A Day in Hocking Hills

The world of finance is concentrated in cities; but, it is good for everyone to spend some time outside of the city and enjoy nature. Even though the SMF program has a busy schedule, we do find the time to stay active and be outside. This month, students from the SMF program took a study break and adventured into the great outdoors. Where did we go, you might ask? We took a day trip and went to one of Ohio’s best state parks, Hocking Hills State Park.

Ash Cave
Ash Cave

Hocking Hills State Park is divided into five separate sections of Hocking State Forest. Each site is centered on a different rock formation. There are deep gorges, high cliffs, rock shelters, and small winding waterfalls. Our SMF group spent the morning exploring the rocks and crevices of “Old Man’s Cave.” This was my favorite part of the trip because there many places to wander off the trail and climb rocks. At the end of the trail is a small pool with water falling down from the high cliffs above. Here, we took endless “selfies” and sat back and relaxed. After finishing that trail, we went to “Ash Cave” and enjoyed our lunches. Then, we when on a rim trail at “Conkel’s Hollow.” This is a 2.5-mile loop trail that is on the edge of a 200-foot gorge. This offers a unique view of the surrounding hills and is a good way to see the changing autumn leaf colors.

Conkles Hollow
The rim trail in the fall

SMF students are lifelong learners. Our curiosity had us asking questions about the rock formations, and after a bit of research, I have some answers for my classmates. Most of the cliffs and gorges occur from erosion-resistant blackhand sandstone. There are few places in Ohio that have this type of sandstone, and that is one of the things that makes the park a special place. Also, there are some places in the park where the sun never shines. This creates a bed for biodiversity and the variations of sunlight and moisture make the park home to many rare plants.

Not only did we get some quiet time in the park, we got to spend the day building friendships among our classmates. Conversation always flows better outside. The weather is starting to cool down, but in the spring, we will have to spend a day on the Lake Erie shore to keep enjoying the outdoors.

Rohr Cafe: “Coffee is King”

I believe The Beatles (a British rock band), in their hit song Come Together, may have once sang “Come together, right now, over coffee.”

Whether they sang this or not, that is not the point. Rather, I really think The Beatles were on to something about the togetherness of coffee. Think about your local coffeehouse: people are getting their morning coffee together, catching up with old friends, and networking with future employers. It truly is amazing– the power of coffee in Western society, and I am not just speaking about the caffeine.

Now you may be wondering, Brett, “what does this have to do with the Specialized Master in Finance program here at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business”? Well, if you are to attend this fine institution, you too will soon come to learn about our own Rohr Cafe. Rohr is a coffee shop located on Fisher’s campus, inside Mason Hall, and serves none other than Starbucks coffee.

Rohr Cafe
Rohr Cafe

From early morning cups of coffee to casual cups between class to coffee chats with other graduate students or potential employers, Rohr Cafe is there for Fisher students and faculty who need their daily dose of caffeine. Just yesterday, I went twice: once for a coffee and once for a shot of espresso. One could argue that Rohr Cafe is the gas that fuels the Fisher engine!

Now I have to throw this in here, as my level of “coffee connoisseur” has certainly increased this year: what you order is important. Some people are traditional and will stick to coffee. Others like it quick and easy and stick to espresso. Finally, some like to test the waters and have been known to order iced coffees, vanilla lattes, and even pumpkin-spiced lattes. However, I have recently come across the greatest creation since sliced bread: The Salted Caramel Mocha (with White Mocha).

Salted Caramel Mocha with White Mocha
Salted Caramel Mocha with White Mocha

As a coffee drinker at Fisher, you will come to see the importance of Rohr Cafe on our campus. Whether you use it for meetings with other students, faculty, graduate associations, or just to get that much needed caffeine, it is awesome to have a place so close to Gerlach Hall.

 

Take a Hike

This past summer, my mom and I made the crazy (and somewhat impulsive) decision to sign up for a Grand Canyon hike next year. The trip includes hiking to the bottom of the canyon via the South Kaibab trail, spending two nights at Phantom Ranch at the base, and returning to the rim using the Bright Angel Trail. While it is sure to be the trip of a lifetime, preparation will be key to making it as enjoyable an experience as possible-including lots of training. We are still well over 200 days away from this adventure, but it is never too early to start getting in shape!

In the winter months, I will be relegated to the gym and will have to rely heavily on the StairMaster and treadmill. That said, nothing provides conditioning quite like actually hiking. Fortunately, the greater Columbus area has lots of opportunities! This past weekend, I ventured to Highbanks Metro Park. I took the Dripping Rock Trail to the Overlook Trail, and then took a slight detour on the Wetland Spur Trail as I made my way back to the parking lot. Although both Dripping Rock and Overlook were classified as “moderate to difficult,” I was able to cover a little over 3 miles with relative ease.

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I will definitely be returning to Highbanks in the future and hope to explore some of the other metro parks as well. Talk about the perfect study break!

SMF Class Dinner after Intensive Finals week

Hey there! Long time no see, my dear readers!!!

Where have I been???

Well, we SMF candidates have had a lot on our plate in the past few weeks: mid-term exams, group projects, and FINALS, of course.  I was often at Gerlach Student Lounge late at night with my friends to study. Sometimes I also caught up at the 18th Avenue Library. And my group spent dozens of hours together for group assignments in the study rooms at Gerlach Hall, including two days during “autumn break” to work on our final group case for Corporate Finance. Weekends in the past few weeks were just days without classes for me.

View @ 18th Avenue Library
@ 18th Avenue Library

Also, in the 7th week of the first session, our SMF class presented company research reports for the Turbo Finance course, which we had been working on from the very beginning of everything. (For more information about our pre-term, please refer to my previous blog.) Each group delivered awesome presentations on their company. And we got snacks from two groups whose companies are a food company and food packaging company, respectively. My group didn’t bring any treats for our class since we cannot distribute semi-conductors!

TADA!!! Here is our awesome class! Everyone looks sharp. And I was struggling to show my face among 6-foot tall Americans when we were taking the photo…

SMF Class of 2017 Presentation
SMF Class of 2017

After wrapping up the first session, two of our classmates, Agrja and Mia planned and organized our SMF class dinner before we got too busy for the new session. It was a lot of work– including writing invitation to the whole class and professors, confirming attendees and booking the restaurant for the large group.

But it was also a lot of fun that night. Professor Fuller shared his business-trip memories. He told our table about the special shrimp with unique cooking techniques that he tried in an Asian restaurant. Professor Pinteris and his family shared their stories and discussed Chinese dishes with their table. (Professor Pinteris’ daughter is so cute!!! She told us stories about her friends and family. And she took a “selfie” with everyone with her sweet smile!) The last-but-not-least table was “Chinese with Hector” he can speak fake Mandarin! I laugh out loud every time when he mimics us talking.

SMF Class Dinner
SMF Class Dinner

Thank you, Mia & Agrja, for your time and efforts to make all of this happen! I look forward to our next SMF dinner!

“Fall”ing In Love

Well into the autumn semester, and it finally becomes autumn weather! The brisk, cold air is comforting– as well as the joy of seeing one’s breath in the morning. Coming from Georgia, we would get this weather later in the year, and I love breaking out sweaters and jackets. That being said, one thing that warms the heart more than hot chocolate and sweaters is my partner, Meredith. I want to take a moment to share what we did, because we saw a lot of Columbus, Ohio, together!

First, she came in late Saturday night, so naturally we went to a friend’s house to watch the first half of the Wisconsin v. OSU game (we won, but sadly lost to the Nittany Lions the next week).

The fun really began on Sunday! We went downtown, because the Columbus Museum of Art has free admission on Sunday– and who doesn’t love free things to do?  We parked down towards the Capitol building, and on a whim, decided to visit the capitol building. What a beautiful, informative tour! Seeing the history and power of the State of Ohio was truly spectacular. After that, we then walked down to the art museum, and the exhibits were very beautiful, with some exciting interactive displays (mainly for children, but we’re children at heart).

On Monday, we explored the Columbus Zoo! Holy Giraffe– this was such a fun adventure, and everyone should see the zoo while here in Columbus! We spent the whole day there and got there in time to see one of the demonstrations, “Cheetah Run,” where they let the cheetah run a track for exercise. Just the pure power and speed is awe-inspiring. We then tested our speed and minds with some trivia alongside some friends. Our team (eventually) did our best and got second place!

On Tuesday, we went to German Village, where there is a quaint bookstore with a ton of books! After perusing for a while, we walked to Scioto Park, and the changing leaves made us forget we were downtown.

On Wednesday, we took it easy. I showed Meredith “The Shoe” and around Fisher College of Business. We also walked to the Library and showed her the top floor with a beautiful view of the Oval.

On Thursday it rained a bit, so we found COSI! This was our favorite time. It’s a science museum that has three levels of interactive, enjoyable science exhibits that range from the human body to space to energy. We could’ve spent several more hours (and it’s definitely on our list again).

Friday was our last day. I had to teach two classes, so she came with and saw what I do for my assistantship position. We also went to lunch with some friends at Melt, and ended the evening with some Indian cuisine.

This was a great week– and it was very exciting to share Columbus with the one I love. I have enjoyed this week, and all the other weeks where there’s been a new adventure– exploring a haunted corn maze, all the food, and other spectacular things to do in Columbus. There is plenty to do for 200 years (much less trying to see it all in two)– and experiencing everything makes me wish time wasn’t passing away as quickly as the leaves fall this month.

The World is Our Pokestop

Last Friday night was one for the books. It all started in the Ohio Union. There I was, perched unassumingly on a bar stool witnessing a gaggle of college-aged hipsters load out band gear from the stage inside Woody’s Tavern. And then, from a distance across the white terrazzo tile, I saw them barreling toward me—Ash, Charizard, Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Eevee, and everyone’s favorite, Squirtle. I thought that maybe I’d entered an alternate reality in which Pokemon Go was real life and my real life had become simply an app on an iPhone.

It turns out that this motley crew was simply six of my friends from the MHRM program, competing in the annual Fisher Scavenger Hunt & Bar Crawl. Phew! I decided to join them on their mission toward victory, mostly because they looked really silly and I knew it would be entertaining to watch them skulk down High Street in costume.

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On the rooftop at Big Bar, across the street from the Ohio Union. Aren’t they cute?

We embarked on an evening of endless successes. From Eevee petting the belly of a rabid dog (okay, it was a harmless Bernese Mountain Dog)… to Squirtle’s awkward break-dance breakdown at a remarkably empty Bullwinkle’s… to Pikachu high-fiving a policeman when he least expected it, the evening turned out to be the high point of the semester so far. We can’t forget the highlight of the night when a Cane’s employee unashamedly threw a pokeball full of free box combo certificates at the group– which happened to look a lot like a Styrofoam to-go box secured with red electrical tape. #gottacatchemall

Pikachu having a peaceful interaction with law enforcement.
Pikachu having a peaceful interaction with law enforcement.

As the evening drew to a close, the team was determined to close in on the lead. With just minutes remaining on the clock, the group wandered into World of Beer to complete a few final high-stakes objectives. The team stumbled upon the man behind the curtain—2nd year MBA Tada, sifting through mounds of incoming data from hundreds of accomplished objectives. He was obviously glad to have taken data analytics the year prior.

After several grueling minutes of Tada and his team of analysts poring over their Excel spreadsheets with beads of sweat accumulating on their foreheads, the results were in. It was alleged to be a close race, but as we all could have anticipated from the beginning of this post, the Pokemon were the obvious frontrunners from the very beginning. Congratulations to the MHRMs on their well-deserved win and the trophy to prove it!

That time when you stick out like a sore thumb because you aren't dressed as a Pokemon.
That time when you stick out like a sore thumb because you aren’t dressed as a Pokemon.

Elective Courses in the MAcc

One of the great characteristics of the MAcc program at the Fisher College of Business is that a majority of your classes will be electives. The MAcc curriculum encourages students to explore interests and passions through courses outside of the accounting discipline. One factor that led to me deciding to pursue a MAcc at Ohio State was the opportunity to challenge myself with graduate-level courses in specific subjects interest me.

This semester, I am taking a course titled Business of College Sports. This course is taught by Ohio State’s Athletic Director, Gene Smith, and his awesome wife, Sheila. Playing and watching sports have been passions of mine ever since I started playing soccer at the age of four. I love college football and college basketball; I have followed the Buckeyes in these sports ever since I can remember. This is a very unique class because it provides insight into the business decisions that casual sports fans might not consider.

The format of the class involves guest speakers, facility tours and group presentations. One thing I love about the class is how diverse it is. Since it is classified as an HR class, there are not only MAcc students, but there are MBA’s, JD/MBA’s and Masters of Sports Management students as well (any graduate student at Fisher can take the course). The group project allows us to pick any topic relating to the college sports landscape. My group is going to be researching the economic impact of paying student athletes a wage. Paying student athletes has been in the news a lot recently, so my group thought doing research on this and presenting it to the class would help Gene Smith understand the implications a policy such as this would have on Ohio State Athletics specifically.

This is our entire class during our tour of Ohio Stadium (the Horseshoe)
This is our entire class during our tour of Ohio Stadium (the Horseshoe)

Other electives offered during the fall semester include Data Mining for Business Intelligence, Corporate Finance I & II (required in order to take finance electives in the spring), Tax planning for Managerial Decision Making, and Talent Management.  While these are just some of the electives offered in the fall through the Fisher College of Business, there are many more offered through other graduate programs that you are able to take as long as you meet the pre-requisites for the class.

In my next blog post, I will be interviewing several of my classmates to give their experiences with different elective courses.

‘How Did I Get Here?’

Those who know me well learn (sometimes to their dismay) that I have a soft spot for 80’s movies. From the classic to the cringe-worthy, I am unable to resist the nostalgic and synthesizer-tinged siren song of the MTV era. The genre has taken on new meaning to me recently, as I feel ever increasingly that I have been plucked from real life and dropped into the middle of a John Hughes montage:

Look at protagonist Michael go—he’s taking classes, doing homework, interviewing for jobs—working hard with his gang of friends towards their common goal! The days are flying off his Page-a-Day calendar as his Trapper Keeper fills with HBR articles! (Music fades as Michael’s car pulls into student parking lot).

mirror-lake
Time and Change: Not even Mirror Lake is immune to the fast pace of life on campus.

This morning I had such a montage moment when through my car radio, I heard David Byrne of the Talking Heads squelch “…and you may ask yourself—‘how did I get here?’” ‘Here’ in this case, meaning week eight of the semester. It was a sobering realization that my academic MBA experience at Fisher is already 1/8 of the way done. I took a moment to reflect as the chorus chanted in the background, “Letting the days go by…”

It truly feels like yesterday that I walked into orientation. Yet somehow here I am, eight weeks in and already finished with the seven-week long Economics and Marketing courses. My only explanation (aside from the possibility that we are in fact sentient beings trapped inside the b-roll of a teen movie), is that time flies when you’re having fun. And boy, have I been having fun.

The 12-, 15-, sometimes 18-hour days that I have become accustomed to as a business student fly by more quickly than eight-hour days during some of my past endeavors. There’s no time in this fast-paced program for busy work. As such, every lecture, every assignment, every group project is intensely enriching and clearly builds towards the goal of becoming an effective business leader. This makes it so easy to stay engaged and motivated. Add to this the limitless opportunities for professional development, networking, and exposure to companies and there truly is never a dull moment. The greatest challenge is forcing yourself to go home and go to bed at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be difficult to fill 24 hours a day with MBA-related activities.

calendar
A sample time warp agenda

Sure, there is plenty to be stressed about in business school, but there’s always equally as much to be excited about. Ultimately, I think that is what separates my MBA experience thus far from my previous academic endeavors. I walk into Gerlach Hall each day excited, knowing that new lessons, new skills, and new challenges await me. I am never bored, I am never sitting still, and I am constantly challenged– and as such, the weeks quickly wash over me in a wave of intense activity. I have lots to learn and I’m far from mastering the many facets of graduate school, but I look forward to the new challenges ahead.

And so a new montage begins. Will protagonist Michael get a summer internship? Will the football team win the big game against their rivals? What misadventures and mischief await our lovable band of buddies? Cue the music—let’s find out.

 

A busy Session for MAcc Students

Time is flying! I can’t believe that half of a semester is already over. There were so many things that happened during September and the first half of October.

We finally had our Summit Vision during September. It was a half-day activity and was lots of fun. We were split into several groups and each group had one mentor. For our group, because of the time limitation, we only tried four games. However, each game was interesting and needed a lot of collaboration. More importantly, I got to know more about my fellows in MAcc program.Summit Vision

When it comes to the curriculum, it’s different from most of the classes from undergraduate; MAcc classes are all session-based. That means we have to do all the group projects, presentations and finals in seven weeks! How stressful that is! At first, I did feel huge pressure because of all the schoolwork. However, as time went by, I could work with the schedule and eventually, I found out that my efficiency was improved. Another big difference between the undergraduate classes and graduate classes is that we have more group work to do. Almost every class has to form a group and do assignments together. It’s not a bad idea because in the real world, we do have a lot of teamwork to do.

The biggest thing during September was the kick-off of recruiting season. We had several career fairs during the month. After the career fairs, interviews were scheduled (and everyone was so busy during that time).Career Fair

So, at first it was really hard to balance work and play, but I finally conquered all the difficulties. For people who want to attend the program, I just want to say it is really a perfect place for you to study, improve yourself and have fun! Now, back to my study time…

 

Cleveland Baseball Playoffs & “Work-Life Balance”

In the United States, the month of October brings baseball playoffs. This year, the baseball team in Cleveland, Ohio, has an exciting playoff run. Catch a glimpse of how we have been beating up Toronto. What does this have to do with graduate school at Fisher, you might ask? Well, this is my first challenge with the all-important work-life balance. As a lifelong supporter of Cleveland baseball, this is a big moment.

The Jake: If you need to find me, this is the best place to look
The Jake: If you need to find me, this is the best place to look

First we need to set the stage. Even though Cleveland is not considered one of the best teams consistently, the team has made the playoffs over 50% of my life and historically are in the top third of all teams based on playoff appearances. From this spot, the pressure builds, because they have not been to the league championship in 9 years– and have not been to the World Series championship since losing in both 1995 and 1997. The last time they won the World Series was 1948; the second longest drought in baseball. This is a franchise with a history of great teams that didn’t win the title.

This year is the year they will win! In the league championship series, they have the better record, offensive production, and pitching. This week, they continue play and games in the best of seven series will be almost every night. These games occur at the same time that I usually prepare for class, work on projects, or pursue my job search. What do I do? I have supported the baseball team my entire life. As a kid, I played baseball dreaming of the MLB and plastered my bedroom walls with posters, banners, and cards of the players. Also, I have waited nine years to watch the team play at this level. I can neither abandon my program nor my team.

Cleveland Rocks!
Eight more wins, boys– eight more wins!

Here is advice for the work-life-balance sweet spot.

  1. Balance: No one can do everything, and there is nothing wrong with that. My Dad and I went to the playoff game last weekend and saw Corey Kluber pitch a stunning 7-inning shutout of Boston. My first instinct was to get back at the ballpark this week, but during a busy exam time I need to balance priorities. Everything is best in moderation.
  2. Rest: The playoffs are exciting, but make sure to get enough sleep on those late west coast games. Don’t wear yourself out going to too many games. If you are too tired, your professional performance will drop and you will even stop enjoying the games. Rest up!
  3. Prioritize: Realize that at some point during the day, you will have to do school and watch baseball. What time of the day do you work best? What is your tolerance for watching the recording over the weekend? Know thyself and do value added work at the right time.
    Corey Kluber
    Going for another Cy Young award per usual

    Tribetober is exciting, school is important – enjoy the best of both!