Core Team: An Integral Component of the Fisher MBA

As I reflect through the past five months of my Fisher MBA experience, one thing that kept me going through this rigorous and fast-paced program was my core team. Yes, you heard that right – ­my core team! Go, Team #3!

Fisher heavily emphasizes the concept of team. Just before you officially start your MBA, you go through a three-week pre-MBA term. At the end, you find out who’s on your core team, the team you will be working with throughout the first year of your program. Just to offer a glimpse of how a pre-MBA term looks, this is where you get to know about the program structure, professors, resources at Fisher and Ohio State. At the same time, you get to attend executive lunches, seminars, career roundtables, and speaker series.

The whole entering class is divided into teams of four to five, with people not only coming from different backgrounds but also from different parts of the world. The diverse nature and vivid experiences that every individual brings to a team make you appreciate the power of such a setting. We, as a core team, faced our first challenge on the very first day we got introduced to each other. As a part of Fisher Challenge, we had to present a case analysis on one of the budding organizations in Columbus and propose an innovative way to help increase the firm’s profits. This was the first group exercise with my team and to date, we’ve delivered on many such assignments. We ended our pre-MBA term with an experiential learning program with all core teams at a location little outside of Columbus (called “Summit Vision”). This was absolutely one of the experiences that I’ll add to my special memories from Fisher for the rest of my life.

A pic from Summit Vision (I am on the extreme left, along with rest of my team)

Over time, as I’ve progressed through the MBA program, these are the people who’ve become a big part of my Fisher family. It’s not just the assignments inside class, but the other experiences. Recently, we all planned a day out at the Columbus Zoo. It was definitely a stress-reliever after the end of our first term and simultaneously gave us the time to know each other better in a setting outside of the class.

A pic from the Columbus Zoo

Overall, working in a team setting has not only helped me in learning the art of coming together as a team to solve a problem but to also appreciate different leadership styles operating within the same team. It, in a true sense, gives you the flavor of how your post-MBA corporate life would be.

Welcome to Ohio State

Welcome week and orientation at Ohio State is a big thing for both undergraduates and graduate students. As a Master of Accounting student, we have a 4-day orientation prior to when most students come to campus. The orientation is a great way to learn more about the MAcc program, what careers are available– and to get to know your classmates better.

The highlight of my orientation week was when we (the MAcc students) had the opportunity to go to Summit Vision. For those of you who don’t know what Summit Vision is, it’s an outdoor team-building organization located on the outskirts of Columbus.

When we arrived, we were placed in groups of 12 students where we were tasked to traverse through the wilderness of Columbus and take part in a number of team-building activities. Of all the activities, the most exciting activity was the ropes course. Summit Vision has a massive ropes course that even includes zip-lining. My group decided to try the most challenging obstacle! This obstacle required a partner and me to climb 20 feet into the air where we each stood on separate round logs that were positioned in a “V” against one another. Then, my partner and I put our hands out and pushed against one another. As we pushed, we simultaneously took small steps away from the center of the “V”, where the two logs met. As we stepped further and further away from the center, and continued to push against one another, our bodies flattened out and eventually became parallel to the ground. It was an exhilarating feeling knowing you are seconds from falling (even though you are 100% safe) but the only thing keeping you from falling is your partner.

My team at Summit Vision preparing to climb the ropes course
Photo of the specific obstacle we were challenged by on the ropes course

Another great opportunity during Welcome Week is the Involvement Fair. The involvement fair is held annually on the Oval where (almost) every student organization at Ohio State promotes their organization to the whole student body. This year, unlike the first few, I was standing as the president at my booth promoting my student organization MUNDO. (Time for a shameless plug for MUNDO: if you love to travel and/or are interested in learning about cultures, you should check this organization out. It is for both undergrad and graduate students.)

Me at the involvement fair with my student org, MUNDO

Regardless of what interests you, Ohio State has plenty to offer for Welcome Week. It’s a great way for you to mix and mingle with your classmates and to get acquainted with the rest of the student body.

 

Study Abroad at Fisher–Orientation and Welcome week

Where to start?

I never imagined I would go this far, both academically speaking and geographically speaking. 15 years of education and 6239.79 miles (to be exact) of traveling, and now, I am here. Hello, FISHER! Hello, OHIO! Hello, AMERICA!

Look how long I travelled to get to Fisher! 6239.79 miles (10041.97 km) Isn’t that crazy?

The journey as an international student begins with a lot of help from the university. As an international student who did not attend THE Ohio State University for my undergrad degree, I attended two separate orientations. The first one was held by the Office of International Affairs (OIA) and the second one was held by our lovely MAcc program.

During the summer time, all international students receive many pre-arrival emails from OIA that contain a lot of useful information for international students such as housing information. They guide international students step-by-step on almost everything. Due to the large number of international students at OSU, all the international students had to register for a specific time to go through the immigration check-in. Based on the immigration check-in date, students would go to the corresponding OIA orientation slots.

OIA orientation information for the year 2017-2018

Students then were able to go to the Ohio Union to get their Buck IDs on the same day of check-in.

You are going to see Brutus a lot, especially during football season.
Ohio Union

The OIA orientation itself took about a day. We went through various workshops to make our adjustment to campus life (and life in the U.S.) easier. Also, to further help, there are some student organizations located on the first floor of the Union to help students set up their bank accounts, U.S phone numbers, and things like that.

The second orientation event for me was the MAcc orientation, which would focus on team-building activities, job-search related questions, and course-related questions. The length of the MAcc orientation may vary year to year, but believe me, you will not regret it (I enjoyed it a lot).

Of course, OSU is great in many aspects, but one thing that you should definitely check out is the D-Tix, the discount ticket service. There all kinds of events in Columbus– and D-Tix offers major discounts on tickets. OSU also offers some free concerts to its students. You just need your ID to pick up the tickets.

Here is my first (free) concert in my life: DJ ZEDD!

DJ ZEDD OSU Concert

I think I’m starting to get used to this new life and am ready for the challenges that are coming soon — the first one is finding a job. It’s “recruiting season”!

Hopefully, next time, I can share some good news on my blog.

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Hello from the (Other Side of the) Classroom!

Speak to any educator and they will tell you about the most important part of their job: summer! Recharging and preparing for the next school year is critical to effective teaching. As a second-grade teacher, my need for summer was no different.

But this past summer, instead of preparing for another group of amazing students, I was preparing to be on the side of the classroom—this time as a student! While I did take some much-needed time to relax and visit friends and family, Fisher connected me with resources throughout the summer to prepare me for success in the full-time MBA program.

Soon after my admission to Fisher, The Office of Admissions put me into contact with a current student as well as an alumni. I got to learn about course options, career paths, as well as skills to brush up on before the start of class. As the fall semester inched closer, I received access to a plethora of information. From academic modules to career and strength assessments, Fisher made sure I hit the ground running before the first day of class.

About two weeks before class, all full-time MBA students participated in a “pre-term” program. Pre-term is an all-encompassing experience that gives you a taste of what the next 18 months is going to be like. We got to meet with faculty, participate in case discussions, and meet with alumni and recruiters from every industry—from consulting to marketing. The highlight of pre-term was meeting my “core team.” Your core team is a diverse group of four to five students that will work alongside you during your first year in the FTMBA. We spent a morning at Summit Vision (picture below!) completing team-building activities. It was truly amazing getting to know everyone and just having a fun time.

With the first week of classes officially DONE, I can ecstatically say that Fisher has done a great job of connecting everyone with resources to help ensure success in the program. I cannot wait to see what the next 18 months will hold. Stay tuned for more!

My Core Team at Summit Vision!
My Core Team at Summit Vision!

 

The Journey Begins

13958000_10154366799382777_3267127209711401170_oI am 37 years old and back in college! It’s a new chapter of my life– maybe a new “book”– that I never would have imagined when I graduated in May of 2000 with my degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. One week after moving to Columbus and preparing for the semester to begin, I’m still having those “pinch me” moments. On rare occasions, they’re moments filled with anxiety. But the comforting reality is that most of these moments are filled with excitement, hope, and a sense of great opportunity ahead. I am truly ready for this.

Although classes haven’t begun yet, the staff at Fisher has already held a two-night orientation and a “career foundations seminar.” The latter event was amazing. There were several high-level panelists from major companies (we’re talking BIG people, i.e. the VP of HR for Frito-Lay/Pepsi, HR Manager of U.S. Global Functions for Shell, HR Operations Manager for Rolls-Royce and more) who offered great insight into the field and what we should consider as we begin (or continue) this professional path. We also were given the opportunity to mingle quite a bit with the panelists and we heard from second-year MHRM students. These companies want to talk to US about internships and entry-level positions; they want the best students from the best HR management programs. And that’s why they come to OSU. (Side note: the cohort is diverse and I particularly noted the large number of international students. Yesterday, I befriended two students from India. If many people are traveling half-way across the world to join the MHRM program, it’s a good sign!)

Today, I met with Jill Westerfeld, the Assistant Director of Career Management and the MHRM “career adviser.” She helped organize the seminar earlier this week and gives lots of feedback and guidance to students. She also develops relationships with recruiters and others from various organizations. She’s super-helpful and knowledgeable– and intense in a really good way. She has a very driven spirit about her– the kind you want in someone trying to help you get a job! If you have vague memories of a mediocre career services office during your undergrad time, Jill and her colleagues are NOT that. They offer customized attention and assistance, although Jill stresses that she does not place people; she helps. And she expects the student to do all the hard work– research, networking, academic performance– to better ensure career success.

Thinking about Jill and all of my interactions thus far at Fisher, I’m very impressed and very comforted as I get ready for class next week. I feel like I have a support network and will have everything at my disposal to make the most of my time at OSU.

WOW! A Fun Orientation for MAcc program

Hello, everyone! I am so excited since this is the first blog I am going to post. So I am just going to introduce myself a little bit. My name is Ning Tang. I am currently in the MAcc program. I am an international student from China and I went to undergraduate school in Fisher.

Although MAcc is just a one-year program, faculty members really want us to learn a lot, enjoy our lives and find a job after graduation. The week before beginning of the new semester, MAcc already organized so many activities and networking events. We started the week by chatting with our classmates. Then, Deans, professors and advisors gave us welcome speeches and introduced the MAcc program. On day two and day three of the orientation, the program invited alumni, recruiters and even people from CPA review course to class and gave us speeches. We also had the Mix and Mingle during the orientation. Recruiters from the Big Four, local public accounting firms and other big firms came. We could ask any questions we had. So this event gave us a great opportunity to find out which job we really want to apply. Besides networking with recruiters, the tour to the Ohio Stadium was another exciting part of the event. Although I have been at OSU for four years. This was only the second time I had a tour in the stadium. The picture below really shows how great of a stadium it was. Stadium is full of people every football game. If you come to OSU, watching a football game should definitely on your to-do list and you won’t be disappointment after watching the game. The only imperfect thing we had during the orientation was because of weather, the activity in Summit Vision was cancelled.
32Ohio Stdium

As an international student, I had an extra event called “Career Foundation Seminar for International Students” to attend. The event was really useful for international students. It introduced the difficulties we would meet and invited international students who were in our shoes but now find a job to give us speeches. Through this event, I can see Fisher really cares about the international students.

Getting Into the ‘Swing’ of Things

From navigating the city-like campus of The Ohio State University, to making new friends and participating in on and off-campus events, the past week has been full of excitement and filled with new firsts! I’d be totally fooling myself if I said that my first week of grad school hasn’t been an adventure.

To cap off an already enjoyable week, the MHRM first-years and second-years participated in Summit Vision, an indoor and outdoor education center in Westerville, Ohio. We were given the opportunity to participate in activities that truly challenged our ability to work collaboratively in a team, communicate with each other, and rely on one another -all essential skills for future HR leaders!

On an individual level, we were all challenged to step outside of our comfort zone. For some, that was an easy task. But for me, stepping outside of my comfort zone required a great deal of courageousness, self-confidence, and outward trust. This manifested itself when it was my turn to climb up a 50-foot pole and jump off of the ledge.

The entire time leading up to the jump, I was nervous. In fact, I was among the last people in my team to climb up. But as I stood, gawking up at my daring teammates taking the plunge before me, I found myself more and more inspired to accomplish the same feat. “If they can do it, why can’t I?”

Just as that thought crept in, the beginning of a mental shift took place. I reminded myself that stepping outside of my comfort zone was supposed to be uncomfortable, scary, and maybe even a bit risky.

So I did it. I climbed up the pole and took the jump -which was more like a backwards side step- and went in full swing, high among the trees, screaming at the top of my lungs with my eyes closed as tight as possible while clenching firmly onto the swinging rope.

After several oscillations, I finally opened my eyes and my screaming sharply turned into deafening laughter. I felt so happy and shocked that I had taken the jump and grateful that I had been surrounded by a team of supportive people, cheering me on as I did so.

As I reflect on the underlying meaning of this activity and the implications it has for me as I navigate grad school, my career, and the rest of my life, I am reminded of a speech that Steve Harvey gave on an episode of Family Feud.

In his speech, Harvey states that the one thing every successful person has done at some point is jump. He goes on to say, “You cannot just exist in this life. You have got to try to live. If you are waking up thinking there has got to be more to your life than there is, man believe that there is. But to get to that life, you’re gonna have to jump.” Harvey then goes on to say that it is our gifts, our unique skills and talents, that act as a parachute to break the fall once we take the jump.

Now that I’ve physically taken the jump, throughout the next phase of my life, starting with my time here at Fisher, I want to take the jump academically, professionally, and socially. I want to get even more comfortable with being uncomfortable; for I now know that it is only when I am outside of my comfort zone that I am able to soar higher than I’ve ever imagined, utilize my gifts to their fullest potential, and truly understand what it means to be successful.

So here’s to taking a step away from the mundane and leaping into the exciting, frightening, and unknown reality that lies ahead of me. I think I can get into the swing of that! 😉

Better the Devil You Know…


In the weeks leading up to my arrival at OSU, I was filled with a potent mix of anticipation and anxiety.

The anticipation came from the nerdy schoolboy in me jumping for joy at the prospect of being back in a classroom. “Imagine all I’ll get to learn!” “I wonder what interesting people I’ll meet!” “I can’t wait for football games!”

The anxiety came from my inner skittish recluse pulling his hair out at the prospect of being back in a classroom. “What if I can’t keep up with what they’re teaching?” “What if people don’t think I’m interesting?” “I don’t even like sports!”

I suppose this anxiety would be a little more palpable if I explained my background. I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ School of Filmmaking in 2014 with a focus on film directing. I moved back home to Youngstown, OH after graduation where I did a mix of videography, editing, volunteering at a ballet company, participating in community theater both on- and off-stage and working a variety of part time gigs. I decided an MBA was the right choice after my experiences told me that my passion for film had grown to all arts. I decided I wanted to be the guy who could talk to the stuffy suits as well as the airy artists.

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My mom made me take this photo!

No time in a big corporation. No use of what math skills I had. No sports. Does that anxiety make sense now?

Fast forward two weeks and that potent mix has been replaced with something much more powerful.

Coming back to school has felt more like a coming home. I had been to OSU only twice before, but within 48 hours, I felt like a prodigal son returned to his joyous father. Being here has felt like digging an old baseball glove out of a dusty attic and finding that it still fits after all this time (sports!).

I don’t know what a pivot table is or what exactly a consultant does, but orientation at Fisher has made me feel like I’m going to be the best businessman the world has ever seen. The faculty and upperclassmen have not been stingy in telling me how hard I’m going to have to work to make it through the next two years, but without attending a single class yet, they’ve managed to make me feel like I’ve learned a lifetime’s worth of information.

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My core group and I during our preterm scavenger hunt.

Adoration has replaced anticipation and until class starts, the anxiety still exists. Now, though, I know better what I’m getting myself into. I know who to turn to for help. I know what boundless resources I have at my disposal. I know who Urban Meyer is (sports!!).

I feel I’m staring into the abyss and the abyss is staring back, hungry. You know what I have to say to it, though?

Bring it.

 

Live Career Fair is Here

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I would like to take more time to savor the past, but things are changing so fast here. I just want to quickly go over the wonderful first quarter of this semester. Before I arrived here, some people told me I was going to be in a village with a lot of Chinese people. When I walked into Columbus, I did see Chinese people frequently, but when school really got started, it completely changed my impression.

The international student orientation was taken up by Chinese students and I was expecting the same situation in the MHRM program. However,  that orientation really surprised me! There are 57 students in our program, and except for Americans, there are some students from India, Pakistan, Germany, and Dubai. The welcome video with the professor and director was more funny than serious, although we didn’t get the American jokes well. We switched tables every few minutes so that we could get to know more classmates. One of the professors mentioned that we were going to have a lot of info sessions which provides food, and we should go. Why not. But then another professor said to eat before you go there, because you are there to network. This word appears frequently here. People used to think that Chinese count on “guanxi” to do business, but it seems it’s even more common here. And in the following weeks, we really get involved with all kind of info sessions and food…Rolls Royce, Procter & Gamble, Shell, and KPMG. At first I was not quite familiar with some of the names, but when I knew the Chinese translation, I am really shocked. As customers, we see some of them as luxury and when thinking about working for them, it feels incredible.

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Dressed in business professional, standing in the queue of the dream company, I felt like lingering between really being in HR and wandering into fantasy. A formal career fair which happens so soon really makes me anxious. But one thing I learned in the roundtable discussion for international students with our career consultant helped a lot. The recruiters in the ballroom could be as nervous as us. They really want to know us and we just need to help them know us. The practice of an elevator pitch with classmates is also helpful. The moment you start to do something, you may know its not that bad.

As an international student, all the recruiters seem nice. Some companies “Generally can’t offer sponsorship, but who knows what will happen.” Actually, we understand why the employer don’t want to bear the trouble and we study abroad to learn the American style, and then help them run better in our country and contribute to our own country in the future. Although I failed to get any interviews from these career fairs, I still benefited from it and see some hope. There are good resources for us to learn what to expect in the real work and form further relationships with them. One interesting thing is that most of the professors or recruiters will tell us to make ourselves uncomfortable, so that we can make some breakthrough, but Gallup actually told me that people were hard to change and they would give the best performance when they were doing the things they were good at. Actually, these 2 theories don’t always contradict to each other. Sometimes, only when we try out something can we know if we are really good or bad at it. I’m grateful for all these possibilities around this place. Like the professor said, “soak in as much as you can”.

My first month at Fisher

It’s been almost a month since our MBA classes began. I thought this would be a nice time to highlight some of the activities I was involved with in the last month to help you better understand student life in the Fisher MBA Program.

  • Pre-Term: In the 2 weeks before our MBA officially started, we had our pre-term where we got to learn more about the program structure, professors, resources, and fellow classmates among many other things. Over many creative team bonding exercises, we were able to understand our key strengths (and weaknesses) and make new friends along the way! We also had a few career foundation seminars that helped us get a better picture of the different career paths ahead of us. The pre-term ended with the ’Fisher Challenge’ where each team had to present a case analysis with their core team, which was extremely exciting primarily because it is your first group exercise with your team. As an International student, we also had an additional 3 days of orientation that helped us in our transition. My favorite part was a workshop on American Football 101, conducted by a couple of ex NFL players (and Fisher Alums)! In a nut shell, the pre-term helped the students understand what it means to be a part of the larger Fisher community.
My Core team: Team 22 (that should explain the hand signs) From Left: Lucy Liu, Sarang Nampoothiri, Andrew Wolff, Adriana Castro and Rob Harrison.
My Core team: Team 22 (that should explain the hand signs) From Left: Lucy Liu, Sarang Nampoothiri, Andrew Wolff, Adriana Castro, and Rob Harrison.
  • Career Management – The career management team at Fisher is one of our strongest assets. Within the last month, I have attended multiple career fairs and got to meet and network with many potential recruiters. We have Information Sessions conducted by companies on a daily basis. This is a great way to learn more about a company and meet their representatives in a bit more relaxed setting. Apart from these, we also have individual meetings with our career counselors. They help you streamline your job search and refine your approach.
Fisher College of Busines
Fisher College of Business
  • Student organizations – I think I might have gone a bit over the top here. I have signed up for 5 student organizations for the upcoming year even though I was advised to restrict it to 3 by many second year students! But in my defense, I found value in all 5 of these organizations! Career specific student organizations help conduct some of the company information sessions. They also help their members prepare for interviews and can be a great resource for networking.
  • The Ohio State University – I joined Fisher because it was a small program within a very large university. There is always something amazing happening around you. I have signed up with the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program for some of their Luncheon Sessions, where they invite outstanding community leaders to interact with a group of students in a small and intimate environment. As a fan of music, I also volunteered for a Music experiment conducted at the School of Music!
  • Mid Terms – Here at Fisher, we have our semesters divided into two terms. One month into the program and I have already finished most of my Mid-terms! In a way, this is good as it always keeps you on your toes. 🙂
  • Calendar App – I think this point sums up my first month at Fisher perfectly. A few days into the program and you will soon realize the true value of the mobile calendar app! This one app is going to be a life saver here as it helps you keep a track of all the events every day.

If my next two years are as exciting as my first month at Fisher, I am sure this is going to be my most rewarding and enriching journey!