First week MBA + First month USA

Time flies by.  Here comes the first week of my MBA study, and the first month of staying in USA for the first time.  My life seems never ever to be so exciting, fulfilling, and interesting:

1)  New York New York! – I went to Big Apple to attend 1st Asia MBA conference, and explore many sites of interest like MET, UN headquarter, 5th Avenue and Central Park. More over, during the football time of OSU vs USC on Sept 12, we joined a gathering with hundreds of OSU alumni in a bar near Time Square to watch the game. We drank, cheered, sang, applauded  and shouted “Go Bucks” all the time.  This is a really great experience.

2) Case study and group meetings – Given my engineering background and education experience in China and Singapore, I have never been exposed to the case method and group study. In first sessions, case study is really a challenge for me — professor talked about Opera show, which I have never seen although heard of; my group buddies used slams or idioms like “beat  a dead horse” that I am not quite sure the exact meaning; and topics in the class changed so quickly that you must be focused 110 percent to catch up…  But, I like challenges because challenges mean the opportunities for self improvment.

3) Food: Food is always an attractive topic.  I spent several years in Singapore, where I can find all kinds of oriental foods like Japanese Sashimi, Korean grill, roti prata from India, and Southeast Asia-style spicy seafood. Here in Columbus I had chances to try western style foods — like genuine American food (other than Macdonald and KFC of course), and my favorite is “sweet corn” (they put butter and pepper on the corn which is truly delicious). Last night I went to “Buca di Beppo”– an Italian restaurant in Columbus where got wonderful pasta, and I am planning to go “Schmidts” for German food now!

My happy ending: my first week/month is over, but the long journey just started.  Overcome the obstacles, acquire what I really want are the goals of my two year B-school study~  and don’t forget — have fun!

So Why Fisher?

A lot of people ask me why I moved all the way to Ohio from Arizona to go to grad school. Quite honestly, out of all eight programs that I applied to (USC, UCLA, Arizona, Rochester, Indiana, WashU, Carnegie Mellon, and Ohio State), the people at the Fisher College blew me away. This includes the staff, faculty, and other students that I met during the Red Carpet Weekend event that they hosted.

I think there’s something to be said about people from the Midwest. They are just as talented as the people that I met from other schools, but humble, down-to-earth, and a pleasure to be around. Our class is close-knit, collaborative, and a LOT of fun.

We have awesome events every week that are arranged by our social committee. We do bar crawls, parties at our MBA housing complex, cultural events, sporting events, etc. We also have larger events like the annual ski trip, a weekend trip to Put-In-Bay and Fisher Formal, a.k.a. MBA Prom. We even had a beard and mustache competition after winter break with over a dozen entries, and this year we expect that number to at least double. For the Fisher first years reading this blog, here’s the schedule. Get excited.

Monday: beards
Tuesday: creative expressions
Wednesday: goatees/fu manchus
Thursday: mustaches
Thursday night will then be the 2nd Annual Fisher Mustache Bash.

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And who could mention Ohio State without talking about football. I’ve been to all the home games when I was in town, saw Ohio State beat Michigan 42-7 and even jumped into a freezing cold Mirror Lake before the Michigan game (search for “Mirror Lake” on Youtube, total madness). But that’s all I’ll say about football. I think we oversell it a little when we could be highlighting the other accomplishments of the school (like being in the top 15 nationally for Guggenheim Fellows, 11th overall for research expenditures, or number one or two amongst all American universities in number of faculty elected as fellows to the American Association for the Advancement in Science since 2002). But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Through my experiences over the past year with case competitions, personal networking, and my summer internship, I have met other MBA students from dozens of other colleges. From talking to them about their programs, I think we have some of the highest numbers of participants at our events compared to other programs. There’s some events where we’ve had 80% of our class at. Even the people who don’t drink come out and enjoy each other’s company. And studies have shown that people who eat and drink together feel more comfortable around each other and are more likely to complete their tasks.

With around 145 students in each incoming class, I know everyone on a first and last name basis. At some of the other schools I was looking at, I would be just a number. So I’m not going to graduate from what the rankings deem a “top five” MBA program. But I know there’s dozens of people in my class that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. And in the grand scheme of things, I’m ok with that because life is all about relationships anyway.

Mike ^_^

A really beautiful mind: Professor Robert Langer

Thanks must go to the Center for entrepreneurship, their Kick-off Event was held last Tuesday (09/22) and I got to see one of the brightest minds I have ever listened to. The featured keynote was Breakthrough Medical Technologies by MIT Professor Robert Langer as speaker.

Robert Langer

With more than 1000 papers published and over 750 issued or pending patent worldwide, Professor Langer is the most cited engineer in history!! He is focused in Biomedical research, development of specific polymers, non invasive techniques for delivery of drugs, effective delivery system of specific compounds, to mention few of them.

Impressive right? But it does not stop here. He has not only been extremely successful as a scientist but also as an entrepreneur.  He has more than 20 amazingly successful stories of bringing technologies from the lab to the market. How does he do that? He never stops thinking on how to solve problems or how to help patients. He has an incredible passion for innovation and sincere desire to make an impact and contribution in this world.

But how does he know a technology can be commercially successful or ready go to the market? He has established some requirements that include:

  • Have a platform technology
  • Have a blocking patent
  • Have in vivo proof of principle

Want to learn more about the genius Professor Langer?  http://web.mit.edu/langerlab/

Or watch a video report from MIT Tech TV:

Robert Langer - MIT video

The Center for Entrepreneurship will be sharing the broadcast pretty soon so watch out for that and other unique opportunities to learn about how to bring technologies to the market! http://entrepreneurship.osu.edu/event-calendar/

It’s time…

Remember when it’s the night before the first day of class and you sleep early so you’ll be up bright and early the next day. Not anymore.

I didn’t turn in until after 1:30 am last Tuesday night. Wednesday night was a lot worse. I already had a “fell asleep in my study desk” moment. This totally disproves my “as long as I’m not in my bed, I won’t fall asleep and finish studying” theory. I had to read chapters, analyze case studies, and familiarize with the syllabus before even setting foot in class. But hey, that’s expected, right? Any good school would expect this, especially with Graduate Programs.

Actually, the assignments weren’t the “real” reason why I had to stay awake burning the midnight oil. Well, technically they were, but there was a way that the unpleasantness would have been minimized, if not avoided. (No, not enrolling is not an option.)

It’s this tiny but important thing called time management.

We even had a session on this during Fisher Advantage Orientation. But the thing is, this is not that easy to do when you have a million things going on. When there is a lull in the schedule, you just want to chill. Sometimes, you just want the moment to just cyber-stalk your friends in Facebook or watch the latest episode of “The Big Bang Theory”. (If you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend that you do.)

Nobody is saying any of these so-called “time-wasters” are bad. They may be even good to get all the craziness out of your head. But we need to set a limit. Two hours in Facebook is just bad decision-making when you have 35 pages of financial accounting to study.

I’m speaking in general terms here but I am really just making a note to myself. But (I hope) I am improving. I stopped playing Crazy Planets and rejected all the other addictive applications my online friends were inviting me to try. Not incredible growth but hey, baby steps. We’ll get there soon. 🙂

In the meantime, if you have tips or similar stories, please share them. They would be highly appreciated. Thanks.

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 abebooks.com. 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. Buy.com and half.com 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.

Auditing

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.