A Hard Day’s Grind!


As a grad student, I have had to relearn how to get into the grind. It seems most of my time is spent reading textbooks, keeping up with my to-do list (life saver), exploring job opportunities, and more than anything…drinking coffee from the best grinds (personally prefer Hazelnut & Columbian). Though the picture above seems to sum it all up, it is not so. As it happens sitting in Professor Pinteris’s class and learning about how analysts value corporations is of great interest to me. From using Multiples to discounting Cash Flows, we are exposed to how most firms are valued. The To-do list in the picture is the full picture in terms: Though it looks cluttered, there is a method to its madness. On there I have important class dates, meeting dates, corrections to previous notes, homework assignments due, and notes to remember to watch a financial segment on TV. The pamphlet from Fifth Third is one of the driving goals of my education. I want to use the material learned in class to make a difference one day with a big firm …But the grind does not necessarily just reflect nights reading as we see below…

As I walk from class in Gerlach Hall to the south side of campus towards Thompson I am reflecting about the grind that I went through the night before completing assignments, applying to Fifth and Third, running to Krogers to pick up a fresh bag of ground Columbian coffee beans to make my vietnamese coffee. I am thinking about how I am starting to get used to and like this grind. This grind although it takes up a large amount of my time is well worth it. And so as the gears in my head are turning …..grinding rather.. I am thinking about my next move. Do I walk faster so that I can get that magical fourth floor spot at Thompson? No its Wednesday and the seats are probably full. Should I reach out to an other alumni through linkedin or finish my leadership paper that is due next week? I pull out my To Do notebook and notice that I have annotated both “To Dos” in my notebook. I then stop and realize why it is that I strolled across campus in the first-place knowing that I would not get a spot at Thompson this early ……….

Every chance that I get while the weather is still nice, any couple of  minutes that I am able to steal from my studies and assignments or career search on beautiful days such as this Wednesday, I try to sneak in a pass by Mirror Lake. It has this calming presence about it. It is almost a poster like entity that makes The Campus so much more meaningful and motivating. I stand there and snap a couple of pictures and passerbyers whether students, faculty, staff or regular visitors smile and walk by. Some are engrossed in their phones, some in the conversations they’re having with their peers and some others I notice are just like me; they’re enjoying that moment of quiet and peace that Mirror Lake offers before getting back to the grind. I put my phone back in my pocket and remember that by now the fourth floor has started to clear up and that there is much more to do, a lot more to read, a lot more to learn, a lot more coffee beans to be ground. Back to this grind that I’ve come to respect.


Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) Equity Research Report

So far, my blogs have only been about social events (football) and the joy of returning to Columbus. I figured it was time to write about something academic so here’s a little bit about the project I’ve been working on for the past 3 weeks…Chipotle!

Who doesn’t love a good burrito!

The SMF program is broken down into one 3-week, pre-term, “turbo” course and then two 15-week semesters that contain two terms each. In the “turbo” course, we revisit some basic corporate finance fundamentals like time value of money, the capital asset pricing model, weighted average cost of capital and different valuation methods (Discounted Cash Flow and Dividend Discount Model). During the first real term, we take a number of classes including Corporate Finance I which delve deeper into valuation and different capital structures.

The largest grade in Corporate I is an equity research report based on a company of our choosing. My group and I spent a fair amount of time scouring the S&P 500 for a company we liked that wouldn’t be overly challenging and guess what company came up??..Everyone’s favorite fast-casual Mexican restaurant, Chipotle!

chipotle 2
Why is Chipotle always so busy?? Ask me and I could ramble on for a while..

The report requires us to dive deep into the company culture, financials, operations, labor force and management to be able to make assumptions about these factors going forward so we can make a forecast of revenues, costs, expenditures and cash flows. More than anything else, the project is supposed to help those of us who want to work as analysts practice our ability to make assumptions and take a view on a company then be able to back up this view with solid projections.

All-in-all, it has been a great experience and I can’t wait to present my report to our class..I wonder if I can get extra credit for having Chipotle cater our lunch…

Buckeye Football!

If you’ve never been to Ohio Stadium (aka “The Shoe”) when The Ohio State Buckeyes are playing football, then you need to hop on ticketmaster and snag a ticket as soon as possible. I grew up watching Buckeye football my whole life and I must say, the experiences have been better with age. There is just something about the emotion of having 100,000+ people flood Columbus to cheer on this group of brothers that puts me on a whole new level of excitement. I am getting chills just sitting here thinking about it. “Buckeye Nation” is what the loyal following is known as and members range from die hard nuts to casual viewers. Whatever your interest or affiliation, Buckeye Nation is always accepting new members.

On the 12th of September I woke up, put on my white #5 jersey, grabbed a snack and took off for Lane Avenue where I met my fellow Buckeyes for some pre-football tailgating. We stopped at a few tents on the way to our destination (all overflowing with people and FOOD..lots of food) but eventually made it to Fisher Commons where our host and fellow SMF student, Taylor Richard, had buffalo chicken dip ready to be demolished. After enjoying more than my fair share of buffalo chicken dip, we took off for The Shoe and what we hoped would be another Buckeye victory.

Buckeye Football
As a rank 4 student, we have some pretty incredible seats!

There really isn’t anything quite like a Buckeye football game. I could go into details about the deafening roar of the crowd when we score a touchdown or the amazing feeling you get as you sing Carmen Ohio while embracing your fellow Buckeyes arm-in-arm, but I am going to let you experience it for yourself! Because my words just don’t do it justice.

Career Fair 101!!

Elijah Lee - Career Fair

Interviewee: Elijah Lee – “Awesome SMF graduate student”
Interviewer: Didier Hirwantwari aka “Not as Awesome as Interviewee but still Awesome graduate SMF student”

Setup: Beautiful Afternoon at an even more beautiful Gerlach Courtyard Graduate Career Fair at the Blackwell!!!


D: Elijah you look very dapper in your suit, who is your Tailor?
E: Thank you Didier, but I cannot divulge that awesome information right now, maybe after the interview!!
D: I will certainly take you up on it!!

D: Well shall we get started then, I do not want to keep you.
E: Lets!!

D: First and Foremost, thank you for taking part in this Interview, hopefully we can learn a lot and impart it on the graduate student body both international and domestic.
E: You are welcome and it is a pleasure to partake in this Interview.

D: Was this your first career fair and were you nervous?
E: This was my first fair yes and I was a little bit nervous. It was more of a good nervous since I was anxious to walk in there, meet company reps and make good impressions.

D: As we sit here talking, how would you describe your experience at the fair?
E: The experience was great. I learned how to talk with professionals, picked up on nuances of what I should and shouldn’t do as well as what kind of questions to ask. I learned about the interview and application process and more importantly, when to apply as some companies were closing their application windows that same day.

D: How many Companies did you want to talk to?
E: I wanted to talk to as many companies as I could.

D: Has this Career Fair prepared you for the next one and how so?
E: It did prepare me for the next one. I have a better grasp on what kind of questions to ask and how to do company research before the fair.

D: Did you exchange any tips with your fellow graduate students about any particular companies?
E: I exchanged a few tips about certain companies with my classmates because the end goal is for all of us to succeed in our job search.

D: Elijah, I definitely appreciate the time you took to do this interview. I definitely hope to have you back when you land that dream job, and for your time I will not ask you about your suit tailor. Thank You!!!
E: Thank You Didier and good luck to you as well!!!!

Many thanks to our viewers and readers!!! Hope you enjoyed the interview — More to come in the future

Returning to Columbus!

It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you return to a place that you called home for four years. Four of the best years of your life! Simply put, it feels incredible to be back. Back in the capital of the Buckeye state! After graduating from Ohio State last May, I spent the summer working in the human resources department at Great Clips and truly enjoyed my time. But..in my experience, there is no better feeling than getting off the highway and looking at Ohio Stadium knowing that you are about to begin another year at one of the (if not THE) best school(s) in the nation. For me, returning to Columbus was the simple decision, figuring out what I wanted to do here was the hard part.

I specialized in Human Resources as an undergraduate student here at OSU and until last November, I was certain that I was going to pursue the Masters of Human Resource Management. That was my plan until I fell in love with the material taught in my Introduction to Finance course. This new found interest prompted me to explore a little bit and I decided to take a trip across the Fisher courtyard from the undergrad building (Shoenbaum) to the graduate programs building (Gerlach). On my visit to Gerlach, I met with multiple faculty members who explained what it would be like in the Specialized Masters of Finance program and what resources are available not only for career search but everyday life at Fisher as well. After the visit, my decision was made and I applied right away.

Mason Hall 2

Coming back to Columbus this time was a little bittersweet because I knew it could be the last time I pull off the highway and look at Ohio Stadium knowing I have another nine months in this beautiful place. Who knows though, maybe soon I will look upon Columbus as my future home as a finance professional.


This entire post is dedicated to one class, because it is just that awesome. As an SMF, you have the opportunity to take classes outside of Finance. Negotiations is one of them. Take it. Absolutely, under any circumstances, sign up for this. It is taught by either Professor Lount of Professor Lewicki. I currently have the night class with Dr. Lewicki. I could go on and on about Dr. Lewicki’s achievements in the field of negotiations, but I will stick to the class.

I hate night classes. Simply put. There are hundreds of things I would rather be doing at the end of March from 6-9 at night and I am sure most of you feel the same way. Negotiations happens to fall in this category of things I would rather be doing. This is one of the two most engaging classes I have had at Fisher (Dr. Wruck’s Corporate 3&4 are the others). Almost every night you are participating in some sort of negotiation. You have free reign to stretch the truth, never reach a deal, anything. The thrill of winning a negotiation, even with fake money, is something that is hard to compare with. This class also gives you the opportunity to work with Working Professional MBA’s, Full-Time MBA’s, JDMBA and MHRM students. With this in mind, you know you will never be negotiating with someone of the same background or goals.

I will warn you. You might look up after laughing, cheating, and lying in your negotiation to the point where you will enjoy it so much, that you actually might be a little depressed that you have to leave for the night. The 3 hours in negotiations passes by entirely too quickly, to say the least.

Team Projects

One of the great features of the SMF program is an action-based course in the last academic term. Students have a number of projects from which to choose, from investment management to corporate finance to risk management, and students rank all the projects. Professor Pinteris then assigns people to groups based on their specializations, previous coursework, grades, and other factors. I was assigned to be team leader for a corporate finance project with Ohio State’s Treasury Office. My team and I are working with the office to model operating cash flows based on historical data, determine how much cash the university needs to keep in interest-bearing deposits, and addressing a number of pending considerations for Treasury.

The people with whom we are liaising on this project told us that they would like a candid assessment of Treasury’s results, so this project is already testing my knowledge of government and non-profit accounting. Plus the project is very relevant to the job that I took in public finance, so I’m really getting a great transition from school to the workplace.

The Saga Continues…

Spring Break has finally rolled around! It is 70 and sunny here and I cannot wait to spend half of the week outside 90% of the time. However, just because Spring Break is here, it does not mean that you can slack on your responsibilities. This definitely includes your SMF team project. A few days of your Spring Break should be devoted to working on really diving into your team project and getting a head start.

We have successfully navigated through our initial consultation with the help of Prof. Bob Lane. We determined the scope of our project, the deliverables and the communication we should engage in with our company. It really is a great experience for those who have no work experience, as well as those who have previous work experience and are looking to get back in the work force after graduation.

BUT…To the great news…

I can say with uncertainty now, that these team projects do present you with a gateway to showing your company what you are capable of and can give you the opportunity to interview with your company. I guess Friday I will see if I can continue in the interview process!

Last Spring Break!

This week is my last (predetermined) Spring Break, and I must say it’s bittersweet. I’ve spent the last four days in Las Vegas, Nevada, enjoying St. Patrick’s Day; taking in “O,” a Cirque du Soleil show; and taking a helicopter through the Grand Canyon. It’s my first time in Vegas, and I’ve been stunned by the activity, the scenery, and the just plain fun that can be had here.

View of the Hoover Dam from my Helicopter!
View of the Hoover Dam from my Helicopter!

Before my Vegas trip, I spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. staying and visiting with some dear friends and enjoying the best D.C. has to offer. Since I took a job elsewhere and will not be returning to D.C., it was a little unfortunate to inform friends that I will not be returning in the near future. Having exited undergraduate a semester early, I never got Spring Break last year, so I’m living it up now.

Bucket List for My Last Couple Months in Columbus

At the beginning of January, I accepted a job and will be moving away from Columbus. After nearly five years of being in Columbus and just finishing finals for the third term of the Fisher SMF program, it’s finally hitting me that I will be leaving Columbus. Here’s my bucket list for my last two months in Columbus:

Catch the Rocky Horror Picture Show live performance at Studio 35 in Clintonville, OH.

Spend a day at The Book Loft—I’ve been there many times, but I’d love to spend an early Spring day just strolling among the books.

The Book Loft in German Village (photo credit: Bookloft.com)
The Book Loft in German Village (photo credit: Bookloft.com)

Catch a Blue Jackets game before the season ends.

Catch a musical performance by Perfume Genius at the Wexner Center in a few weeks.

Try as many quirky coffee shops, restaurants, and bars in Columbus that I haven’t tried, particularly on South Fourth Street, Broad Street, and Downtown.