Seattle Trek!

With the academic year coming to an end, and everyone finishing final presentations and papers for various courses, I look back and feel blessed to have spent a wonderful first year with some fantastic people at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business. One of the things that I feel passionate about is serving as an MBA Ambassador. It gives me a chance to speak with prospective candidates from across the world, show them our campus, and take them for coffee and lunch while sharing my perspective about our program and school.

I recently took part in a new “career trek” to Seattle. The motivation behind this career trek (targeting tech companies for Fisher) came from innumerable phone calls that I answered over the first semester while working at the admissions office. Many students asked if we have established connections with organizations on the West Coast and I always say “Yes!” This consequently led to the development of a formalized trek to Seattle.

As soon as I decided to undertake this initiative, I approached a current second-year student, Thais Batista Ronconi, who interned at Amazon and will be joining Amazon in a full time-role this year in Seattle. She felt enthusiastic about this idea and was happy to mentor me throughout the development of this trek. We approached the whole process step by step and started reaching out to our alumni and talent acquisition heads/recruiters at various organizations in Seattle. In the meantime, we gauged interest from current students and started working on the timing of this trek. The response received from the students to this career trek was massive– something that kept us going even after hearing “no” from some of the organizations. After working with the companies for almost three months, we got our final “YES” list: Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia. Yes, the Big 4 in Seattle. The timing worked out well with all the organizations and we were set to visit Seattle in mid-March during spring break with a group of 15 first and second year MBA’s.

Seattle’s Ferris Wheel at Pier 57

Day 1 started with Starbucks! As soon as we entered Starbucks’ board room, we received a bag full of coffee and goodies for each of us. We started with a session from one of the executives on Sourcing and Global Operations of Starbucks followed by learning more about how Starbucks is differentiating itself by investing in technology. We then toured Starbucks HQ, which was one of a kind. Every wall illustrates the company timeline by connecting Starbucks’ different product releases with prominent historical events. Also of note: as an employee, you can contribute to the less fortunate by buying coffee at a special store inside the building where people from all the departments also meet weekly to discuss how they are impacting people’s lives. From its coffee-tasting space to roasteries, everything at Starbucks is distinct.

Starbucks’ first logo!
At Starbucks’ HQ (top floor)

We commenced our Day 2 with Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. The first activity took us to the Visitor Center, a place that has a neat display of everything Microsoft (it features all of Microsoft’s current and upcoming products). From Xbox to Surface book, and from HoloLens to Microsoft’s Age Detection API, we experienced everything. The recruiter then introduced us to some cool initiatives by Microsoft and explained how it is utilizing technology to make this world a better place to live. One of the projects that stood out to me was how Microsoft is helping to find missing children in China. After spending some great time with the recruiter, we met a panel of Buckeyes (OSU alums) who answered our questions about “all things Microsoft.” Concluding our visit with lunch, it was overall a great day spent in sunny Seattle with our alumni members. Big shout-out to Rafael Williams, university recruiter at Microsoft!

Outside Microsoft’s Visitor Center

Expedia welcomed us with an overview of its organization and later gave a detailed description of its global network of brands. The best part was Q&A with the recruiter where she alone answered more than 50 questions from us.

At Expedia Group’s headquarters in Bellevue, Seattle

Amazon came at last–marking a perfect ending to our Seattle trek. This organization never fails to surprise me – it has now surpassed Google as the best place to work in the United States, according to one survey. We started at Amazon’s “Day 1” building (they consider every day at work to be the first day creating an entrepreneurial start-up environment) with a panel discussion featuring the head of Product Management and a mix of people covering different areas at Amazon! Conversation with each of the panelists gave us more clarity on what Amazon is seeking from its future employees and how its current employees live those 14 leadership principles in their day-to-day work. After touring the building, we went to the newly opened Amazon Spheres. These spheres serve as a “haven of carefully tended nature geared to letting Amazonians break free from their cubicles and think disruptive thoughts.” Going through each of its floors while experiencing more than 400 different species of cloud forest plants from all over the world was an exhilarating experience. It is definitely a “must-visit” for everyone visiting Seattle. Amazon will soon open the spheres to public.

Amazon Spheres (photo from https://www.instagram.com/seattlespheres/)
Inside Seattle Spheres (I am at the extreme left in a white shirt ;))

It was absolutely a delight to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event and to learn new things about all these organizations. I hope this new trek becomes a legacy for Fisher College of Business.

Organizers (From left to right: me, Rajat Gugnani, current first-year MBA; Thais Batista Ronconi, current second-year MBA, and Alexander Toomey, advisor at the Office of Career Management)

Fisher MBA Opportunities for Law School Students

My Fisher experience is a little different than most other MBAs. Directly after graduating college, I enrolled at the Moritz College of Law to pursue a J.D., with the hopes of being a lawyer. After my first year of law classes and my internship experience working in a law firm, I discovered that practicing law was not something I wanted to do. I felt a little “stuck” in a program that would not present the type of opportunities I was looking for upon graduation. When I discovered Ohio State offers a dual-degree JD/MBA program, I was immediately intrigued. Coming from a business-based undergraduate program, this seemed like a logical next step. Still, I was little hesitant about adding on another year of school. Now, almost one year into the MBA, I could not be happier with my decision.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Fisher. The classes are interesting, the professors are engaging, and I have met some really cool people. Classroom discussions are engaging, with a good mix of different viewpoints being adequately represented on every topic imaginable. The environment is extremely collaborative: students are more than willing to work with each other and help everyone out. Even though my peers are competitive in classes and internship searches, everyone is genuinely interested in their each other’s success.

One of the most memorable experiences I have had at Fisher so far was the ability to participate in the ULI Hines Case Competition. The competition allowed me to write pro-formas for a multi-billion dollar mixed-use real estate development project. I was on a team of architect students, landscape architect students, and city planning students to help bring an idea of a development to fruition. The project was two weeks long and extremely time-consuming, but gave me insight as to what it’s like working with others in a simulated development project. Additionally, I was able to network with many in the real estate development industry in Columbus, as professionals served as mentors throughout the process. Being on the winning team of the Columbus competition was a plus as well.

I was able to work with the Office of Career Management to secure an internship at L Brands in its Real Estate division—something I want to do in my future career. Plus, I have a great opportunity in the GAP program to travel and work in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Bangkok, and Shanghai in May– and I could not be more excited for the opportunity.

As a member of Ohio State’s JD/MBA Class of 2019, I know I will be more than prepared to face the world. I cannot thank Fisher enough for my experiences here, and really have thoroughly enjoyed getting my MBA.

MAcc Gives Back

One of the difficult parts of being in such a short program is that by the time you start to get to know the city, you’re almost done. This can sometimes make it hard for students to participate in community service. On the one hand, you have a whole year to volunteer. But on the other hand, it can be intimidating to finding a good cause immediately after moving to a new place.

 

Future horticulturalists at Franklin Park Conservatory
Cleaning up a new Boys and Girls Club site

One of the MAcc Council’s solutions is “MAcc Gives Back.” Similar to Fisher Impact Day in the fall, MAcc Gives Back is an annual day of service to spend a morning giving back to the Columbus community in the spring. This year, we had the opportunity to volunteer at five different sites across the city. Focusing on issues that ranged from food insecurity to youth programs, MAcc students, faculty, and representatives from Crowe Horwath and Deloitte all had a great time serving.

Hanging out at the food bank with a recent alum
Farming in the city

As Vice President of Community Service for the MAcc Council, I also got to plan and coordinate this event. For any prospective students interested in nonprofit work or even just continuing their service projects from undergrad, this is a great opportunity. This position allows you to plan MAcc Gives Back, VITA, and any other service projects you can fit into the year. I would definitely recommend this position to anyone wanting to engage with the broader community around Fisher.

Our photo shoot at Dress for Success

My Top 3 Memories at Fisher

As my two years at Fisher comes to an end, I can’t help but reminisce on the many experiences I’ve had while completing the Full-Time MBA program. When I first began the program, all the second-year students would say, “Enjoy your time. It goes by fast!” and I would just smile and think, “yeah, sure,”as I could only focus on my seemingly never ending to-do list of homework assignments.  Now that I am one month away from graduation, I finally understand.  It really does go fast!

So naturally, as I become sentimental and reflect on the last two years, I have to share some of my favorite moments– with photos!

#1 – Meeting my Core Team

So, this was slightly awkward at first. We all sat in silence for the first 10-15 minutes of meeting.  But now, we are actually the best of friends!  We look back on that day and laugh.  You become very close with your core team throughout the program and I am thankful to be graduating from the program with friends who feel more like family.

 

 

 

#2 – KeyBank Case Competition

There are numerous opportunities for development while at Fisher, and one that I feel helped me the most was competing in case competitions.  There are both internal and external case competitions and my favorite was the Key Bank Case Competition.  Working closely with this team was a great experience that challenged me to explore outside of my comfort zone and provided me the opportunity to work with two students who have now become close friends of mine.  Plus, we placed in the top 5!

 

 

#3 – UTSAV

Fisher has a diverse class of students and throughout the program, there are numerous opportunities to engage with individuals from different backgrounds and to celebrate their cultures.  UTSAV does just that! UTSAV is an event held by the Fisher Indian Student Association (FISA) in April each year and involves both faculty and students.  UTSAV shares Indian culture with the Fisher community through Bollywood music, Indian dance performances, delicious Indian food, and some fabulous entertainment.  “UTSAV,” which means celebrating life, is a manifestation and celebration of the diversity within the Fisher community.  I performed last year with my core team and had so much fun! I’m looking forward to attending this event again next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Typical Day for a Graduate Administrative Assistant

As a graduate administrative assistant (GAA) for the SMF program here at Fisher College of Business, I’m often asked by students to explain my experience working for the admissions and recruiting team– specifically how I earned the role and what I do. Here’s the information:

Part of the GA crew!
Part of the GA crew. That’s me– third from the left. Also pictured from left: Thais Ronconi, Michael Mahoney, and Danny Chehade.

All admitted applicants to the SMF program are considered for a GAA position. Applicants do not have to complete any additional essays or interviews to be considered for a GA position. The positions are typically merit-based and provide a 50% fee and tuition waiver in addition to a monthly stipend. Students with a GAA position typically work 10 hours per week. There are also very rare 20-hour per week, fully-funded GAA positions. As you can imagine, there is a very limited amount of funding available for these positions and the selection process is quite competitive. Again, you’re considered automatically once you’re admitted and you’ll be advised if the admissions and recruiting team wants to award you with a GAA role.

All GAAs work in the Graduate Programs Office located in Gerlach Hall 100. I’ve always found it convenient because all my classes are located in the same building. The 10 hours per week are typically split into two- to three-hour shifts throughout the week.

On a typical day, I come to the office and spend about 45 minutes to an hour answering emails and phone calls from prospective students interested in applying to the SMF program. I also often meet with students currently studying at Ohio State who wants to know more about what the SMF program offers.

Another aspect of my position consists of welcoming students wishing to visit Fisher for a formal visit. After having a first contact with the student, I set up and plan the visit. The day of the actual visit usually consists of me taking the prospective student to lunch with another current SMF student, going to one of my classes, meeting with faculty and staff, and going on a tour of the Ohio State campus.

This is just a short list of what I may do on a typical day. The goal is for me to support the admissions and recruiting staff in any way needed so that they can find and accept the best students for one of the best SMF programs in the country!

Columbus Staycation

Over Spring Break, my parents made the drive from Oklahoma to Ohio to see me for a few days!  I showed them many of the sights of Columbus, and with some time off from school I got a chance to really enjoy everything myself.

One of my favorite things that we did together, was attend a Blue Jackets game.  For anyone who doesn’t know, the Columbus Blue Jackets is an NHL team that plays in Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.  This was my very first hockey game to attend, and it was a ton of fun (it doesn’t hurt that the blue jackets beat Montreal 5-2)!

 

We also made a trip to the Columbus Convention Center, where we saw the statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and also stopped at a very cool piece of public art that is housed in the convention center.  It’s really fun to go to with friends and see how goofy your picture turns out.  What’s really cool, is once your picture is taken it’s sorted into a database with everyone who has ever taken a picture there and randomly displayed from then on!

Finally, we made a trip over to Easton Town Center to do a little bit of shopping.  Easton is a really cool outdoor shopping complex with tons of great brands to choose from and also a really fun atmosphere to hang out in during nice weather.

 

All in all it was really fun to get to play host to my parents, and to get to be a tourist in my own city for a little bit.  It was a great reminder of how many different fun things there are to do in Columbus!

To Work or Not to Work

The million-dollar question:

Should I go directly from undergrad to grad school, or should I work first?

If you’re asking yourself this question, rest assured you are not alone. It feels like I’ve been having this conversation a lot lately with juniors and seniors who are grappling with the question of “what’s next?” Of course, the decision for everyone will be personal and will “depend” on many factors. But we hear “it depends” too much already in my opinion, so I thought I’d outline my thoughts around what, exactly, it depends on.

It depends on… the job you want.

When I was considering grad school and what program/course of study would best fit my goals, I found it really helpful to work backwards. I sifted through LinkedIn and Indeed and other job boards to put labels on the types of work in which I was especially interested. Then I looked at the “required and desired qualifications” to see what combination of education and experience I might need to get a foot in the door.

And it depends on… if you are competitive for the job you want.

HR is an attractive field for many reasons: the opportunity for frequent personal interactions, the excitement of varied work and the notion that “no two days will be the same,” the ability to design and improve processes that directly impact employees, for better or for worse. One of my favorite quotes from MHRM senior lecturer John Schaffner: “HR is the ethical heartbeat of the organization.” HR professionals hold power and are expected to wield it humbly and responsibly. All that said, you can imagine why HR is a difficult field to break into with little experience.

Several years ago, there was a trend toward the grad-school-right-away path.  A master’s degree allows you to differentiate yourself against candidates with more work experience. These days, it is much more common to see language like “master’s degree or bachelor’s degree + 3 years work experience” in a job posting. In fact, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that future demand for master’s level degrees is rising. By 2022, the number of jobs requiring a master’s degree is estimated to grow by 18.4%. So, in some companies, a master’s degree is sort of a barrier to entry. You need the degree plus work experience.

It also depends on… the industry and size of the organization you want to work for.

That being said, some organizations–middle market, start-ups, and not-for-profits, for example–may struggle to pay a competitive wage for a master’s-level HR professional, and they specifically target folks with less education and experience whom they may be able to attract with a lower base salary but robust benefits package – like more vacation, flexible/remote working, autonomy. In other words, the size of the organization, type of HR position, and specific industry in which the company competes will greatly influence what level of education and experience is required. Important to note is that these positions may be slightly more difficult to come by, given smaller organizations have much smaller HR departments with fewer openings.

Of course, these are just some strategies I used in my own process. I hope these are helpful thoughts to chew on as you consider what decision is right for you and your career goals–and remember, it’s okay if your path is different. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Columbus Stay-cation

Over spring break, my parents made the drive from Oklahoma to Ohio to come see me for a few days!  We spent a few days seeing the different sights in Columbus, and it was really great to have some time off from school to enjoy everything Columbus has to offer!

A view from out seats in the arena

One of my favorite things that we did while my parents were in town was attend a Columbus Blue Jackets game. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Blue Jackets are a NHL team that plays in Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.  It was my first ever hockey game. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the game (it doesn’t hurt that the Blue Jackets beat Montreal 5-2)!

On our next day, we had lunch at the North Market, and then walked over to the convention center.  We stopped and saw the statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and then made our way to a really unique piece of public art.

My dad posing with Arnold, he says the only difference is Arnold is a “little taller”

This is a really fun place to get your picture taken with your friends and then laugh about the goofy results that come out.  What’s really cool is that once you get your picture taken, it goes into a database and is randomly displayed on the statue from then on so you can always have a little piece of you still in Columbus.

Exhibit A of the goofy pictures that the statue will put on display of you

On our last day, we made the drive across town to Easton Town Center.  Easton is a really cool outdoor shopping complex and provides a nice outdoor atmosphere.

All in all, it was a great couple of days. It was nice to be a tourist in my own city and to remember all the fun stuff there is to do in Columbus!

A Classmate’s Top Three Recommendations for You

Recently, fellow MAcc student, Rachel Cox, interviewed me for my thoughts on the MAcc experience. Now, it’s her turn to be “in the hot seat”! Hopefully, she can help you better understand the MAcc Program as well and why you should apply.

Rachel Cox, MAcc program
  1. Where are you from? 
    1. Hayesville, North Carolina. It’s a small town in western North Carolina.
  2. Where did you earn your undergrad degree?
    1. I earned my undergrad at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Charlotte. I originally picked UNC for its engineering program, and then found myself in an “intro to accounting” class. After this class, I decided to double-major in accounting and finance.
  3. What brought you to Ohio State?
    1. After visiting the university and meeting with the faculty and staff, I knew I wanted to attend the MAcc program at the Fisher College of Business. The program structure is incomparable to other MAcc programs. All MAcc students are only required to take four core classes and the remaining classes are electives. This structure allowed me to take courses outside of accounting with non-MAcc students, which I believe is very beneficial to my learning experience and career. A second main feature that attracted me to Fisher is the University and atmosphere of Columbus, Ohio. Having always lived in North Carolina, I was ready for a change of pace and location. Moving to a new location (and not knowing anyone) has been an enriching process. I have been able to challenge myself academically, while continuing to grow as a person. I have also met amazing friends and peers.
  4. What’s your favorite class in the MAcc program?
    1. My favorite class in the MAcc program was Professional Research in Accounting, taught by Professor Turner. In this class, we conducted research in Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and auditing standards within the PCAOB. This class taught me how to properly research accounting topics and interpret the topics, which is a necessary competency when working in accounting.
  5. What’s your favorite place to be on campus?
    1. My favorite place lately has been the circuit classes in the RPAC or North Rec gym. These classes have an instructor who also plays music in coordination to the workout. This is a nice break from the academic life while staying healthy.
  6. Any recommendations for future students?
    1. Come to the program with an open mind and don’t be afraid to engage in student activities.
    2. Don’t stress over the little mistakes in your classes. Everything will work out in the end.
    3. Take advantage of all the resources on and off campus in Columbus.

I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to be interviewed and sharing all her insightful experience with us. Making the decision to come to Fisher and join the MAcc program is one of the most important decisions that I have ever made and I am grateful for it. If you have any questions, please feel free to email fcob-fisher_macc@osu.edu to get connected with one of the graduate administrative ambassadors. 

 

A Fellow MAcc Student Shares Her Experiences– and Advice

The application process is over, and now, you’re wondering if Fisher College of Business is the right choice for you for a MAcc program. I interviewed a fellow co-worker and MAcc classmate Jiajun (Jasmine) Wei to gain valuable insights into her background and why she decided to come to Fisher.

  1. Where are you from?
    1. I originally came from Harbin, China.
  2. Where did you earn your undergraduate degree?
    1. Augustana College, Illinois. It’s a small liberal arts college located in Rock Island, Illinois.
  3. What attracted you to Ohio State and the Fisher College of Business?
    1. Well, the MAcc program at Fisher College of Business has a great reputation and an outstanding academic ranking. The curriculum is designed with 75+% electives which allow the students to customize the class schedule and explore the areas that interest them the most. Unlike some other programs, the MAcc program does not ask students to declare the specific focus at the beginning of the year. Therefore, the students have a lot of time to try different classes and find out what they are actually interested in.  In addition, since OSU is such a big university, there are a lot of resources on campus to help students succeed. For example, the Office of Career Management has a dedicated career counselor for MAcc students.
  4. What’s your favorite class in the MAcc program?
    1. I actually have two favorite classes. One of them is a core class that’s about managerial accounting and taught by Professor Arya. He is very knowledgeable and I feel like he is not only teaching the material, but also teaching us a way of thinking. His class is very interactive.
    2. Another class that I like a lot is the Fraud and Asset Misappropriation class taught by Douglas Huffner. He is also working in the Risk Management Department. His class well prepares students to face  potentially controversial situations in the workforce. The discussions are very meaningful and insightful.
  5. What’s your favorite place to be on campus?
    1. RPAC and 18th Avenue library (I like the sauna room in RPAC the best!)
  6. Any recommendation for future students?
    1. Everyone, including your classmates, is a resource for you.
    2. Make sure to utilize all the resources.
    3. Make connections with recruiters and professors.

I would like to thank Jasmine (pictured below) for volunteering her time to be interviewed. It’s been a great year to meet new people and gain friendships through class.  I can ensure all future students that the decision to join the MAcc program at Fisher is a great one!

Jiajun (Jasmine) Wei