New Beginnings

Life is full of transitions.

As a married military veteran with a family, I view transitions as endeavors to personally and professionally grow while taking advantage of new opportunities.  Leaving the private sector for full-time graduate school is a long-term investment.  The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University has so much to offer.  I’m proud to be a Buckeye.

FullSizeRender[1]Dedication to lifelong learning seems to be a theme in our household.  I began a graduate degree program, my wife completed hers (while working), and my daughter started Kindergarten – all in the same week!  As a father and a husband, I am so proud of them both.

As the fall semester begins to pick up momentum, we must remember who we are in order to prioritize what is most important in our lives.  I, like most of my classmates, am attracted to pretty much everything that the Fisher College of Business has to offer.  There are so many clubs, organizations, employer info sessions, events, and activities competing over our most precious resource – time.  If we view time as a resource, how do we allocate it?

FullSizeRenderOne place to start is to identify who we are in relation to others (I am a father, husband, son, brother, student, uncle, employee, job-seeker, club member, mentor, mentee, veteran, coach, blogger, etc.).  The list is long for many of us.  Prioritizing this list can also be difficult with so many competing factors taking place simultaneously.  We realize that we cannot be everything to everyone all the time, but we can deliberately plan those aspects that are most important into our lives if we choose to do so.  This process becomes critically important during major transitions when we are faced with new situations, changing conditions, and increasing obligations. It can be difficult deciding what not to do, at least temporarily, during transitions.  Ultimately, our decisions are about trade-offs intended to maximize value.

What we choose to do with our time is ultimately what we value most.  Many of us have roles and responsibilities within our personal, professional, and even spiritual lives.  Intellectual curiosity, respect for diversity of thought, and continual growth and development are important to me in a professional context.  This is why I chose to invest my time at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.FullSizeRender[2]

 

 

 

 

 

Jitters

Classes are soon starting and I feel like I did when I was a kid going to the first day of school.  There is a definite uncertainty of the future twisted with the excitement of the beginning of a new adventure.  Being an untraditional graduate student, I had anticipated a certain type of distancing that would occur because of my unique background.  My theory was completely demolished by the welcome provided at orientation.  Professors and advisors all made me feel welcome and that I both belonged and deserved to be there.  Even though orientation was only a day and a half, by the end of it, I already felt like I have known some of my classmates for a long time!

Pre-MAcc and Orientation

As someone with almost no background in accounting (or economics…or business…), I was a little apprehensive about jumping into a Masters of Accounting program. I graduated from law school back in 2012, so I had experience with graduate level work, but I hadn’t taken a math class since high school. No worries, I was told, Fisher has a program for those who are new to accounting – the Pre-MAcc, which packs Intermediate Accounting I & II into a 2.5 week accounting bootcamp.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Pre-MAcc is intense. Packing that much accounting into that short of a timeframe is definitely a grind, but it’s also a great opportunity to get to know some of the other students before the full contingent arrives. Seeing familiar faces on the first day of MAcc Orientation was definitely a plus, and professors Stephanie Lewis and Marc Smith are both excellent teachers who somehow managed to keep six-days-a-week, nine-to-five accounting classes engaging and interesting throughout the program.

As soon as the Pre-MAcc ended, we jumped into orientation with the other MAcc students. Along with the typical introductions from faculty and mixers to meet the other students, we all participated in a group trip to Summit Vision for team-building exercises and zip-lining – a laid back way to get to know some of our fellow MAcc students, and a welcome break from the Pre-MAcc workload before classes got started!

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My First Day at Fisher

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I am a first year full time MHRM student. As an international student from China, I experienced a lot of “first times” at the Fisher College of Business. I still remembered the day when I first saw our college: I stood opposite the street and looked at Fisher Hall. It was hard to describe my feeling. Everything was just like a dream as it was 2 months ago. I was in China celebrating my graduation with classmates, but now I am standing in front of a world-top business school! I was also excited because I knew that I would pursue my dreams here.

During orientation, I had a chance to take a close look at the college. In Chinese, we have an expression called “Gao Da Shang,” which means “marvelous, gorgeous, splendid and posh.” I think nothing is more suitable than this word to describe my impression of Fisher. Led by second-year students, I visited our school. I found the atmosphere here is a prefect mixture of business and academy. I love this atmosphere.

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The last thing I want to mention is the clothing code at Fisher. We are required to wear business causal on the first day of our orientation. Chinese students (including business school students) do not usually wear business suits in the university, so “business casual” is not a familiar word to us. Therefore, my Chinese classmates and I spent a lot of time the day before the orientation discussing what to wear the next day. I have to say, it was the first time I wore a business suit. The influence was amazing: suddenly I felt I am not a student but a professional business woman.

I know some Chinese students might meet difficulty in adapting to American life. They may become homesick or even upset. Here is my advice: be open to new experiences and challenges, and enjoy your new life.

Class of 2016-MAcc Reception/ Mix & Mingle

One thing that I found really fantastic during the career orientation of the MAcc program was the Mix & Mingle MAcc reception held in Ohio Stadium. As a traditional part of the orientation, Mix & Mingle provides students in the MAcc program to meet alumni as well as employees. And this year, alumni and employees that attended this event even outnumbered our MAcc students. That’s really awesome!

Mr. Singer, career adviser of MAcc program, gave a brief opening speech and welcomed everyone. Then, Mr. Chabot, Director of Admissions and Recruiting, directed the prize lottery to kick off the whole event. Many of my classmates got really wonderful gift prizes sponsored by companies, gifts including Buckeye T-shirts and gift cards. I was really lucky to win a gift card as well. Chatting with alumni about their career story and listening to their opinions about Tax and audit are really helpful for me to learn more about careers in accounting. It’s really a good warm-up for the incoming career fair! Well, networking, networking, and networking! I bet you will hear this word for so many times during career orientation. The importance of networking is so important that you just cannot ignore it. So, as an international student, I really have to step out of my comfort zone and to be brave!

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The most exciting part of Mix & Mingle is our visit to the Ohio stadium. It’s my first time to get into the stadium. I guess this may be the only chance I have to actually feel the grass. It’s amazing to stand in the middle of the field on which our heroes won the championship last year. Just proud to be a Buckeye!

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And so it begins.. Oh wait, it began three weeks back!

 

Belay On
Belay On

 

Before I begin telling you about my experiences in the last 1 week at Fisher, I definitely would like to share some activities( Read super cool) which we did during our Pre-term program.Yeah,you read it right. PRE-TERM. At Fisher,we believe in truly in our motto ” Go Beyond”. The pre term program exposed us to various facets of the Fisher MBA- Career Management, Core courses, Leadership development opportunities, and of course, the fun ” team” exercise at Summit Vision. This was one such experience wherein you get into it with one set of expectations and you come out with a totally different set of perspectives. It helped us get out of our comfort zone, I mean literally. If you had not earlier considered dangling from a beam 50 feet above the ground as a part of your comfort zone, you would consider reframing it now.It helped us trust our team mates who were acting as the ‘belayers’ and believe me, the word ‘trust’ was definitelyredefined in my mind.During the course of 4 hours, we learned from each other’s mistakes, put aside our individual goals and collaborated as a team to see the task through the finish line. I think we cherished the outing even more because it provided us a much needed break in our hectic schedule.On a side note, I used to think my pre MBA schedule was jam packed and hectic. I am laughing at that thought now.I will leave you at that.

First Year MBAs Connecting with Second Years

One of the aspects of coming to the Fisher MBA program most of us were worried about to some degree was connecting with our fellow first year MBA classmates. Through almost two weeks of orientation, Summit Vision (I assume), getting together after class and even Facebook of all things, that turned out to be one of the easier parts even for us who aren’t the most naturally social people in the world. But one of the more important aspects you don’t hear about is connecting with the second years. They have experience, knowledge and, most importantly for getting a job and not ending up sleeping on the streets in gargantuan debt after graduation, connections! And it turns out, connecting with them was just as easy.

Events with second years started even before pre-term at Fisher started in August. There were Fisher Social Chair events hosted by second years during the summer including a World Cup Final watch party. I was studying for the presumably Satan inspired bar exam at the time in New Jersey, so I couldn’t attend, but heard only great things. The night before pre-term started, there was another social event to get to know second years who had participated in Pelotonia in Columbus.

Through Facebook, they also invited anybody interested in participating in pickup sports to come play basketball and soccer with them when we hadn’t even really had an opportunity to meet us. A few first years went to the ARC and played basketball, even some of us (me!) who have the athletic ability of a fence post. I may have gotten destroyed by a girl in basketball, but that’s beside the point. She was an NCAA athlete shut up. I played soccer with different second years as well and, if anything, that was an even more inclusive atmosphere. Everybody makes an effort to get to know you and remembers you later. It’s the #FisherFamily coming together, obviously.

And of course, there are the tailgates for the OSU football games even if the team completely forgets to block and loses to middling Virginia Tech teams. Yes, I’m bitter. But we tailgated all afternoon at Fisher Commons before the 8:00 game at Ohio Stadium. There were games, hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and, of course, there was walking through cornfields. That last part was just implied but I wanted to make sure you guys out there knew. Point is, the second years hosted it and made us feel like we were really part of the class.

Walking to the Stadium after tailgating at Fisher Commons!
Walking to the Stadium after tailgating at Fisher Commons!

There is also the sterling 2nd year buddy program, as Danielle Black went in depth on. My buddy couldn’t attend as he was getting married during that mixer so I guess he has his priorities straight.

The biggest event was the 6 hour, North High Street bar crawl at the end of pre-term. The Social Chair led us on a true bonding experience with second years as well as our fellow classmates that was truly memorable and ended, expectedly, in a Taco Bell. Fun times had by all. There were also smaller happy hours held by clubs and associations at Fisher. We also later went out and sang karaoke. Thankfully, me singing Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly does not have video evidence I’m aware of.

Fisher Karaoke!
Fisher Karaoke!

You may get destroyed by a girl in basketball in front of the second years, may not remember all their names and may not feel comfortable asking them questions about Fisher any time one pops into your head, but I promise they’re all there to help you out and are happy to. It’s really one of the most welcoming atmospheres I’ve ever been in. Just put yourself out there and you’ll have one of the best times of your life. It’s only September, and I already am. Some of them are even playing on the first year intramural soccer teams!

The MAcc Goes to Summit Vision

As part of our orientation for the Fisher MAcc program we spent half a day at a place called Summit Vision.  Summit Vision is a high ropes course, outdoor activity center located about 30 minutes from OSU.  We got there in time for lunch and spent awhile eating and hanging out, playing games like knockout and Frisbee.  After lunch, we were randomly split up into teams and completed five team-building activities.  For the most part, these activities were puzzles where we had to work together to complete.  Being put into random teams was a great way to meet people that I hadn’t met yet and step outside my comfort zone a little bit.

Our first activity was to replicate a picture of wooden sticks arranged to make numerous squares.  The sticks all varied in length and had notches located in various places.  Only one stick fit in the correct place, making it difficult to figure out which stick belonged where.  Summit VisionAfter discussing possible ways to approach this, we finally determined a strategy and completed the puzzle, getting faster with each attempt.  Another activity involved us using wooden blocks to get our whole team from one point to another without touching the ground.  Everyone was given a block and the block had to be touched at all times.  If a block wasn’t being touched we’d lose the block and make the puzzle harder one ourselves.  This was kind of like a team-building, grown up version of “the floor is lava”.  Without a doubt, my favorite activity was when we went to the zip line.  This wasn’t as much of a puzzle solving station, but still required support and encouragement from team members.

Overall, Summit Vision was a really great way for us to get to know some fellow MAcc students and have fun learning about some characteristics associated with teamwork.  Already, it is clear that teamwork is a big part of the MAcc program, as the majority of classes I am in have at least one group project assigned.  It is very easy to tell that the qualities and characteristics of teamwork that were associated with Summit Vision are already translating into practical use inside and outside of the classroom.

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Summit Vision1

Welcome Fisher MBA Class of 2016

Fisher Campus

It was a warm morning. Not too uncomfortable, although it left little doubt that the afternoon would be quite hot. As if I didn’t have enough on my mind already while making my way across the Fisher campus, I now had to brood over the efficiency of the off-brand antiperspirant I was wearing. Coming up to Schoenbaum Hall,  I took one last glance at the Pre-Term schedule I had printed out the night before to make sure I was in the right place, heaved one last heavy breath, and entered the building.

The door opened into a small corridor brimming with well-dressed men and women, acquainting and socializing, demonstrating their varied levels of networking competence. Striding across the corridor, from handshake to handshake, I felt as if my mind was hosting a potluck attended by two dozen different versions of myself, each bringing a different emotion. I was excited; I was nervous. I was confident; I was diffident. I was calm; I was frantic.

An administrator directed us through two sets of doors leading into a large lecture hall with stadium seating. I found a seat and continued to converse with my neighbors, trying desperately to remember their names without looking at their name tags. The murmuring in the halls quieted down as the administrator stepped forth once again and, to a roaring applause, officially welcomed the Fisher MBA Class of 2016 to the Pre-Term Orientation.

What transpired over the following week and a half of orientation is far too much to detail in just one blog post, but in summary, it was truly an uplifting and apprehension-slaying event. It was an exciting blend of macro and micro insights into the adventure my class and I are about to begin. Between meeting my classmates, getting assigned my cohort (shout out to Team 11!), learning about all the student groups and opportunities, lectures from such distinguished guests as the CEO of Sherwin-Williams, Christopher Connor, and activities such as team-building exercises at Summit Vision – which was far more enjoyable and of practical use than my skeptical mind expected – orientation provided an excellent introduction to this new chapter in my life.

I’ve come a long way to get here (more on that in another post). As bumpy as the road was at times, I’m sure ahead it will be even more long and winding. Great changes come prepackaged with great uncertainty. I might not be venturing into the last frontier, but I am running full-speed into my own unknown with nothing but drive and optimism providing bright but limited lighting. But as far as I can tell, I couldn’t ask for better resources to help guide me along the way than those which I have found at the Fisher College of Business at THE Ohio State University.

The Journey Begins…

It’s weird to think that this exciting new journey as a first year MHRM student has finally begun. Oh, the places WE’LL go!

From the moment I stepped foot on campus, both the faculty and staff have done a phenomenal job at extending a warm welcome and offering a helping hand to get students acclimated. It has been intentional acts of kindness such as this that has helped me quickly connect with the OSU campus, resources and community. I cannot stress how critical and helpful orientation was for me a couple weeks ago. I will be the first to admit that I was a little nervous going in to orientation. I didn’t really know anyone in the program, and I had no idea what orientation would entail. Nonetheless, it was a great opportunity to mix and mingle with faculty, staff and peers in a casual environment. Faculty and staff provided invaluable information about resources available on campus, as well as information about how to get involved in order to make the most of graduate school. In addition, we had an entire day designated towards Career Management where we learned the ins and outs of professional networking, utilizing the career management websites and tools, and conducting a successful internship search. This also provided us the unique opportunity to meet and network with knowledgeable HR professionals from different organizations, such as P&G, Rolls-Royce, PepsiCo, and Eaton.

Let’s not forget one of my favorite parts of orientation…meeting my peers! Graduate school emphasizes teamwork and group work, so it was really nice being able to meet my classmates before the academic school year began. It didn’t take long before making plans to hangout with my new MHRM friends outside of the classroom. It’s comforting knowing that we all are in this together, and that we can support one another through this new adventure! Together…we got this!

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