My Chicago SIM Trip

I just got back from an amazing trip to the Windy City (Chicago). Believe it or not, I actually went to Chicago for a class trip on behalf of one of my finance courses, BUSFIN 824 – The Stock Market. It is also known as the Student Investment Management (SIM) course, and it is one of the few classes in the country that puts millions of (real) dollars in the hands of student investment managers. As a class, we are responsible for managing about $22 million, currently, of the Ohio State Endowment Fund that has been allocated to the class specific SIM Portfolio. Each student in the course is responsible for monitoring one stock in the portfolio over the duration of the quarter, and at the end of the quarter, we must decide as a class on whether to buy, sell, or hold our positions in these various stocks. For example, I have been closely monitoring our position in MasterCard (MA) over this quarter and am currently in the process of writing my final report and making a final recommendation on how to change our position in MA.

These final reports are another interesting opportunity of this course in that all of the students’ reports are considered for the “Rosenfield Family Prize” at the end of the quarter. The student with the best report is awarded $2,000 and there is a $500 runner-up award to the next best report in the class. Like any good Fisher MAcc student, I enjoy submitting a good quality report just for the sake of trying my best… but $2,000 is not a bad additional motivator.

The Cloud Gate
The Cloud Gate

Now back to this class trip. The SIM class actually pays for the flight to Chicago (or New York, depending on the quarter). Our trip consisted of several meetings with some higher-up individuals in various finance-focused organizations throughout Chicago, including: GEM Realty Capital, Mesirow Financial, Oak Ridge Investments, and Goldman Sachs. We met with either former OSU alumni or people with ties to Ohio at each of these firms, and they shared their varying experiences and advice. We also had the great opportunity of visiting the famous Chicago Board Options Exchange, and we even had a chance to see the trading floor.

CBOE Trading Floor

Overall it was a great and unforgettable trip to Chicago, and I just want to say thank you to all the individuals who took the time to meet with us. For any soon-to-be MAcc students reading this, I would highly recommend taking the SIM class. Keep in mind that it is a Finance MBA course, but even for those students with just an overall curiosity about the world of finance, this has been a great course. (Successful completion of the course counts as a non accounting elective toward the MAcc degree.) For more information, check out the course website here.

Thanksgiving break in Chicago

Over the Thanksgiving break, I went to Chicago with friends from college. Not surprisingly, Chicago welcomed me with cold and windy weather. Although I did bring a heavy coat with me, a walk down in the Chicago wind is still quite an “experience”. The wind is so freezing cold that, as a first-timer to Chicago, I didn’t feel like taking photos of the amazing city views along the Michigan Avenue but letting my hands be bitten by the wind. After a tough twenty minutes walk , I finally arrived at my destination of that day: Millennium Park.

The Cloud Gate quickly attracted my eyes. Typical of the contemporary art, this Chicago landmark has attracted visitors from around the world, including fellow Buckeyes. I was excited to encounter four MAcc classmates there: Xinhui, Jianing, Chuan, and Jiang. Guess what we did? An O-H-I-O picture in front of the Cloud Gate. Xinhui, Chuan, Jiang, and I were very proud to pose an O-H-I-O. I had the feeling that no matter where I go in the future, if I shout out O-H, there is a good chance that I will hear back I-O, because OSU alumni are literally everywhere around the world.

Besides awesome parks,  Chicago offers great food and a unique metropolitan appeal. A must-do on many visitors’ lists is eating the Chicago-style (deep dish) pizza. My friends and I went to Lou Malnati’s. Without exaggeration, the pizza at Lou Malnati’s was the most delicious pizza I have ever had: juicy, flavorful, and great texture. Yummy!!!

Another must-do in Chicago is going up to the top of Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower). The elevator only took a minute or two to take us to the top of the building. The views on the top floor were amazing. One can only have a comparable view over the city on a plane. However, there is something that a plane cannot offer: taking a photo on the Skydeck. Skydeck is a transparent deck that extends beyond the building. In other words, one literally stands outside of the building and views the streets some 1,400 feet below. I thought twice before I stepped onto the deck. Although I knew that standing on the Skydeck was no different from standing inside, my fear of height got me at that moment. It took me a while before I took the “risky” move. Oh my …, I could feel my feet shaking. Fortunately, I am still alive! Isn’t it 1 million times better to be sitting in my apartment and writing a blog than standing outside/on top of a 1451-foot building? Yes!!!