Glory to Columbus!

As a Columbus native, I celebrate just about everything unique to this fine city. However, one aspect I feel I’ve neglected during my 26 years of life and love for Columbus is the Crew team. Columbus has an MLS soccer (or football, for the purists) team smack dab it its own backyard–literally a 20-minute walk from campus.

This past Saturday I attended my first game in 6 years, and man how I’d missed it. We played the Portland Timbers (I lived in Oregon the last two years, so this was an uncomfortable limbo for me to exist in. But come on, we all know where my loyalty lies.) As is typical in soccer, we were tied up for most of the match. But as expected, the Crew scored in the final few minutes to pull out the win.

“All we do is win.”

The Crew team has some of the most fiercely loyal fans in the entire MLS, I’m convinced. Led by fearless leader (and brand ambassador, and retired Crew player) Frankie Hejduk, they have conceived a parody of nearly every popular and unpopular song, eloquently replacing the words with some crew-related lingo (hint: “you” and “Crew” rhyme, so that really opens up a lot of possibilities). You’ll find the lyrics to a few of my favorites below:

Frankie Hejduk has not missed an entire Crew game since he retired. I cannot confirm this is true, but it is how I feel based purely on his team spirit. Just look at him.

500 Miles (The Proclaimers)

I would walk 500 Miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the fan who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at Crew’s door
Call: COLUMBUS
Response: COLUMBUS
Call: COLUMBUS
Response: COLUMBUS
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)

Yellow Soccer Team (Yellow Submarine – The Beatles)

We all Cheer for the Yellow Soccer Team,
The Yellow Soccer Team,
The Yellow Soccer Team,
We all Cheer for the Yellow Soccer Team,
The Yellow Soccer Team,
The Yellow Soccer Team

(repeat, forever)

You Got What I Need (Just a Friend – Biz Markie)

Oh baby Crew
You got what I need
And it’s never going to end
And it’s never going to end

All in all, I feel lucky to be a part of a city with a variety of activities to do on the weekends. I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard sports fan, but it is fun to always have the option to go to a Columbus Clippers (baseball), Blue Jackets (hockey), or Crew game when the mood strikes. And, I feel fortunate to have a MHRM “Crew” of my own to accompany me.

“Go Sports!” -the MHRMs

MHRM External Case Competition – What a Weekend!

All you loyal blog followers might recall my post about the OSU MHRM Internal Case Competition way back in November. Well this past weekend, three of my classmates and I had the honor of representing the Fisher College of Business at the annual MHRM External Case Competition against Human Resources master’s students from 7 other schools—Cornell University, University of Minnesota, University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, University of Illinois, Rutgers University, and West Virginia University. Fisher hosted at The Blackwell Hotel, and the event was sponsored by PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Division. It was a strenuous and rewarding few days. I’ll share some highlights below!

  • The case: The case was unique in that it had a relatively narrow focus. Parameters like this can sometimes make it difficult to get creative. Personally, I think the goal is always to find the intersection between simplicity and cleverness. Being creative with existing resources presents its unique challenges, and is far more difficult than imagineering a lofty, ethereal idea. I also think the former approach is more impressive when done well.
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Strange snack combinations: another example of being creative with existing resources.
  • The chemistry: I truly could not have imagined better team chemistry. The weekend was a magical mixture of hard work, dad jokes, and Shia LaBeouf Youtube videos. We all brought different strengths and each of us contributed to the end product in a unique way. You could really tell that we were all crazy about the idea we were presenting, and we respected one another throughout the entire process. It really was the definition of synergy.

16 hours in a conference room really bonds you.

  • The presentation: Our brilliant coach Marc Ankerman challenged us to take a seamless approach to presenting, which is more organic and adaptive than traditional presenting. The presentation itself felt more like a conversation than a formal pitch. Nailing this style is more difficult to execute because the presentation tends to look slightly different each time, and you have to be prepared to talk about any piece of the presentation on the fly. Challenge accepted.

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  • The win: I am proud to say our 16 hours of prep on Friday paid off! It’s such an honor to be able to bring home the win for a school and program I adore. We also had a ton of support that day from faculty, staff, classmates, and friends that came to watch and hug us after it was over. What a cool thing.

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I also had the opportunity to meet and mingle with the other teams. I’m about as extroverted as it gets, and I love hearing other people’s stories and experiences. I hope to keep in touch. After all, we’re really all on the same team when it really comes down to it.

 

Competing vs Running OSU HR Invitational Case Competition

A unique opportunity the Fisher MHRM program offers is the OSU HR Invitational Case Competition. In the past, we have hosted four other schools: Cornell, Illinois, Rutgers, and Minnesota. However, this year, OSU expanded the competition and invited West Virginia University, University of South Carolina, and Texas A&M University. WOW, eight teams total.

As an MHRM Student I have competed for THE Ohio State University and coordinated the competition. Both opportunities provided a unique opportunity and experience that I could only get here at Fisher. Here’s what was different…

Competing in the competition is the most fun I never wanted to do again, but secretly wanted to at the same time. It’s a strange, self-inflicted torture that I can’t get enough of because I’m inherently really competitive. The sponsoring company, in this case PepsiCo (also a recruiter on campus), provides a real-life, current business problem demanding a robust HR solution. There are many components to think of when crafting the solution including ROI, implementation, and possible challenges. This competition is unique because it forces you to think outside the box. For example, if during brainstorming all four team members come up with the same idea, that means the other teams (a.k.a. the competition) have already thought about it too, and you need to come up with something more creative. Right before presenting to the judges, you can’t help but have a nervous adrenaline rush because you’ve really only prepared for 24 hours. Yet, at the same time, you know your team is going to present with such conviction in what you came up with. Participating in this competition during my first year in the MHRM program was a unique opportunity to gain exposure to business challenges I faced during my internship over the summer. Our dream team placed 2nd in the 2016 Invitational and I could not have loved the experience more. I have leveraged this experience, and I wanted to make it just as great for the students that would be on the OSU team the next year. So, why not run case comp?!

2nd Place: OSU HR Invitational Case Competition Dream Team Circa 2016 + Coach Ankerman

The MHRM Council is an opportunity to be involved with a student organization that contributes towards the MHRM Program at Fisher. As a Council member, myself and a fellow classmate organize and execute the two case competitions for the MHRM program: Internal – Fall, and Invitational – Spring. While the internal has been traditionally larger in the past because all of the MHRM students participate, the Invitational is larger in terms of scale because many other programs/schools attend. The two case-competition chairs on Council handle a majority of logistics and coordination for both competitions… This is event planning and execution on steroids. The Invitational (a.k.a. external) has grown in size and this was the sixth annual competition. Overall, running the competition didn’t have the same level of “adrenaline rushing,” but let’s be honest… that feeling is hard to get when you’re the party planner. But I was just as excited for all the teams to get to Fisher, explore Columbus to see how great it is, and be one of the first faces our guests would meet. Another great part about running both the internal and the invitational was the opportunity to sit in on the presentations. As a participant competing, there is a strict rule that prohibits sitting in on other teams’ presentations. However, as one of the two case comp chairs I got to sit in on the presentations and observe teams, judges and Q&A. I felt like I was looking into a fishbowl that I vividly remembered being inside of one year earlier. I learned a business executive’s perspective and where their curiosity comes from around a team’s idea(s).

The winning team! OSU HR Invitational Case Comp 2017 + David Harris (VP HR – Corporate Functions & Strategic Projects at PepsiCo)

Post-graduation, I am sure I’ll be responsible for both presenting new ideas to my company’s executives and responsible for organizing and executing events that involve multiple stakeholders. Both opportunities are very unique to being a Fisher MHRM, and I’m fortunate I had the chance to be a part of both teams for the case competitions – on the team and running the show.

As always, go Bucks!

OSU HR 2017 Invitational: OSU, Cornell, Minnesota, Rutgers, Illinois, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Texas A&M

 

Where should I live?

Many people don’t realize that Columbus, Ohio, is the 15th-largest city in the United States with nearly a million people living in and around the metropolitan area. With big cities come LOTS of options, particularly, lots of housing options.

As a Columbus native and having attended undergrad at Ohio State, I’ve lived in many distinct areas around the city including Upper Arlington, Victorian Village/Short North, Old North, and Central Campus. Currently I’m living in Old North Columbus, which is just north of Ohio State’s campus. It is by far my favorite area I’ve lived in. Now I’m going to tell you why.

The Old North is located just north of Lane Avenue on the edge of campus, and extends up until where Clintonville begins further north. Cost of housing here is some of the least expensive in the Columbus area. Most of the houses in the area were built in the 1920s and have a lot of personality. Front porches and backyard space is common, and off-street parking is abundant.

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Old North Arcade is a bar+arcade combo located in Old North. They do a mean trivia night on Mondays and you’re likely to catch a team of MHRMs (“merms”) in the lead.

The Old North tends to be an area where Ohio State students move when they’ve had just about enough of the somewhat more raucous atmosphere that is more common on central campus. The Old North “scene” is a bit dive-y in that the restaurants and bars themselves are older, as is the crowd that frequents them. This area tends to attract young people in their mid- to late-20s and early 30s, resulting in a fun, eclectic, laid-back vibe. The area tends to be more bustling than Grandview or Upper Arlington. I personally think it’s a really accessible, no-frills area for people that still want to be connected to the social scene of Columbus, but don’t necessarily want to be living in the middle of it.

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An Old North favorite: The Blue Danube is a popular restaurant with incredible, cheap nightly specials and they serve breakfast all day. “The Dube Special” is a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and two grilled cheeses for $160. I’ve never seen anyone order it, and it is a bucket-list item for me.

I know from my experience in moving to other cities that housing complexes can be appealing in that you know exactly what to expect and you don’t have to worry about finding roommate. My one piece of advice for anyone coming from far away is to consider looking for a month-to-month housing option for when you first arrive. Then as you explore and acclimate to Columbus a bit more (and meet classmates who could be potential roommates) you’ll know better what area you might want to be in longer-term (for the next year or two of your life—or longer… Columbus tends to have a magnetic effect and it is difficult to leave).

I have heard from some of my classmates that they wished they had done more research, because the area they are living in is not necessarily where they spend most of their time, and they would like to be closer to the Short North, Old North, Grandview—wherever it may be. A great resource for locating housing aside from some of the bigger, more advertised complexes is the Off-Campus Housing website. You can search for available housing with filters for # of bedrooms, pets allowed or not, and other amenities. I’ve found some stellar places through this website and would highly recommend.

Vulnerability

Through participation in the Fisher Leaders program, I have been provided many assessments to help me to understand my leadership style and how others perceive me (“360 feedback”).  This gift of information is wonderful to have to understand how I can improve.  I confess that it has been difficult to integrate that feedback into my life.  It seems as though, almost daily, I realize how my leadership needs improve.  Sometimes it feels like I am stumbling around with respect to leading.

Leadership development is difficult.  I grossly underestimated the emotional impact that the leadership development would have on me.  I confess that I had a hard time keeping up with blogging last semester because of the emotional turmoil through this growth process.

One of the greatest benefits of all of this struggle is the improved relationship with my family and friends.  Before learning about leadership, I internalized quite a bit and neglected to share things with people, because I thought that they already had enough to deal with and felt like I would be adding to the troubles.  The Fisher Leaders program has helped me to understand the importance and necessity to share experiences with the people I care for and that the best decisions in life are “we-based” ones.

It has been very difficult to consider so many new elements in my life.  Hearing where I need improvements, learning a new job, reconciling emotions, and sharing my feelings more with others is helping me to grow.  It is truly encouraging to learn and practice all of these things in a safe context (in school, work, and with my peers).  Although not desirable, it is okay to make errors here without long-lasting damage.  Developing my skills in these safe environments has helped me prepare for after graduation, where I will have greater accountability from more people.

Evening Classes?!

One of the unique aspects that differentiates the MHRM program from the other full-time grad programs at the Fisher College of Business and many other Master’s-level HR programs is that classes are held almost exclusively in the evenings. I have to be honest here—this was a big reservation of mine when I was considering the program. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to adapt my lifestyle to accommodate that sort of schedule—I was sure I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as well at night and I was worried that the schedule would cut into my hobbies (I’m a big fan of live music, trivia night, and happy hours).

I challenged myself to see the forest beyond the trees and keep an open mind about the class schedule. It would require a little “schedule Tetris” on my part, but I knew the program was an investment in my future—and something that I could justify making some lifestyle changes for. Here’s what a typical day in Jen’s life looks like since beginning the MHRM program:

8 AM             Wake up (okay, my alarm goes off at 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, and                                8:45, so, let’s call it 8:45 in the spirit of full transparency)

10 AM           Work-out

11 AM            Read for class/eat lunch (each class’s reading typically fits                                into a two-hour timeframe for me)

1 PM              Go to work

5 PM              Dinner (*options, see below)

6:15-9:30     Class

9:30 PM        Relax at home/socialize with friends

1) Make dinner in advance and bring it from home: this is a popular option for those who plan their meals in advance. I am not one of these people.

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I mean, I really wish I was one of those people.

2) Bring a Lean Cuisine or other frozen meal: When I have them in the freezer, I absolutely opt for this option. Quick and easy– and we have three microwaves in the graduate student lounge so that makes things very convenient.

Microwave station. (Also, that is a coffee machine next door)
Microwave station. (also, that is a coffee machine next door)

3) Order food: Sometimes I wait until the last minute to figure dinner out. It works because of technology. Jimmy John’s delivers “freaky fast,” Panera is within walking distance, and UberEats caters to a wide variety of tastes.

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Deliciousness delivered right to your classroom door. (Disclaimer: I do not actually recommend delivering directly to your classroom; the front door of Gerlach Hall is a safe bet, however)

I quickly realized that with a little pre-planning and self-discipline, I would still be able to fit everything in without compromise. The other important note here is that some of my classmates have turned out to be my best friends, so we can hold one another accountable to a) get our school work done and b) make certain we are finding a balance between work and play.

Sincerely, “Always Late”

Let me preface by saying I am the queen of biting off more than I can chew. I think it comes from the fact that I am a “Type 7 Enthusiast” according to the Enneagram personality assessment. In short, that means I am “extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined.”

With this in mind, I made only one resolution for this year:

Be on time.

As you might suspect from the description above, I am the type of person who was supposed to be somewhere five minutes ago and still whole-heartedly believes she has enough time to make and consume a panini.

I don’t typically struggle with this with regard to “formal” obligations—class, work, appointments, etc. When it comes to social engagements, however, my punctuality is absolutely abysmal.

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I had this realization after arriving nearly 30 minutes late to lunch with a friend. When trying to coordinate arrival time, I asked him if he was “one of those people who says they’ll be there in 10 minutes when they really mean 25.” He vehemently denied it. When I arrived, he told me I was exactly 25 minutes late.

Although I don’t consciously hold the belief that my time is more valuable than anyone else’s, I do believe that routinely arriving late sends a certain self-important message. I don’t want to be that person.

What’s the plan for my punctuality reboot, you ask? Wake up earlier and set an alarm deadline for me to be in the car and on my way. No last-minute paninis. I think the conscious awareness around how others could perceive my lateness as disrespectful is also helpful. I care about these people who I’ve made plans with, and I should show it. It’s also fantastic practice for the fast-paced world of business where deadlines and commitments are expected to be honored.

So, new year, new me.

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So far we’re doing pretty well. And, if anyone has any tips & tricks for this type of endeavor, I welcome them in the comments!

So You’re Stuck in Columbus Over Winter Break?

Well, get excited.

As many of my MHRM classmates wrap up finals and find their way back home via some combination of planes, trains, and/or automobiles, I am proud to say I’ll be staying in Columbus for the duration of winter break. Having lived in Oregon the past two years, most of my vacation time off work was spent traveling back home to Columbus (it took no fewer than 3 planes and a full day of travel each way). So, suffice to say I am happy to be able to hunker down and enjoy the next few weeks of break enjoying the holidays in this wonderful city. Here are a few of my favorite things to do during the holiday season (and colder months in general):

  1. Dollar Grilled Cheese Night at Bodega: That’s right. A hip little bar nestled in the Short North Arts District offers $1 Grilled Cheese on Mondays ALL NIGHT LONG. Come on. Who doesn’t love to warm up with a grilled cheese and bowl of tomato soup on a cold Monday night?
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nom nom nom

2. Wildlights at Columbus Zoo & Aquarium: The Columbus Zoo is already remarked as one of the best in the country. What makes it better? Gazillions of twinkling lights. My favorite moment this year was seeing a tiger family all cuddled up together in a big ball of fur to keep warm. If it weren’t for the signs (nevermind the obvious fear for my life), I would have climbed right in there with them.

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3. Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival: This was a first for me this year. Hundreds of elaborate lanterns handmade by Chinese artisans in Zigong, China are on display the entire month of December at the Ohio fairgrounds. There’s also a variety show at peak times, including mask-changing, bowl-flipping, jar-balancing, and acrobatic martial arts. The music in the background was an eclectic mix of electronic and jazz, and it was truly spectacular.

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This was my favorite display. Look how happy those little bees are.

4. Christmas Lights at Collin’s House: This is a funny story. As a kid growing up in Upper Arlington (just 5 minutes from OSU campus) my parents always drove my sister and me around in our pajamas to see the Christmas lights at least once a season (more if we begged, which we did). There was one house that always stood out among the rest, and the cars literally lined up in front of it every night so whiny kids like me could see the ridiculously elaborate display of Christmas lights. Fast forward 20.5 years to last August: on one of my first days in the MHRM program, I met someone named Collin who was also from UA. I asked him where, exactly, he grew up, and he said “I live in the house with the ridiculously elaborate display of Christmas lights.” My jaw dropped, and it was at that exact moment I knew we were destined to be friends.

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A snapchat from Collin himself. Like I said, cars literally line up in front of his house. He’s pretty much a celebrity.

5. The Nutcracker Ballet: At the Ohio Theater each year, Ballet Met puts on a spectacular performance of the Nutcracker. I missed it the last two years while living away, and I am really excited for it this year. For some reason, it just makes the holiday season feel complete.

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Reflections on 2016

I’ll be honest– I have a hard time knowing what to write for my blog. This year has been full of change I never would have anticipated. If there’s one overaching epiphany I’ve had in 2016, it’s that only I can create my own destiny. I tell my friends and family– probably to their annoyance– that they’re similarly charged with creating their own paths in life.

The precursor to this crazy year came in December 2015. I’d just informed my supervisor that I was not going to renew an employment agreement expiring in April 2016. At the time, my goal was to stay in the industry which I’d given my all to for almost 20 years. I’d worked my way up, making many sacrifices along the way, and wanted to continue reaping the financial rewards. I was desperately hoping to move to a larger, more progressive city and finally live “the dream.” However, I’d also become ready to be challenged in new ways; I was emotionally and mentally burnt out. It had been sort of a… slow burn. For years, I just wasn’t enjoying work anymore. I knew deep down inside that something needed to change.

Despite this gnawing awareness, I continued the search for the “perfect” job into the spring, but– because my profession was extremely specialized and there were literally only three or four people doing what I was doing in each major city– I had no luck. Each day became more discouraging until I finally realized I had to make some uncomfortable decisions. New job field? New city? Or… new degree?

After much soul-searching, I decided it was time for a fresh start in grad school. I didn’t like the idea of going into debt and “putting my life on hold for two years.” But I also loved the idea of being intellectully stimulated and pursuing a field that would better align with my personal and professional values.

I pondered. A lot. MBA? Social work? JD? (I had taken the LSAT years ago…) Online courses? In-person? Should I study where I want to live or focus only on the quality of the program? Decisions, decisions.

Then, I stumbled upon this link on OSU’s website. Human resources management? At first, I thought… mmm… maybe… kinda sorta. But I admit that my perception of HR was the common one– the paper-pushing, bureaucratic person removed from strategic decision-making. No, thanks. Then, however, I started investigating. Turns out… more and more companies see HR as leaders as key players in the strategic process– and they really like HR professionals with graduate degrees. I kept doing my research and kept finding myself more and more attracted to the field– and to OSU.

I applied for the MHRM program in June-ish and was accepted in July. I believe I was one of the last — if not the last– students admitted to the cohort.

Now that I’ve finished my first semester (yay!), I can truly say that going back to school and choosing this program is THE best decision I have ever made in my life. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I’ve met some of the coolest, smartest, nicest people. I’ve been challenged to think in new ways. I’ve been forced to think about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. And most importantly, I’ve given myself the chance to start over and to– in the process– become a better person.

2017 should be just as great. I’ve accepted an internship with PepsiCo which I’m so grateful to have received– and am supposed to find out where it’ll be any day now.

The ride so far has been amazing!

Now… what are YOU doing in 2017?

Gratitude Practiced Daily Becomes Habit

With the Thanksgiving holiday recently behind us, I’m trying to make more of a conscious effort to take time each day to reflect on things in my life I’m grateful for. This is something that we did with the clients each night at the residential treatment program I previously worked at, but it’s the first time I’m taking a stab at incorporating it into my own life.

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The reason, you ask? Here’s a logical one: Professor Will Shepherd recently cited a “Ted Talk” in which psychologist Shawn Achor argues that the formula most people use to govern their lives: hard work leads to success which leads to happiness, is inherently backwards. Research suggests that happier brains are more creative and productive than those individuals with negative self-talk. So, we ought to be thinking: how can we be happier and more fulfilled, leading us to achieve a higher level of success and productivity in our lives, leading to a higher level of happiness and fulfillment? And the cycle continues.

At the end of the 12-minute presentation (and I encourage you to watch the whole thing, especially if you’re a psychology nerd like me), Achor offers some suggestions for how this can feasibly be done. For 21 days in a row, consciously acknowledge and write down (that part is important) 3 events, things, or people, you interacted with or participated in that you are grateful for. How does it work? In simplest terms, given that our brains are plastic, we are able to reprogram our thinking by simply practicing thinking in certain different ways. By acknowledging gratitude, your brain actually rewires itself to scan the world for the positive.

So, here are 3 things I am thankful for today:

  • My work unit. I share an office with 4 of the kindest, wittiest, and well-informed individuals. I am constantly impressed by their positive outlook on the world and how they can take any mundane task and make it fun.
  • My job. I am biased, but I think I have one of the most rewarding graduate assistantships around. I get to talk about a program, university, and city I love every single day.
  • My friend, Tony. Tony works with me in the GPO (also a blogger here) and has become one of my closest confidants in the program. He is so open-minded and always challenges me in my thinking when I most need it. He’s always looking out for me and my best interests. Tony rocks.

This exercise is already helping me put things in perspective as classes ramp up around the end of the semester when projects are due and exams are scheduled. I encourage everyone to take time each day to be grateful. Do it for yourself!