It’s not just studying and networking!

You would think that graduate students are all studying, networking and no fun (the last part was kind of exaggerated, but you know what I mean). However, we do have those days where we would gather and goof around.

A couple of weeks ago, after our midterms, our SMF class along with our professors, decided to make use of a Saturday and went bowling. We had a total of seven lanes reserved and we went all out playing against each other.

 

Everyone going all out on a Saturday Afternoon
Everyone going all out on a Saturday afternoon

It was truly an enjoyable day! Working as an ambassador for the SMF program, I got the chance to interact with many prospective students, and one of the concerns they have, specifically international students, was that they wouldn’t be able to get along with the whole class and the professors.

Well this picture should help address that!

Our SMF Class with our Professors
Our SMF Class with our Professors

With a class size of 48 bright individuals, we are able to bond with not only each other but with the professors as well. The program’s faculty actually take time to get to know the students and hang out with them while also providing advice and intertwining lessons in the midst of relaxing conversations.

I’m really looking forward to our next “hang-out” session!

First Session of Second/Final Semester

https://fisher.osu.edu/

SMF students have a lot more flexibility/choice in the second semester since we’re done with all but one core class (Finance Consulting Practicum). There are a variety of electives one can choose from within the finance department but also from other departments like Management, Accounting, etc. The following three classes are my electives for the first session of this semester:

Fintech (BUSFIN 7234) : The course provides an overview of the most recent technological advances that are radically changing the financial services industry. Technological breakthroughs offer new ways for people to save, invest, borrow, and transact. We analyze how new technologies create value in the financial industry, from reducing unit cost, increasing transparency, increasing competition, creating network effects, leveraging economies of scales, and lowering asymmetric information. We also study the competitive landscape and the market opportunities and threats for incumbents and new entrants*.

This class is taught by Professor Shams, and has two sections, one in the morning (8:30am) and the other in the afternoon (4:30pm). My section (the 4:30pm one obviously) has about 35 students. The class is a mix of lectures and case discussions.

Data Analysis and Visualization (BUSMGT 7257) : Designed to equip students with competencies in translating real-world problems into forms that such technologies can assist with, to portray/visualize these translations in ways that enhance the understanding of the dynamics of these problems, to structure mechanisms that derive suggested solutions, to clearly convey the justification and practicality of final solutions to others*.

This class is taught by Professor Greco, and has one section (6:15pm). It is a semester-long class. We’re about 60 -65 students (it’s a very popular class!). We will be learning to use Tableau, R and Excel to analyze our data sets.

Derivatives Valuation (BUSFIN 7232) : In this course, we will first start in valuation of derivatives products. There are large number of literatures on option valuation. While the theory might at first look advanced and difficult, it is in fact quite accessible. The purpose of this course is to give you an overview of pricing methods on option contracts. During the course we will examine different types of option contracts and how they are priced. Most of the pricing will be done in the context of the binomial option pricing model. This is a simple but powerful approach to valuing a wide variety of derivative. Then we will talk about famous Black and Scholes formula and applications to various derivatives products. And then we will cover Option Greeks and delta-gamma hedging. Last, we will end this course with Exotic Options*.

This class is taught by Professor Pirim, and has one section (10:15am). We’re a class of 14 students. I think this is my favorite class so far for two reasons – it reminds me of my undergrad (small liberal arts college) classes’ size, and it’s quite math/quant heavy.

Since we have all the freedom to choose this semester’s classes, one’s classes will reflect what they like/enjoy studying!

 

* Course descriptions have been taken from the classes’ syllabi.

Always Improving!

I hope that your New Year is off to a good start!

The past few weeks were very much needed after a busy and fast-paced semester. I managed to spend some quality time with my family on New Year’s Eve and waste a lot of money on food (no regrets here). 

My Family in San Diego
My Family in San Diego

This spring semester is probably the more exciting semester for Fisher SMF students because we get to customize our path by selecting a handful of different electives. As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, the SMF program offers 4 different tracks that students can follow: corporate finance, investment management, risk management, and real estate.

Course Distribution
Course Distribution

One of the many things that I’m impressed with the program and the faculty is their commitment to never stop improving the program and provide students with all the tools and skills that they need and also want to learn. Take this year for example, to address the increasing integration of technology into the financial sector, the program started to offer a FinTech course taught by professor Amin Shams.  A sneak peek of the syllabus:

We will analyze how new technologies create value in the financial industry, from reducing unit cost, increasing transparency, increasing competition, creating network effects, leveraging economies of scales, and lowering asymmetric information.

Professor Amin Shams

Another good example is the incorporation of the Investment Strategies and Philosophies course, taught by professor Matt Sheridan, into the SMF program in order to provide students with limited finance background some basic fundamental investment mindsets and models. Yet another sneak peek of the syllabus:

This course is designed to uncover different investment strategies, reveal the beliefs that underlie each one, provide evidence on whether the strategies actually produce results, and what an investor needs to understand in order to implement a philosophy.

Professor Matt Sheridan

The faculties put a lot of weight on students’ opinions and evaluations of the courses in order to continue improving the program and to keep the students up-to-date with the evolving modern world and society. This, once again, has confirmed my decision of pursuing my Master’s degree at the Ohio State University to be one of the best that I have made.

Thank you for reading my blog post and I hope that you will have an enjoyable semester ahead of you!

Christmas Away From Home

I may not look like it, but I was born in Moscow, Russia. Celebrating Christmas was one of my family’s favorite traditions back then. When we moved back to Vietnam, the atmosphere just wasn’t the same without the snow and the cold (very odd reasons), so we just stopped enjoying the occasion altogether.

When I got the chance to study abroad in Wisconsin, I was very excited to get the opportunities to celebrate Christmas once again with SNOW. However, nothing had prepared me for the AMOUNT OF SNOW that we got. I was overwhelmed at first, but I came to love it and even miss it now that I’m in Columbus, OH. In my opinion, winter should not be one of your concerns about coming to Ohio to study. The weather in Columbus is very pleasant in comparison and I do believe it is treating all of us well so far (I might have jinxed it just now).

Wisconsin really loved me
Wisconsin really loved me

I got to celebrate Christmas during my undergraduate days in Wisconsin but it took a while for me to find the friends that I could spend the holiday with. In a new setting with unfamiliar faces, you might get stressed out or anxious when you don’t have people to do the things you are used to doing. Things take time. Related to what my classmate Namrata wrote about earlier, you will be able to find those who you can call Family and enjoy the holidays with, so don’t rush and take it easy.

Our Christmas Tree
Our Christmas Tree

This winter is a bit more special for me this year because I got to spend it with my brother and sister and celebrate it the way we did back in Russia. We already set up a Christmas tree back at my sister’s apartment and was able to exchange gifts

I hope that you all had an enjoyable holiday and winter break! Now, back to reality and school …

Top Five Things I Learned About Myself

SMF Class after Core Capstone Presentations

As the semester comes to an end, and I prepare myself for an almost 48 hour journey to Mumbai, I can’t help but reflect on the 18 weeks that have passed by (or literally flown by).

Below are five things that I’ve learned about myself over the semester in the SMF program:

  • I’m capable of working with people from different backgrounds and who have different sets of views (hopefully my team will agree!). Working with the same people in every class (eight classes) teaches you a lot about yourself and others.
  • I can survive without mum and dorm life. I lived in dorms for all four years of undergrad, so, I didn’t have to worry about food, bills, etc. Living off-campus as a grad student is a whole new ball game.
  • I love any form of data analysis. After being able to take classes in different fields, I’ve come to the conclusion that I like any form of quantitative analysis (anything that’s connected to Math :P).
  • I can stay up the whole night to play cards, board games, or any game in general. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent playing some form of a game with my classmates.
  • My liberal arts education has come into use at a business school. This for those pursuing a liberal arts degree and wondering if they can pursue a business/finance master’s degree -a liberal arts degree teaches you how to learn, and that will be helpful anywhere you go. I’ve been able to use my undergraduate education in writing reports, reading long articles quickly (finance classes don’t come anywhere near to our history/English classes in terms of material to read), analyzing critically, and learning new material and being able to utilize it.

Overall, I’ve had a busy semester that has given me many opportunities to learn things academically but also on a personal level. Looking forward to new opportunities in the spring semester!

Happy Holidays!

 

Reuniting with the Fam

This year’s Thanksgiving was a little bit more special than the other four because this year, I got to spend it with my sister, who is currently working for PwC (I’m a very proud little sister) and my brother, who just started his freshman year (also a very proud older sister). After a long, intense, and very rewarding first semester in the Fisher SMF program, this was a welcome occurrence.

First time reuniting in the States
First time reuniting in the States

There are many things that I’m grateful for this year. One of them is having both of my siblings living only 2-hour (by car) away from me. With my sister being able to provide for herself and care for us, I feel like I finally have a place to call “home” in the States.

We don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving, but this year was an exception. My sister (on a whim) decided to do something different: host a Thanksgiving meal. It took us so much time to cook the turkey, make the mashed potatoes then bake the pumpkin pie… This is just a glimpse of how amazing everything looked!

Our Thanksgiving Meal
Our Thanksgiving Meal

Just kidding… We got most of our food from Bob Evans’ Thanksgiving combo, which is why they turned out so nice and yummy.

It’s easy to get really wrapped up in everything school- and SMF-related – I’m glad I had the opportunity to reconnect with some of my family. As rigorous as grad school is, it’s important to maintain your circle of friends and family. I really did enjoy myself to the fullest this year and am always looking forward to the upcoming ones.

Travelling Across Campus and Around Columbus

Most people use COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) to get around the city. For Ohio State students, the bus service is almost free (we pay a small fee at the beginning of each semester). We just swipe our BuckID as the fare when we get onto the bus.

*https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/12/08/transit-report-card-columbus/

I live about twenty minutes away from Fisher. So, on lazy (and/or cold) days, there are a couple of buses that can get me to college – route 1, 2 or 8. These buses come every fifteen or so minutes. Fisher is just a one-minute walk from the bus stop that most of us use (W Lane Ave and Neil Ave).

COTA takes you places other than just Fisher like the zoo, good restaurants, shopping centers, etc. Most of my SMF friends live in University Village. So, by now, I know the last bus from their place to mine, and vice versa (I also know the first bus because we usually miss the last bus :)).

Ohio State students use Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) to travel across campus. There are ten routes that encompasses the whole campus. These buses come every five-ten minutes, and you can look at the bus arrival times via the Ohio State app.

Ohio State App showing Campus Loop North and South routes

When I want to walk a bit (instead of taking the COTA bus), I walk to Ohio Union, and take a CABS bus from there to Fisher. The Campus Loop South bus drops us right outside Mason Hall.

*https://ttm.osu.edu/cabs

If you want to go somewhere across campus or around Columbus, one of these two bus services will get you there!

 

Let’s have a little tour!

I decided to switch things around for the blog this time and give you guys a little sneak peek of some of the places that I regularly visit in Gerlach Hall.

As one of the Graduate Ambassadors for the Specialized Master in Finance program, I spend a lot of my weekly hours in the Graduate Programs Office (GPO). My daily tasks would include going over inquiries emails, reaching out and planning visits for prospective students. Over the semester, I have grown to enjoy working in the office and with the students alongside GAs from other programs (MAcc, MHRM, and MBA).

Graduate Programs Office

Another place that I often spend my hours studying at is the computer lab on the second floor in Gerlach Hall. It’s a great quiet study area where you can get stuff done pretty efficiently if you tend to get distracted quickly like I do. In the lab, you can utilize a lot of different software that you might not be able to run on your PC such as SAS or applications that you don’t normally have access to such as Capital IQ.

Gerlach Lab

The student lounge is probably one of the busiest areas in Gerlach Hall. It is located on the second floor and is a huge open space where students come to have their meals and enjoy their breaks. I spend a lot of my times here chatting with friends and catching up on things during the breaks.

Gerlach Lounge (Another Perspective)

That’s all I have for today’s blog. I will cook up more exciting things to discuss as the break is just around the corner.

Finding Your People

To echo what An spoke about in her post (finding a little piece of home), it is important to have your people when you’re in college, especially as an international student.

As most know, India has many festivals that are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and love. Being away from home on such occasions is difficult but the Indian Students Association (ISA) does their best to make you feel at home. ISA celebrated Navratri with a Garba night at RPAC. There was music, food and people – that’s all we need to celebrate any festival. After that event, my friends and I decided we weren’t done for the night. So, we went over to a friend’s place, had tea, and played the game, Mafia till sunrise (literally sunrise)…

Garba Night
Food!

Another big Indian festival, Diwali, was the weekend after Navratri. We planned to celebrate it with dinner, dessert and games. So, we all (somewhat) dressed up, had dinner, played cards and charades, and again hung out till almost sunrise.

All The SMF South Asian Ladies
Almost All The SMF South Asian Men
Trying To Guess (Probably A Made-Up) Hindi Movie
Lots Of Biryani!

When I started this program, I thought I would meet a few people who probably would become my people but I didn’t know so many people would become mine. 

 

 

Just another crossroad

Coming into a graduate program at the age of 21 with little working experience can be frightening at times. You are constantly surrounded by professionals and classmates who, most likely, have better visions of what they would like to do with their additional master’s degrees. While it’s okay to feel intimidated, you should try to look at this from another angle: you can learn just as much or even more from your peers as you do from your professors in many different areas such as selecting your career path.

 

Another close-up on our amazing SMF cohort for the year 2020
Another close-up on our amazing SMF cohort for the year 2020

One of the competitive advantages of the Specialized Master in Finance program at the Fisher College of Business is the opportunities to customize your career path into four different possible tracks: corporate finance, investment management, risk management, and real estate.

The four different career tracks offered by the SMF program

You can see how this might be difficult for someone with little exposure to the working industry to choose. This is where all those professionals and classmates come in and give you sneak peeks on what attracted them to the respective tracks:

“I chose the Investment Management track because of its competitive and lucrative nature. Some of the brightest minds in the world compete in this space.  To be able to compete among them, while providing a valuable service to investors, is something I find fascinating.”
Timothy Morris, Investment Management
“I chose the corporate finance track to prepare myself for a career in investment banking. After learning about corporate finance in my undergraduate classes, I was eager to dive deeper into the subject. I believe that courses in corporate financing, mergers & acquisitions, corporate restructuring & bankruptcy, and similar classes will provide a great foundation for a successful career.”
Domenik Koch, Corporate Finance
“I chose the track in Corporate Finance as I aspire to work in M&A or Corporate Restructuring. As the competition for these positions is very tough I believe that the courses offered in this track match my needs will add value to my skills and will help me stand out among all the applicants. Courses like M&A, Corporate Financing and Capital Restructuring and Bankruptcy will allow me to gain the right perspective and mindset as well as technical skills in order to accomplish my career goals.”
Andrea Depalma, Corporate Finance
I chose the investment track because the field has been an interest of mine since undergrad. After graduation I hope to have an equity or fixed income analyst job in Chicago.

Nikolas Stella, Investment Management

The point of all this is this: don’t be afraid to make use of all the “resources” available for you! You can make up for your lack of working experience through learning from those around you just by asking.