An afternoon with Alcoa

In all the excitement last week, with the case competition, and studying for exams this week, I almost left out writing about another awesome opportunity I had last week. Last Wednesday, the aluminum manufacturer Alcoa had a function on campus relating to some of the grants they have given to the school for various research projects.  If you are interested in reading more about those grants, I am going to include a link to the Lantern (Ohio State’s student newspaper) article about it:

As the article notes, Alcoa’s chairman & CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld, was present at the function, as were several other executives from the company.  Alcoa, in case you didn’t know, is ranked 128th on the Fortune 500 list for 2013.   I thought that it was pretty awesome to get to attend a rather small (under 100 person) function at which a CEO of that caliber was speaking, and took the time to share his honest answers to student questions on a variety of issues. After the formal presentation was over, there was a more casual networking dinner with the executives present.  Opportunities like that don’t just come along every day, but they do seem to come by much more often now that I am a MBA candidate than they did in the corporate world.

That is one of the great things about Ohio State, and Fisher College of Business, is the breadth and depth of ties to industry that the organizations have.  Just based off the sheer numbers of graduates every year, Ohio State has one of the largest bases of alumni in the country, and that can be a powerful thing when you are trying to network professionally.  The different colleges on campus also have ties to industry in their own sectors as well, either through their faculty and staff, or through collaboration on projects.   This broad network can come in handy when trying to attain better information about a target organization or industry.

As an aside, one reason that I was very excited to attend this Alcoa event, is because the corporation is active with a group called American Corporate Partners (ACP).  ACP is a mentorship program which connects qualified military veterans with mentors who are all business executives.  I am an alumni of the program, and the gentleman who was kind enough to devote time to being my mentor is an executive with Alcoa, so I have a high regard for the company.  If you are a veteran looking into business school or entering the corporate world, I highly recommend applying for ACP.

Classes So Far

So I’ve once hit that snag where “I’m so over this quarter.”  It typically happens around midterms.  I think it also does not help that next week I schedule my last two classes of graduate school, so I am THAT much closer to receiving my MLHR degree.  It also does not help that I have what seems an overwhelming amount of projects to do in a very little span of time.

I don’t know why, but winter quarters always are rough.  Always.  Normally, it is due to the weather making your classes and doing work even more horrible.  But “winter” has not even been all that bad…almost even pleasant (atmospherically).  Maybe it is due to the fact that I actually have to take 3 classes to prevent getting caught up in the whole semester switch conversion.  I don’t know.  But anyways…

Employment Law

This class speaks for itself.  It covers all of the different laws that apply to organizations.  I never knew how much the law affected business.  I see why many lawyers do not actually have to be court attorneys like on Law and Order, but are able to work in corporate America.  Both of our instructors are licensed attorneys.  The first one we had has a Juris Doctor, but was also a Human Resources Director.  So much about the law applies to human resources that you don’t even need to have a “Master’s of Labor and Human Resources” to be effective.  A lot of the information can be a little legal jargon-y, but it is a lot of information that I never thought about before.  Though future students in this program will not have this class, Employment Law is different than Labor Law.  Labor law applies more to labor unions and collective bargaining.  Employment law is what most HR professionals deal with.  A lot of actual labor law human resources issues, from personal experience, are not even handled by HR professionals but lawyers.  For example, the labor adviser for the organization that I work with is an attorney (but she also has her MBA so she works with the business aspects as well).  The instructor who is in charge of the class had a child on our first day of class, so we have had someone else teach half of the class while the main instructor has been resting.  We have a group project where we have to make a video, and I have nine other group members.  Also, the final is worth 80% of our total grade.  YOWZA.

Organizational Development and Change

We actually have not covered anything concerning organizational development.  It should probably be called Change Management in the future (maybe something else though because there is already Talent and Performance Management and that might get unoriginal).  This class has been intense.  There are cases we have to discuss every week in class.  I swear every class’s purpose is to do a 180 on what we are supposed to think.  I would say a good 60% of the material was written by the professor and his wife.  He really takes some interesting perspectives to change that I have never thought of…that can apply to your everyday life (not just grandiose company “change efforts”).  I am nervous about practically every assignment we have in this class.   All the readings of this class were condensed in the first 5 weeks.  So I’m done with reading for this class thank goodness, but trying to keep up with everything in this class has sucked so far.  I mean I’m sure it won’t be easy with the midterm, project, and presentation we will have to do.  But if I have gotten through other classes I can get through this one (hopefully).

Organizational Behavior

This is the class that I really like the most this quarter.  It is taught by Dr. Inks.  All the people who I have known to have him for class have claimed he was great.  At my past internship, one of my coworkers hated everything about HR (why he was working in that position I really don’t know), but when he took OB with Inks he actually started to like HR.  When all these people were praising him, I actually thought I wasn’t going to be impressed, but I must admit I will have to agree with everyone else.  I don’t know.  I think it is something about his teaching style that makes you want to actually participate when he’s teaching.  Not many professors can pull off being interesting and inviting at the same time.   All of the topics are really interesting and feel like “progressive human resources”.  We get a say in what we want to do for our project, too.  If I go back and get a PhD in the future then this would probably what I would consider studying.

The entire month of February is not really looking like any kind of fun.  I am determined that if I can get through at least March then I will definitely be getting my degree.

Wish me luck!




It’s final-ly here, the end of the term!

And I can certainly reconfirm,

That whether or not it was what we thought,

In our first quarter, we learned a lot!


Does marginal benefit equal marginal cost?

In accounting, do you ever find yourself lost?

On a cash flow statement, you subtract a gain,

Are you aware of the intangible value chain?


Extra study sessions may be something you savor.

Can you manage post contractual opportunistic behavior?

Rational, Evaluating, Maximizing individuals have a choice,

Make sure you evaluate your strong leaders using VOICE.


While we’re studying and prepping for this final week

For once in our lives, we’re not unique,

We are all working hard (of course, not to cram!)

Good luck to all on your final exams!

Grades and Exams In Graduate School (At Least From My Perspective)

This post has been inspired by a recent exam grade that I have received for one of my classes.  It wasn’t absolutely stellar, but it didn’t make me want to down cyanide pills (and the way this class is designed it is better that I chance having my slightly better than mediocre grade than take the comprehensive final).  My experiences with assignments, grades, and exams in graduate school can only come from the experience of someone who graduated with a degree in journalism just a few years ago from Ohio State, so if anything that I write about applies to you then be fortunate that you are already one step ahead!


Undergrad was sort of easy for me.  To be fair, the journalism program here isn’t anything prestigious in the world of journalism like Fisher is in the world of business.  I will say though that not everyone is a writer, so what I may have found easy a mathematician, engineer, or pre-med student would have struggled with.  I was though very involved in student organizations and normally held down like 2 jobs, so I wasn’t just a lazy bum.  Anyway, being that I studied journalism, the majority of my assignments were papers done by myself.  The majority of my tests were some kind of multiple choice, and my professors normally gave us some kind of guidance and direction to how to study.  A lot of it was the regurgitation of theory (which I cannot stand), or memorizing some crazy rule from the AP Stylebook (the grammar rules of journalists).


Graduate assignments and tests are a whole new level of crazy.

  1. You are expected to know like an infinity more amount for a test.  The amount you’re expected to read and study is a lot more intense than what I had in undergrad.
  2. There really are not that many smaller papers, projects, or assignments.  Normally it is one huge project or paper that you have to work on with a group of people.  Group work occurred, but did not happen that often with me in undergrad (how many group news reports have you ever read?).  Group work is the nature of Fisher though, because my friends in the undergraduate program would always complain tell me about how many group meetings they had to go to.  My teachers in undergrad would always comment on how everyone’s schedules were so different that they tried to avoid group projects.  I almost never had the same classes with the same people so this was true and difficult, but even when you have all your classes together it is still hard to coordinate the schedules of grad students.
  3. Because there are very few assignments, you really have to make sure that you don’t screw up on an assignment or that could be your grade for the class.   Professors will be willing to help you out, but they don’t have structured mini assignments to make sure you’re doing the reading that you’re even more expected to keep up with in graduate school.  It is nice to not constantly have to be tested on something….sometimes you just need to have a few days where you don’t read anything because of other things going on and have a few days that you don’t ever leave the library.
  4. I wrote a few papers where I was the sole author (if any) in graduate school.  I NEVER wrote a group paper in undergrad (once again though journalism is kind of solo field).  I am sure other graduate students write many individual papers, but due to the collaboration and teamwork of the business world many papers are done with others.  Though it is good that you can split up that 25 page paper among 3 or 4 other people, but truth be told there have been quite a few times I have raised an eyebrow or rolled my eyes at some people’s writing styles or overall lack of effort and would have rather had wrote the paper myself.
  5. The exams are a lot less straightforward.  If you want a study guide, you better study and then make your own guide.  You could be tested on literally anything that you have covered (no matter how obscure it appeared to be in class or in the text).  Professors want you to know theory, but they also want you to apply in some kind of way or example (that either they make up or you have to make up).  This may not be odd for some, but has been a challenge for me in spending time in remembering some particular thing and having an application to it.
  6. Exams also may lead to arthritis as well, because I would say at least 75% of the exams I have taken have been essay.  Essay exams are always the hardest, because you can BS a paper or have a lucky guess on a multiple choice exam but you HAVE to know your stuff in these exams.  There is no way getting out of this.
  7. Last thing I want to say is that a lot of professors in graduate school do not follow the standard midterm/final schedule that most of my teachers did in undergrad.  Midterm and finals week are still stressful, but instead of having to worry about all exams I need to individually study for, I may have one paper, one exam, or one project due (that have due dates that all are annoyingly close to each other).  For my Research Methods and Negotiations class, there was neither a midterm or final.  The final was optional for Staffing and is optional for Collective Bargaining.  With Staffing, the exam was factored in your final grade, and CB if you take the final than your midterm does not factor into your grades (both are comprehensive so it can be worse if you take the final).   There was only one exam for my HRIS class.  A lot of professors believe in different methods of learning than the dreaded test, but regardless these tests/projects/papers are worth a lot of your grade.
  8. There are a lot more presentations.  Most of the presentations that I had to do in undergrad were individual, where most of mine  in graduate school have been group (which you can have the same issues with group papers like someone really not contributing, reads straight from their slides, etc).
So I think that about covers everything.  Oh and being that it is graduate school, it is more challenging obviously.  So though I would love to get an A in everything, I am no longer in high school so it would be good when you start to accept one of my favorite mottoes “Bs get degrees.”

So Close, and Yet, So Far

As a side note, my fiance tells me I have “random song association disorder”. Basically, I randomly think of songs at the most random times that somehow seem to fit perfectly into whatever situation I’m in. When I was typing the title of this post, the song “So Far Away” by Carol King. So anyway, if you know the song, I think you might agree it somewhat fits.

So this week, for all intensive purposes, is finals week. Tonight is our staffing final, tomorrow is our compensation final, and our FastCat paper is also due tomorrow. Thursday we, thankfully, do not have a quiz in MHR 854 because our papers are due. And next week, during finals week, we only have a paper due on Tuesday and our MHR 854 final on Thursday. If I can make it through tomorrow night, I’ll be smooth sailing into the weekend. My part is done on all of my papers, minus 2 1/2 or so pages for our staffing paper, which is the one due next week. Shouldn’t be too bad. I’m glad the majority of finals and papers are this week because I’m moving on Sunday! The scary part isn’t the moving part, it’s the fact that this is the new place with my fiance – which means the wedding is right around the corner! At this time, in 18 days, I will be all dressed up, getting ready to be married. Such a weird thought and feeling.

On Monday, June 7, I start my internship with General Electric. I’m really excited. It seems like it will be a great fit. when they phone interviewed me, they asked me why I decided to be in HR. It’s taken a while to really figure out what I want to do, but I told them that I’m really interested in training and development and a little bit of recruiting and staffing. I really want to be able to help an organization find individuals who are a good fit for the company and also making sure that the company is a good fit for the individual. And, along the way, I want to develop training programs to continue to build the skill sets of employees. After my explanation of what I wanted to do, Dan, the HR manager told me that what I described is exactly what the intern would be doing. That really excited me – to find an internship which would allow me to do what I think I want to do for a career and help me decide if it truly is my career path. And another perk is that I told them I would only be able to work 25 hours or so with my Graduate Assistantship, and they were fine with it. It just seems like the perfect job. I’ll be sure to update everyone on my first day and how things go throughout the summer.

For now, it’s time to work and attempt to get some studying done along the way. I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and that you spent it remembering those who gave their lives to make sure that we have the freedoms we do. Also, read this post by my classmate Mandy Molter. It’s good to show support to our troops, and also those who are civilians who are working overseas to help other countries build their resources so that they can be self-sustaining.

The Mobius Strip

For those of you that are unfamiliar with a mobius strip, check out the picture below. If you chose a starting point and begin moving along the strip, you will traverse the whole strip without ever reaching an edge. Why is this the headline of this post, you ask?

A Mobius Strip
A Mobius Strip

Well, it’s the image that came to mind when I thought about what these next seven days represent. It’s both a beginning (of finals week), an end(of Autumn Quarter), but these are pretty insignificant distinctions when one considers the real goals of the MBA program… Building your skill set, enlarging your network and finding that job that brings you joy and success.

So while it’s tough to stay motivated to study for three finals and write a paper, it’s important to look at life like a Mobius strip. It’s a journey without definitive edges… of course there are defining moments, but there is no option to “pause”, “rewind” or “restart.” You are always traveling through life at a rate which astounds – just think about the things you have done, that you want to do, and the time you have left. It really can take your breath away.

So enough philosophical ranting for today. What I really want to say is:

  • Best of luck on all your papers and exams
  • Take advantage of winter break – we have earned it!
  • Don’t lose sight of your goals
  • Never doubt that you are making progress


The pause that refreshes

I know it’s been a while, loyal readers /skimmers! As I’m sure you’ve realized from other bloggers, one of the two really excellent times during a quarter is just wrapping up – MIDTERMS! To satisfy your curiosity, the other really excellent time is FINALS!

Of course, I’m being slightly sarcastic, but in truth, it is exciting to show all the professors what I’ve learned so far. And the feeling once all the midterms are over… nearly priceless.

So let’s have  a recap of what’s been happening recently.

The good news:

  • All midterm exams and projects are completed
  • The quarter is more than half-way over
  • The community service day was a great opportunity to learn more about the Waste Not Center, run by Professor Neil Drobny
  • The Halloween party was a smashing success! (see the pictures for proof!)
  • U of M has been having a pretty poor football season AND MSU beat U of M

The bad news

  • The quarter is more than half-way over
  • There is another exam next week!
  • The weather is becoming a serious de-motivator… I forget every year just how awful it is to see your breath while walking out to the car… which needs the ice scraped off!

That’s all I’ve got for you right now! Time to relax for a little bit, which means sprinkling in some episodes of House and perhaps a movie or two, while doing all the normal reading, accounting cases, and other assignments!

Pictures from the 2009 Fisher Halloween Party at Mozaik

Myself, Maria and Aaron
Myself, Maria and Aaron
Orlie, Jon and myself
Orlie, Jon and myself
Andrew, Sam, Erin, myself and Anthony
Andrew, Sam, Erin, myself and Anthony

One Down, A Lot More to Go

October 29th, 2009, 1:15pm, Room 355, greetings flying in the room were mostly “are you ready”. A significant number of people were holding a piece of romantic light purple paper. Purple was Dave’s daughter’s favorite color and was therefore designated the color for the pre-assigned mid-term reading.

1:30pm, the AMIS 824 mid-term started. Very intensive, as expected. I tried hard to calm myself down without slowing down on the questions. I had no clue how to finish all the sections correctly and on time, and that article on the romantic light purple paper was killing me, romantically, with something that I love, logic and numbers. I read the article carefully before the exam, trying to follow everything in the report. Almost automatically, my brain assumed that everything mentioned in it was correct and I would be tested based on the information provided in the article, because that’s what exams usually do. Half correct. We were asked to criticize the article. The requirement crashed with my brain’s pre-assumption and thus shorted the thinking. Using Dave’s word selection, that was called a “tragedy”.

I reread the article when waiting for the COTA bus (yea, COTA is always part of daily life). After being told to criticize it, the article seemed a lot more problematic to me. Very ironic. I remembered what was discussed in class, remembered the formulas, remembered the financial statement formats, but I forgot that I am in grad school! I am supposed to always examine and criticize what was told before agreeing with it.

My MBA classmates told me it is going to be okay. They took another course with Dave last quarter and the final was even more “painful” than this one (oh, well). I am not going to examine these statements because they are friends’ comforting words. Is it going to be okay? I don’t know. The only thing I know is—one mid-term down, a lot more to go, more than just exams, way more.

Halfway through midterms…

Things I’ve done this week:

  • Taken an economics midterm (hopefully pretty successfully)
  • Cooked some homemade meatballs according to my dad’s super secret recipe (I joke! It literally fits on a Post-It note)
  • Practiced my midterm presentation (it’s about my guinea pigs)
  • Studied accounting to the point of dreaming about sheep hopping over little “T-accounts”

Things I still need to do:

  • Take accounting midterm (Wednesday AM)
  • Present about said piglets (Wednesday PM)
  • Develop 2 pages for Team W.A.M’s 812 project (by Wednesday at 11:59 PM)
  • Have a tasty dinner with my good friend from OC (Wednesday PM)
  • Read economics articles and a chapter in the text (Thursday AM)
  • Meet with my fellow W.A.M’ers to discuss 812 project and FSA 4 for accounting (Thursday PM)
  • Have first training session as a Kaplan test prep teacher (Thursday PM)
  • Have drinks with a former colleague who is in town from upstate NY (Thursday (very late) PM)
  • Fisher Serves Community Service Day (Friday all day)
  • Buy accessories for Halloween party at Mosaik (Friday PM)
  • Have an awesome time at said Halloween party with some of my friends from outside the MBA program (Friday PM/Saturday AM)
  • Sell handmade jewelry at the 1st annual GMP craft fair in Newark (Saturday all day)
  • Work on 860 individual case assignment (intermittent)

Wow. I thought maybe writing down everything would make it seem manageable… not so sure about that!

Good luck to all my classmates, as I’m sure their lists are as daunting (or even more so) than this one!


It’s beginning to feel a lot like… Internship and Midterm season!

I apologize to those of you who read the first seven words and began to have the tune for a Christmas song in your head… but it seemed an appropriate way to express my sentiment!

I feel like I just started here at Fisher, but I’ve already had two interviews for internships, with another next week, and a fourth one pending… It’s truly wonderful how many great companies are coming specifically to Fisher to recruit MBA interns. I met some amazing representatives from American Woodmark, Unilever, P&G, Bosch, DOW and many other companies at the Fisher Career Fair the end of last month. From that fair, I was able to get an interview with two very senior employees at American Woodmark. The internship sounds truly amazing, mostly because of how appealing the company culture is. I also got an interview with Johnson&Johnson. One of the interviewers had been a presenter at the Operations & Logistics Boot Camp at Fisher. (The Boot Camps are excellent opportunities to really get a feel for the different career paths, as well as to mingle with professionals). A big thanks to the Office of Career Management for sponsoring so many great opportunities!

The other big news at Fisher is that midterm season is almost upon us! The Class of 2011 has its first midterm next Tuesday, and then two midterms and one midterm presentation the following week. It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by. As a “newbie” to the quarter system, I am truly amazed at how rapidly the classes progress. I’m sure I won’t be the only one doing some serious studying and reviewing the next two weeks! One really nice thing is that several professors are holding extra review sessions in the evenings and even on weekends, in addition to the normal review sessions during the week. The professors here are truly dedicated to our success – it’s a really nice feeling to know that people really care about our progress!

Good luck to everyone studying, and congratulations to the new FGSA members from the Class of 2011!