Reflecting on MHRM – Year One

What a year it’s been!

For those of us who took time between undergrad and grad school, the idea of coming back for another couple laps on this track of academia can seem pretty daunting. I know it did for me. The year was full of “firsts,” but also full of “agains,” since moving back to my home city and revisiting all the familiar people, places, and things that I left behind in 2014. In the spirit of reminiscing, I thought I would catalog my favorite moments from the past year in pictures.

Before the Michigan game. Easily the most memorable of the season, and arguably one of the best games of all time. Derek has a no-shoes rule, which is why we’re all wearing socks.

 

Fisher Scavenger Hunt/Bar Crawl with, You know, some Pokemon.

 

Pre-Fisher Halloween bash with my favorite bird of paradise? (Katie, please confirm your costume)

 

Internal Case Competition sponsored by Pepsico. An opportunity for us to dress up, match outfits, and win.
A fancy evening at the Fisher Follies auction! We clean up well, don’t we?

 

My beloved external case competition team. This is a ride-or-die friendship right here, and a win that we’ll never forget.
Getting’ fancy again (and silly) for Fisher Formal.

 

Pedal Wagon shenanigans in the Short North arts district for a double-MHRM birthday! Happy Birthday, Kate and Matt! You’l notice everyone was required to wear a hat to ride.
Honored to have a photo with the Dean (and my best MHRM buddy Chris Schoo) on Donor Day. Thanks Fisher donors, for making our experience the most stellar possible.

Overall, I have to say this year was one of friendship, challenge, and growth. The Fisher MHRM program has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself in my adult life, and I am so excited for what the 2nd year has in store.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish all the best to the 2nd year “MHRMs” who will graduate this Sunday– as they launch into their careers as HR professionals! I can’t wait until our paths cross again. Until then, I’ll miss you all!!!

Signing off

-Jen

One Year Down, One to Go

In two weeks, I’ll move temporarily to Indiana for a 12-week internship with PepsiCo. Not only will I learn the practice of many things I learned in the classroom, but I’ll be tasked with specific, deliverable tasks and share what I create with leaders at PepsiCo in Dallas at the end of the summer. Classmates will move to places all over the country and work for various employers, including Boeing, Owens Corning, Ford, Texas Instruments, Exxon, Honeywell, Huntington Bank, Honda, and several others I can’t remember– and do similar things. We have an exciting summer ahead!

To that end.. and without further adieu… here are my Top 10 jewels of wisdom for 1st-year MHRM students:

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  • Be engaged. This may sound obvious, but the students who succeed are the ones who, as Professor Inks says, make the commitment to “be there” in class. When he means “there,” he means paying full attention and intently thinking about concepts, questions, and problems. I take it one step further: be engaged. Ask questions. Disagree. Faculty are more than willing to help you grow your knowledge and comfort with content if you ask for such help. Talk to them after class. E-mail them. Visit them during office hours. Soak in their knowledge!
  • Don’t overextend yourself. This is really easy to do on this campus. Fisher and OSU have many, many things that can take away from study time– including things that are otherwise good uses of time, i.e. student organizations, philanthropic causes, speakers, etc. But every minute of the day counts and you want to be “firing on all cylinders” in your coursework. I recommend involvement in one or two organizations at most and a clear understanding of what the involvement entails.
  • Partner early with Jill Westerfeld in the Office of Career Management. Jill knows what she is doing and loves to give students’ personalized insight and suggestions about anything career-related. Start by showing her your resume and LinkedIn page– and telling her where you want to be professionally.

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  • Be prepared for the first semester. It is overwhelming– no way around it. Classmates and I had been warned about this in orientation, but it is no joke. In addition to acclimating to so many new things, autumn is “recruiting season.” That means you’ll see recruiters early and often throughout the semester (mostly before the holidays, with heavy presence in September and October) and you’ll be able to attend many informational sessions, mixers, speakers, and… of course… interviews. So, in addition to getting the lay of the land in grad school and living in a new city, you’ll be competing for a summer internship with your classmates (and others across the country)! Prepare by managing your time well and understanding your personal goal of every recruiting event you attend.
  • When it comes to internship and job offers, don’t compare yourself to others. Now, this is not a very realistic suggestion, I realize. Perhaps a better way to express this is: compare yourself to others in a fair way and don’t take things personally. You will hear stories throughout the first year of classmates getting internship offers– and classmates who don’t. Some classmates get offers from very respected employers. Some get impressive compensation– allegedly. The truth is… you will never know the truth about other internships or about why you were or were not picked for an interview. There are many factors, some of which are out of your control. Control the things you can and don’t worry about the rest.
  • Take no more than one elective at a time. I made the bold decision of taking two electives during my three core courses in the second session of last semester and did the same thing this semester. Not smart. These are graduate courses, so you need to devote a good chunk of time and brainpower to them. Taking a high course load and adding that to other obligations, i.e. work, is a risky proposition.
  • Invest in a good laptop. Simple suggestion, but important. I started with a cheap, refurbished mini-laptop that was slow and is now in disrepair. You need a workhorse. By the way, some timed exams are taken online during class, so you don’t want to mess around with poor technology!
  • Build relationships with classmates. Not only will you benefit from having strong connections with great people, but you’ll find their ways of looking at things to be a great benefit. I cannot tell you how many conversations I had in the past year where I was able to clarify a concept or better understand something because I went to a formal study group, talked to someone in the hall, or took part in a GroupMe discussion. Side note: 2nd-year MHRMs are also great assets. They’ve been through what you’re going through. Don’t be shy! Introduce yourself.
  • Remember that Rohr Cafe closes at 7pm. So, don’t count on getting any food or drink during class breaks (there is typically a 10-minute break sometime around 7:30-8:30pm in every class). Pack your food and keep it in the Gerlach Lounge fridge. Also, don’t be shy about eating in class. At first, it felt strange; but you’ll get used to it. No fish, garlic, or similarly strong-smelling food, please!
  • Get comfortable with international students. Meeting and socializing with international students might seem uncomfortable at first, but I’ve built some good friendships with international students. It just takes a little effort to get out of one’s comfort zone. I also very much admire what they’ve done– imagine moving halfway across the world to Columbus, Ohio, for grad school! Their life stories are impressive and they share enlightening details about their countries and how HR works for them.

Before I started as a grad student at OSU, I knew on some level that my life would change forever. But truly, nothing can prepare you for this experience– this wonderful, deeply enriching, challenging experience that cannot be replicated. Take advantage of this time and make the most of it!

Student Perks: D-Tix

Of the many perks available to Ohio State students, I think one of the neatest and least advertised is D-Tix (abbreviation for “discount tickets”). Through OSU’s vast network of community partnerships, the school is able to offer general discounts and discounted tickets to special events through an online lottery system. Everything from Hocking Hills zipline tours, passes to the Columbus Zoo, and gift cards to local restaurants may be available at any given time on D-Tix.

The website is set up similar to Groupon, but with a lottery component. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students can enter the lottery for any particular event they are interested in, and if selected they pay a discounted price for the tickets (anywhere from 25-50% less than face value).

Obviously, the popularity of the event determines the probability of being selected. The recent John Mayer concert at the Schottenstein Center was quite popular (by the way, Chance the Rapper will also be performing there next month), but for other lower-key entries (gift certificates to local restaurants, for one example) students have a relatively high chance of being selected. Also worth noting—for any unclaimed tickets, they are sold first-come, first-served at the Ohio Union.

One of the benefits of attending a large, public institution like Ohio State is that perks like D-Tix come at a very small cost to each student and are included in the student activity fee (hello, economies of scale!). Let us also not forget the general student discounts afforded to students at various establishments around the city by simply presenting your BuckID. I am grateful that we’re able to enjoy so much of the city, even on a student budget!

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!