April at Fisher

Nice weather is back again! Although sunny days come hand in hand with rainy days, I’m excited to announce that snow has stopped, and trees are started to blossom again. While experiencing beautiful weather throughout these past few weeks, Fisher organized a couple of events that were unique in nature.

We had an Indian Festival celebration, and the Black MBAs organization’s An Afternoon of Culture. I found it quite brave from many students to stand in front of the entire Fisher student body and staff to dance and walk in a fashion catwalk. Both events included a dance out session, ethnic food and a fashion show. My fellow SMF GA Tatenda got to participate in the second one (fashion show) and I got to witness the great dances during the Indian Festival presentation.

It is great that Fisher organizes a series of activities during the year for student to participate – or in my case to observe, ha! – to get their minds out of their busy academic schedule. This past week I had two final presentations for two of my classes: Private Equity and Corporate Restructuring and Bankruptcy. It is bittersweet that classes are getting to an end, but it has been an enjoyable ride so far and I still have two more weeks until I graduate. As I type, I am thinking that I need to go find my tassel and graduation cap soon as a group of students are planning to take graduation pictures with our graduation outfits soon.

During campus tours with prospective students, sometimes we get to visit the 11th floor of Thompson library. If you come visit The Ohio State University at some point, I highly recommend you check out this view.

The Oval view from 11th floor Thompson Library

I went for a jog the other day around the Oval (as I mentioned the weather is beautiful these days), and saw students playing frisbee, reading books, just hanging out and having a good time.

Also, in my last post I mentioned I was crossing fingers to win one of the gift cards or giveaways that were distributed during the Fisher Graduate Appreciation Week (especially for one of favorite places in Columbus). Unfortunately, I did not get a gift card for the place I was hoping for but received a gift card from one that is in my top 5. Not too shabby!

Fisher Graduate Student Appreciation Week

A couple of weeks ago was Fisher Graduate Student Appreciation Week. I wasn’t aware of this precious week before starting my Master’s program but it is honestly a golden opportunity for student to win free prizes and get fantastic discounts in many restaurants in town!

Throughout the week, Fisher had a random drawing every day of the week to determine the lucky winners! Some examples of things you could win included: hot/cold tumbler, free food (gift cards), free coffee and donuts, among others! One place offering a free tour was Watershed Distillery, a micro-distillery in Columbus, owned by a Fisher alum Gregory Lehman. Among others, I was happy to hear that one of my favorite restaurants, Brassica, was participating in the gift card drawing process.

In fact, I had just been in Brassica the other weekend with a couple of friends from the program, and of course, our meal was delicious.

Love at first bite!

After my meal, I definitely felt appreciated as a Fisher graduate student! 🙂

Filing Your Income Tax Return

In addition to the NFL play-offs in January and the college basketball play-offs in March (aka March Madness), the January to April period is also known as tax season. Tax season is the period when individuals are required to file their taxes with the government to determine whether a refund should be issued by the government (to an individual) or if an individual tax payer needs to pay more tax to the government.

In this post, I will explore a few of the many cost effective options that are available for students. A very good example is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA is a national operation, and most business schools operate a work-site every year, which offers free tax help to people who generally make $55,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. Here at Fisher we do have a VITA work-site administered by the Department of Accounting and MIS. Furthermore, VITA is not only free for students to get their taxes done, it is also a volunteer opportunity for students who want to gain experience in tax preparation.

For international students, another free resource is the Glacier Nonresident Tax Compliance System. This resource allows students to prepare their federal income tax return, Form 1040 NR-EZ, and  Form 8843 for free. This is an excellent free resource because the only thing one needs to do is to print and mail the forms to the IRS.

Finally, for both domestic and international students, the state of Ohio provides  I-File, which allows individuals to file their Ohio state tax returns online in a quick and relatively easy process. In my experience so far, this is unique to Ohio so definitely make use of this platform because filing state tax returns can get a little costly.

Managing the Uncertainties of Life After Fisher

As our time as Fisher students wraps up, our priorities shift more and more toward the next phase of life: the professional career. Be it through an entrepreneurial venture or formal employment, we each have the responsibility to secure a stable future for ourselves and loved ones. This realization, though necessary, often brings stress and anxiety due to the uncertainties of the future.

As time passes, graduation day get closer and fellow classmates secure jobs, the pressure increases causing some to even doubt or question their abilities. For international students who wish to stay in the US to get some work experience, the thought of having to go back home without realizing this goal may cause extreme sadness or even sleepless nights. So how can one effectively manage the responsibility of securing a stable future? How can one overcome the stress or anxiety that might arise as a result of delay or uncertainty?

One of the key solutions to these questions is resilience. As defined by psychologytoday.com:

Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.

What makes resilience so important is that it helps improve one’s attitude. And attitude is a big factor in achieving goals because a positive attitude usually leads to positive outcomes. Therefore, my encouragement to you current or future Fisher student is that during times when your efforts may seem unfruitful, it is imperative to demonstrate resilience and find the courage to keep on keeping on. Find the courage to continue networking with professionals in your target industries, to continue reaching out to recruiters at your target companies and to continue applying to your target jobs because if you give up, no one is going to do it for you. In other words true failure exists when you stop trying; true failure is when you give up.

 

Buckeye Basketball

Over the past couple of months, the blog posts I wrote have centered around class, class activities, and life in the SMF program from an academic point of view. As a result, for those who’ve been reading or following my posts, it may  seem as if I don’t do anything much outside homework, projects, assignments and attend class- which is somewhat true but not entirely.

Aerial view of the basketball arena

One of my hobbies is basketball, both playing and watching it. And if you are wondering, my favorite players are Lebron James (hopefully I don’t lose any readers) and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

 

What I love about basketball is the intensity of the gram. For 40-48 minutes, pretty much every ounce of muscle in the human body is tested. And on top of that, players need the mental resilience to ignore the body’s plea to give up before the game is over.

About a month, ago I got the opportunity to see our men’s basketball team

Getting some love from Brutus

in action vs. Rutgers. Certainly, the intensity which I love to see in a basketball game did not lack as both teams were hungry to get that W. Despite Rutgers’ sincere attempt to overthrow the Buckeyes in the second half, our boys proved equal to the challenge and managed to maintain the lead and win the game.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience at the Schottenstein Center, especially because this was my first men’s basketball game. I totally recommend this as a leisure activity, but before you leave the arena, be sure to get some love from our mascot, Brutus the Buckeye.

Cupcakes and Canvases at Fisher!

Besides professional events (career fairs, networking sessions, case competition, alumni visits) and cultural events (Noche de Muertos- Mexican, Diwali – Indian, etc.), Ohio State and Fisher are always organizing a plethora of miscellaneous events that help students find relaxation amid demanding school time schedule.

This semester, the Graduate Programs Office in coordination with the Ohio Union Activities Board organized “Cupcakes and Canvases,” an event where students could have fun painting in canvases while enjoying delicious cupcakes!

I’m certainly not an experienced artist, rather I’m quite the beginner. However, the instructor made the painting process run very smoothly for all of us. In fact, it left me wanting to do even more canvas painting in the future.

Students from different programs (I got to meet some MHRM students and saw many MBAs) came together and enjoyed this fun activity that was honestly a brain-relaxer. After talking to some friends, they also shared a similar point of view that the activity in general was really helpful on getting our minds to think something else besides financial models, capital structures, and M&A transactions.

If you are a fan of canvas painting, want to do something fun for yourself or for a friend, or simply you just want to explore your artistic side, the process to complete this sunset was quite straightforward.

We used 5 different colors: white, black, red, yellow and blue. We started by paining the sky red and then mixing with yellow to fill out the rest of the sky down until we reach the sea level. (It also helps to have a template picture printed next to you).

Final piece of art result!

Then, you want to do the ocean starting with blue and again, mixing with white this time to choose your preferred tone of blue. You can paint all the way or just leave a narrow space at the end, it doesn’t really matter because afterwards you will be covering the bottom of the canvas with black. Next, you could move to the sky by mixing red and blue that you just used for the ocean and painting the top of the canvas.

It is pretty much up to you and your imagination on how much red/blue you want to use. My personal preference is not trying to look at what the others are doing because you could get distracted by their style, and your painting will not look as original as you would want it to be.

Once you have covered the whole canvas, you can use a new brush to paint the moon. Again, for the moon it is up to you how big you want to draw the moon, small, large, etc. Finally, it is time to use the black brush and paint the little hill surface as well as the trees and some people did birds if you are into that.

I did it! I explained how to paint a canvas without having any previous knowledge before this Cupcakes and Canvas session. See, that is what activities like this do to you–they make you expand your creativity!

Tips for Virtual Interviews

Part of the application process for the Master of Finance, Master of Accounting, and Master of Human Resource Management programs involves completing an online video interview.  Here are some of my tips to help you ace our virtual interviews.

  • Look into the camera.  If you were in an in-person interview, you would look the person you are speaking with in the eye, right? Why not do the same for a virtual interview?
  • Pick the perfect spot.  Try to find a place that is clean, quiet, and comfortable.  We do not want to be distracted by people walking by you in the background or background noises.
  • Don’t drag it out.  If your response is shorter than the amount of time allocated for it, there is nothing wrong with ending the video! Don’t throw yourself off track by making the story longer than it needs to be.
  • Dress for success.  Dress as if you were going to an in-person interview.  Looking your best conveys the message that you are interested and prepared.
  • Test your technology beforehand.  Make sure that your browser is compatible with the interview platform.  Check to see that your voice is not too loud or too quiet.
  • Practice – Before you start the interview, make sure you have different ideas of talking points you would like to bring up to generic interview questions you may get.  Get the nerves out early!
  • BE HONEST & YOURSELF – This could be our only chance to get to know you before making a decision on whether or not to admit you into our program.  Be honest and genuine with your answers.  Let us know what you are passionate about and what makes you unique!

Best of luck with your application to Ohio State!

*Disclaimer : This is my personal advice to you and may not reflect the opinions of The Ohio State University as a whole.

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

As many of you know, the Specialized Master of Finance is a 9 month program that allows students to take on a heavy load of elective courses, which is a good thing because as students our main goal is to learn and grow our professional competencies. The danger though, is that one can easily get too wrapped up in the demands of the program, causing one to forget or pay very little attention to other aspects of student life. And without a balanced student life, one’s performance may be negatively affected.

One thing I have truly enjoyed  here at OSU, is the extent to which the campus is endowed with facilities and opportunities to have fun. That is, to develop a balanced student life. As much as I work hard to get stuff done, I also make sure I play hard because all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. One way I do this is by utilizing the recreational facilities here OSU. Six Rec Sports facilities are located conveniently throughout our campus with a wide range of operating hours and amenities. Also, over 90 acres of outdoor facility space stretch across campus.

RPAC Aquatic Center

 

ARC soccer

One thing I love about the recreational facilities on campus is that most sports and activities are catered for. For those who like squash, there are many courts to play squash, for those who like to run- you can do so indoor or outdoor, and even for those who like adventure activities such as wall climbing- there is a facility for that as well. My personal favorites are basketball and soccer. I played both sports in high schools and have had the opportunity to compete in intramural competitions here at OSU.

Finally, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with various people from other colleges and departments through recreational activities, which has helped enhance my experience here at OSU. With this in mind, I highly encourage all current and future OSU students to get out and have some fun at the rec centers we have on campus- it’s worth it!

Tips for Admitted Students

As the application season goes on, many students wait for the results of their applications (and some were already admitted, if that is you, congrats rockstar! ) Either if you are on the fence about multiple admission from different schools or trying to decide whether OSU is the right choice for you, I wanted to share some tips for students as they make their final admissions decisions.

Location
For me location was very important in a sense that I wanted to stay in the Midwest after completing my undergraduate degree. I also knew that I wanted to be close to major financial hubs such as Chicago (6hr drive) or New York (8hr). Random reason is that I also wanted to experience the four weather seasons, I have to admit fall is short but beautiful at OSU, and coming from warm weather in my home country I wanted to live through a real winter with snow since I have never seen snow before. My advice is to at least have a general idea of where you would like to work post-graduation and don’t forget to factor cost of living into your list.

My friend and classmate Jeff Chiu won a snowman contest in his resident complex as best snowman this January. Go bucks!

Alumni Network
One of the biggest factors for me in choosing the SMF program was the extensive and global OSU alumni network . This can be particularly helpful when job searching as there is a high likelihood to find an OSU graduate working for a particular company of interest, and Buckeye alums are certainly willing to connect you with other people. TIP: After my graduation once I become officially a Buckeye alum, if you are connecting with me just don’t forget to mention the ‘Go bucks’ at the end of your email 😉

Faculty and Program Curriculum
If you are intellectually curious, I’m very certain that you care about which professors will be teaching you in the future. When deciding programs don’t forget to review the school’s websites and learn more about the faculty at that school. I believe the OSU SMF program has excellent faculty including industry wide well-known professors due to their academic research and publications as well as professor with corporate work experience. Personally, I found the mixture between both intellectually stimulating as in some classes I was able to learn the theory, frameworks and technical concepts while other will allow me to practice these concepts such as in the Core Capstone class. I have heard about this from previous SMF students, so don’t hesitate to reach out to GAs to ask them about their experiences in the program.

Cost
Most of us as graduate students are trying to save up as much as possible during school, therefore the cost of the program (and the amount of scholarship received) ends up being a determinant factor to our commitment to a program. Personally, Columbus Ohio is one of the cities where you would get the most bang for your buck with cost of living being considerably lower than many big cities while still experiencing the vibe of a metropolis and having exposure to Fortune 500 companies HQs.

Opportunities
One of my favorite sections! As the number one/two largest university in the country, Ohio State has SO many extracurricular opportunities tailored for everyone! Some of them include:

Career Fairs

• Networking Events: with SMF/Fisher/OSU alums and corporations

Case Competitions: CFA Research Challenge, ACG Cup, NBIC Investment  Banking, Real Estate Case Competition

• SMF Educational Visit: Chicago Companies Visit, Venture Capital Tour

• Getting involved with a Student Organization

• Leadership roles in the SMF Student Council

Speakers at Fisher, and much more!

International Reach
OSU graduates are literally in every part of the world, I can tell from experience. If you are walking in an airport and someone sees you wearing OSU clothing, they would yell at you ‘Go Bucks!’ or ‘OH’. One time, I was in Peru and a couple of men, saw me wearing an Ohio State pullover and said you go to Ohio State? Oh great, go bucks! I was truly amazed by how many Buckeyes we have abroad including in far away places such as Peru.

 

FUN
After all that hard work studying, you also want to have some time to distress de-stress and bond with your fellow classmates. Columbus is a vibrant community with many enjoyable things to do across the board. Besides all the fun activities within Ohio State and Fisher, we have the Short North, Easton Mall and Polaris, Columbus Downtown, many local restaurants, breweries, and coffee chops, activities such as skiing, snowboarding,  snow tubing, zip lining, The Columbus Zoo, and so many other!

Short North

Regardless of what school you decide, I hope this blog helps you consider important factors when making your decision besides from ranking or school reputation. All for all, I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Ferny

Financial Software Training

One of the unique aspects of the SMF program is the extent we utilize various software applications to advance our professional competencies. With the rise of artificial intelligence and data analytics, being proficient  with different software applications has become a must in the corporate world.

For example, I had an interview with three different people from the same company, and each of them emphasized that their company is seeking students who have had a significant amount of exposure to software applications other than Microsoft Excel. Luckily for me, my time in the SMF had provided me enough exposure to unique software applications that I could confidently bring up in the interview.

Two of the software applications that I have enjoyed learning and using the most are Statistical Analysis System (SAS) and the Bloomberg Terminal.

The Bloomberg Terminal is used extensively in investment management firms, in sales and trading and in financial markets. It provides access to more than 15,000 indices and 100+ metrics, coverage of 45,000+ companies in 108 countries, as well as 2,800 fundamental data items and financial ratios. Bloomberg news offers more than 5,000 original news stories each day from 30,000+ aggregated news sources with coverage from 146 bureaus in 72 countries.

At Fisher, we use the Terminal throughout the duration of the program to conduct research on investment funds, stock performance, bond prices and many more.

Bloomberg-Terminal

SAS is a widely used tool for data management and business analytics, including statistical and econometric analysis, and has strong capabilities with large data sets, such as those used in quantitative investments and risk management.

This program affords students the opportunity to develop coding skills in a relatively easy to understand environment. We use SAS in our Data Analysis class offered during the autumn semester, with the opportunity to dive deeper into the program by registering for the Financial Statement Analysis course offered during the spring semester.

SAS Log & Editor windows
SAS results window

In conclusion, with the trend toward heavy use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, the Fisher SMF curriculum offers students ample exposure to some of the leading and most widely used software platforms, which allows students to be better prepared for post graduation roles.