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Duff & Phelps Interview

I recently was selected for a second round interview with Duff & Phelps in their valuation services department. The entire process has been a whirlwind but incredible nonetheless. It started earlier this year when I walked into our first career fair and saw a big red table with some people in “Duff & Phelps” polos. I was nervous but walked right up and they started talking about the company, what kind of work I would do and what the different offices are like. After dropping my resume, I moved on the next table not thinking that I might have just met a future co-worker.


A few days after the career fair I received an email asking me to formally apply for a position within the firm and maybe I would be selected for a first round interview on campus. As it turned out, I was selected and the interview was going to be a few days later. I was very excited but nervous at the same time. I knew I had some preparation to do!

The first round interview went well but it wasn’t what I expected. I spent a few hours preparing for behavioral and technical questions about valuation and then during the interview, all we talked about was my past, my interests, OSU football and the Atlanta office (ok, there was one technical question about valuing the Coke brand).


About two weeks after the first round interview, I received word that I was invited to a second round in Atlanta! I nearly fell out of my chair with excitement. Over the next two weeks or so, I spent a few hours here and there doing prep questions, learning about different methods of valuation and researching different people within the Atlanta office. I have heard from people at Duff & Phelps and from different web sites like that second rounds are very technical and may have a case analysis as well. Let’s hope that all this preparation pays off! Atlanta, here I come!

MAcc Trip to Circle S Farms

Fall in Ohio is a beautiful time of the year. Recently, a large group of students in the MAcc program took a trip to Circle S Farms, a pumpkin farm in Grove City, Ohio about 30 minutes south of Ohio State’s campus, to enjoy the fall weather and the the activities offered this time of year. This event was organized by the Fisher College of Business MAcc Council.

Group selfie in the corn maze

Group selfie in the corn maze

This trip was a great opportunity to bond with many of my fellow students in a non-academic setting. When we first got to the farm, we started by walking around the petting zoo. We then broke up into small groups to explore the sunflower maze and corn maze. Luckily nobody got lost in the mazes! Next, we went into a barn called “the fun barn.” This was a big barn completely filled with hay and several slides. It was pretty hilarious to watch my 22 year old+ classmates tumble down the slides into piles of hay. After playing around in the hay for awhile we decided we worked up an appetite and went to claim our homemade donut and juice. Finally, we took a hayride out to the pumpkin patch. We sat in big wooden wagons on seats made out of hay that were being pulled by a tractor. Since we didn’t go on this trip until the very end of October, the actual pumpkin selection was a little scarce, but all of us managed to find a pumpkin we liked and got to take it back home with us.

Picture with our pumpkins!

Picture with our pumpkins!

I really enjoyed getting to spend time with many of my classmates while going somewhere new. The close-knit relationship that the MAcc students have with each other is definitely one of my favorite aspects about the program!

A different mood

Please forgive the unique composition of this blog!  I have been concerned that I was posting too much and wanted to approach it using a different method to see how it goes!  I am going to post a summary of my week, so it will be a bit disjointed until I get a better feel of how to summarize the experiences of the week.

My wife and I thought it would be nice to Skype on the days that I went straight from work to school, since I most likely would be unable to see my kids that day. My kids were thrilled.   My daughter showed off a pretty ‘Minnie’ dress that she was wearing while my little boy kept kissing towards the screen.   My daughter kept saying that she wanted to “see the people” and so I turned the screen towards two of my classmates that I was with.  They said, “hello” and my daughter turned away silently.  My boy just sort of stared at them, not saying anything.  Turning back to the screen, I talked to them for a bit and then had to say “goodbye” as I went to prepare for a new class.

Sitting in the classroom and getting ready for the Talent Management course.  The most noticeable thing is that we are in a different and smaller room than we were accustomed to.  Despite the decrease in the availability of seats, everyone is actively talking with each other as if they have all been friends for a long time.  This is only month three of our program and the dynamic is much different then the first class that we shared where everybody was more hesitant and cautious.  It truly seems to be shaping up to be a cohort.  Everyone is getting more comfortable with each other.

There are so many “unscheduled” opportunities to take advantage of while you are pursuing your degree.  Taking the opportunities to get to know your classmates (future working colleagues) by spending a few minutes after class discussing how classes are going or debating various topics.  One of my classmates and I sometimes will spend an hour or so after class, just talking to each other about the program and classes we are in.  It’s really nice to talk to another person who can empathize with the experiences at Fisher.  In another sense, it reminds me of the potential that all of us have and how listening inspires so many new ideas.

The more that I am in this program, it seems like ideas perpetually creep in to my head.  I am in the midst of proposing a staffing coordinators conference and keep getting more and more information to make it better.  There is a certain allure to running something on this level.  It is the kind of thing that would be a great way of encapsulating concepts that I am currently learning and at the same time, strengthening the organization that I work for!  Almost every class provides ideas to implement in the work setting:  Getting to know the clients of our company better and learning more about how to effectively develop solutions while experimenting with innovative ideas.

To end this week, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been reading my blog.  Please let me know if this has been interesting, helpful, or if there is something else that you want to know!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Pumpkin Carving

Last Friday (October 30), I went to an activity held by IFI. In this activity, I learned how to carve a pumpkin and I made my first pumpkin carving. Just like make-up party and “trick or treat,” pumpkin carving is a tradition for Americans to celebrate Halloween.

Thinking “Do in Rome as Rome does” and believing it would be fun to learn more about American culture, I joined the activity. When I came to the activity, I found most people who came here are Chinese. After the host introduced how to carve a pumpkin. I picked a pumpkin and several tools.


At first, I was not sure how to carve a pumpkin. After the introduction, I first made a draft of the pattern that I wanted to carve. As it was my first time to carve a pumpkin, I decided to choose the simplest design. Then I stopped because I hesitated on where I should make my first carve. I was afraid I would ruin the pumpkin. A man noticed my hesitation and came to help me. With his help, I succeed to cut the top of the pumpkin and scooped out the flesh.

After that, I felt more confident about my carving. So I affixed my design to the pumpkin. But when I trace the design by poking holes with a sharp awl, I found the pumpkin was a little bit hard so that I had to carve hard. I first make holes in the pumpkin for eyes, then for a nose, finally the mouth. When I finally finished it,  I took many pictures and you can see from above, I was very happy!


Soon, people around me all finished their pumpkins. When we turned out the light and light the candles inside the pumpkins, it was like going into a fairy tale world. I was surprised that there were so many wonderful pumpkin designs: Statue of Liberty, Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh… I thought these people must be pumpkin carving masters and their rich imaginations really surprised me.


In China, we also eat pumpkins. Actually, we have different ways to make pumpkins: pumpkin soups, pumpkin congee, fried pumpkin and so on. But we do not eat pumpkins for a special season: they are just like other common vegetables we eat for our daily life. We do not carve pumpkins, either. I knew when fall season comes, Americans have all kinds of food with pumpkin favor. Pumpkin kind of means fall and harvest for Americans.  It is interesting to know this culture difference and experience a different tradition.

Buckeye Traditions

The Ohio State University has a rich history, which has inspired passion, pride and traditions. Some of the traditions that exist on campus today are the following:

“Carmen Ohio” – This song was written by The Ohio State University’s four letter athlete and Glee Club singer, Fred Cornell. This song is sung multiple times throughout football game days, as well as different commencement events (i.e. Candlelight Ceremony and graduation). The title means “Ohio Song,” and continues to be one of the university’s oldest school songs and traditions.

“Buckeye Battle Cry” – This song is recognized as Ohio State’s fight song, which is performed by the acclaimed Ohio State University Marching Band (also known as TBDBITL – The Best Damn Band in the Land).

Script Ohio – This has become a trademark associated with OSU football. TBDBITL forms a looped “Ohio” script on the field. Another tradition tied to Script Ohio is Dotting the I. Each game a different fourth- year or fifth-year sousaphone player is selected to stand as the dot in the “I” of “Ohio.”


Homecoming – There are several homecoming events that celebrate OSU students past, present and future. The Homecoming Parade and Homecoming Pep Rally help kick-off the festivities, and throughout the weekend there are tailgates, football, and more!

Mirror Lake – The Ohio State University and University of Michigan athletic rivalry is one that has caught the attention of sports fans around the world. As a result, the week leading up to the OSU vs. Michigan game is referred to as “Beat Michigan Week.” One of the events that students participate in is known as the Mirror Lake jump. Mirror Lake is a man-made pond near the Oval (also known as the heart of campus), and students gather to jump into the lake the Tuesday night of Michigan Week. It may not be sanctioned by the University, but it’s a tradition that continues to build camaraderie amongst Buckeyes.

Commencement Week – This week is filled with celebratory events for graduating students, and one of the traditions within Commencement Week is the Commencement Eve Candlelight Ceremony. This is an event where undergraduate, graduate and professional students and their families and friends gather on the Oval on Commencement Eve. Guest speakers share remarks, and then attendees light a candle and sing “Carmen Ohio.”

The Long Walk – Being a romantic, one of my favorite traditions is known as The Long Walk, which takes place on the Oval. It is said that if couples are able to walk the brick path from College Road to Thompson Library holding hands without interference or another crossing their path, then they are destined to be together forever.

These are just a few of the traditions that exist here at OSU, but there are many more. The traditions exist to bring people together, build community, and make memories.

Note: Since there are several references to TBDBITL, you can check them out at:

Autumn Break is Great, but Getting Hired during Autumn Break is Even Better!

Here comes the autumn break after all the exams for the first portion of the semester are done. I am really cheerful about this break, although without a car and money, it might be a little difficult to come up with an exciting plan for the vacation. However, 4 days ago, I wrote an email to apply for a part-time job on campus and got a reply the day before my final exam. My mind was so occupied by the exam, but I still went to the interview in the next building, guessing they probably will say “thank you and goodbye” after hearing my English. I am applying for front desk work which expects me to answer the phone. Figured I would just take it as an experience of an interview. But surprisingly, the only interview question is “are you available this Wednesday and Thursday?” An interesting thing is when the lady in the office asked me if the salary is ok for me, I said “much better than nothing.” I actually mean having a job and earning some money is better than not working. I probably shouldn’t have missed that lecture for compensation negotiation on the HUB. I’m really grateful that I can get a job as an international student. I hope my English skills will prove to be worth the payment. Maybe Fisher is really my perfect predestined choice. Anyway, life is getting better and better. I’m really grateful for what Fisher has given me.

Class presentation, you are blessed not doomed

Being in a foreign country, getting used to the new style of learning, hunting for the internship, getting invited to all kinds of events, these can be fun and too much. Even though I barely stop, I still missed something and I didn’t even stop to learn from the things I have already experienced.


There’s an info session every noon with lunch, why not go there. One day, I wanted to get my bag out of the classroom where an info session just ended, but it seemed another one had begun. I still needed my bag, so I went in and didn’t want to leave when I heard a speech given by professor Ankerman. I saw that event on the hub, and it’s for MBA, so I didn’t sign up for it. But it doesn’t seem to matter if it says for MBA. After that, I engaged in all the following lectures about communication skill. They are amazing. And I used the strategy in my class presentation.

Speaking of presentation, I am really surprised that the American students are willing to let me present out the group project, given that my oral English doesn’t always works well, and the presentation matters. I’m grateful for these opportunities and with the tricks I learned from the lectures, the presentation actually went well. What surprises me even more is the kindness of the classmates. Before the class, they will encourage you. Even after the class, they will remember to tell you how nice your presentation is. My nervousness totally turns into excitement. And although the American classmates are native speakers, they can also be nervous about it, just like we do when we give speech in our language in front of a lot of people. It reminds me another important thing I learned from the orientation. We are not the only ones who will have trouble integrating into the new environment.


After the career fair and a series of classes and events, I recalled an appointment I have with my career consultant. When I made the appointment at the front desk, it can only be scheduled after 2 weeks. We don’t usually make an appointment with faculties in Chinese university, but it seems the career consultant here is really a hotspot. I assumed our talk will be finished in half an hour at most, since I don’t have much to say. But when we began the conversation, I actually can’t even stop. Jill is amazing, she can just look at you and come up with all the names or resources you can reach out to. I describe my problem and she can always figure out the core problem and help with it.

Pushing Forward


Back in August we were told that things were going to move really fast forward and I was a skeptic. I realize now how fast they have moved. We’ve finished one of our biggest projects and we have been here for 8 weeks learning and absorbing material. I remember Professor Pinteris stating that we would be professionals by the time the program would be over, that it would take time to see the change, but that the change would happen. I have started to see that change, not just in my knowledge of finance but in the way I act. I communicate a lot more than I used to, and I make sure that I try to cover all bases. If I cannot cover all the bases, I cover what I can and move on. It definitely has been an interesting change.

I have had the opportunity to talk to some professionals in the Investment Industry, and having had the training from Career Management as well as advice from professionals, I was able to have good value adding conversations with those professionals. It definitely feels good moving forward knowing that what the program is offering adds so much value not only in the classroom but also outside of the classroom. Faculty and staff does their best so that we as students are allowed to take full advantage of the value added bonus.

As I start the second half of the program, I see promise on the horizon. I know that I have yet to see everything that the program offers but am excited to see what it is going to offer. Having seen just how much the first 8 weeks transformed me, I am excited to step forward and take the challenges coming with the following time remaining. I am sure it will be hard at times but I’ve come to understand that it is a matter of putting everything into perspective, trying your best, and learning from everyone around you.

MHRM Pumpkin Patch Day

On October 24th, I went to our MHRM pumpkin patch trip held by FCOB MHRM council. It was an excellent experience.


Although it was a cold, rainy day, the bad weather did not reduce our interests in the trip. When we met at St. John’s parking lot at 1:00 pm, I found about half of my classmates came to the trip. Some of us (including me) also brought our friends: I brought my roommate, Susan brought her friend, and Steve even brought his two little daughters! As I did not have a car, my classmate, Dan, drove me to our destination: Lynd Fruit Farm (Thank you, Dan!). After half an hour drive, we arrived at the farm. I was surprised that there were so many people at the farm. There were a lot of farming products, too. Vegetables, pies, jams…they looked delicious! I bought a bag of popcorn, it tastes good but seemed too sweet for me.


But what excited me most is the corn maze. We were divided into several groups before we entered the maze. Our task was not only to find the exit but also find different signs in the maze. Unfortunately, we got lost soon after we entered the maze. As a result, we spent most of our time trying to figure out where we were. The map was also confusing: there were 8 colors on the map and each represents a different area. I am really not good at reading maps, so Susan and my roommate took the responsibility to lead the group (Look at the picture below, they are reading the map carefully, but still confused about it.). As for me, I just trust them and follow them:).


Finally, we found the exit and we also found 5 signals (I thought we relied more on luck than map in finding these signals). Although we did not find all 8 signals, this corn maze experience was excellent for me as I have not entered a maze since my childhood, let alone with my friends, talking and laughing all the way!


We finished our trip at about 4:30 pm. When I went back to my home, I was tired but excited. I thought this trip was not only fun but provided a great opportunity for our classmates to communicate with each other and meet others’ families and friends.

Interview with Professor Arya

Professor Arya

Throughout the year-long MAcc program, students are required to complete 4 core accounting courses. One of these four courses, Management and Control,  is completed in the first session of first semester and is taught by Professor Anil Arya. Professor Arya not only teaches this course in the MAcc program but is also the Academic Director of the MAcc program. It is evident how much the students appreciate and enjoy Professor Arya. Every morning I walked into class at 8:30 AM and Professor Arya would have a different rock band blasting from his Spotify account. He also always made it clear that all of the MAcc students were welcome to come to his office at any time (even before 6:00 AM since this is when he gets to campus) to ask homework questions, express any school/career concerns, or just chat about anything that comes to mind. This week, I went to Professor Arya’s office to ask him a few questions so I could learn a little more about him and share it in this post.

Years teaching at OSU: 24 years. Professor Arya made sure to tell me that he began teaching at Ohio State back when he had “a full set of nice flowing hair” in contrast to his “less flowing hair” now.

Years teaching for the MAcc program: Since the program has started. Professor Arya has been the head of the program for the last several years. Prior to this, Professor Arya taught undergraduate accounting students for both the traditional accounting program as well as the honors accounting program.

Years teaching at other schools: Professor Arya has only taught at Ohio State. He has given about 75 lectures at other schools but has only been a professor here.

Favorite things about teaching at OSU: Professor Arya was very adamant that his favorite 3 things about the MAcc program here are 1. The students 2. His colleagues 3. The support the program receives.

  1. Regarding the students, Professor Arya commented on how much he loves being able to actually teach a course in the MAcc program where he is able to interact with the students. He said that he used to be much more focused on doing research, but he has now realized that it is much more fulfilling to do research and teach. He loves how he has the freedom to do research and then share some of his findings and new ideas with the students.
  2. In terms of his colleagues, Professor Arya explained how this program has extremely genuine and hard working professors. He thinks it is fantastic that the faculty teaching in the MAcc program come from a wide variety of backgrounds, whether that is primarily an academic background or a background of professional accounting experience. He truly believes that every faculty member would be happy to help his or her students in anyway possible.
  3. Professor Arya couldn’t say enough about how appreciative he is of the support the MAcc program receives. This spans from people such as the Dean of the business school, Anil Makhija, to the extremely dedicated staff members, such as Rob Chabot, the director of recruiting and admissions. Professor Arya raved about how much all of the faculty and staff genuinely love their jobs and how this is a huge contributing factor to the success of the MAcc program. Professor Arya also mentioned the immense support from employers recruiting MAcc students, especially the Big 4 accounting firms.

Other comments: Professor Arya told me that he often tells people when they ask him what he does for a living that he has never had a job. He often forgets what he does is technically “a job” because he enjoys what he does so much. He also said that while this program is very successful, there is always still room for improvement. It is important to contiunally to make changes such as adding new elective course options and bringing in new faculty to teach courses.  Ultimately, Professor Arya’s goal is to make the MAcc program better, focus on teaching, and for his students and himself to have a good time while doing serious things. Professor Arya believes that learning is serious, and therefore a little stress is good, but students should also have fun.

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