Posts filed under 'SMF'



Class is in Session

As we begin to wrap up the first of our seven week sessions, our first set of SMF classes is coming to a close.  These classes are imperative to success in the program as they provide the foundation for many of the other classes that we will take.  For those students without a finance background they also give them the opportunity to learn many of the basic financial concepts and theories.  During the first 7 weeks all members of the program have taken the same four classes: Turbo Finance, Financial Modeling, Industry Risk and Pricing, and Data Analysis.

  • Turbo Finance:  This class is taught by the SMF program director, Dr. George Pinteris, and as its name suggests, provides a full overview of the many financial theories and concepts that are necessary for success in a rigorous program such as the SMF.  This course covers a set of fundamental techniques for financial analysis.  In this class we have examines the investment decision in detail looking at both the NPV and IRR of projects to determine their viability. We have also spent a third of the class on valuation analysis looking at both the multiples and DCF methods.  The third key focus of this course is financial statement analysis and we will focus on using a set of tools and methods to analyze companies and sectors.  This class also involves a company report where we will apply all of the techniques that we have learned in the class to analyze a particular company.  In my case we are working on an analysis of FedEx.
  • Financial Modeling:  This class is taught by Professor Daniel Oglevee, a former Wall Street Professional with a great deal of experience in financial modeling from his time in the private sector.  In this class we have constructed dozens of models that could be applied in our future jobs from NPV analysis to forecasting financial statements.  This class serves as one of the foundations for the program because the skills learned will be used in every other class we take.  In addition, in almost any job in the business world, knowledge of Microsoft Excel and financial modeling are extremely important and employers actively seek candidates with these skills.
  • Industry Risk and Pricing:  This class is taught by Dr. Michael Brandl, and provides an overview of applied microeconomics.  What sets this class apart from many other economic courses I have taken is not only Professor Brandl’s enthusiasm for the subject, but also the application of economic theory to real-world financial situations.  He stresses for each of us to think as an analyst and in order to fully understand the influences and forces on a company or sector, you must understand the economics behind the growth or decline.
  • Data Analysis: This class is taught by Dr. Daniel Magestro, explores some the most common techniques used in financial and investment analysis.  One of the main focuses of the class, as evident by the title, is data analysis which is the application of quantitative methods to characterize financial datasets, including which to use in different situations.  In this class we also create analyst reports on various topics that allow for students to apply many of the techniques we have learned in a real world application.

My First OSU Football Game

As things are heating up on the academic front with finals rapidly approaching, it was fantastic to momentarily escape the stress this Saturday night at the Ohio State Buckeyes football game.

Braxton Miller overpowering the Badgers Defense

 

Having earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, I am no stranger to Big 10 sporting events.  During my four years in Champaign-Urbana, I attended numerous Illini football and basketball games.  In January 2008, I traveled to Pasadena, California for the Rose Bowl game between The University of Illinois and The University of Southern California.  All of my experiences at Illini sporting events wrapped into one cannot compete with my first Buckeye football game.

 

The fans, the band, the stadium, everything surpassed my high expectations.  Not a single student in my row sat down from the opening kickoff until the fourth quarter.  It was truly fascinating to witness the passion in which Buckeye fans cheer on their squad.

 

Although the football team played great, the Ohio State Marching Band might have been one step better.  A flawless performance highlighted by the designed formation of a cowboy tipping his hat as members of the band scurried back and forth in perfect unison.

 

Coming into the Wisconsin game unbeaten in 16 straight, the highly touted Buckeyes rode the Horseshoe’s electric atmosphere to their 17th victory in a row.  Wisconsin was no slouch, but the Buckeyes looked the superior team throughout.

 

Before Saturday’s game, I strongly considered selling some of my tickets.  There is absolutely no chance of that happening now.  For now, I will have to patiently wait for my next chance to see the Buckeyes.  October 19th could not arrive soon enough!


Decisions, Decisions

Even though it feels like classes just started, second term is only weeks away, and it is already almost time to schedule for spring semester. That means I need to start thinking about which track I will be specializing in: corporate finance, investment management, risk management, or real estate. Right now, my SMF classmates seem pretty evenly divided between corporate finance and investment management, with a handful of others pursuing risk management and real estate. I personally am still torn between the corporate and investment tracks. Not having a finance background, I think it will take me a bit longer to determine what jobs interest me, and into what categories those jobs fall.

Luckily for me and other students in a similar position, the SMF program is designed to help you find the right path. During the second term, which runs from mid-October until Winter Break, all of the SMF students are required to take Corporate I and Investments I, along with Leadership, Derivatives I, and Data Analysis II. This allows everyone to get a taste for the two main tracks and, from what I hear, I should know pretty quickly in which direction I am leaning.

However, if I still cannot make up my mind, I am sure the SMF faculty and staff will continue to be a great source of guidance. One piece of advice I have heard from several of our professors is to read—read the textbooks, read newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, and read magazines like The Economist. Then think back on what topics, industries, and companies caught my attention, what was I naturally drawn to, even if seems like a far-fetched career path. That could help point me towards not only a track within the SMF program, but also possible employers for the future. Because, after all, shouldn’t the end goal be to get not just any job, but a job I actually love?

Check out the full list of spring semester electives here!

 


Greek Life at Ohio State

Labor Day weekend is usually a pretty big deal in Columbus. For some, the holiday marks the unofficial end of summer, the day to pack away those white jeans and seersucker shorts until next year. For others, the long weekend is a chance to spend extra time with family and friends, usually around the grill (if the weather cooperates). And this year, of course, Labor Day weekend also marked the return of the Ohio State Football Buckeyes, who started off the season with a 40-20 win over Buffalo. But for me, the best thing about last weekend, and every Labor Day weekend in my recent memory, was the Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the Short North.

 

Besides touring the beautiful cathedral, this four-day festival offers guests the opportunity to experience traditional Greek dancing and to hear Greek folk songs as performed by the Hellenic Singers. However, the highlight of the festival, by far, is the food. Whether you want gyros and souvlaki or homemade mousakka, you will find it at the festival- and it will be DELICIOUS! There is even an entire room dedicated to pastries.

 

This year, the Greek festival was especially memorable because I was able to enjoy it with some of my new SMF classmates, including one student who is actually from Athens and so was able to teach us all a lot about the Greek culture and language. While we were there, we even ran into two of our SMF faculty members and their families, which was great!

Of course, the Greek Festival is not the only festival we have in Columbus. In fact, from April to November, there seems to be at least one every weekend. Check out a list of all of the 2013 festivals here.

Καλή Όρεξη!

[Bon appetit!]


The Importance of Orientation

SMF Students at Orientation

As anyone in the business world will tell you, one of the most important factors in being successful is building relationships.  Whether with potential clients, co-workers, or in our case, fellow students, the importance does not diminish.  Getting to know your classmates and their interests will be paramount not only to building relationships with them, but also to your success.  In a program that is as team oriented as the Fisher Specialized Master in Finance, getting to know your classmates is even more important because they are also going to be your teammates.

William Oxley Statue

That being said, the SMF program does a great job of helping us to get to know our classmates through a two week orientation period.  During this time we did activities to get to know our classmates as well participate in seminars that would help us to understand the expectations we should have for ourselves.  This orientation period was a great time for us to get to know each other outside of the classroom as well since we had plenty of free time with classes not yet in session.  Our program set up a picnic at a local park where we were able to not only meet all of our other classmates, but try food from different cultures.  We also had the opportunity to take a tour of campus with pre-assigned groups which gave us the opportunity to get to know our way around campus as well getting know more of our classmates.

As we start to get into our classes and split up into groups for our many projects, the many activities we did the first few weeks are really showing their importance.  Ensuring that you are working with the best possible group of people for you is paramount to your success and we would not have been able to gain that knowledge before classes start without our efforts during orientation.  In closing, the main lesson is that even when you have downtime there are plenty of things you can do that are going to set you up for success once school really starts.


Another Year Begins

Even though it still feels like summer outside, the long lines at Starbucks, empty shelves at Target, and packed parking lots mean school at The Ohio State University is officially back in session. However, while I may be new to the Fisher College of Business and the Specialized Master of Business-Finance (SMF) program, I am not new to life as a graduate student at OSU. This past May I graduated with an MS in Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. I decided to come back to Ohio State and pursue a second Master’s degree, not because I never want to work, but because I knew that the practical skills and experience using programs like Excel, Bloomberg, and Capital IQ that I will gain from the SMF program, when coupled with my background in applied economics, will be immensely helpful for me during the competitive job search process. One of the benefits of having been through a graduate program already, besides not having to stand in line to get a new BuckID and already generally knowing my way around campus (though I still get lost sometimes), is that I have learned a few things that should make this upcoming year a little bit easier, so I thought I would share some of these lessons with you.
1. Be organized– between classes, team meetings, career management events, social outings, and all of the little things that will inevitably come up every day, you are probably going to be busier than you have ever been before. As such, it is essential to be organized. Write down all of your meetings and deadlines in a planner and check your email often for any changes in locations or times. For class, print out lecture slides ahead of time so you can focus on the professor instead of frantically trying to write down every word, and try to get your backpack together the night before so you do not accidentally leave your homework on the kitchen counter!
2. Manage your time– every new school year I say I am going to keep up with the reading and get that term paper done way ahead of time, but, regardless of my good intentions, within a few weeks the work begins to pile up, and so does the stress. Luckily (or unluckily), the SMF program, with its seven-week terms, is going to be so fast-paced that I will not have time to procrastinate. I just try to remember that other students have survived this program so the workload is doable, but the marathon TV-watching sessions may have to wait until next summer. My weakness: 30 Rock reruns on Netflix. One episode just flows right into the next!
3. Find balance– being in graduate school, especially in a program as intense as the SMF, it would be easy to spend all day every day reading text books and editing your resume, but it is important, for your health and your sanity, to do something you enjoy every day. It is going to be a long year and you do not want to burn out before fall semester is even over. For me, my stress relief comes from going to the gym or running outside if the weather is nice. Kickboxing is particularly therapeutic. The RPAC has a great group fitness schedule with classes pretty much all day, even on the weekends.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff– from my experience, graduate school, more so than undergrad, is about the bigger picture. And while getting good grades is definitely still important, it is less important to memorize a hundred definitions and get the exact right answer on every test question than it is to really understand the material you are learning, to understand the logic and assumptions that went into getting to that right answer. It is also more important now to take advantage of the learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Talk to your classmates and professors, do a practice interview in the career management office, and stay in touch with what is going on in the world. Your classes will teach you the technical skills that you need to succeed, but these extra lessons could be essential to landing that dream job and being successful in the long-term.

Need a break? Take a trip to Oval Beach!

The best beach in Central Ohio

As our finals days in the Fisher SMF program approach, we have entered our fourth and final round of the presentations/finals onslaught. We have had our fair share of late nights and high pressure days over this span, and it is important to get away from it all (even if it’s only for a few minutes). Luckily for us (kind of), this final storm coincided with the arrival of spring and the end of undergraduate classes.

It is these two phenomena that have led to the annual arrival of Oval Beach. While it may not have all of the amenities of your typical beach resort, Oval Beach offers a great place for students to hang out with one another while taking in the warm spring weather. If you time your short vacation to Oval Beach right, you will see much of Buckeye nation playing sports, tanning, and just passing the time. It’s not South Beach but it’s still a great getaway destination.


Figlio Wood Fired Pizza–you won’t regret it!

Ready to eat!

Any time you move to a new city it is important to carve out some go-to restaurants. Well during my last semester here at Fisher in the SMF program, I discovered a new personal favorite—Figlio Wood Fired Pizza. This place is good enough that it earned a spot on the blog.

While the name makes it sound like a pizza joint, it is far more than that. In fact, I still haven’t even tried the pizza. What keeps drawing me back is the phenomenal pasta selection. Here is the menu (caution! It will make you hungry).

Another perk of this place is the price of entrees relative to the atmosphere. You will be hard pressed to find any selections of $15+ dollars, which is great for poor students. Better yet, the quaint but hip feel makes for a perfect location to impress a date or just hang with friends.

While I have only been to the Grandview location, I am sure the sister restaurants offer the same level of service. You can find a Figlios near you here. Buon appetito!

 


Neil Building Graduate Housing at Ohio State

One of the things that I worried about the most when coming to Columbus was where I was going to live. Upon submitting my intent to enroll in the SMF program, I was given a comprehensive list of nearby apartments with monthly rental rates and reviews from past student residents, which I found extremely helpful. Knowing that I was not making the drive to Columbus from San Francisco, I focused on a place within walking distance to the Fisher College of Business. I initially considered Fisher Commons, which is a relatively new complex with well appointed kitchen amenities that is a short fifteen minute walk to campus. The only drawback for me was that the apartments were not furnished. The last thing I wanted to worry about at the end of the program was how to get rid of my old mattress.

Neil Graduate Housing

Since I probably cannot bum rides from friends all the time, I had to make sure restaurants and grocery stores were also within walking distance. After looking over the various locations, I decided on the Neil Building Graduate housing. Located at the corner of Neil Avenue and West 10th Avenue, the graduate housing is a twenty minute casual stroll to Fisher College of Business. CVS pharmacy is half a block away for the occasional allergy relief or late night munchies. A Kroger grocery store is also close by on East 7th Avenue and High Street (about a ten minute walk).

However, to add icing on the cake, the best part of the Neil Building by far is the Marketplace located on the street level. The Marketplace is an OSU dining food court that serves pizza, salad, pasta, sushi, Asian stir-fry, and my favorite, the Memphis BBQ beef brisket grilled panini. In addition, there is a VIP access door that connects the rest of the building to the Marketplace. I love how I can go downstairs to grab a quick bite without dealing with the outside elements, especially on a rainy or snowy winter day! How’s that for awesomeness?

BBQ brisket panini hot off the grill!


Job Hunt: The Break

A few weeks ago, I had a boutique sell side research firm randomly reach out to me requesting that I take this test called the Wall Street Assessment Test (WSAT). It is an hour to hour and a half online test where you are tested on financial and analytic abilities. Apparently I did well enough for a phone interview two weeks ago. This was my first real interview for a research position after my four trips out to NYC. While I felt comfortable going into the interview, it was my first so I was slightly nervous.

Last week, a regional bank also reached out to me regarding a research position. This was not as random of an encounter as the small shop. I applied for the position on the corporate website, or as I like to think about it a black pit. Since my attitude towards this approach is not bright to say the least, I reached out to a contact at the firm in research asking if he could do anything to help. He knew all the networking and learning I have been going through and must have felt comfortable enough to help me out.

These two opportunities are a purely due to my networking efforts. The first company that reached out to me somehow received my resume or heard about me through some contact I made and impressed enough to reach out on my behalf. The regional bank reached out to me not because I applied online, but due to a contact that I reached out to asking if he could pass my information along. Both of these are validation of effort that was put in through pounding the pavement and building relationships with people. As one of my contacts has told me, “you only need one”. Hopefully having two opportunities is better than one.


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