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

 

Spring Break

As I’ve blogged about before, one of the amazing things that Ohio State has to offer is the plethora of student organizations available for students to join. Each student organization is different, but the one that I am heavily involved in allows students to travel to exciting places for a low cost. During my spring break, I had the opportunity to join this organization, MUNDO, on a trip to the South. There, we visited Memphis, New Orleans and Birmingham.

In Memphis, we had the opportunity to stop at the National Civil Rights Museum, learn about civil rights history, and see the location where MLK shared his final moments. In addition, we learned about jazz history at the Memphis Rock ‘n ‘Soul Museum, and experienced it firsthand while walking around Beale Street at night.

The Lorraine Motel, sight of the National Civil Rights Museum

After spending two nights in Memphis, we made it to New Orleans. Of course, Bourbon Street is like no other, but let me tell you something: the beignets (a cross between a donut and funnel cake) exceeded any hype that surrounded Bourbon Street by ten times.

Even though New Orleans is known for its nightlife, we spent most of our days learning about its history and exploring town. We went on a number of tours that helped us explore civil rights in the south such as plantation tours, voodoo tours, ghost tours and museum visits. However, the one experience that I‘ll never forget is the swamp tour. For those of you who do not know me, nature and I do not get along. So, as you can guess, the swamp tour was definitely memorable. I will spare you the details, but all you people need to know is that I made good friends with a swamp boar named “Oreo.”

My sister and me posing in Jackson Square
Bourbon Street at night

Following a few days in New Orleans, we spent a night in Birmingham where we further explored key movements in the civil rights movements, and we visited sites like the 16th Avenue Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Overall, the spring trip to the south was very memorable. Not only did it greatly affect my learning and education, but I was able to form friendships which I will cherish as life carries on.

A Second Chance

During my undergraduate program, I was both an accounting major and a member of a non-business honors program. As such, this made my academic life very broad. Even though I was in business courses, I also got the opportunity to take philosophy courses, women’s studies, and a plethora of others. While I did enjoy this, I felt like I was missing out on a lot of business courses. It’s hard to take business electives when you have so many humanities courses. Coming to the MAcc program was like getting a second chance to explore business courses. Specifically, some of my favorites like Financial Modeling, Financial Statement Analysis, and Fraud. Let me share my thoughts on each!

  • I’m not even sure if my undergraduate school offered a financial modeling course. This course was great because it followed Finance 1 and 2 in the first semester and really reinforced the concepts for me. We got to work pretty heavily in Excel and build valuation models based on cases. The professor had just come from almost a decade in investing, so he was able to focus the course on real-world applications.
  • Financial Statement Analysis is not an easy class. If you’ve never even heard of financial statement analysis as a concept, it’s even harder. However, I didn’t let that stop me from registering. This class was really cool because we got to dig into– surprise– financial statements! As a future auditor, I was under the impression that audited financial statements should not be changed around. Imagine my surprise when we started reformulating the financial statements and coming up with different numbers to answer different purposes. Now I have an even deeper understanding of what goes into the financial statements and how stakeholders use them.
  • Out of all the classes here that I was excited about, Fraud was at the top of my list. We got to learn about the different types of fraud, how people get away with them, and how to test for them. The professor always had great stories to illustrate his points and brought in guest speakers to help out. He did such a good job of teaching us how to commit fraud that the second half of the course – ethics – is basically a follow-up of why you shouldn’t commit fraud!

My advice to incoming MAcc students, especially if they are not from OSU, would be to use their electives to take courses they’ve never been exposed to before. A class may seem intimidating or hard, but you only have one year in the MAcc program. If you’re anything like me, this may be your last chance to take these interesting electives before you become a professional. Use your electives; don’t waste them.

Global Business Expedition (GBE) – Spring Break 2018

Everyone loves Spring Break– the perfect week to enjoy right before craziness sets in with projects, exams, and papers due before the academic year ends. Each student’s experience is different. Some students in the MBA program embark on a Global Business Expedition (GBE). GBEs are short-term, high-intensity global programs where students travel on a private tour to visit globally successful, multi-national companies, as well as the must-see historical sites of the region. This year, Singapore and Israel were on the list. I decided to interview two of my classmates, Andrew Page, and Carl Shapiro, who visited Singapore, and Israel, respectively. Continue reading to learn more about their journey and enjoy the beautiful sights!

Andrew Page
First-year Full-Time MBA student with a focus on marketing

  • Why did you choose Singapore for your GBE?

AP: I chose to go to Singapore for several reasons. First, I have never been to Asia and I felt like I would be able to get a great experience with many different cultures in a short amount of time. Secondly, this GBE was focused on experiences with doing business throughout Asia and we had opportunities to meet with companies that had operations in Singapore and throughout Asia.

  • Who else was on this trip with you?

AP: There were 25 other students and two faculty members.

  • What were some memorable experiences that you would like to share?

AP: First: the food! We tried all the great food that Singapore has to offer and although it may seem weird that this is such a memorable experience, it is such a unique part of the culture throughout all of Singapore. Everyone has food recommendations for you whether you ask for them or not.

Another memorable experience was visiting the different culturally-specific areas, for example: Little India, Chinatown, and Arab Street. It felt like we were walking into a different country when we went into these areas, but at the same time the cultures were so integrated with each other. There were Chinese jewelers selling to Indian customers in Little India and an Indian clothing shop owner selling Islamic clothing on Arab Street. It was just so unique to see these cultures intertwine.

Finally, I was able to interact with a lot of people with whom I have not had time to spend before. Out of our group, the majority were in the Working Professionals MBA program, so I was able to speak with them about their experiences and make some great network connections. I was also able to spend a lot of time with our faculty member and get to know him outside of the classroom setting.

  • Was there anything that you did not expect or would have done differently?

AP: I did not expect the opportunities that were available to us as students in that part of the world. There were many instances where we were able to make connections for future opportunities with the companies we were meeting.

  • Would you recommend others to join the GBE next year? 

AP: I would recommend GBE to every student who can do it, and I might try to do it again next year!

Carl Shapiro

First-year Full-Time MBA student with a focus on marketing and brand management

  • Why did you choose Israel for your GBE?

CS: The focus for my career is marketing and brand management which has a strong relationship with the culture in which the brand is doing business. Israel is unique in that the domestic market is too small to support a major company on its own, so as a means for survival, Israeli firms have to export and market themselves in foreign markets. To be on the ground and start to understand the strategies that these firms develop is incredibly powerful.

I also have a personal relationship with Israel, having family there. I am personally invested in the success of the country. I think the unique aspects of Israel– bringing the Hebrew language back to life, establishing the first independent Jewish state in 2000 years, and transforming a desolate environment into fertile land– show what grit and hard work can accomplish.

  • How many students/faculty were on this trip?

CS:  I went to Israel with Oded Shenkar (faculty) and there were nine students on the trip.

  • Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?

CS: Some of my most memorable moments were interacting with Israelis outside of the corporate environment to develop a deeper understanding of their culture. By spending my free time out in Tel Aviv on the beach, or in the markets of Jerusalem, I could really get a feeling of where the entrepreneurship begins and what makes the Israeli condition so relevant to the success of disrupting technology. In the corporate environment, we had the opportunity to talk to the leaders of the businesses we visited, the decision-makers at the highest levels. Because Israel’s culture is so casual, we were encouraged to ask probing questions and get very honest and valuable answers that in the United States might not be possible.

 

  • Was there anything that you did not expect or would have done differently?

CS: I would have liked to have more time for one-on-one networking with some folks from the different companies. Many of the companies we visited introduced us to several high-level managers, but we didn’t have the opportunity to hear them all speak, and it would have been helpful to break out into smaller groups or have unstructured time when we could focus more on the things that interest us with someone from the company who also shares that interest.

  • Would you recommend others to join the GBE next year? 

CS: I absolutely recommend the trip. The reality of the closeness of the Israeli economy with the American economy means that if you work in tech, you will encounter an Israeli firm. It can be an incredible asset to understand the differences and similarities of the two cultures to get the most out of the relationship.

 

A Trip to North Market

Recently, the SMF council organized the 4th SMF lunch/dinner of the year at the North Market. It gave, once again, the opportunity for the SMF class to unite outside Fisher around a great variety of food.

North Market is one of the great places that Columbus has to offer. It is an indoor marketplace with a variety of restaurants with culinary tastes of all around the worlds. North Market is home to multiple unique and independent merchants and farmers who supply this great place located in the downtown area of Columbus.

Most of the students attending the event and I decided to go for “Hot Chicken Takeover” as the lunch dish. This hot chicken fast casual dining place is known to serve “juicy and perfectly-fried Nashville Hot Chicken rubbed with a cayenne-infused paste.” I have to admit that by choosing the “warm” level of spice, which is the second lowest level of spice Hot Chicken Takeover serves, I was not expecting to rely on ranch and white bread to finish my meal!

On a personal note, shut out to Nanson for eating the hottest spice proposed in the restaurant.

I might repeat myself but I have been impressed and pleased with the events that the SMF council have been organizing throughout the year. It has given students the opportunity to meet and bond outside of the classrooms. Definitely an aspect of the master that I was not expecting but that has our experience much more enjoyable.

Red Carpet Reflections

Little did I expect that Red Carpet this year would be just as an amazing experience as it was last year! This time, from the perspective of a current student and point person to welcome in part of the admitted class, I realized how much fun it is to share about Columbus and the program experience so far. Also, through other current students sharing their stories, I was reminded of many opportunities to experience this amazing city!

During the welcome reception at the Ohio Stadium, we learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes to game day and were reinvigorated with excitement for next season! Student ticket info will be coming this summer, and we can’t wait to buy the Big 10 package again. One thing to look forward to for all home games are the great Fisher tailgates at Fisher Commons. Not only an apartment complex to look into, Fisher Commons is in a central location to bring many current students together.

I also helped coordinate the significant others/partners/spouses (SOPS) breakfast on Saturday morning at Red Carpet, and I learned some great tips for managing time between work/school/home! For example, many current SOPS put together shared calendars for each other to find times to spend together. My husband and I try to eat dinner together almost every evening and spend at least one day of the weekend away from work and study. On the next nice weekend day, we plan to check out the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, while doing some background research for one of the consulting projects I am working on for the Professional Development core class.

Finally, Red Carpet weekend came to a close with our women’s breakfast on Sunday morning. We have a strong group of women coming into the program, and I cannot wait to see how Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) and our Forte Foundation connections grow into next year. I had a great time connecting with classmates at the Forte conference last summer (see photo below) and hope to see many again this summer! Also, I hope to see a few admitted students at our first Fisher Women’s Conference on April 6th!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend, and I am looking forward to our incoming class next year!

Interview with SMF Student Zenan (Nanson) Wang

I thought that for this blog post, I would share a different perspective than the one I’ve been sharing all year long! Meet fellow SMF student Zenan (Nanson) Wang.  Nanson gave a lot of thoughtful answers to my questions and specifically talked about his experience as a Chinese student in the SMF program.  Enjoy!

Q:         Where are you from and what was your background before coming to Fisher?

A:         I am from Suzhou, China, and I received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Soochow University.  I also worked a six-month internship at a commercial bank in China.  In my internship, I worked in fields ranging from marketing to risk management.

Q:         Why did you choose the SMF Program?

A:         I chose the SMF program for the good reputation and rankings of Fisher, four different tracks that enabled me to choose my preference, the enthusiasm of the recruiting personnel, and finally, the scholarship offered by the program.

Q:         What have been some of the biggest adjustments for life in the U.S. and specifically, Columbus?

A:         I am the kind of person who can adjust to a new environment quite easily. However, I have to say it is not easy to live in an all-English environment since my English, especially my listening, is not quite good enough to understand everything. Thus, I sometimes felt lost when others talked to me, especially during the early months in the U.S.  I don’t want to be rude by not responding, but I really don’t know how to properly respond. Plus, in the U.S., it is very important to express my ideas, thoughts, and feelings. So, it can be tough when I find I can express those in Chinese but not in English– and my English skill becomes a limitation.

Q:         What have been your favorite and least favorite things about your time in the program?

A:         Favorite: When I get inspired from other people, including professors, classmates, and teammates. Least favorite: when I have to deal with many things due at the same time– and for some of these things, I have to wait until others complete their parts even though I have finished mine quite in advance.

Q:         What has been your favorite course and who has been your favorite professor?

A:         Favorite course: Derivatives. Both Derivatives 1 & 2. It is pretty exciting for me to learn something technical. Favorite professors – Professor Pirim because his data analysis class was really fun to me. I also like Professor Oglevee a lot, since I always get inspired from him and I learned the great importance of dealing with uncertainty from him.

Q:         Did you choose an area of specialization?  If so, what area and why?

A:         Yes, I picked half investment management and half risk management. First of all, I am very interested in investing, and I have tried investing in China during my undergraduate studies. Thus, I wish to learn more about this area. Plus, the financial market changes every second, so it is always exciting to face different challenges for every moment. Then, for risk management: since the financial crisis, risk management has always been a hot topic and it seems everyone has known the significance of it. Thus, it is very important to learn at least some of this area. Also, I feel this field is quite exciting. It is a field that requires one to know the financial markets, the law and regulation, the operation in many markets, and people. It can be really interesting to step into this integrated field.

Q:         How has your career search been going? Also, what are your post-graduation plans?

A:         Not quite good so far I have to say. Though some connections have been built, I have not secured a job yet. From what I have experienced, I have to say it is not easy for us international students to gain employment in the U.S. However, I am still trying and I believe I will not regret if I tried my best. Thus, I still plan to work in the U.S. for 3-5 years, and then go back to China, probably Shanghai or Suzhou.

Q:         Could you talk about your experience as part of the SMF Council?

A:         I am in charge of the social events in SMF council. From my experience, it can be quite difficult when all things are accidentally against you. When I reserve for a large group, the answer from the restaurant is almost always negative. When I make an announcement about a new event, sometimes the participation rate is not as good as I imagine. These are things I can’t control. So, I have learned to always try my best to do the things I can control, but be comfortable when I am not able to control something.

Q:         Are you glad that you are a member of the council and would you recommend it to other students?

A:         I have to say: yes. Though some time has been spent on the council work and meetings, it is always worth it when I can see how others handle their work in a different way. It is good to get inspired from others’ words and practice.

Q:         What advice would you give to all future students, and also more specifically to future Chinese students?

A:         Always get ready for the challenge, and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’d like to also share especially for future Chinese students: after I came to the U.S., it was my very first time to actively participate in class. During my undergraduate studies, with all my Chinese classmates, I didn’t have to raise my hand since all other classmates didn’t do so. However, in the U.S., you have to show yourself in a proper way, and you will benefit a lot from this. In the beginning, you may feel uncomfortable with doing this, but as Professor Oglevee has said, it is important to get used to it, and become comfortable with being uncomfortable.