Last Saturday, Fisher held the Fifth Annual Human Resource Invitational Case Competition. This competition is an annual competition which involves five premier master’s programs in human resources in the U.S. to compete against one another. These programs including: Cornell, Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers, and of course, Ohio State. Sponsored by PepsiCo, the case competition requires candidates to come up with solutions based on the case that PepsiCo provided in 20 hours. Derek Lancashire, one of our team members, and my classmates, told me that the process was stressful because they received the case on Friday morning and had to give presentation on Saturday morning. But our team did a good job. They ranked second in the competition. In addition, Marlina Frederick, a second year MHRM student, was given the award of Best Q&A. Well done, buckeyes!
When I first started the program, my logic was that you went to info sessions in order to get information about a place that you wanted to go for your internship. However, in going through the program, I attend as many information sessions as I possibly can. These are free opportunities to interact with professionals and to learn about their specific industry. In another sense, you also get the opportunity to look at possible trends or connections between the industries. If you notice the same thing coming up in each session, that only strengthens your ability to enter into your field with a more comprehensive outlook. I recently attended an information session on Gender issues. It was led by the CFO of Cardinal Health and it was an amazing an inspirational lecture. I immediately went home and started looking at how I can start integrating that understanding into my own workplace.
My Chinese classmates have been patient enough to help me with my very basic ability in speaking Chinese. It is usually only a few minutes after class, but it gives me the opportunity to interact with others that I don’t know as well in a medium that I haven’t mastered. It’s definitely humbling, but it encourages me to listen better, and reminds me that no one person knows everything and everyone has something unique about them to share. Taking full advantage of this program requires an interest into not only drawing off the wealth of knowledge from the professors, but also in your classmates. Every time I go to class, I look forward to hearing how others are thinking about things and to better understand how they think and speak.
More importantly, through all the opportunities that are coming up, the most important one is the one available most days of the week. One day, I got home around 10 pm (due to class and a late group meeting for class) and I spent about 40 minutes cleaning and tidying up the house. My wife had a rough day and it was a great opportunity to do something nice for her. Another day, I was just about to start reading for class when my daughter came up to me and said, “Do you want to have a tea party?” I said, “yes.” We sat down eating imaginary blueberry and strawberry cakes accompanied by imaginary blueberry and strawberry tea. Another day, my son brought me a book, turned around, and sat in my lap. We read that picture book at least ten times straight. No matter how busy my schedule gets, I will not lose sight of the most important opportunities.
I am currently in a Labor Relations class (MHR 7310), and one of the course requirements is the completion of a Collective Bargaining Agreement simulation. Each student was placed in teams of 3-4 other negotiators (their peers). Half of the groups were assigned as Union representation and half were assigned as Management representation. Then each assigned Union group was paired with a Mangement group, and the goal was to reach an agreement on a contract we were to renegotiate.
We were provided information about the company, and information about the demands that are likely to be proposed by both the Union and Management. Prior to negotiating, each group costed out the impact of different demands and options, researched market data, considered legal issues, and determined which clauses in the current Bargaining Agreement would be impacted by each demand. After each group identified their strategy and tactics for the negotiation, as well as their priorities and anchors, both parties joined for the actual negotiation. The goal was to reach an agreement on the key issues each group identified to serve as the new bargaining agreement. It was definitely a learning experience, and a fun one as well!
It’s almost the middle of the first session and I have finally written my first blog for this semester. We still have just 3 core courses in the evening, but having heard a lot of good words about the selective courses, I chose to take 3 of the selective courses after a tough picking process. I’m interested in a lot of topics, such as leadership, team performance, technology innovation, and so on.
I end up with 6 classes on my list. One week later I found myself buried in reading materials, and although they are all very interesting, I dropped one of my selective classes.
This semester, we’ve got more readings, assignments, quizzes, and exams. But luckily, we’ve also got experienced teachers guiding us through the valuable process and classmates making progress with us. For example, Professor Klein has our picture and names and tries to remember every one of us. His class always begins with an interesting riddle and a quiz. A quiz is always stressful to me, but it happens the same day when I finished the reading and learn about it in the lecture. The best part is if I do well in all his quizzes, I can choose not to take the final exam.
What is the most ideal learning strategy? Some people would say sitting in a quiet place with little external distractions. Some might say by using the information in a practical setting to gain experience with feasibility. Some people would be okay with writing a detailed Data Analysis homework assignment, while listening to a 3 year old’s comments on her favorite part of Monster’s University as she watches the movie. Add to that a teething one year old who wants to be held and then doesn’t want to be held (repeat many, many times). You may have already guessed, but for me, the answer is all of the above.
The next most logical question might be, “How do you do that?” While writing the response, I chuckle, as probably most parents do, and say, “I just do.” The truth is that there are limited options and I have to maximize the time I do have and prioritize the tasks effectively. This weekend I have several chapters to read (for all three classes), an intense homework assignment due, and preparations for a quiz on Tuesday. For this blog, I am not even going to mention the stuff at work!
The truth is, I could probably be doing much better if I had unlimited time and no distractions (an outcome I would never want). The benefit to be gained though, is that amidst all these deadlines and pressures, a thought emerged that everybody wants that. I am working with the best of what’s around and although I am not doing it “perfectly,” I am growing tremendously. Changing my thought process between what is comfortable and what is effective is not easy. Most likely, when I graduate, I will be in the midst of many projects, deadlines, and meetings. If I can grow and endure with all these considerations now, it is likely that I will be well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. “We all make time for what we want to make time for.”
Here are a few of Columbus’ hot spots to escape to the great outdoors!
Highbanks Metro Park:
- 1,159 acre park
- Includes wide range of activities, such as Biking, Canoeing/Kayaking, Cross-country ski trails, Fishing along the Olentangy River, Natural forest and play areas, Nature centers, Picnic areas, Sledding hills
- 8 different hiking trails with a variety of terrain and distances
- Domesticated dogs and cats permitted
Scioto Audubon Metro Park:
- 120 acre park
- Located along the Scioto River and south of downtown Columbus
- Includes wide range of activities, such as Biking, Fishing on the Scioto River, Nature center, Picnic areas, Obstacle course (The Columbus Rotary Obstacle Course), and Rock wall climbing
- 3 trails (up to 2.5 miles long)
- Domesticated dogs and cats permitted – 2.5 acre dog park (separate areas for large and small dogs and an agility course)
Three Creeks Metro Park:
- 1,100 acre park with over 100 species of birds
- 8 different hiking trails with a variety of terrain and distances
- Includes a wide range of activities, such as Biking, Canoeing/Kayaking on Alum Creek leading to Big Walnut Creek, Fishing at Heron Pond, Natural forest and play areas, and Picnic areas
- Domesticated dogs and cats permitted – 4 acre dog park in Sycamore Fields Area
Heritage Trail Metro Park:
- 87 acre park
- 6.1 mile multi-use trail
- 3.6 mile horseback riding trail
- 4 acre dog park (separate areas for large and small dogs )
- 120 acre park
- Grass athletic fields, basketball court, tennis court, and playground
- Trails for hiking, running, biking or skating
- Access to lake for fishing
*Hidden Gem – Hayden Falls Park:
- 2 acre gorge habitat with 35 foot waterfall and endangered plants
- Includes a boardwalk, steps and an overlook, as well as picnic tables
I joined a Chinese Christmas party held by a friend of my father on December 26th. As you may know, Chinese people do not celebrate Christmas, but to my surprise, it seemed that they now treated Christmas as Chinese New Year (Spring Festival).
Just as Christmas is an important holiday to some Americans, Spring Festival is an important holiday to some Chinese. Our Spring Festival lasts about a month. Families start to prepare 20 days before the Spring Festival. We prepare food, clean houses, and hold special activities such as eating Laba Zhou, Ji Zao and so on.
At Chinese New Year’s Eve, all family members gather together and enjoy big dinner (similar to a Christmas dinner). But we do not give gifts, instead, children can receive Yasui Money (small red packets with money inside) from their parents and grandparents.
My father’s friend who I call “Uncle Zhang” is in his 50s. He came to America 30 years ago, and now all of his family is in Columbus. He has a big family: his wife, 2 children, his parents, his sister and her family, and his mother- in-law.
It was a wonderful night. When we arrived, Uncle Zhang’s sister had already prepared a big dinner. Perhaps because they have lived in the U.S. for a long time, some of their traditional Chinese habits have changed. For example, in China we do not use “common chopsticks” for all the dishes. The dinner is different from a traditional Chinese New Year’s dinner too. It is easy to understand as some traditional cooking material is not available in the U.S. But to my surprise, the parents of Uncle Zhang gave us a “red packet,” which is a traditional Chinese Spring Festival custom. They also gave us a small package with gifts in it.
To conclude, it was a memorable night and gave me an insight into how Chinese mix American customs with their own traditions. For example, they treat Christmas as Chinese Spring Festival: gathering all families together, making a big dinner with both traditional Chinese dishes and American desserts, and giving us red packets as well as Christmas gifts.
Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a great vacation. I had a truly restful vacation. My initial plans were to do some intensive reading to prepare myself for the Spring semester. Those plans quickly fell to the wayside as I spent most of my time with my family. I must have read “Cat Power” and “Madeline” at least 50 times to my son and daughter, respectively. Our family passed around a cold throughout the break, but finally recovered. Despite the illnesses, we all truly appreciated the time together and the lack of pressure from school. The break was perfect, but as the new year arrived, I started yearning to get back into the groove of the semester.
The first week did not disappoint. In the first class of the week, we learned about tunnels underneath the business school! The data analytics professor mentioned it in class and I was among others who went to explore. Our class was in Schoenbaum hall. We went to the basement to find a locked door. Luckily, a faculty member happened to come downstairs and he let us in! We curiously found our way through empty classrooms, computer labs, and hallways with exposed pipes. We ended up coming up through Fisher Hall facing the garage. Of course, I”ll be spending sometime on campus before class further exploring this new area! In addition to the data analysis class, I will also be taking Staffing and Employment Law.
Work has been going well and I have still been actively utilizing many of the skills learned in the program. I recently proposed an Office Exchange program in order to increase company client knowledge, participate in a distinctly different work culture, and to facilitate more company wide cooperation. I will be going to the East office for three days and one of their coordinators will take my place at the West office. It should be an interesting experiment!
I got a new email from OUAB (Ohio Union Activities Board – ouab.osu.edu) about an opportunity to learn dining etiquette. Free meal and learn something, why not? After registration, they sent another email for us to pick the dishes. When I stepped into the dining hall, I was impressed by the well placed knives, forks, plates, glasses, etc. I’m glad that the university is so thoughtful to provide international students opportunities to learn life here. But what moved me even more is that the faculties and staff are devoted to give us the best care and help they can.
They served delicate food, from appetizers to coffee. At meal time, the speaker provided us suggestions from choosing food to taking a bite. We learned that the formal dinner is not about eating, but a chance to display our grace and make connections with people that will foster our future.
At the end, when the waiter cleaned the table, he thanked us for keeping the table clean. It’s just a tiny thing, but he even expressed his appreciation for that while we were grateful for his considerate service. You can feel the efforts the university is making to get everybody involved. No wonder every time we shout out “O-H”, we will definitely get an “I-O”. We know we are embraced and have become part of it.
On Dec. 16, I watched a basketball game with my friend. The game was between our very own OSU and North Illinois University. It was the first time that I watch a basketball game. Although I was not very familiar with basketball rules, it was still an exciting experience to me.
When we arrived at Jerome Schottenstein Center at 6:45 p.m., many people were already there. As we entered the center, I found people walking around, holding food and drinks and talking excitingly. It was hard to describe the atmosphere. It was like people were waiting for something exciting, but the atmosphere was more like a festival. When we found our seats and sat down, I was shocked because I had never seen so many basketball fans, which reminded me of the Quidditch games in“Harry Potter”. When I was young and reading “Harry Potter”, it was hard to me to image why wizards have such great enthusiasm in a sport game. Now I understood.
Thanks to my basketball courses in my undergraduate university, I knew the basic rules of basketball. When the game began, people were caught by the game. They cheered for every goal and sighed for every miss. The first half of the game was quite exciting because the goals were so close. The beginning of the second part of the game was even more tense. I could feel a desire to win the game. At about the last 10 minutes, we gradually achieved the dominant position. The atmosphere changed again and it now became exciting. But it was different from the beginning of the game, as at first people were excited about the basketball game but now they were excited about the results.
I was excited about the game, too. It was so different from watching a game on TV. I could hear people cheering, feel people’s excitement, and got exciting myself. But what impressed me the most is one small thing that happened during the game. Two men who sat on my right were loyal basketball fans. One of them was eager for a souvenir T-shirt given out by cheering squads members. Sitting on my left side was a father with a child. During the game the father introduced the game rules to his son patiently. When the guy threw the souvenir T-shirt for the last time, the father got a T-shirt and he gave it to his son. But later, the son gave the T-shirt to the man who sat on my right. The father explained that his son wanted to do so. It was so warm.
As we won the game, people left with a sense of pride and excitement. When my friend and I waited for the bus, a car passed by and people in the car shout to us “O-H”, we responded by a loud “I-O”. Before the game, I never thought I would be so excited. But now I understand why people all around the world are crazy for sports: sports are really exciting and inspiring.