In the Presence of Dinosaurs: Studying at Orton Hall

Hello, finance world. As our industry becomes increasingly defined by technology, students are spending more time learning a variety of Financial software. Fisher offers state of the art financial software (such as Capital IQ, Crystal Ball, Rotman Trader and @ Risk), as well as statistical packages (such as SAS), and of course, Bloomberg terminals. These tools offer us an edge with real-world coursework and better prepare us for the job market; but today’s post is a friendly reminder that sometimes it is a good idea to get out of the computer labs and spend some time with Dinosaurs.

A T-Rex skull in the Museum at Orton Hall

Orton Hall has a Geology Museum (free and open to the public), that makes for a nice study break. Check out the variety of fossils and rocks.

The entry-way greeting to the Museum in Orton Hall

The Orton Hall Library is two stories of quiet study tables. This is the oldest library on campus.

The two story library at Orton

Technology offers an ocean of information, but we must take a step back to study the fundamentals. Mastering foundational concepts will ensure that you do not make elementary mistakes, and then allows you to properly use technology. The best way to do this is in the library with a book. Practicing takes discipline and it is easier to be disciplined far away from comfy chairs and Starbucks. The Orton Hall Library has a sense of place and purpose– and it invites you to visit with one.

Taking a break from technology is one of the reasons you should study at Orton. There are many more, but Orton is one of those places best discovered for yourself.

 

MAcc Bowling Night

The MAcc program offers many social events throughout the fall and spring semester. In the fall semester, we went to see the Columbus “Zoo Lights” as a group and tailgated together for football games. This spring, we are planning a trip to go skiing, a hockey game outing, MAcc Olympics, and bowling night! There are a variety of ways to connect with your classmates no matter what you are interested in. Not to mention, these events are events with just MAcc students. We just recently had a bowling night on Saturday evening. This was put on by our social event committee as part of our MAcc council. This council, which is generally voted on during the first week of school, also plans community service events as well as social events.

Here are some bowling highlights:

MAcc group
MAcc group

With a class of 81 students, tight-knit experiences such as these make it easy to get to know your classmates better. There are additional events that are put on fisher-wide throughout the school year.

The graduate student ambassador squad
The graduate student ambassador squad

 

Pool Shark Sam scoping out the pins
Pool Shark Sam scoping out the pins

 

 

 

 

 

Rematch to follow soon…

 

Intramural Sports at Ohio State University

One of the really enjoyable things I like to do outside of class is play intramural sports. Ohio State has a huge program in place to allow students to create teams and join leagues for all types of sports at all different competition levels. There are men’s and coed leagues for soccer, basketball and volleyball– and they also have sports such as table tennis, battleship (it’s a game that takes place in the pool; look it up because it’s awesome) and flag football. These leagues are relatively cheap to join, usually $80 for a team, and the leagues usually have a couple (3-4) regular season games, followed by a playoff to determine the intramural champions.

Here is a picture of the MAcc sand volleyball team from the Fall.
Here is a picture of the MAcc sand volleyball team from the Fall.

This year, several MAcc students have come together to make teams. In the fall, we had a sand volleyball team, and this spring we have a basketball team, a volleyball team– and we will be creating a coed indoor soccer team in a few weeks (we have several soccer players in the MAcc, so I think we have a chance to win this league).

Through intramurals, we get to compete against other Ohio State students and it is always a blast! You do not even need to be good at the sport you are playing. I have never played volleyball before and I am on the MAcc volleyball team called the “MAccletes” (play on the word “athletes”). We just finished up the regular season with a 2-1 record and we are waiting for the playoff bracket to come out. We’re surprisingly pretty good, so we’ll see if a playoff run is in our future!

It is always fun to hang out with some fellow classmates at these intramural games because we all get to know each other a little better outside of class. While sometimes it gets competitive, regardless of what my fellow blogger Brett Hornung (current SMF student) might say, it is always fun to play – win or lose.

Team Projects: Unveiled

One of the cooler aspects of the Specialized Master in Finance program here at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is the Team Projects class that is taken in your last semester.

The course is designed to allow students to apply for teams on projects with real companies who submit real projects, which the teams work on through the months of March and April, culminating in a final presentation during the last week of school. The “objective of the course is to give SMF students an opportunity to practice their analytical and soft skills by working in teams on real finance related projects with clients” (syllabus).

Throughout the program, we have taken core classes in Economics, Corporate Finance, and Investments; as well as our elective classes in our chosen academic paths. We have also developed our professional skills through networking events and extracurricular club activities like the Fisher Graduate Finance Association. In addition, we have developed our teamwork skills through group projects and presentations, as well as through our core Leadership class. All of the skills and knowledge that have been developed during our seven months at Fisher are now going to be tested and applied in real world situations. It is truly an exciting class!

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Last week, the Specialized Master in Finance class of 2017 got together for the grand unveiling of the companies that were participating this year. Professor Pinteris walked us through the class syllabus, as well as the expectations of each student during the time period working with these companies. The projects cover all four of the main tracks within the program: Corporate Finance, Risk, Real Estate, and Investments. Thus, there are plenty of options for each student to apply for in their desired path.

Now we have to submit our applications and will find out later this week which company’s project we have been selected for. Once we have this information and we make contact with the company, our work truly begins. I think I can speak for the entire SMF class when I say that we are excited for this amazing opportunity.

 

Where should I live?

Many people don’t realize that Columbus, Ohio, is the 15th-largest city in the United States with nearly a million people living in and around the metropolitan area. With big cities come LOTS of options, particularly, lots of housing options.

As a Columbus native and having attended undergrad at Ohio State, I’ve lived in many distinct areas around the city including Upper Arlington, Victorian Village/Short North, Old North, and Central Campus. Currently I’m living in Old North Columbus, which is just north of Ohio State’s campus. It is by far my favorite area I’ve lived in. Now I’m going to tell you why.

The Old North is located just north of Lane Avenue on the edge of campus, and extends up until where Clintonville begins further north. Cost of housing here is some of the least expensive in the Columbus area. Most of the houses in the area were built in the 1920s and have a lot of personality. Front porches and backyard space is common, and off-street parking is abundant.

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Old North Arcade is a bar+arcade combo located in Old North. They do a mean trivia night on Mondays and you’re likely to catch a team of MHRMs (“merms”) in the lead.

The Old North tends to be an area where Ohio State students move when they’ve had just about enough of the somewhat more raucous atmosphere that is more common on central campus. The Old North “scene” is a bit dive-y in that the restaurants and bars themselves are older, as is the crowd that frequents them. This area tends to attract young people in their mid- to late-20s and early 30s, resulting in a fun, eclectic, laid-back vibe. The area tends to be more bustling than Grandview or Upper Arlington. I personally think it’s a really accessible, no-frills area for people that still want to be connected to the social scene of Columbus, but don’t necessarily want to be living in the middle of it.

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An Old North favorite: The Blue Danube is a popular restaurant with incredible, cheap nightly specials and they serve breakfast all day. “The Dube Special” is a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and two grilled cheeses for $160. I’ve never seen anyone order it, and it is a bucket-list item for me.

I know from my experience in moving to other cities that housing complexes can be appealing in that you know exactly what to expect and you don’t have to worry about finding roommate. My one piece of advice for anyone coming from far away is to consider looking for a month-to-month housing option for when you first arrive. Then as you explore and acclimate to Columbus a bit more (and meet classmates who could be potential roommates) you’ll know better what area you might want to be in longer-term (for the next year or two of your life—or longer… Columbus tends to have a magnetic effect and it is difficult to leave).

I have heard from some of my classmates that they wished they had done more research, because the area they are living in is not necessarily where they spend most of their time, and they would like to be closer to the Short North, Old North, Grandview—wherever it may be. A great resource for locating housing aside from some of the bigger, more advertised complexes is the Off-Campus Housing website. You can search for available housing with filters for # of bedrooms, pets allowed or not, and other amenities. I’ve found some stellar places through this website and would highly recommend.

Vroom Vroom VITA

In addition to a wide variety of social activities, MAcc students also have the opportunity to give back to the community through a number of volunteer efforts. VITA, a tax clinic for low income-taxpayers, is one of the most popular community-service options. Participants get hands-on experience with preparing tax returns while making a difference in the lives of many.

I interviewed current MAcc student and VITA volunteer Carly Jackson to get her take on why all MAccers should participate in this great cause.

What is VITA?

VITA is a program where volunteers prepare tax returns for low-income individuals and  families for free.

How can MAcc students get involved?

MAcc students can get involved by attending an interest session during fall semester and then completing the required IRS training. During tax season, volunteers are typically assigned 3-4 volunteer days.

Do you have to have experience with completing tax returns to volunteer?

No prior experience is required!  You will be thoroughly trained and will have an IRS publication with the information you need next to you, so you can use that for reference during preparation. Also, there will typically be people on-site with prior tax preparation experience to answer any questions you have and to help you through the experience.

Can I still do VITA even if I am planning on doing audit post-graduation?

Of course you can! A lot of the people that participate in VITA are planning to do audit. I personally feel that it is advantageous to everyone to learn about the basics of taxes because they’re unavoidable and the more you know, the more equipped you are to handle them. Regardless of your intended career path, learning a little bit about tax preparation and using that knowledge to help others is a great thing to do!

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned while working the tax clinic?

Surprisingly, the biggest lesson I’ve learned while working at the VITA clinic was not tax-related. One of the clients I worked with was going through one of the toughest times I could even imagine, yet still had the most positive outlook on everything and had a genuine joy in their heart. Working with them taught me to never take anything for granted, and to always look for the good in life, because if you look hard enough, you will find it.

 

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Happy Chinese New Year

It’s the year of the Rooster! And here at the Fisher SMF program we could not think of a better way to start off the new year than a delicious meal at one of our new favorite restaurants. Recently opened, HY Asian Cuisine offers authentic Chinese and Japanese food– at least as claimed by several students as their favorite restaurant here in Columbus.

Good friends, good food

The above picture shows jut one of our two roundtables. Professors, alumni, students, and friends all joined together. All together, our group was about 40 people.

We had many excellent dishes. My personal favorites were the crab, spicy pepper chicken, and mushrooms. There were many good vegetable dishes and good rice.

The works

The rooster is independent, quick minded, capable, and warm towards others, so lore says. The same attributes can be said of our 2017 SMF class. It was wonderful to celebrate the new year with such good people and I’m looking forward to our next dinner.

Vulnerability

Through participation in the Fisher Leaders program, I have been provided many assessments to help me to understand my leadership style and how others perceive me (“360 feedback”).  This gift of information is wonderful to have to understand how I can improve.  I confess that it has been difficult to integrate that feedback into my life.  It seems as though, almost daily, I realize how my leadership needs improve.  Sometimes it feels like I am stumbling around with respect to leading.

Leadership development is difficult.  I grossly underestimated the emotional impact that the leadership development would have on me.  I confess that I had a hard time keeping up with blogging last semester because of the emotional turmoil through this growth process.

One of the greatest benefits of all of this struggle is the improved relationship with my family and friends.  Before learning about leadership, I internalized quite a bit and neglected to share things with people, because I thought that they already had enough to deal with and felt like I would be adding to the troubles.  The Fisher Leaders program has helped me to understand the importance and necessity to share experiences with the people I care for and that the best decisions in life are “we-based” ones.

It has been very difficult to consider so many new elements in my life.  Hearing where I need improvements, learning a new job, reconciling emotions, and sharing my feelings more with others is helping me to grow.  It is truly encouraging to learn and practice all of these things in a safe context (in school, work, and with my peers).  Although not desirable, it is okay to make errors here without long-lasting damage.  Developing my skills in these safe environments has helped me prepare for after graduation, where I will have greater accountability from more people.

Evening Classes?!

One of the unique aspects that differentiates the MHRM program from the other full-time grad programs at the Fisher College of Business and many other Master’s-level HR programs is that classes are held almost exclusively in the evenings. I have to be honest here—this was a big reservation of mine when I was considering the program. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to adapt my lifestyle to accommodate that sort of schedule—I was sure I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as well at night and I was worried that the schedule would cut into my hobbies (I’m a big fan of live music, trivia night, and happy hours).

I challenged myself to see the forest beyond the trees and keep an open mind about the class schedule. It would require a little “schedule Tetris” on my part, but I knew the program was an investment in my future—and something that I could justify making some lifestyle changes for. Here’s what a typical day in Jen’s life looks like since beginning the MHRM program:

8 AM             Wake up (okay, my alarm goes off at 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, and                                8:45, so, let’s call it 8:45 in the spirit of full transparency)

10 AM           Work-out

11 AM            Read for class/eat lunch (each class’s reading typically fits                                into a two-hour timeframe for me)

1 PM              Go to work

5 PM              Dinner (*options, see below)

6:15-9:30     Class

9:30 PM        Relax at home/socialize with friends

1) Make dinner in advance and bring it from home: this is a popular option for those who plan their meals in advance. I am not one of these people.

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I mean, I really wish I was one of those people.

2) Bring a Lean Cuisine or other frozen meal: When I have them in the freezer, I absolutely opt for this option. Quick and easy– and we have three microwaves in the graduate student lounge so that makes things very convenient.

Microwave station. (Also, that is a coffee machine next door)
Microwave station. (also, that is a coffee machine next door)

3) Order food: Sometimes I wait until the last minute to figure dinner out. It works because of technology. Jimmy John’s delivers “freaky fast,” Panera is within walking distance, and UberEats caters to a wide variety of tastes.

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Deliciousness delivered right to your classroom door. (Disclaimer: I do not actually recommend delivering directly to your classroom; the front door of Gerlach Hall is a safe bet, however)

I quickly realized that with a little pre-planning and self-discipline, I would still be able to fit everything in without compromise. The other important note here is that some of my classmates have turned out to be my best friends, so we can hold one another accountable to a) get our school work done and b) make certain we are finding a balance between work and play.

The Final Countdown

It is surreal to think that my final semester of school is well underway! We are already wrapping up our third week of classes and I have a midterm in just a few days. In order to make the most of the time I have left, I compiled a list of things I am hoping to accomplish before graduation in May:

  • Take a trip to Chicago. One of my cousins lives in Chicago, so I really want to spend a weekend visiting her. Southwest has super cheap flights out of the Dayton airport, so this could be a relatively easy and affordable getaway. [editor’s note: Southwest also offers several daily flights out of Columbus]
  • Explore German Village. Although I have been living in Columbus since August, I have yet to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. German Village is located just south of downtown and is a fun neighborhood with lots of different restaurants and shops.
  • Go to Hocking Hills. This one will have to wait until it warms up a bit, but I am eager to go hiking in Hocking Hills. It is a bit of a drive, a little over an hour from my apartment, but I hear the scenery is well worth the trek.
  • Going off #3, I would also like to get back to Clear Creek Metro Park. I was able to go once during the autumn and it was phenomenal. It is about an hour drive and there are several trails to explore.
  • Cheer on the Columbus Clippers (minor league baseball), Columbus Crew (soccer), or Columbus Blue Jackets (hockey). Though often overshadowed by The Ohio State University Buckeyes, Columbus is home to several professional teams. I have yet to go to any of their games, but I would love to get to at least one before the semester is over.

These next couple months are sure to fly by, and I am eager to make the most of the time I have left!