Varsity Club: Say Hello To Goodbye

Varsity Club: right there on Lane Avenue, across from the fabled Fisher and Gerlach Halls.  It was one of the first places we went, orientation mixer, and had a chance to really develop the bonds that this Cohort is known for.  Second years are still talking about and envious of how well we’ve meshed. Reference my Cohort blog post here.

It’s the first place we got to say hello, relax a little and let the business school armor fall to the ground with a clang on the concrete floors outside the school where they belonged.  We are MLHR, and we are like none other, not MBA nor MAcc.  There’s a spirit in us that is different, undeniable and incredible. Because of this, we let ourselves be unguarded and vulnerable, mingle, really know each other, and start to form this amazing cohesive unit that we are today.

I did not have the final that everyone took this night, but I wanted to meet up with everyone there at Varsity Club afterward to say goodbye to those that would be leaving soon for their summer internship adventures, because I love each and every one of them.  We have become more than friends, more than colleagues, and more along the lines of family and veterans of a war.  The war is grad school, we are wearing Purple Hearts proudly, tending to each others’ wounds, talking about kills and comparing scars.  We leave no one behind.  I have more brothers and sisters than I could ever have hoped for, and the blood we all share is scarlet and gray.

When we first met at the Varsity Club for our very first mixer, we were a ragtag bunch of adventurers, vagabonds, neophytes and strangers.  We knew nothing about each other and we were sizing each other up as competition.  Varsity Club changed that for all of us, and we are stronger, wiser and better because of it.  We are a melting pot of personalities, cultures, backgrounds and education that reflect the business world so absolutely and perfectly.  Because of that, and what we learn from each other, we will all change the world.

Unfortunately, the last time we got together at Varsity Club as an entire Cohort was sometime early Winter quarter.  Tonight, however, we gathered to say our farewells and good lucks and congratulations and expressions of missing and keep in touches and best wishes.  It was like coming home again for the holidays.  The din of shuffling tables and scraping chairs as we grew in number and decreased and grew again; people playing Chinese Fire Drills as we switched around to talk to each other; voices carrying across the expanse of the bar and tables; flashes of cameras and scents of greasy food was like a reunion.  Here was our family, battered and exhausted, but happy and content.  We were together again.  And for a night, we laid down our burdens and regaled each other with memories of things past and visions of things future.

Varsity Club is the place where we came to shake off Stats, had cold drinks to cast off the coils of Compensation, and release the tension from Research Methods.  It was our hub, the focal point of our angst and anxiety, freedom and fear, happiness and horror. This place served as our escape from errors academic, advent of adventures, loudness of laughter and safe place for sorrows.  Here we could be together and all was well because of that.

Soon we will all part for our separate journeys.  It will be strange to not see each other for hours of days, days of weeks and weeks of months.  But I have no doubt in my mind that the bonds we made and the experiences we shared will stretch across state lines, miles of continents, leagues of oceans and seas, time zones and meridians.

We will be together soon again though, more experienced and worldly, stronger than ever, happier to see each other and more ready for the challenges that will face us come September 21st.  We will be first years no longer.  We will be second years, but we will be second to none.  That is how strong we are, because nothing can come between this Cohort and what we will do.

I love you all and wish you the best for the summer, for the coming year and for all that we will encounter afterward.  Together.

(nearly) Group Photo At Varsity Club
"Mom and Dad" Their nicknames for the year
Two of the MLHR boys, Shawn and David
Me and my mei mei (little sis)

Another Blog About Summit Vision

This past Friday many in the MLHR cohort (mainly first years and a couple of second years) went to a place called Summit Vision.  It is a place where many organizations (corporate and student) go for team-building, group bonding, and in our case, learning how to facilitate.  We were told that HR people may be called to serve as some kind of facilitator for the company we work for in a similar situation.  This is true, because my mom had to do something like this YEARS ago at her job (which I was surprised until I saw video footage).  Actually, probably sooner than receiving full-time job offers since some of us will help facilitate similar activities for the first year cohort next year during their Orientation – which is already weird calling the incoming class first years as I am about 4 weeks from entering my second year.

Now I will be the first one to tell you that I did not want to go to this for a number of reasons.

1.  I am not an outdoors person.  If I was meant to roam the outdoors I clearly would have been born as a jungle cat or something.

2.  I do not like heights due to a fear instilled upon me genetically by my mother.  Apparently I give off that vibe, too, since one group was taking bets on whether I was going to do the zip-line. (Most bet against me and won.)3.  Even though I am utterly terrified of heights, this experience was kind of old news to me.  The first time I did a ropes course was when I was in SEVENTH GRADE.  It was a requirement for my gym class, and I was crying and quite sure I was hitting my classmates below me with my tears.  Then, I was required to do it in high school (and run a mile which is completely irrelevant but obviously my secondary educational system was cruel).  Oh wait…I also did it sophomore year in college too.  Every time I got up there, did activities, and took years off of my heart from shaking on the ropes.  Many people who went had never done anything like this, so I was wondering why everyone was so excited.  For me personally, it was just another trip around the carousel. Plus, since I went to undergrad here, I’m pretty sure that was my 4th or 5th time being at Summit Vision.

4.  Like many others, I would’ve rather not have taken the time out of my paycheck from missing work that day or time out of my studies.

However, even through all of these things, I still went and had a pretty good time.  I got up on one task called the X-Files and was completely stumped on how to get pass the first rope step.  Then I tried the rock wall but kept falling and I kept smacking against the wall, and almost injured myself.  I climbed up halfway through up to the zip-line as well, but was practically choking on my own heart so I came down (thank you cohort bets).

A lot of the other cohorts faced their challenges, fears, and succeeded (my group’s name was SuccessONE…a play on words of succession but I forget where the ONE comes from).  But there were a few others who tried to step out of their comfort zone and gravitated to panic and did not go through everything.  Regardless,  I think everyone made some sort of attempt to step out of their comfort zone.

So if you skipped past all this detail and are still reading, I was basically over the whole ropes thing (you can only be “excited” for something that makes you shake in fear so many times).

What I did enjoy though was what others have highlighted in their blogs.  I was placed in a group with people I really don’t talk to that much (and apparently weigh a whole lot more than), and it was nice to be able to spend the day with them.  I even got to chat it up with someone on the bus ride home, and I’m pretty sure it was the longest conversation we have ever had.  Due to classes, groups, and different social interests, it can be easy for classmates to clique up in the program.  It was nice to talk to different people that didn’t involve class, stress, or who was going to write this part of the paper.

I’m glad I did it and I encourage all of the incoming class to do so as well (even if you have done it a million times)!

I would post pictures but I feel Fisher already did a good job with that!

Cohort: Companionship, Cooperation, Coexistence

I had written a blog earlier this quarter about coming full circle in the program.  I had talked about how navigating the workload as a graduate non-degree student last spring was markedly different than doing so with the support and power of the Cohort.  And I had promised to give the Cohort a shout out in a later blog.  So here it is.

What can I say about the Cohort?  First of all, we first years have an awesome one.  Even the second years say so and that they are amazed by how well we all get along.  Which is true!  Despite our many varied personalities and backgrounds, we have gelled into a very cohesive unit that is ready to take the HR world by storm when we finish the program.  These are the people that we will be calling for jobs for ourselves one day, people who will be inundated by resumes from us that we’ve received from nephews, nieces, family friends, buddies and *gasp* perhaps our own children.  “Oh yeah, I know Eric Dosch, SVP of Organizational Change at Exxon.”  Or “Katie Eyre at Anheuser-Busch?  I can get your resume to her.”  “Jen Hunt at Abercrombie?  I’m having brunch with her this weekend.”

It is absolutely amazing what a group of differently-minded, but similarly goal-oriented people can do when we put our heads together.  We can put out papers and projects that amaze professors and colleagues.  We can break up the workload of our intense courses so we only feel like we’re taking a few crazy pills, and not the whole bottle.  We can make sense of the sometimes seemingly nonsensical information we are fed.

Despite this, it’s true, we don’t always get along.  Sometimes, we simply coexist.  We are able to take our different personalities and mindsets and exist in this bubble that usually consists of rooms 305 and 315 of Gerlach Hall.  Although some of us have yet to enter the professional workforce, everyone is learning to be a professional here and now.  We are learning to put aside what has happened in our day and work together and work things out and not let the bad mojo of our personal lives affect our interactions.  We are learning to coexist and cooperate on a level that is above pettiness and agendas and scheming.

Unfortunately, our not so little Cohort has been slightly fragmented this quarter by course selections.  Some people chose HRIS over HR Econ.  Some people chose T&D instead of Staffing.  And I’ll be the first to admit, but most certainly not the last, that it hurts.  We’ve grown so close over the last few quarters that at times, we have separation anxiety.  All of a sudden, that person who is great at managing teams isn’t available.  Or that amazing note taker is in a different elective.  We miss our friends and colleagues.

What do we do?  We make up for it!  There isn’t a weekend that goes by where there isn’t some sort of social event, official or not, that we can come together at.  Even though we spend a significant portion of our lives together, either in class, on Facebook or Twitter, we still want to see each other more.  We remove ourselves from the context of the program and we stop being colleagues and we find that we are amongst great friends that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

I’m getting schmaltzy, but I’ll go on.  This summer, we’ll all be embarking on an adventure and heading out to our respective summer internships.  They will be incredible experiences where we’ll learn much about ourselves and much about what we’ve learned as we apply the invaluable knowledge we have gained in the program thus far.  And for the most part, we’ll be going it alone.  Some people are leaving the area, some of us are staying, and some of us that are staying will have the opportunity to work together at the same company.  (That will be interesting.)  I’m actually hoping someone from Cardinal Health will be sent to the building on OCLC’s campus so they can see “work Wes”, because he is a very different creature than “school Wes” indeed.

But much like going on summer break during high school, we will come back with stories and pictures and memories and new skills.  And instead of staying resolutely our own, they’ll be poured into our collective consciousness and become something that all members of the Cohort can learn from and bask in and enjoy.  We are the Borg.

So, cheers to the Cohort.  To us, to fun, to work and to our future!

Coming Full Circle

Here I am, in my second spring quarter in the MLHR program in the Fisher College of Business at THE Ohio State University.  Yes, it is my second spring quarter, yes I am a first year, no I am not graduating early.

What I did instead was take two courses SP10 as a graduate non-degree student to try out the program.  Since there were no pre-reqs for the program, I was able to apply and have my application approved without issue and register as soon as registration closed for students in the program.  For those on the fence about the program, this is a great way to get a feel for the program and its demands.

I took BMHR855 and 865, Training and Development with Dr. Noe and Compensation with Dr. Heneman, respectively.  It was a tremendous experience:  tremendously educating, tremendously challenging, tremendously frightening and tremendously exciting!

Who remembers the first day of our program, sitting down in your first seat (the one you probably kept all quarter long), grabbing your new best friend from orientation, affixing your name tag (that no one uses anymore) and putting your name plate up in its little slot.  Felt good, right!?  You were talking excitedly with everyone else, sharing secrets about the professor you learned from a 2nd year at Varsity Club after the team building, and catching up about what you’ve done since orientation.  You were anxious and nervous but the burgeoning Cohort mentality was mitigating all that and you felt good!  Happy!  Excited!

Now, take that all away.  As a graduate non-degree, I had no orientation, no team-building, no socials, no name plate (I had a sad piece of paper that Noe wrote my name on for me because my handwriting is so small) or name tag.  One of the courses I took is generally geared toward 2nd years, one more toward 1st years.  Regardless, the Cohort for each year had been established and bonds had been built.  And in walks me, GND Guy, the loner, the weirdo.  No one to talk to, no one I knew.

That was the frightening part.  Next was the challenging part: being in a course with grad students in a very intimate setting (compared to the cavernous, student-packed halls of undergrad Psych lectures), with renowned professors who are experts in their fields.

That was also the educational part.  These professors knew what they were talking about!  Noe is a whiz and up to date with all the most recent training and development methods and technology and generational nuances.  Noe literally wrote the book that was taught.  Heneman is a compensation Jedi master, and to see him in his depth and speaking passionately about his specialty is to see a man come alive.  Heneman is cited in the compensation book every other paragraph seemingly, and that is no exaggeration.  And of course, the mixture of students with me provided insight from either their jobs that were directly involved with HR or were able to draw connections between the material and their own careers. Very exciting stuff.

I had no idea what to expect from that moment on. It was difficult making connections, if only because I was being uncharacteristically shy and intimidated.  But once we began working in groups, it became incredibly easy to speak to people and get to know them.  Because true to the MLHR spirit, we are great people who love to connect, support each other  and help out a friend or colleague in need.

And that’s how I fell in love with the program.  The first time.  Then came all the hooplah that came with my official acceptance, like the name plate and bonding and big huge envelopes.  And of course, the Cohort.  How much I love my Cohort and how they have enriched my experience in the program cannot be expressed.  Maybe they’ll get their own blog entry, because it would take too many words to show my appreciation for them and describe how they have made this program so memorable.

So here I am, come full circle, second spring quarter.  Very different than the first, but just as tremendously educating, tremendously challenging, tremendously frightening (in a different sense) and tremendously exciting as the first time around.