Friendsgiving and Preparation for Finals

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving.” This year, I was able to spend quality time with many friends from the MAcc program and various other programs at Ohio State University. It was a great time with friends to talk and share stories since we started this journey in August. Pictured below is the big feast we had– along with guests who were able to take part in “Friendsgiving.”

After “Friendsgiving,” I was able to go home to the mountains of North Carolina for a much needed break before finals start. Now that I’m back, classes are in full swing with project deadlines and finals preparation. As a way of sharing a little background on the second seven weeks of the MAcc program, I’ll briefly talk about the four classes I’m currently in.

I have two core classes that all MAcc students are required to take: Corporate Financial Reporting I and Accounting Policy and Research. The corporate Financial Reporting I class consists of lectures with cases of public companies and analyzing their financials. Accounting Policy and Research consists of projects throughout the semester and readings and discussions for class. In addition, I’m taking two electives, Assurance Services and Information Quality and Professional Research in Accounting. Both classes consist of group work and case assignments due in class. Overall, the key to success is time management and staying organized. In a short two weeks, the first semester will be completed– and I’ll be thankful for all the learning I’ve done!

The Beauty of Ohio State

Walking on Ohio State’s campus for the first time, as a 17-year-old high school junior, I immediately fell in love. I wanted a big-city feel, but I wanted to be close to home as well. Ohio State offered that. I fell in love with the hustle and bustle of campus. People are always out on the streets walking to class or throwing a frisbee on some of the green spaces around campus. Below, I’ve outlined my favorite places on campus and the ones that made an immediate positive impression on me.

Mirror Lake

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Mirror Lake before it was renovated

Mirror Lake has been a staple in Ohio State tradition and culture. Whether you’re relaxing and reading a book or deciding to go on a date, Mirror Lake is the place to be. It’s under renovation now, though, and is set to re-open in the spring.

Thompson Library

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Multiple photos of Thompson Library

One of the most beautiful libraries in the world, Thompson Library is 11 stories tall. You will always find a place to study and get your work done. I would suggest going up to the 11th floor to take in the views of campus and the City of Columbus.

Fisher College of Business

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Mason Hall

What is there not to like about Fisher? There are six buildings (all connected by tunnels underground) with state-of-the-art facilities. Grad students spend most of their time in Gerlach Hall, but students often make it over to Mason Hall which houses the business school’s very own coffee shop. Who doesn’t like convenient access to coffee and pastries?

RPAC

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Outdoor view of the RPAC

The RPAC is a state-of-the art recreation facility. Once inside, you’ll find any cardio or weight machine you could think of. We have a very large swimming facility inside and we even boast a hot tub (my personal favorite place in campus). Additionally, the RPAC has 12 indoor basketball courts. Plus, while the RPAC is the crown jewel of facilities, there are five other recreational facilities scattered around campus.

Ohio Stadium

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The “Horseshoe” (a.k.a. “the ‘Shoe” at night)

Ohio Stadium seats over 108,000 people and it’s the place to be every Saturday during the autumn semester. You can always be certain that the Buckeyes will put up a good fight and you should expect to have a great time.

There are many places on campus (in addition to these) where students are able to find their own niche. From museums to dance halls to eating establishments, you will never be at a loss for things to enjoy.

 

 

 

Revisiting my favorite childhood sport at the RPAC

I love having the flexibility to work out whenever I want– and to do whatever activity I want. And you can take advantage, too! As an OSU student, you get to maximize the full value of our RPAC (Recreation and Physical Activity Center). It’s located at the heart of campus and attracts hundreds of students and faculty every single day. Autumn hours are from 5:30 AM to midnight. You can also enjoy the view of the Ohio Stadium (you know, it’s only the 3rd-largest college football stadium in the U.S., with 104,944 seats). Here are some other fun facts about the RPAC and sports on campus:

  1. At nearly 600,000 square feet, it is one of six recreational facilities on campus.
  2. It has two swimming pools with spectator seating of up to 1,400 people

3) Speaking of teams, there are 36 varsity sports teams in total- and free admission for students to all events except football and men’s basketball.

4) Back to RPAC… there’s a wellness center, kids zone, kitchen, fitness suite, laundry and locker rooms, cafe and juice bar.

4) Free group fitness classes! You can also play basketball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball, squash, golf, billiards, foosball, or even use the indoor walking/jogging track.

What I love most about the RPAC, is that I get to revisit my favorite childhood sport: badminton. If you’re not familiar with this sport, it’s a racquet sport that’s played with racquets hitting a shuttlecock across a net. It’s most commonly played in singles or doubles. It’s a technical sport that requires aerobic stamina, agility, strength, speed, and precision, and is most popularly played in Asia. If you have never played it before, I encourage you to try it sometime!

As a child growing up in Singapore, I used to play badminton at least twice a week with my siblings, neighbors, or friends. I mastered the sport fairly quickly, so I used these sessions to catch up and hang out with my friends. It was an excellent way to stay fit and have fun.

When I was first told that there were badminton courts at the RPAC, I could not believe it. They’re located at the far south end of the RPAC, close to the squash, and indoor volleyball courts. You can rent the racquets for free, and you can purchase the shuttlecocks or bring your own. The RPAC has 6 badminton courts! What started out as a small group of classmates has now evolved into something larger. We have people who are masters at badminton, and we have others who are interested in learning this sport. We’ve also established a “Badminton” WhatsApp group. It’s only been about four months of school for me, but I feel that these badminton sessions will be good bonding sessions for us all!

Real-Life Stuff

Tick tock, tick tock…

What’s that sound?

It’s the real world—you know, that thing you put on pause almost two years ago.  It won’t stay paused forever!

Those of us in the MBA Class of 2018 have learned that the second year is a huge departure from the first year of the program—sometimes it truly feels like an entirely different program altogether.

Where the first-year core curriculum is highly structured, the second year brings autonomy and flexibility with both class times and subject matter.

Where the first year is defined by the demanding academic workload, the second year offers more time for introspection and hands-on growth through leadership roles in student organizations.

Many of these changes are welcome, though I don’t mean to speak ill of my first-year experience.  I do miss the close camaraderie of seeing all my classmates in lecture every single day and spending time with my core team.  I’m proud to know that I navigated the first year successfully, but let’s just say that I’m glad a younger Michael was there to tackle it.

The 11th floor of Thompson Library—a great spot to ponder life’s big questions.

The second year, however, is not without its own unique challenges—and while the stresses of the first year were anticipated, the stresses of second year can catch you off guard. This is because during the second year, you start to feel the real world encroaching.

Where will you work?  Where will you live?  Have you picked the right career path?  Will you relocate?  Will you be uprooting a significant other, spouse, or child in the process?

These are some of the questions you must find final answers for during your second year.  No doubt, these are fortunate problems to have and part of the great growth of the MBA experience—but their permanence and weight can make them rather slippery.

Stop to smell the roses…or watch them change color (?).

The good news is that you are never alone.  Every day, I’m surrounded by 91 friends going through the same process, asking the same questions, thinking the same thoughts.  Then, of course there are the other resources all around us—career counselors, professors, staff.  The key is to remember to enjoy the ride; with patience, the right answers have a way of finding you.

Our time here may be winding down but it is far from over, which means our task is to make the most of what is left.  The real world will have to wait… for now.

Team Core Capstone Project

One of the coolest aspects of the first semester in the Specialized Master in Finance program here at Fisher College of Business is the Core Capstone Project (Equity Research).

The curriculum is designed to allow students to apply what they have learned throughout the first semester of the program in that Capstone project. The “objective of the course is to apply the concepts and techniques we have learned in core coursework in a real-life setting by performing a financial analysis and valuation of a publicly-traded company” (syllabus).

In this report, each team is supposed to include the following sections:

  • Overview of the company.
  • Discussion of business model and identification of key value drivers.
  • Discussion of business risk factors.
  • Discussion of DCF valuation.
  • Conclusion and recommendation.

Throughout the first semester, we’ve taken core classes in Economics, Statistics, Financial Software Application, Corporate Finance, and Investments. We’ve also developed our teamwork skills through various group projects and presentations, as well as through our core Leadership class. All of these knowledge and skills that we’ve been developing for the past three months at Fisher are put into practice in this capstone project.

The first rough draft deadline is approaching and my team and I have been working hard to come up with a strong report. I am definitely excited to have the final product on hand!

Slow Cooker Sundays

I’m here to talk to you about one of the most important things I’ve learned in grad school: how to feed myself.  Now, to you, this may seem like something that a self respecting 23-year-old man should know how to do and you would be right.  However, I was fortunate enough to have access to a meal plan during my undergrad years and before I knew it, here I was in Columbus, hungry and alone.

At first, I followed my natural instinct and purchased pizza for every meal (this also happened last week – I’m a work in progress, okay?!), but as a self-respecting finance student, I realized that this is not the most cost-effective solution.  Plus, that much pizza is really not healthy for anyone.  The next phase in my culinary evolution was to just make sandwiches for every meal.  There are definitely some pros to this solution (namely simplicity and cheapness), but there are also some cons (namely sad taste buds).  Finally, I accepted the fact that I had been avoiding all along: I was going to have to learn how to cook.

While I wanted to learn how to cook, I still wanted to prepare food in the easiest way possible and a very real concern for me was that I didn’t have the time to cook a meal every single night between work and school.  Because of that, I felt like I would need to try meal prepping and once I made that realization, everything just fell into place (looking back, you can really see how destiny was guiding me the whole way).  All this time, there had been a hidden gem tucked away under the sink in my kitchen: the slow cooker I had been given for graduation.

My very first creation, shredded chicken adobo on rice

I attempted my very first slow cooker recipe the next Sunday, and just like that, a tradition was born – Slow Cooker Sundays™.  It was clear from my very first meal that I was a natural. A slow cooker savant if you will.

Disclaimer – not all food items in this picture were prepared with a slow cooker

I won’t lie and say that I haven’t stubbed my toe along the way with some not stellar outcomes (it was always the recipe’s fault), and I haven’t slow cooked every single Sunday, either. But what I am proud to tell you is that I am now capable of preparing a real meal, cooked low and slow.

If my post has inspired you, please post a picture of your slow cooker today!

Hotpot on A Cold Day

As an international student who has been studying abroad for almost five years, homesickness is not an issue anymore. However, I still miss the food from back home. One dish that my family usually has is “Hotpot,” a traditional Chinese dish which is usually eaten on a cold day. Similar to the Korean BBQ, you need to “cook” it yourself, but it’s worth the time and effort.

Homemade Hotpot

As you can see in the picture, Hotpot is literately a HOT POT. It’s very easy to make it. I usually buy the pre-made soup paste from an Asian grocery store. You can include whatever you want to eat: meat, vegetables, or noodles. No matter your choice(s), you boil the ingredients into the soup paste. I also make my own dipping sauce which is sesame sauce mixed with a little bit soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Here are the ingredients that I have for your reference if you want to replicate a Hotpot as above:

  1. Hotpot paste (available at any Asian Store)
  2. Slide beef
  3. Fish ball & fish tofu
  4. Bacon
  5. Shrimp
  6. Frozen tofu
  7. Napa cabbage
  8. Cilantro
  9. Fried tofu
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Lotus root
  12. Noodles (tips: put the noodles in last, otherwise your stew will be very thick.)

Hope you have some good homemade Hotpot!

 

Business Jargon 201

Several weeks ago, I launched a multi-part educational series titled Business Jargon. Well, here it is: the next installment that you’ve all been waiting for:

Out-of-Pocket (adj.)

I just learned this gem this week. This is another way of saying you are “out of office” or otherwise “unavailable.” I’m not sure why this expression exists, but it’s probably because it sounds cool and implies that eventually, you will be back “in pocket” which conjours up a silly image of pocket-sized businesspeople. But maybe that’s just me.

Parking Lot (n.)

See that there? That’s your idea. Way out there in the parking lot.

Let’s expand upon our previous lesson in Business Lingo 101 where we discussed how to “table” something you don’t want to talk about right now. Taking it one step further, you can now put that thing you really don’t want to talk in the “parking lot,” where it will never be seen or heard from again.

The Ask” and “The Solve” (both n.)


It would appear the business world has made swift work out of turning verbs into nouns. I can “ask” you to “solve” a problem, but I can also give you “an ask” or ask for “a solve” to a problem, and it means basically the same thing, but it’s more complicated and therefore more trendy.

Let’s Talk That

Ain’t nobody got time [for] prepositions.
Sometimes you’re short on time and need to eliminate words from your commonly-used phrases, even if it violates widely accepted grammar rules. At some point, “let’s talk about that” felt far too cumbersome and was shortened to “let’s talk that.” I completely support this, because come on, who has time for that?

CPA Self Study in Grad School

At the beginning of November, I took my first CPA exam on the BEC (Business Environment and Concepts) section. I will not know my scores until December, but I want to let everyone know it is possible to self-study while doing the MAcc program.

Let me give you a little background on the CPA exam. It consists of four sections: Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, and Regulation (BEC, FAR, AUD, REG). More information on each exam section can be found at http://www.ais-cpa.com/cpa-exam-sections/

The CPA exam is a stressful topic for many students and can be overwhelming and confusing. Each state has different requirements for when you’re able to sit for the CPA exam. The State of Ohio requires 150 credit hours to sit for the exam, but each state will vary. More information on the exam requirements by State can be found at this website: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/exam-licensure/state-requirements/

The curriculum for the MAcc program does not build in any CPA material or study classes; however, you can pick your classes to best align with when you may want to study for an exam. For example, my first semester here I will have taken two audit courses, and I plan to begin studying for the Audit section of the CPA exam to take in at the beginning of January. The key to studying for the CPA while taking MAcc courses is to be organized and work ahead. I personally try to stay on campus until I have completed all of the MAcc coursework. Once I’m home I set that time aside for CPA review. Depending on your personality, you may be a late-night studier or someone who prefers waking up at 6am to review.

There is no pressure to take the CPA exam during the MAcc program. It depends on a numerous amount of factors such as state requirements. Many students wait until they graduate from the MAcc program in May to begin studying and take the four sections of the exam. But most importantly, remember to:

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The Job Hunt

After being in college for four years, I never thought this day would come:

I have a job! This is not one of those jobs that I had in college or high school where I worked for a few hours a week or even an internship. I actually have a real job where I wake up every day, put on a suit, tie, and help provide advice to others. I guess you could say I am (almost) an adult now…

Many of you must be wondering how I reached this stage and what the process looked like. Well, to be honest, it involved a lot of preparation, stress and free meals!

Step 1: How to get an interview

The first step to getting a job is by locking up the first-round interview. This is probably the hardest step of the entire process, but if you do it right, it is one of the easiest steps. First thing is to have an exceptional resume: solid work experience, leadership, and good grades. The issue is that having a good resume isn’t enough, as it turns out there are hundreds of student who have “exceptional” resumes as well. So, how do you differentiate yourself? Network, network, network!

I learned early on in my college life that it is not what you know, but who you know that will help you succeed in life. So that is what I did. I networked and created connections.

As a result, with every firm that I applied to, I received at least a first-round interview. These firms included all your prestigious Big 4 accounting firms and the top tier-consulting firms.

**A few of the firms that I applied for do not recruit at Ohio State, but that should not hold you back. As long as you network well, you should be fine!**

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Network! – Form those connections

Step 2: How to excel at the interview

Be yourself! Since most interviews are behavioral, just be yourself. You should educate yourself about the role and organization, but as long as you be yourself and have a few stories to tell, you should be fine.

However, if you are like me and decide to pursue a career in consulting, you will need to prepare for the case interview. During a case interview, the interviewer will present you with a business scenario and you are expected to present a logical solution at the end of the interview. These can be difficult, but are really fun! All you need to do is practice– a lot. I ran through close to 30 mock case interviews before my first official case interview.

Step 3: Accept the job

This is the best part! Be proud of where you work, and accept a job that makes you happy. As for me, I will be working in Columbus as a consultant for EY in their financial services practice. I could not be happier and I am excited for a career at EY!

EY is short for Ernst and Young