.

Me receiving “best presenter” award

To say that I recommend this competition is an understatement. I learned so much about myself and I feel really encouraged about the small and intentional ways the Fisher College of Business is helping me achieve my goals!

PeopleTalks: Human Capital Strategy

I recently attended the first installment of PeopleTalks, a Ted talk-style event coordinated by the MHRM student council open to all students in the Fisher College of Business. This event featured local HR professionals discussing current Human Capital trends and strategies. This session also included the opportunity to ask questions and network with the speakers. Companies in attendance ranged from startups to global organizations.  Here are my top takeaways from the speakers.

Second-year MHRM students who organized the PeopleTalks event

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Caren – Director of Talent Management, Honda Manufacturing

The labor market has changed dramatically over the years—the current demand for labor is high while the supply is low. Because of this, one of the most difficult issues employers experience is with sourcing and retaining quality talent. For Honda specifically, the technological change in the external environment has increased the need for more IT workers. Over the past few years, they have seen a lack of interest in manufacturing positions within their industry. To combat this, Honda has increased their investment in STEM programs and encourage students to co-op with their company in order to develop the talent they know they will need in the future.

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Rachael – Director of Talent, HR, and Culture

Established in 2008, Updox is a startup that provides customer relationship management systems to reduce the amount of administrative work for healthcare providers. The speaker from this organization, Rachael, was brought in as the first HR Representative and has implemented many initiatives since she began with the company. Since much smaller, new companies can struggle to match the monetary compensation of larger organizations, part of her strategy to attract talent was to offer company stock and generous paid time off (PTO) benefits to their employees. Thus increasing the value of an employee’s Total Rewards.

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Craig -Senior Compensation & Benefits Analyst, MHRM Program Alumnus

Acquired by Berkshire Hathaway, NetJets is an aviation company that offers fractional ownership of small, private jets. Since they are a global operation with a mobile workforce, they continue to be challenged on how they can better connect with these employees. One of the projects they have been working on is transparency of pay, a hot topic in the HR industry right now. NetJets plans to implement a career framework for compensation that includes grouping each department by pay level called “bands.” This allows for vertical and horizontal movement throughout the company and lets employees know exactly what to expect with each transition.

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Samantha – HR Manager, MHRM Program Alumnus

One of the HR team’s most recent projects was within their talent management function. More specifically, on measuring employee engagement at work in order to better understand what drives and motivates their workforce. By implementing a third-party survey vendor, they were able to collect and receive employee data, use it to influence their HR decisions, and better support their employee’s needs. Measuring engagement has become an important aspect of crafting an organization’s employee experience and is being adopted as a practice for many organizations.

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Sami- Campus Recruiting Lead

CoverMyMeds is a healthcare software company that provides solutions to consumers regarding their health insurance coverage. Sami, the campus recruiting lead, has responsibility for the company’s talent pipeline. This can consist of forecasting for the employees they will need in the future and creating learning and development opportunities so they have the right people in right place at the right time. They are currently focusing their efforts their high-potential employees and shaping them to become leaders in the company.

Overall, HR is a fast-paced, ever-changing field and attending events like this make me excited to be a part of it. I look forward to the next session of PeopleTalks and learning more about what both small and large organizations are doing to become more effective and efficient in the workplace. Thanks for reading, that is all for now!

“But…is it easy?”

Seriously, look at how cute he is in his fall fleece. Shameless plug again: @livinglikebernie

First off, sorry for the delay in writing this blog post, the life of a part-time graduate student with a full-time job is not an easy one. Work had been picking up right when midterms were rolling in, leaving me with very little free time. I barely even got to spend time with Bernie (@livinglikbernie), much less sit down to write a blog post.

With how busy I’ve been, it actually got me to start thinking about a question I get a lot from those interested in the MHRM program and graduate school in general. As somebody who loves admissions work and meeting new people, I’ve met a lot of prospective graduate students, from visit days to friends of friends at parties. Regardless of how I meet them, most ask me the same question: “but…how easy is graduate school?”
They’ll then ask me about my background, if I was “good” at my undergraduate studies, how much GRE score matters, and if you actually have to read to be successful in graduate school. My answers are normally yes, depends, and yes…duh.

Captain America says “Remember kids, make sure to read for class…and also don’t let Thanos get all of the Infinity Crystals.”

Now, I’m the first to admit that I work really hard on my academics, and I believe in the concept of an educational contract, where if I expect the professor to come to class prepared and organized, the same should be expected of me as a student. Are there people who don’t read everything? Obviously. Do I think they can be just as successful as somebody who does read everything? Of course, but their success isn’t as guaranteed as those who do read and prepare.

I offer the above context about me, because I believe that my answer to the “is it easy” question can come off a little harsh without it. Simply put, I believe that if you’re looking for easy, then graduate school isn’t for you. It’s graduate school—it shouldn’t be easy. It should be challenging. It should be difficult. It should make you think and grow and push yourself to a level that you didn’t think was possible. The easy choice is never going to be attending and completing a graduate program, regardless of the subject you choose to learn.

 

“When Alex tells me I can’t find an easy way to get a Master’s degree.”

My intention isn’t to discourage anyone from getting a master’s degree, my hope would be that this inspires you and makes you want to rise to the challenge. The MHRM program requires a lot of work, just as any other graduate program in Fisher or around the world will as well. You should want that level of work, to achieve something that so few others have (about 8% of US citizens have Master’s degrees) and to feel like accomplished something truly great.

So as I head to class, my second of three this week, I’ll answer the question I get asked all of the time “Is graduate school easy?”

The MHRM program is a lot of things. It’s difficult, it takes a lot of work, it has lots of reading, writing, and arithmetic (I’m kidding about the math, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to say that). It’s also incredibly rewarding, energizing, inspiring, and you’ll leave with a sense of accomplishment that is like no other.