So You’re Stuck in Columbus Over Winter Break?

Well, get excited.

As many of my MHRM classmates wrap up finals and find their way back home via some combination of planes, trains, and/or automobiles, I am proud to say I’ll be staying in Columbus for the duration of winter break. Having lived in Oregon the past two years, most of my vacation time off work was spent traveling back home to Columbus (it took no fewer than 3 planes and a full day of travel each way). So, suffice to say I am happy to be able to hunker down and enjoy the next few weeks of break enjoying the holidays in this wonderful city. Here are a few of my favorite things to do during the holiday season (and colder months in general):

  1. Dollar Grilled Cheese Night at Bodega: That’s right. A hip little bar nestled in the Short North Arts District offers $1 Grilled Cheese on Mondays ALL NIGHT LONG. Come on. Who doesn’t love to warm up with a grilled cheese and bowl of tomato soup on a cold Monday night?
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nom nom nom

2. Wildlights at Columbus Zoo & Aquarium: The Columbus Zoo is already remarked as one of the best in the country. What makes it better? Gazillions of twinkling lights. My favorite moment this year was seeing a tiger family all cuddled up together in a big ball of fur to keep warm. If it weren’t for the signs (nevermind the obvious fear for my life), I would have climbed right in there with them.

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3. Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival: This was a first for me this year. Hundreds of elaborate lanterns handmade by Chinese artisans in Zigong, China are on display the entire month of December at the Ohio fairgrounds. There’s also a variety show at peak times, including mask-changing, bowl-flipping, jar-balancing, and acrobatic martial arts. The music in the background was an eclectic mix of electronic and jazz, and it was truly spectacular.

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This was my favorite display. Look how happy those little bees are.

4. Christmas Lights at Collin’s House: This is a funny story. As a kid growing up in Upper Arlington (just 5 minutes from OSU campus) my parents always drove my sister and me around in our pajamas to see the Christmas lights at least once a season (more if we begged, which we did). There was one house that always stood out among the rest, and the cars literally lined up in front of it every night so whiny kids like me could see the ridiculously elaborate display of Christmas lights. Fast forward 20.5 years to last August: on one of my first days in the MHRM program, I met someone named Collin who was also from UA. I asked him where, exactly, he grew up, and he said “I live in the house with the ridiculously elaborate display of Christmas lights.” My jaw dropped, and it was at that exact moment I knew we were destined to be friends.

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A snapchat from Collin himself. Like I said, cars literally line up in front of his house. He’s pretty much a celebrity.

5. The Nutcracker Ballet: At the Ohio Theater each year, Ballet Met puts on a spectacular performance of the Nutcracker. I missed it the last two years while living away, and I am really excited for it this year. For some reason, it just makes the holiday season feel complete.

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Reflections on 2016

I’ll be honest– I have a hard time knowing what to write for my blog. This year has been full of change I never would have anticipated. If there’s one overaching epiphany I’ve had in 2016, it’s that only I can create my own destiny. I tell my friends and family– probably to their annoyance– that they’re similarly charged with creating their own paths in life.

The precursor to this crazy year came in December 2015. I’d just informed my supervisor that I was not going to renew an employment agreement expiring in April 2016. At the time, my goal was to stay in the industry which I’d given my all to for almost 20 years. I’d worked my way up, making many sacrifices along the way, and wanted to continue reaping the financial rewards. I was desperately hoping to move to a larger, more progressive city and finally live “the dream.” However, I’d also become ready to be challenged in new ways; I was emotionally and mentally burnt out. It had been sort of a… slow burn. For years, I just wasn’t enjoying work anymore. I knew deep down inside that something needed to change.

Despite this gnawing awareness, I continued the search for the “perfect” job into the spring, but– because my profession was extremely specialized and there were literally only three or four people doing what I was doing in each major city– I had no luck. Each day became more discouraging until I finally realized I had to make some uncomfortable decisions. New job field? New city? Or… new degree?

After much soul-searching, I decided it was time for a fresh start in grad school. I didn’t like the idea of going into debt and “putting my life on hold for two years.” But I also loved the idea of being intellectully stimulated and pursuing a field that would better align with my personal and professional values.

I pondered. A lot. MBA? Social work? JD? (I had taken the LSAT years ago…) Online courses? In-person? Should I study where I want to live or focus only on the quality of the program? Decisions, decisions.

Then, I stumbled upon this link on OSU’s website. Human resources management? At first, I thought… mmm… maybe… kinda sorta. But I admit that my perception of HR was the common one– the paper-pushing, bureaucratic person removed from strategic decision-making. No, thanks. Then, however, I started investigating. Turns out… more and more companies see HR as leaders as key players in the strategic process– and they really like HR professionals with graduate degrees. I kept doing my research and kept finding myself more and more attracted to the field– and to OSU.

I applied for the MHRM program in June-ish and was accepted in July. I believe I was one of the last — if not the last– students admitted to the cohort.

Now that I’ve finished my first semester (yay!), I can truly say that going back to school and choosing this program is THE best decision I have ever made in my life. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I’ve met some of the coolest, smartest, nicest people. I’ve been challenged to think in new ways. I’ve been forced to think about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. And most importantly, I’ve given myself the chance to start over and to– in the process– become a better person.

2017 should be just as great. I’ve accepted an internship with PepsiCo which I’m so grateful to have received– and am supposed to find out where it’ll be any day now.

The ride so far has been amazing!

Now… what are YOU doing in 2017?

How to have a Stress-Free Winter Break

After a fun, though stressful semester, everyone needs a break from school– and winter break is the perfect time to relax and take your mind off school for a while.

1. Pass your finals – This one may be the most important. Not that anyone needs to be concerned about this, but ensuring you put your all into each class will leave you with no regrets once break starts.

2. Spend time with family – I love spending time with my family. They are one of the best stress relievers because they are always by my side supporting me through my education. No matter what, I know they’ll be there for me.

3. Spend as much time as possible around dogs (or any pet)  – I LOVE dogs. I have been so lucky in the last year that so many dogs have come into my life. I have found dogs are the ultimate stress reliever. Last year, my parents got a puppy. Then, three months ago, my brother and his wife got twin puppies. And my cousin just got a puppy last month. These dogs always put a smile on my face, and often times get my mind off of some of the things that might cause stress. I will put some pictures of the lovely dogs in my life in this blog.

This is Izzy and Remy, my brother's twin puppies. They dressed up this year for Halloween!
This is Izzy and Remy, my brother’s twin puppies. They dressed up this year for Halloween!
This is my cousins wiener dog, his name is Dash. He is sitting in my cousins hoodie.
This is my cousin’s wiener dog. His name is Dash. (He’s sitting in my cousin’s hoodie.)

4. Reconnect with old friends – Everyone has someone who they wish they would reconnect with over break. DO IT! This is the perfect time to meet up with friends you may not have seen since college started. Make sure you hang out with your good friends, but do not be afraid to reconnect with someone you may not have talked to recently.

5. Watch Netflix – Catch up on all the shows you’ve been missing out while studying all semester!

Winter break is meant to be a relaxing time where you can catch up with family and friends and celebrate the holiday season. I wish everyone happy holidays, and I will see you in the New Year!

First Semester Favorites

It is surreal to think that my first semester of graduate school has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday I was beginning my first day of orientation, yet here I am, half a “Master.” As I reminisce on the past 15 weeks, I thought I would highlight my five favorites of the semester.

  1. Ohio State Athletics. It goes without saying that The Ohio State University is a football school, through and through. I had season tickets, which meant I spent many Saturdays at the Horseshoe. Not only did the Buckeyes have a great season– Mother Nature did her part, giving us beautiful weather (with the exception of a rainy Tulsa game).
Ohio State vs. Northwestern {10/29/16}
Ohio State vs. Northwestern {10/29/16}

As part of my Business of College Sports class, I also had the opportunity to attend a basketball game. Athletic Director Gene Smith and his wife Sheila hosted us in their suite for the men’s game against Providence. The Buckeyes pulled off a “W,” and it was so nice to relax with classmates after a particularly stressful week. This was my first Ohio State basketball game but it will not be my last!

Living the "Suite Life" with Gene Smith
Living the “Suite Life” with Gene Smith

I also went to my first hockey games this fall! One of the major components of my Sports Marketing class was doing the promotion activities for both a men’s and women’s ice hockey game. In addition to marketing the games beforehand, we were also responsible for running in-game promotions. I had no idea what to expect, and ended up having a great time. I am definitely going to make a point to get to more games during the second semester. Not only does the sport’s fast pace make it a lot of fun to watch, admission to the games is free with a valid BuckID.

Ohio State Men's Ice Hockey vs. Bowling Green State University {10/22/16}
Ohio State Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Bowling Green State University {10/22/16}
  1. MAcc Activities. Each MAcc class has a MAcc Council, tasked with providing various social opportunities for students enrolled in the program. Some events are geared toward only MAcc students, while others are hosted in conjunction with the other Fisher graduate programs. These activities included a scavenger hunt, a Halloween party, tailgates for every home football game, a white elephant gift exchange, and the Lights at the Columbus Zoo. It is so nice to have the chance to spend time with classmates outside of the classroom and I appreciate that so much effort goes into planning these happenings.
MAcc at the Lights at the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
MAcc at the Lights at the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
  1. Classes. While the Business of College Sports was definitely one of my favorite classes, another favorite was Professional Research. The course was designed to teach us how to use the FASB Accounting Standards Codification online database and how to apply the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to various cases. The professor was outstanding and while the assignments were incredibly challenging, I really liked learning the “real world” application of GAAP.
  1. Group Work. Never in a million years did I imagine this would be the highlight of my semester, but I have truly come to love working in a group. This is partially attributable to my teammates. Everyone I have worked with has been so much fun, which makes for really enjoyable meetings. I have also come to appreciate how much easier it is to do things with the help of others. Everyone brings a different set of skills and a new perspective, which means the final product is that much stronger.
  1. Being a Buckeye. I can honestly say that I love coming to campus every single day. I love my classes, the people I am surrounded by, and my job in the Graduate Programs Office. It is so fulfilling to be a part of a university where there is so much pride for the institution. While it will be refreshing to have a break to get some much needed rest, I am already looking forward to the second semester! Columbus definitely feels like home.

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Holiday Party & Lights in the German Village

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The SMF program kicked off December with an evening together at our professor’s house enjoying a holiday party and explored the German village’s Village Lights. The highlight of the party was a “secret Santa” gift exchange where we all exchanged a gift with one of our classmates. In the giving spirit, I want to give you some of the best moments from a fun night with great people.

Enjoying the evning with SMF students & Dr. Pinteris
Enjoying the evening with SMF students & Dr. Pinteris.

Like any good party, there was good food! Sweet chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered mint Oreos, sugar cookies, and candy set the stage for savory snacks like meatballs and mushrooms.

The snack table is always a popular hang out
The snack table is always a popular hang out.

My favorite part of the party was decorating the Christmas tree together. The only rule of the party was that everyone had to put an ornament on the tree. At the end of the day, our work look great!

The finished product! Teamwork makes the dream work
The finished product. Teamwork makes the dream work, as the saying goes!

Near the end of the party, we all went outside to explore the neighborhood. The first Sunday in December, the German Village hosts “Village Lights.” Many people decorate and open their homes– and stores stay open late– as others come and visit. Check out what it looks like here in this video.

Wishing you all a safe & warm holiday season, and a healthy new year!

 

MAcc Fall Reception

As an end-of-the year celebration, the MAcc program (including faculty and students )all got together for one last hoorah. We had an evening reception with dinner and drinks the Friday before finals week began. I can’t believe we are 50% there! [editor’s note: the MAcc program duration is nine months]

The night started off with a cocktail hour followed by a dinner. A great thing about the reception was that it was a mix of faculty and students so we got to sit with our professors and interact with them on a more social level, rather than professional level. Of course, this was followed up by Professor Zach’s excellent jokes and Professor Turner’s “twas the night before finals” rendition. All in all it was a great time to get to know the professors and program director better. It was also yet another opportunity to get to know my classmates more. There was also an alumna speaker that graduated from the program two years ago. Her speech really got to me as I realized this is my last year of college, last year to enjoy not working full-time, and last year to get to know these wonderful people I just met (but feel like I have known for much longer).

Macc Reception
MAcc Reception

After the reception, a large portion of us attended the Fisher College of Business ugly sweater party downtown. With only half of the program still to complete, I couldn’t have made it this far without my fellow classmates. I didn’t know anyone before moving up here and now I am worried about how much I will miss them just over winter break. Your classmates really will be your support system as everyone is in the same boat. I’m looking forward to being done with finals, but also looking forward to another (last) semester at Fisher! Happy New Year!

It’s the Holiday Season

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, the Christmas season! With Black Friday sales just a few weeks ago, the “official” start of the holiday season has begun. Everywhere you go, people are putting up Christmas lights, decorating doors with wreaths, and playing familiar Christmas tunes. These are just a few things I love about Christmas, but for an exhaustive list, check this out.

Our Specialized Master in Finance class decided to follow this trend and get into the holiday spirit, as well, before Finals kick off here at the end of the week. The majority of the class attended a holiday celebration at Professor Fuller‘s home this past Sunday night. We are very grateful to be able to celebrate together, and enjoy the wonderful appetizers, cookies, and hot cider that Mrs. Fuller had for us.

Appetizers & Cookies
Appetizers & Cookies

In addition, the Christmas tree was left undecorated for all of us to help. For some, it was their first time putting ornaments on the tree and this was a cool experience to be a part of. Also, I had the honor of placing the angel on top of the Christmas tree (mostly because I am a tall human being); nonetheless, it was a cool thing to do.

The decorated Christmas tree from the house.
The decorated Christmas tree from the house.

During the week prior, our Specialized Master in Finance Council also had organized a Secret Santa gift swap. For those unfamiliar, basically you are assigned another person in the class and you get to give that person a gift (we had a $20 limit on gifts). At Professor Fuller’s, we all exchanged gifts with whom we were assigned. I received an exquisite box of delicious chocolate mints– thank you very much to my Secret Santa!

Finally, the neighborhood of German Village had its Village Lights Festival, in which houses and businesses in the area are decorated and all lit up, to put the neighborhood in the holiday spirit. We drove though the neighborhood instead of walking, due to the cold rain that was falling, but still were able to enjoy the Christmas spirit.

It was a great event to kick the season off, and I am looking forward to getting back to Cleveland to celebrate even more with my family!

A Taste of America

The second term of the first semester often brings just as much stress as the first term, but it also brought me some wonderfully American experiences.

I am a huge basketball fan and the NBA can be a fabulous diversion from schoolwork. This year, during their pre-season, the Cleveland Cavaliers played a game in the Schottenstein Center. I was delighted to have the opportunity to watch the Cavs play right next to my house and having a lifelong Cavs fan with me just made it even better. The stadium atmosphere was completely amazing. The honor of watching the biggest star in the MBA, LeBron James, and his champion teammates was an exciting moment– a nice distraction from the exams and assignments of the program. They truly embody the saying, “work hard, play hard.”

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Despite the workload, there is still time to relax with family and friends.  On this front, nothing is more traditional in the USA than Thanksgiving. So on the fourth Thursday of November, the 23rd, I spent one of the most traditional and delightful nights of the year with a friend and her family. The image of a big turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and jellied cranberry sauce is both very accurate and very delicious. I was also lucky enough to be able to try other traditional American dishes like sweet potato casserole topped with toasted marshmallows (my favorite dish) and homemade apple pie. Coming from Brazil, I wasn’t sure what to expect from an American Thanksgiving, but I was thrilled to be welcomed into the tradition and to try all the delicious food.  I hope they enjoyed the Brazilian treat that I brought for them, brigadeiros, as much as I enjoyed their cooking.

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I had a great time learning more about the holiday. I also had the unique opportunity to get to know my friend’s dogs and their job in agility training.  Dog agility exists all over the world, including in Brazil, but I had never gotten up close to the canine athletes. I also got to learn about a very interesting party game called Cards Against Humanity. While not necessarily business-school appropriate, it was great for getting us all laughing at the horrible and hilarious answers.

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Had I not come to Fisher College of Business, I never would have had these experiences.  I’m thankful for meeting these great people who have welcomed me into their lives and homes.  These friends have made the exams and assignments not just easier, but also more enjoyable.  They have made the time between assignments more than I could have asked for.

Gratitude Practiced Daily Becomes Habit

With the Thanksgiving holiday recently behind us, I’m trying to make more of a conscious effort to take time each day to reflect on things in my life I’m grateful for. This is something that we did with the clients each night at the residential treatment program I previously worked at, but it’s the first time I’m taking a stab at incorporating it into my own life.

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The reason, you ask? Here’s a logical one: Professor Will Shepherd recently cited a “Ted Talk” in which psychologist Shawn Achor argues that the formula most people use to govern their lives: hard work leads to success which leads to happiness, is inherently backwards. Research suggests that happier brains are more creative and productive than those individuals with negative self-talk. So, we ought to be thinking: how can we be happier and more fulfilled, leading us to achieve a higher level of success and productivity in our lives, leading to a higher level of happiness and fulfillment? And the cycle continues.

At the end of the 12-minute presentation (and I encourage you to watch the whole thing, especially if you’re a psychology nerd like me), Achor offers some suggestions for how this can feasibly be done. For 21 days in a row, consciously acknowledge and write down (that part is important) 3 events, things, or people, you interacted with or participated in that you are grateful for. How does it work? In simplest terms, given that our brains are plastic, we are able to reprogram our thinking by simply practicing thinking in certain different ways. By acknowledging gratitude, your brain actually rewires itself to scan the world for the positive.

So, here are 3 things I am thankful for today:

  • My work unit. I share an office with 4 of the kindest, wittiest, and well-informed individuals. I am constantly impressed by their positive outlook on the world and how they can take any mundane task and make it fun.
  • My job. I am biased, but I think I have one of the most rewarding graduate assistantships around. I get to talk about a program, university, and city I love every single day.
  • My friend, Tony. Tony works with me in the GPO (also a blogger here) and has become one of my closest confidants in the program. He is so open-minded and always challenges me in my thinking when I most need it. He’s always looking out for me and my best interests. Tony rocks.

This exercise is already helping me put things in perspective as classes ramp up around the end of the semester when projects are due and exams are scheduled. I encourage everyone to take time each day to be grateful. Do it for yourself!

Why 24-Hour Access Matters

At the Fisher College of Business, all buildings close at 10 pm and reopen at 7am. This can be problematic for some when they need to get into a building, whether it’s to meet with a group or to access their locker (yep, most Fisher grad students get a locker). One of the cool perks that Fisher MAcc students have is 24-access to our home-base, Gerlach Hall. Every student that goes here for school receives a Buck ID, and this Buck ID can be used to pay for things, to get into the recreational centers on campus– and, for grad students, to get into Gerlach Hall.

Here is my Buck ID (ignore my fake smile)
Here is my Buck ID (ignore my fake smile)

Since the libraries at Ohio State get really busy during midterms and finals, if you need a place to study late at night, you can swipe linto Gerlach Hall. You will be able to find a quiet place to study, or a great room where you can work on a group assignment in Gerlach hall, 24/7. One time, I was studying for a final with a few classmates and we were occupying a classroom in Gerlach hall until about 4am when we finally called it a night. I was surprised, but glad, we were able to stay in the building that late. With how often you work in groups in the MAcc, this is going to be very useful if your group has to meet outside of normal building hours.

There is one of these outside both of the main entrances to Gerlach Hall.
There is one of these outside both of the main entrances to Gerlach Hall.

It is so convenient to know that if you ever have to meet with a group, no matter how early or how late at night, you will be able to meet in Gerlach Hall.