Checking my gas light…

One day a few months ago, I was having one of those days… I was finishing up my senior seminar class, my computer died, my camera was broken, and as I was driving to Wal-Mart (the only store in the small city) my windshield wiper broke and my gas light came on.  Looking back, I realize that each of these were just one small thing that was not hard to fix, but at the time I thought my world was crashing down around me.

As I told my best friend, I told him about my day, ending about the gas light problem and he looked at me, placed his hands on my shoulders, and said “We call it a gas station, Robyn” At that point, I started to laugh and gained some perspective on the situation.

I would describe my first few weeks of class with this same feeling.  We have our internship to worry about, info sessions, bootcamps, group organization meetings, class work, Carmen, downloading, Swine flu, locker combo, etc.  All these things  were overwhelming me as I walked out to my car today after class.  While I was walking, hands full, in heels, it began to rain.

As I got into my car, I felt like I was in a whirlwind known as business school.  Then as I pulled out of St. John’s arena parking lot, my gas light came on.  I immediately began to smile and realized that I had lost perspective once again.

I pulled into the gas station down the street and started by checking one thing off my list.

Cheap Books and Tips.

I’ve noticed as I’ve read through several of the other blogs that people have commented on on the expense of buying books through campus bookstores or are curious as to where they can find a cheaper alternative. As my fiance puts it, I’m a connoisseur of online buying; most everything I buy is from online and multiple times cheaper than the vast majority of retail stores.

I discovered about 2 quarters into my sophomore year the art of buying books online. This quarter is probably my pride and joy as I saved $160 by buying my books online as opposed to buying used books from the campus bookstores. **NOTE** this does not apply to course packets. And for any professor reading this, sympathize for your students and don’t have course packets. Post readings on Carmen and make them buy a book. At least that way it’s re-sell-able.

How do I do it? Simple – Email your professor and ask which books are required for your class and be sure to ask for the edition. Once you have the title, author, edition and most of the time ISBN, google search the ISBN. Use the shopping function of google, which is AMAZING, and find the cheapest book. Amazon is good, but I much prefer It tends to be a little cheaper and have less shipping. Amazon has the “super saving” deal where you can spend so much and get free shipping, but that’s only from Amazon, not their dealers, and most of the time are more expensive than the dealer prices or the prices from other online book distributors. and are other good sites, but always make sure you’re shopping through a secure site. Nine times out of ten, if the web URL starts with https, not just http it’s secure, but be careful where you put your credit card number.

Also, if you have the option of buying the binder-ready version vs the hard/soft back book, buy the hard/soft back book. Campus area stores won’t buy it back if it’s the binder-ready version. I learned that the hard way after “saving” $40 on a physics book and ended up losing $120 because I can’t sell it back.

More tips to come. For now, happy 2nd day of classes!

First Day Down

As I walked to the bus today, I began to think, “wow, this is my last first day of school”.  I hate to be nostalgic but time flies and I began to think of the superficial worries I had on the first day of first first grade, the first day of junior high, the first day of high school, and the first day of undergrad.  One would think that on my 5th first day of school, I would have the routine down pat…but this is not so…My day began with me catching the wrong bus.  No worries though.  I planned for an event like that by leaving early, and so, I got to take the scenic route to class which wasn’t so bad except for the fact that it was really humid this morning and so, I found myself sweating before I even got to class.

Once in class, some things came back to me naturally-like taking notes.  Some things I forgot-like how hard it is to stay awake in class after lunch.  I have a feeling that I will soon become a coffee drinker.  Other things I found quite amusing-like how much the graduate student lounge at lunch time reminds me of the cafeteria in junior high. “Hmmm…whose table will I sit at?”  And I even caught myself laughing when I told my classmate, “Hey, I have to stop by my locker”.  I still can’t believe that I’m 25 yrs old with a locker again….

All in all today was a good day.  I honestly think I am going to enjoy the program.  It will definitely be a challenge for me to get back into the study routine after being in the work force.  Looking at each class syllabus, there is no class that will be a “freebie”.  And I already feel the pinch that Karen Wruck described in orientation.  She said, “If you feel behind or if you feel like you’re missing something-that’s a good thing. And it’s normal”.  There’s so much to do each day at Fisher-classes, group work, the continuous job search…I know I will soon accept this as my new “normal”.

The first day of school…Again!

So I just wrapped up my first day as a graduate student about an hour ago!  Today’s class was like many other classes I have had in which the first day was spent going over the syllabus and introducing ourselves to our perspective classmates.  However, the class I had today is being taught by the Director of the MLHR program, Mr. Heneman, whom I am certain I will have again for a future class or classes.

My first impressions of graduate school at Fisher is that it is very fast-paced!  For instance, classes hadn’t even started and I found myself sending out resumes to potential employers in order to be preselected for a first round interview, which I might add will take place in 1.5 weeks if chosen.  Not to mention the coursework. LOTS OF READING!!!!  However, it can all be done. The most important element that I will need in order to be successful in this program, and after this program is to have a good tight grasp on the importance of time management.  I didn’t really implement the skill too much throughout undergrad, but I like to think of graduate school as my second-coming!  The time in which I can do and achieve all the things I didn’t do while in undergraduate.

Round II tomorrow…

The PreMAcc Seminar

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but I can’t remember if I mentioned my undergrad degree in my last post. So here it is again, I graduated  from the University of Texas with a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering.

So how much accounting training did I have before deciding to switch career to accounting? nada~ I took 2 intro accounting classes at a local community college and that’s it. I did take 6 calculus classes in undergrad but that probably doesn’t make too much of a difference, does it? To close up the gap and be able to catch up to the rest of my peers, fortunately there’s this summer intensive accounting bootcamp called PreMAcc and I’m here to share with you what we went through in just 6 weeks.

The seminar is divided into 3 modules: Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Auditing.

Financial Accounting

In a nutshell, 3 quarters worth of intermediate accounting packed into 13 days including 2 Saturdays. Sounds scary and crazy at first, but you come out of it knowing more accounting than you ever did. Some notable topics that really opened my eyes were: Revenue Recognition, Time Value of Money, Debts, Statement of Cashflow, etc. Make sure you learn these concepts well, because they will keep coming back not only in your future accounting classes, but also finance classes. Having seen these concepts once makes it so much easier to grasp the advanced topics and if you fear that you might be getting rusty, fear not, the rigorous schedule of PreMAcc have long carved the concepts in your memory. They will come back very quickly!

Cost Accounting

So you’ve been through the toughest module and everything from here on out is all downhills. You learn about different costing methods, CVP, Decision Making, Master Budget, Capital Budgeting, etc. Here you get a taste of private accounting, in other words, what managers see inside a company that enable them to make decisions and evaluate different strategies. This module was only half as long as the first one and lasted 7 days. This module is fun because you get to turn the table around and gain an understanding of why some managers do certain things.


Before this module I had no idea what auditors do. All I know is back when I was still working in IT consulting, whenever there’s auditors on site we’d have to be really careful of what we say and sometimes we even stop our development because of Sarbane-Oxley. I’ve also heard “horror” stories from friends who are/were doing auditing in public accounting about their 60-70 hours weeks and how much they hate their “busy work”. All that’s changed after going through this module. We started by learning why there is the need of the profession “auditing” in the first place. Then we went about how an auditor should understand the risks his/her client’s particular business is exposed to, how to plan the audit to evaluate the internal controls and assess the chances that the client’s financial statements might be misstated due to error or fraud, and last but not least, the liabilities auditors are facing and proper documentations.

Having completed the PreMAcc both boosted my confidence and sharpened my accounting skills so I’m ready for the real deal. Feel free to drop me any questions if you think you’re going to take the PreMAcc. I can even give you a preview of the professors that you’re going to meet. All three of them are great, intelligent individuals who know the stuff inside out.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to my fellow PreMAccers: Chia-Lung, Ya-Ting, Bobby, Bennett, Dustin, Nadia (our fellow blogger), Yang Yang, Wei, Qi, Lisi, John, Peishan, Michael, and Stephen. Good Job Guys!!!

Day one is done! ….Well, not really.

So today was my first day of grad school in the MBA program! And it was a 12 hour day and counting. I guess that means we really get our money’s worth, haha.

Anyways…it went a little something like this:

First, I came in early to print a few things off in the Gerlach computer lab and check (for the 108th time) if my financial aid issues had been cleared up. They hadn’t, which frustrated me quite a bit, but I had to put it on the backburner to focus on classes.

From 8:30a-10:30a I have Organizational Behavior and Leadership Effectiveness followed by Accounting until noonish. I have a hunch that the Org. Behavior class is going to be my favorite. Some of my classmates may not agree, but leadership (and the lack of it at times) and how a group functions fascinates me. I’m excited to delve more into the topics. Oh, and I got a headache in accounting.

After classes, I ate my packed lunch and did the readings for tomorrow’s Managerial Economics class. When I met with my group later, I discovered that I had read the wrong Chapter 11 in the textbook. Yes, there were apparently two Chapter 11’s. And they’re both kind of long, but, hey, at least now I have more understanding about game theory, no?

So now it’s about 8pm and I’m getting a little sleepy, but I still have to finish reading the other Chapter 11 and re-read the accompanying articles to get a better feel for the material.  I also need to organize my new life! I’m kind of anal about scheduling and time management so I bought one of the planners that divides your day into 15 minute increments. I bought some colored pens and highlighters so I’m actually looking forward to it. It’ll look like an art project when I’m done. 🙂 AND, I can sleep easy because as of 8:14p my financial aid is in the clear. All in a day’s work.

$291.81 + tax – The cost of getting a bit smarter…

Classes start in a few days…

This upcoming Thursday (9/24) will be the beginning of my two-year journey towards  an MBA degree while working fulll-time in the American corporate world.

While I spent my first weekend catching up on pre-class assignments and readings, I couldn’t help but add up the initial investment towards this graduate-level education.  So far I have no complaints on this investment, but for those of you who still haven’t purchased the textbooks, here is a sneak peek on what to expect if you are purchasing new editions:WPMBABooks

MBA 812:
1) “The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else” – $13.56
2) MBA 12 Custom Book – $91.45
3) MBA 812 Uniprint Course Packet – $51.42

MBA 870:
1) “Super Crunchers” – $14.00
2) “Data Analysis and Decision Making with Microsoft Excel” – $121.38

Yes…the total just for the face value of these textbooks is nothing less than $291.81!
However, as one of the professors offered during the orientation session, it may be wise to see if you can borrow or buy a last year edition from a second-year WPMBA student, the text will be identical.

Author disclaimer: prices were quoted from Barnes and Noble online and may vary depending on the bookstore.

at the Ohio State University…RPAC

One of the biggest advantages of the Fisher MBA program is that it is a small sized program within a large university. Literally the Ohio State University is the largest university in the US.

The university campus is simply huge. To give you a glimpse of the campus, over the quarter, I will cover significant parts of the campus in a series of posts under the title ‘at the Ohio State University’, consider it a virtual tour ;). The RPAC or the Recreation and Physical Activity Center  is our first stop. It is located just south of ‘the shoe’ (I will cover that in a subsequent post).  RPAC is a wonderful facility which includes the following:

  • Fitness floor, approximately 27,500 square feet in size.
  • Basketball, badminton, racquetball, squash and volleyball courts
  • Jogging/walking track
  • Swimming pools, diving well and dive spa
  • Massage therapy center
  • Wellness center
  • Table tennis and pool tables
  • Sports shop
  • Golf stations
  • even a crèche.

It is an experience to just go around it once, it will take a really long time I bet. Amazingly whenever I go there I find so many people there. It starts like at 5:45 a.m. and closes at mid-night, but it is always packed with people. One tip I can give you is about lockers, they are limited and hence if you are planning to be regular, it would be good to apply for the lockers early in the quarter. There is a lottery system so even if you apply you are not guaranteed. But I was told if you don’t get it in a particular quarter and if you are still interested then you are given preference in the next quarter. You’ll have to use the day locker till then. I still don’t know if I managed to get one this quarter ;-).

It is a place full of energy and it gets you pumping. So those of you who never been to the RPAC before, I suggest you go and check it out.

Hunt for the Great White Internship

Part of the First Year MLHR experience is the internship hunt.  For those first years out there, let me pass down a little bit of advice.  From what I have heard, a lot of you are pretty stressed out.

So you know there is this perfect internship out there for you with the perfect company.  You don’t know exactly what it looks like or where it is going to be.

Excuse the deep sea fishing analogies, but it is kind of like traveling into unknown waters and going after something that is somewhat elusive and even a bit scary.

Here is the good news.  When you go deep sea fishing, the biggest part of the voyage is being prepared.  Having the right tools, a steady vessel, and a good crew makes the journey so much more fun. (Well that and a cooler full of beer).

The tools you need for your internship hunt are a polished resume, a practice run (mock interview), a nice suit, and well developed responses.  These are all things that you can do to prepare.

The vessel to get you there should be your individual characteristics, why companies want you over the 20 other people applying, the experiences in your life that make it a good fit.  These are things that you should be very familiar with, after all, you know yourself better than anyone.

A good crew on a deep sea hunt is vital.  Career services is that crew.  Make sure you keep them up to date, ask them questions, make networking connections, really take advantage of everything they offer.

If you really give it your all, the big fish will start coming to you.  Good luck to all of you first years out there!

Rather be Fishing,


Universal Studios Orlando Florida Jaws*Jaws @ Universal Studios

Real World MHR 843

I signed up for an elective MHR 843 with Professor Rodek.  Going into it, I had heard good things about the professor and needed to take an elective and it happened to fit my schedule.  Did I have a genuine interest about Org. Change and Turnaround?  Probably not.

We had our first class today and TaDa.  Boom.  It hit me!

I am going to love this class.  First, we have a tremendous amount of knowledge and background diversity which is more reflective of the Real World than any class I have previously taken at Fisher in the MLHR program.

Second, Professor Rodek has Real World experience in the subject he is teaching.  Not discounting and of the other wonderful professors I have had.  It is just very refreshing to take a class where the professor can provide insights and stories and analogies to actual experiences and not just teach us directly from a text.

Finally,  in today’s economy of bankruptcy, mergers, restructures, and reorganizations, this class is going to prepare me for when it happens to me in … The Real World.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to this class.  I will keep you posted on how it is going, but at this point I recommend it to any MLHR student needing an elective because we are going to be facing these types of challenges in future careers!