A Juggling Act

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“Work-Life balance” is a phrase I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. My first two weeks of grad school consisted of 12 hours of class, 40 hours of work, 2 career workshops, 3 informational meetings, 1 career fair and several long hours of reading (exact number unknown). I ate a lot of fast food, slept far less than the recommended daily average, and managed to wash exactly zero dishes. Let me tell you, grad school at the Fisher College of Business is no joke.

I’ve always considered juggling one of my strengths (no, not literal juggling). But by the end of the first week, I already felt myself floundering– barely treading water to stay afloat in the sea of opportunity. I found myself looking around in my classes, wondering how the heck is everyone else doing it?! How do I juggle work, school, and a social life, which are all arguably—and certainly in my opinion— components of a healthy life? Is it okay for one to win out over the others, or even more dramatically, to drop one entirely so the other two can survive? Well, I decided to ask around and collect some data.

The bad news: no one really knows how to do it. The good news: everyone is in it together.

More on the bad news:

Well, it could be more accurate (and less sourpuss) to say that the jury is out on how to best juggle the trifecta of work, school, and a social presence– and everyone has their own strategy. My advice in three simple steps:

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  1. Schedule: Have one. Plan out what needs to be done and do the things you tell yourself you’re going to do. It feels good to deliver in tangible ways and to follow-through—for yourself. In the words of a wise Morgan Hite, “there is no substitute for sanity.”
  2. Make time for the things that reinvigorate you: This is important. Spend time with people you love, have a beer with a friend, watch stand-up comedy, blast the music in your car and sing at the top of your lungs. These are a few things that help me put chaos back into perspective.
  3. Take Pleasure in the Simple Things: Even when you feel like you don’t have time. Get some fresh air, people watch on campus, enjoy the walk home from class, appreciate the full moon and the sound of summer nights while they last. Try not to rush—appreciate the transition times as much as the activities themselves.

More on the good news:

We’re in this together. I’ve known my cohort for less than three weeks, and I already feel we understand one another better than most. There’s something about being stressed together that connects people on a deeper level. I realize now that I’ve missed this feeling from undergrad.

Maybe it’s because we’re like-minded people who genuinely care about helping people become the best version of themselves (call it HR). Maybe I just lucked out in the gamble of grad school cohorts. But when I think about the last few weeks, one word dominates—grateful. I am grateful to be treading water in this sea of opportunity and wisdom that is the Fisher College of Business. It is one of the best “problems” to have.

Paraphrased from the wise Dr. Larry Inks (Clinical Associate Professor at FCOB), there’s only one thing to do with the towel of experiences that make up life—wring it out and soak ’em up.

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O-H … I-O!

If you know me, it’s no secret that I am a huge buckeye fan. But, when you go to Ohio State for undergrad, buckeye fever is in your blood! However, it’s more than just a game on a field, it’s an experience. From tailgating with Fisher friends beforehand to going to the game and cheering on a win, it’s a great break from classes, homework, school, internship/job searching and the 10,000 other things on a business student’s to-do list.

Ohio State is full of rich traditions, but I think the football atmosphere takes win. When you are on campus during game day,everywhere you look it is a sea of scarlet and grey. Games are usually Saturday afternoons, but the night games against big components are even more fun. True, during late October and early November, the layers start to appear. We just played Penn State – and everyone was putting on scarves and hats!

OSU v. Penn State – cold, but so much fun
The Shoe!
Fisher Ladies!

Ohio State football is full of traditions, from Brutus Buckeye, to the Mirror Lake Jump, to the leaves on the players’ helmets. The games are a great way to bond with fellow students and make incredible memories. My MBA program is only two years, and they are FLYING right by me.

The game, and the celebrations before and after, are memories that I will never forget!

Go bucks 🙂

Batter Up!

Just so that no one gets the wrong impressions that it is all work and no play around here, we do get chances on a regular basis to engage in a wide variety of activities outside of class and the career search.

For example, last Friday night was the first year vs. second year slow pitch softball game, organized by the Fisher social chair.  It was a fun, semi-competitive game, and a good chance to get to know other people from the program outside of the classroom setting.  The game was held at Fred Beekman park, a large sports complex with a variety of sports fields on West campus.

Even though people who attend top ranked MBA programs generally don’t like to lose so both teams wanted to win, everyone was still encouraged to play.  I hadn’t played softball since undergrad intramural leagues, which was some time ago, and still had a lot of fun participating and helping my team out.  Even though the weather wasn’t the most co-operative, the game was followed up with a cookout at fisher commons, where both teams and the spectators could enjoy some grilled food and beverages.

 It was really more about having fun and working on team skills with each other more than anything else.  If you think about it, those are valuable business skills to have, that are needed in the real world.  No one wants to work on a team with someone who has a bad attitude and isn’t willing to work with others in order to achieve goals. Also important is being able to clearly communicate among team members, as well as being able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of team members, and then  leverage that knowledge to make the team stronger to achieve goals. I guess that is a sign that business school and interview season have started to sink in, that I can relate everything to transferable business skills.

Keeping Pace

There was a saying that we used in the Marine Corps: “It is easier to keep up than catch up.”

This phrase mostly applied to things like running or forced marches in that context, but it seems to me that is is quite applicable to an MBA program as well.   Time management is a crucial skill that is needed in order to thrive in this sort of environment.  In the Marines they begin training in stress inoculation and time management almost immediately.  It is not uncommon in boot camp for something simple, like making a rack (bed), to be given an impossible, or nearly impossible time restriction, and it progresses from there to more complex issues with seemingly impossible time constraints.

Important life decisions.

Time management and the ability to work under duress are two of the many valuable skills (along with leadership), that the Marines helped instill in me.   So, back to the MBA program, during the program, there are a lot of priorities that need to be balanced.  Some of the main ones are:

  • School:  Not just going to all of my classes, but doing homework assignments, studying, and working on projects.
  • Future Careers:  Especially for people like myself looking to switch careers, I need to actively work on building my professional network, attend company info sessions and events, job fairs, apply for jobs, hopefully interview for jobs, work on my resume, and meet with my career counselor.

    First Career Fair as a graduate student today!
  • Student organizations:  There are a myriad of student organizations at Fisher, and they all offer valuable opportunities to students.  There is certainly not time to join all of them, but I have joined several, but each additional one requires an additional time commitment.
  • Personal:  This is possibly the easiest to neglect, but humans need sleep, and to eat, and every once and a while to relax.  Things like going to the gym take time, but it is something that should not be neglected.  Also, having a social life within the program is important.  A big part of business school seems to be networking, so doing things like going to happy hours, and football games are important to building strong relationships with classmates.

All of these areas need to be kept in balance, and maintained, sometimes one is going to be more in focus than the rest, but that doesn’t mean the rest can be neglected.  If I neglect an area, then I am going to fall behind in it, which means that in the future, I will need to expend the same amount of energy needed for it now, plus the energy needed for it in the future, in order to catch up.  That is in addition to meeting all of the other requirements from the other sections of my life.  So, a short term sacrifice now, causes long term harm if I decide to slack in one or more areas.  So, even though it might seem overwhelming sometimes, keeping up with it all is easier than trying to catch up with it all in the future.  I should thank my Drill Instructor for the life lesson.

 

Four simultaneous Script Ohio’s is an amazing thing.

Fisher MAcc Graduation Ceremony 2013

It’s hard to believe my eighty classmates and I have completed our Master of Accounting degree from the Fisher College of Business!  On Friday, May 3, we gathered at the Ohio Union with faculty, family and friends, to celebrate our success in this program.  The evening was complete with a reception where I was able to meet the families of many of my close MAcc friends and chat with faculty members one last time before the summer.  A formal ceremony followed with touching remarks from our director, Professor Arya, and many others.  Several students were also recognized for different successes in the program, including the top ten percent of students based on academic performance, the top performers on our MAcc exit exam, and the members of MAcc Council.

One recognition that was particularly special was the E&Y Award for Excellence in Teaching.  This year’s winner was Professor Zach, our instructor for the academic research course in the program.  I had the pleasure of having Professor Zach as an instructor for my first accounting class as an undergraduate as well, and I was so happy to see him recognized for the fantastic job he does in encouraging students in research and academic development.  For all of the future MAcc students who will take his research class, you’re in for quite the experience!

Professor Zach, this year’s MAcc Professor of the Year, and me at the MAcc reception!

Awards, speeches, and other formalities aside, this celebration was a great way to end the program.  I can’t begin to describe how amazing my final year was at Ohio State because of my decision to pursue my MAcc degree.  There are too many people who made the year special to name them all, so to all of the incredible faculty and classmates – thanks for an unforgettable year!  I will miss this group…

The graduates of the MAcc Class of 2013

So thankful

With Thanksgiving last week, it was hard to think of much else besides seeing my family, food and FOOTBALL! (stay tuned for a Beat M!ch!g@n post – I cannot wait to see how campus celebrates Urban Meyer’s first OSU v Michigan game).

It has been very interesting to learn about my fellow students’ traditions and ideas for Thanksgiving. Traveling hundreds of miles away to visit family, a town over, staying in Columbus and having a “non-traditional” Thanksgiving – everyone has someone and something to be thankful for. 

It’s too easy to not see the forest through the trees. However, I am so incredible blessed and so happy that I get to go to THE Ohio State University every day and learn from the best faculty and students around.

My life is far better than I deserve  – here are my other top reasons to give thanks this season:

  • My small, but very mighty, family: I have a fantastic support system, and I don’t know what I would do without their cheers during my MBA program.

    My family last June @ my sister’s high school graduation
  • The simple fact that I wake up every morning and learn something new. I know, how incredibly cheesy is that statement?! But, it’s so true it had to be said. I am becoming a smarter business woman, but also a better person overall. No matter if I am in marketing, finance, operations or accounting – I am constantly pushing myself.
  • I am so thankful to have found such great friendships within just a few short months. And I am extremely thankful that they know how to make me laugh when I am stressing out just a bit too much.
  • The opportunities at Fisher. If I listed out every lunch, seminar, activity or special event – you would still be reading on Black Friday and missing TONS of great sales. So I’ll just say thanks for opportunities 🙂
  • I have thankful to go to school in a city with such energy and life. Really, do I need to say anything more than Beat Michigan Week?!
  • Thankful for my other support system, my boyfriend, Sam. Sometimes I feel that he should get his own diploma! I don’t know how I would have gotten through data analysis without him.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! See you next week.

Football Madness

You didn’t think that I would skip over a chance to write about Buckeye football did you?!

Everything you’ve heard about the boys in scarlet & grey, the ‘Shoe, tailgating and Buckeye Nation is true. It’s big, it’s loud…and  there is nothing better then looking around at thousands of other fans and knowing you are part of it all.

This weekend was the first OSU football game and it felt so great to take a few hours away from stressing about homework and school. The Fisher Social Chairs threw a tailgate at Fisher Commons and the dreary skies couldn’t stop us from enjoying the pregame excitement. It was Urban Meyer’s first game as a buckeye, and I think we can all agree that the 56-10 victory over the Miami RedHawks put Columbus in a cheerful mood.

O-H-I-O!

When you become a buckeye, you become part of a family. Yup, I just typed that (very) cheesy line. But how can you cheer with thousands of other fans and sing Carmen Ohio without knowing that you are part of something more?

Students, professors, faculty and the entire city of Columbus come together for football games, and it’s pretty easy to see that same family-bond in the classroom. I was talking to my Ethics Professor this morning about the game, and within minutes he is telling me about his own family tailgate and his opinion of the new coaching staff. My core team was still talking about Devin Smith’s catch and deciding what food to bring for NEXT Saturday’s tailgate.

I cannot wait for next weekend’s game and to see even more of Coach Meyer and the Buckeyes, but I also can’t wait to watch the game with my new-found friends. The nervousness of my program is starting to fade (quickly replaced by nervousness of approaching midterms), and I feel that I am finding my footing at Fisher…including some amazing friendships that I know will continue throughout the years.

And, could you believe that it all started with a football game?

 

Classmates – the Fisher WPMBA program’s greatest asset(s)

After being in the WPMBA program for almost a year (which does not seem possible!), I have learned so much.  The core classes are all beneficial and the professors are (for the most part) passionate about their subject matter and helping the students succeed.  But the best part of this program has been all the new classmates I have met.  Every person in the program has a different background and different work experience but all come together two days a week to continue their education.  This network of classmates is amazing.  Need to know what classes to take next term?  Just ask a couple of classmates and get their views on professors, work load, etc.  Need homework help?  Met up with a group of people and work on it together.  Upcoming job interview?  There’s probably someone in the program that works where you are interviewing.  Ask for advice!  The options are really limitless.  They all understand the pressures of working 40+ hours, plus class, plus studying, and maybe having room for a life now and then.  They understand taking vacation days from work to study for an exam.  When I started the WPMBA last June, I was not sure what to expect.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed.  But after meeting several great people starting off, and more each quarter, the classes and workload balancing act still may seem overwhelming at times, but I know I have a network of friends that are available to help or at least understand.

Shout out time:   Two of those classmates that I met on Day 1 who I call friends now are Vince and Dave.  They are great!  I’m going to miss them over the summer when I’m not sitting by them every day in class, since we’ll be taking different electives…as much as Dave has tried over the past six weeks to get me to like Finance.

When life gives you lemons

It’s barely been a month since I first arrived in Columbus, and I’ve already got one heck of a story to tell.

I had decided before I arrived here that I would buy a car. The convenience of being able to drive out whenever I wanted to, or make a road trip to meet friends in other parts of the Midwest was all too tempting. Thus began the search, and let me break it to you if you didn’t already know – buying a used car is perhaps the hardest thing to do if you are as indecisive as I am.

I went through the usual process – Craigslist, Facebook markets, dealership websites. Eventually I fixed my budget and narrowed in on a few makes I’d like to drive. Ironically, I found the car I wanted – a 2000 Acura TL, at a Buick showroom! (Goes to show, you’re never certain of finding what you’re looking for if you’re picky about where to look for it!)

So I sealed the deal and drove my (almost) new car out of the dealership, excited at my new-found mobility. Fast-forward to the weekend after. A few friends from Fisher Commons and I went out to shop at Walmart. It was a swelteringly hot day, and I idled the car with the AC on full blast. 5 minutes later, there’s steam rising out of the engine, and we lift the lid to find coolant spewing furiously out of the reservoir. My heart sank. Had I made a huge mistake rushing this car purchase, ending up with a lemon?

Fortunately for me, my friends from FC went into problem-solving mode. We turned the engine off, bought a can of coolant from Walmart and went to the nearest Jiffy Lube. The car was too hot for them to help us, so we decided to head back home, wait and see. Topped up the coolant that night, and the next day, the car was running  fine. Convinced this was a one-off issue, I continued driving around. Sadly, that was not the end of my car’s woes.

On the way back from a friend’s place where a bunch of us had participated in a Fantasy Football draft, we stopped to fill up some gas, only to find the car refusing to start! Panic mode kicked in again, and convinced that my car was doomed, I paced about pointlessly. Again, my friends came to the rescue, contacting our classmate whose house we had just been at, who came to the rescue with his own car and a set of jumper cables. A quick jump start and we were back on the road. So now I had a potentially problematic cooling system, AND a weak battery. I was down in the slumps, assuming that I would soon be having these wheels towed to the nearest junkyard.

There were more problems after that, featuring a broken window, a torn seat, a cracked windshield, etc. Finally, I decided to get everything fixed and give the car that I chose a chance at redemption. The dealer I bought it from promised me a good deal for the repairs, and entrusted me with a loaner car while my car was at service. That evening, the loaner car refused to start. I was at my last straw. My friends joked with me saying, “It’s not your car – it’s YOU!” I began to wish I had never bought a car in the first place!

But things finally looked up when I picked up the car from the dealer. With the radiator cap and battery replaced, and a new window fitted in, it has been cruising pretty smooth so far! The “lemon” nickname has stuck for good, but hopefully it gets me through the program and beyond!

When I look back at all those speed bumps along the way, I am almost thankful for them – because in those situations, I saw how helpful and compassionate my fellow classmates are. The camaraderie at OSU is hard to take for granted, especially when it helps you get through the tough times.

So, when life gives you lemons, get a little help from your friends!

 

Putting A Bow On It

“It”, being my first full year of grad school.  I started last spring as a graduate non-degree candidate, testing the waters of the program you could say.  It’s been a bumpy, fun, nerve-wracking, exhilarating, amazing, incredible, crazy ride.

It’s Week 10 now, and there are signs that this ride is finally slowing down.  This quarter has been very different than the others so far.  Core courses aplenty, group projects abound, and no finals.  Wait, no finals?  That’s right, no finals.  Just papers.  Not that papers are less stressful than final exams.

I took two core courses this quarter and an elective.  In my core courses, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some members of the Cohort with which I haven’t had a chance to previously.  And in my elective, I’ve had the chance to interact and work with students from the other Fisher disciplines.  You can sometimes forget how brilliant your fellow students are until you collaborate with them on papers and projects.  Since I had previously completed the core course (Compensation) last year that most of the Cohort is taking currently, I don’t have any finals.  So I get to start my break a week early, even though we have papers due on finals week.

Fortunately, I have great teams that I can rely on.  I’ll be doing my portion of the papers now and I know that my team will be able to put them all together while I’m gone.  This is one of the more amazing things I’ve learned in grad school: I can be relied upon and my colleagues can be too.

In 21 hours from now, I will be on a plane to Orlando for five days, back here for two, back to Chicago for 8 days, and then I’ll be here for the Gay Pride weekend before finally starting my internship on 6/20.  I’ll be done 8/26 and a week later I’ll be flying to Venice to set sail on a cruise around the Greek Isles, and be back just in time to hopefully help out with the 1st year orientations.  Then hopefully it’s off to Napa in October to have a joint celebration with my best friend back in DC and help celebrate his 30th.  I have lots to look forward to in the coming months!

But I will miss my friends that are leaving for their internships.  One of the other amazing things about this program are the friends that I have made:

One, has the purest energy, smile and love for all around her; another is a self-admitted dork who loves technology as much as I do, but can recite the lyrics to just about any hip-hop song from the last 10 years, tell you who was in the group and what year that album was released; another and I have such an amazing and loving relationship that it’s hard to believe that I’ve only known her for about 9 months and not 9 years.  And there are many many more people that I do not have the space to list in this blog post.

I have to say that it’s been a great year and the more sadistic nature of me is sorry for it to end.  But at least we have another year to look forward to!  Have a great summer!  KIT.  See you in the fall!  (Why don’t we have an MLHR yearbook for everyone to sign?)

A preview of the weather I have to look forward to in Orlando
Two of my fabulous Cohort friends and I at Mouton in Short North