The Training Wheels Are About to Come Off

In my last blog, I mentioned that the stars had aligned, my prayers were answered and my misadventure of an internship search was over. Yes, someone hired me. Yay!

Two weeks ago I began my co-op as a human resources intern for GE at their lamp plant in Circleville. For most of my classmates, Circleville equals one thing–if it means anything at all–Pumpkin Show. But for me, this is a return to the county where I grew up and the place where most of my family and in-laws still live. Even so, I’ve never worked in a factory before, so the experience is definitely interesting and new.

Thankfully, I’ve received some wonderful training from a graduating MLHR student who was the first to go through an HR co-op in Circleville. In many ways it feels as if she is handing over her baby to me, and the reputation of Fisher MLHR students. I can only hope I don’t let them all down. As she said good bye to the staff last week at a going-away/welcome-aboard reception, it was clear that they respected her work and friendship. I will feel blessed to receive such a warm send off when it’s time for me to flee the co-op nest.

In the meantime, though, I’m still finding my way. This week is my first week without my fellow Fisher friend by my side. In essence, it’s time to rip off the band-aid and dive into the deep end of HR. I’ve heard there may be tears and maybe some rough language. It’s a factory after all and sometimes the going gets rough. I just hope most of the tears won’t be coming from me. As I’ve already been told: There’s no crying in factory work. As for any rough language, well, I’ll just save that for the next staffing quiz.


When I opted to visit a local vodka distillery with a few of my MBA classmates, I knew I’d enjoy the experience (they included a free tasting) but I did not realize I would walk away re-energized and inspired.

I honestly believe there are times when planets align or when connections are made as if they were always meant to be.  This is exactly what I thought about as I stood in the distillery area of Middle West Spirits and listened to Brady and Ryan tell the story of their company and their vodka, OYO.  What happens when your significant other brings you along to one corporate event after the next?  In this case, an advertising exec and fourth generation distiller discover each other’s backgrounds and shared passions.  Voila!  A new company is born!

Brady summarized the essence of their company’s start: serendipity.  What a succinct way to capture the magic of the way things seemingly just fell into place!  Mind you, they did not get to where they are without a lot of work, plenty of obstacles, and a struggle here and there.  The inspiring part of the story is the way they handled each and every hurdle.  They addressed them and worked through them by recruiting experts to help.

Everything at Middle West is done with a focus on quality and achieving the best result.  Being different is good and they will tell you exactly why that is true.  Brady also shared that they “wanted to give their vodka a sense of place”.  Much thought was put into the logo, the name of the company, the name of the vodka, the company’s location, the partnerships sought, the distilling equipment purchased, the distilling process, and the ingredients used.  On top of it all, their operation focuses on sustainability.  In a word: impressive.

I couldn’t help myself – I began relating all this intentional detail back to the internship search and recruiting process we’re facing as first-year MBAs.  How interesting things would be for each of us if we were so focused and intentional while creating our own brand.  As I continue to hone my story, I will now incorporate some of the same concepts into my work (focus, different is good, have a sense of place, deal with obstacles, work with intention).  Seeing the world from a new point of view is energizing and gives me new hope as my personal search continues.

As I’ve mentioned before, Columbus is turning into a city for foodies.  It also cultivates and promotes an entrepreneurial spirit and the success of start-ups, local producers, and small business.  I am confident we will see more great things from Middle West Spirits in the future.  If we’re lucky, we (as Fisher MBAs) can partner with them on various business cases as they continue to grow and expand.  In my opinion, they prove there is great potential in ideas, innovation, and dreams.  I doubt I’ll be the only MBA to be inspired by their story.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

AND “The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” – Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald’s)

NOTES: For a nice overview of the process information Ryan shared with the group, check out this article on Columbus Alive, John Schumacher’s blog post, or The Pegu Blog.  Each offers a great summary of additional information I learned on my visit.


One of the reasons I think vampire series are so popular lately is because we see so much of our humanity visually depicted in imaginary characters, including witches and werewolves.  Whether you’re Team Edward or Team Jacob . . . or rather, like me, are clueless about Twilight yet find yourself obsessed with the brothers Salvatore (my guilty pleasure = The Vampire Diaries), there’s something about the struggle between good and evil that each of us can identify with.

My belief: B-school has a way of bringing out the best and the worst in all of us.  Some folks use a lot of smoke & mirrors.  You know the type: they put on the charade that they’ve got everything together and that all things work in their favor.  Yeah?  Bologna.  No one leads such a charmed life.  We each bear burdens.  Anyone that tells you different is either a crazy person or a liar.  As humans, none of us are perfect and that’s perfectly OK.  Remember: without contrast, those low times in life, we’d never be able to appreciate our highs or know when something is really good.

Fisher is an intimate community.  Sometimes I find it really hard to happily coexist with the “together” people day after day, week after week. Q: Why is it that I long for the moment I see a chink in their armor?  A: Why are reality shows so popular?  Why, as a society, do we love to see others screw up?  I think it’s because we seek things that are similar to ourselves.  It makes us feel better to know we’re not the only ones that struggle . . . and that struggling is normal.  Is that bringing out the best is us?  Probably not.

As I ponder all these questions of “why”, it dawns on me that even Superman and Batman had to contend with having a good side and a dark side.  If they couldn’t escape it, what chance do I have?  I’m certainly no Jedi knight.

The epic battle of my “good” self vs my “evil” self rages on during this season of job hunting . . . and here I stand without a cape.

“Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”  – Mark Twain

Being a Journalism Major Has Helped Me in the MLHR Program

Last spring quarter when I my life was in shambles when I was rejected from graduate school (the first time I applied) my supervisor and coworker kept teasing me, because they told me that my life was going to amount to nothing and I was going to have to be the backup dancer for the Rapping Bum.  (Side Note: The Rapping Bum is a real person.)

Both of my coworkers are Fisher alums (well my boss graduated in 2009 with a concentration in Marketing, Logistics, and HR….which he is choosing as his future career path since that is where he was able to find a job, and plans on applying for the program once he stops procrastinating and takes the GRE).  The other one is an International Business major and fifth year, so he’ll be an alumnus in a few months.

Before I got into the program I was rather regretful for choosing journalism for my major.  All my work experience had been in marketing, and it was impossible to find journalism internships.  I felt I had marketable skills, but none that anyone wanted at the time.

However, when I got into the Fisher MLHR program, I realize that the skills I gained in writing in communication were really helpful.  They have been BEYOND helpful at the place I intern.  It is a combination of marketing and recruiting.  I use social media to market my organization, and the majority of it is used for posting jobs or communicating with potential applicants.  I also have had to use several job boards to post job openings, and much like a journalism article it requires one to communicate all the necessary information about the job while being concise and actually drawing a potential applicant into reading and wanting to apply for the job.  I’ll eventually be using a blog to interview employees about their job experiences and what they like about their work.  Though I currently do not interview any applicants, I do have interviewing/and information collecting experience from being a reporter for the school newspaper.  All of these things I have done in various capacities in undergrad in a communications context…I am doing the same thing but now for HR and it has meaning in my program.

To add to this, sometimes when I am procrastinating I like to look up paying HR jobs with companies.  I have seen that many companies actually have HR positions that are specifically for HR Communications.  Many of these positions involve employee/internal communications, internal marketing, and some schools even offer master’s degrees in organizational communication that can be used in HR (yes, lots of procrastinating!).

Basically, I am glad that I am able to transfer some of my undergraduate knowledge and skills that I had developed into my current program and into my current internship.  I’m glad that I did not waste 4 years in what I thought was a useless major.  So any people applying to the program who are/were communications or journalism majors are going to find that they have useful skills for HR, or if you are like me and are afraid you are not going to find a job in your field and would like to venture and do something different (a field that is vastly growing, I might add) then you may want to look into HR.  Even if you are still interested in the communications field, there are jobs in HR communications, and it does not hurt to develop your skill set with a respected graduate degree.


My First Human Resources Job

This past week I started my internship position with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Parks and Recreation (it’s a mouthful, I know). The thing that really attracted me to the position was the flexibility with hours and the fact that they are willing to let me do anything and everything I want in terms of getting more human resources experience. They are located on Morse Road, which is only about 15 minutes away from campus. We handle everything that has to do with employees of all the state parks in Ohio. One of my supervisors is in charge of parks in northern Ohio, while the other is in charge of all parks in southern Ohio. Another lady and myself are in charge of helping them with their projects and anything with which they need help.

For my first week, my typical day was to come in at 8am, then start working on one of my projects. Lunch is a half hour, which is just enough to eat and make any personal phone calls that have to get done. I leave at 4:30, but Tuesday-Thursday means that I come straight home to change, eat very quickly, and go to class from 6-9 or 9:30pm. It seems like a lot, but it is somewhat manageable, with the help of caffeine. And, thank goodness I have Fridays off (since I just work 32 hours/week).

In just one week, I’ve been able to almost complete a full report for human resources activities during the month of September (this means logging information about what actions have been taken for employees during this one month period, such as hiring, termination, leave, etc.). I also started working on sending pre-interview forms for managers who will be interviewing for positions in the next few weeks. And most importantly, I’ve learned how to read Personnel Action (PAs) Files, on which the information for the monthly reports is based. I’m told that future projects will include workers’ compensation, rewards, working on benefits, and actually helping conduct interviews. The other nice thing is that I’ve been able to put my Bachelor’s degree in Communication to good use, as my office is across the guy who promotes the parks through Twitter, Facebook, advertisements, etc. I’ve been able to offer a few suggestions when it comes to using these social networks to drive traffic to the parks.

The first week was pretty difficult, trying to get everything accomplished for class, now that work has taken over most of the daytime hours. It will definitely take some getting used to, but hopefully by the middle of winter quarter I will have some kind of system in place. Tune in to future posts to see how things are going during Winter Quarter….

A speaker in one of our classes once said, “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses” and from my experience that is the complete truth. However, the people I work with are great. The office is pretty small, there are two human resources officers, one human resources assistant, their boss (who is also my boss, indirectly) and me. Everyone has told me that if I have anything I really want experience with to just ask and that they will “make it happen.” I think this is what an internship is supposed to be. I’ve heard so many horror stories from friends about how they get stuck in a corner doing work that no one wants to do for however long the internship lasts. I feel like I’m actually a part of the team, doing things that everyone else does and that I am held to the same standard.

So far, there are no complaints. The experience is awesome, especially since I had none coming into this program. The people are great, very friendly, and ready to give projects for me to complete. Summary: Love the job, can’t wait to continue gaining experience in the human resources field.

Kid’s story: Return of the Jedi

Timeline: very late Sunday evening 101010.

I see: a pile of unread photocopies due this week; plus I’m taking public policy classes, so the pile is huge.

I hear:  Hole.

I smell: Ange au Démon (don’t ask).

I feel: hopeful.

“So what did you do this summer?” seems to be the popular question lately. Well, one thing I didn’t do was write on this blog, so here’s my shot at a comeback with the new blog rules in place, trying to answer that question.

I was working in my internship. This may not sound like much, but an important, if not essential, part of the full-time MBA program is an internship with a company that students usually get for the duration of summer. As far as I’ve heard from my peers, you can expect to be given a project that lasts around 10-12 weeks.

It still doesn’t sound like much, but then you have to factor in the fact that I’m an international student, and it’s more of an achievement for us to get an internship. You see, many companies will not even bother hiring international students, since many internships are really 3-month-long interviews for full-time positions. Most international students would require sponsorship for a working visa in order to be hired, and that certainly sounds complicated and scary to many. However, you’d be surprised to see how easy and cheap the process actually is. Despite this, many companies are simply not interested in the whole thing.

Fortunately, there are exceptions to every rule, and this case is not the exception, so there are exceptions… umm…  what?? Well, the point is that there are still companies who are willing to give internships to international students for one of two reasons: a) they simply don’t plan on offering full-time positions but rather need the help with a specific project; or b) they are willing to sponsor a working visa if the need is there at the end of the internship. I really hope mine is a case of reason b.

My internship is with Asea Brown Boveri, one of the largest companies in the world and which is headquartered in Switzerland. Since my particular internship is year-long (score!), I was not assigned a specific project, but rather am helping with everyday tasks in the worldwide Supply Chain Management group for one of ABB’s 5 divisions. In short: I am drowning in spreadsheets. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I love the job. I have also been fortunate enough to have extremely friendly coworkers and superiors. The company has a very traditional and respectful culture and I really look forward to going every morning.

Anyway, the intention of this post is not to brag about how awesome my internship has been (although it has been awesome), but rather to let people know that there are some excellent internships out there. This is not the case for everyone, as I’ve heard from some of my classmates, but it certainly can happen. My best advice is start looking early and work with the office of career management, they are very helpful. Also, don’t get discouraged if you haven’t gotten an internship by November of your first year in the program, since many of the best opportunities open during the spring or so.

One of the drawbacks of having an ongoing internship is that when added to a full-time class schedule you basically forgo having much of a life outside those two things. But hey: no pain, no gain. After a while, you find your rhythm and enjoy life to the fullest… or you could have a nervous breakdown. In any case, the pain won’t last forever, and that’s something to be happy about.

It’s back to reading for me, so I bid you farewell.

“And the sun goes down, I watch it slip away…”  – Hole

My internship in China

Alcatel-Lucent global locations
Image via Wikipedia

Back in the U.S., I was in China for roughly two months during the summer, working as part of my internship. During this period, I had an internship with Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, which is headquartered in Paris. Alcatel-Lucent enjoys a large telecommunication market in China and worldwide.

I worked as Business HR Assistant in the Oversea Business Department, which contribute roughly 45% of revenue to the company. My supervisor is Business HR Manager, who deal with all the HR functions within the department.

I was fortunate to be assigned to help the staffing process for the Sales Manager position in Laos. My responsibilities included conducting telephone interviews with potential candidates, scheduling the second-round and third-round interviews, and assisting other interviewers during the process. Before I called the candidates, I read the job description carefully. However, I found that the job description was not very accurate, since it didn’t describe the responsibilities and necessary qualifications clearly. Before writing an email to give my opinion about the existing job description, I realized that I should do a bit of research first. In other words, I should not simply criticize the original job description; rather, I should research the actual job and compare it to the existing job description. I looked at the job description on O*Net, searched similar job descriptions in other companies, and surveyed current employees in those positions. Finally, I developed the job description and submitted the new job description to the interviewers, including the HR manager and senior leaders in Laos. I was so excited to receive their positive feedback!

Well it’s Back to Reality

Oh man. What a whirlwind the last 2 weeks have been. I am now reporting to you as an “old married lady” as my friends now call me. The week leading up to the wedding was, let’s just say eventful. The Tuesday before the wedding, my sister/maid of honor was hit, head on, as she was driving home from work. After totaling her car, fracturing her sternum and having a significant amount of bruising, she still looked absolutely beautiful. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, my car was broken into. What did they steal? A GPS with a screwed up display and almost out of battery, and oops, they didn’t take the charger for it. And they also stole my Straight No Chaser CD. If you don’t know who they are, they’re an acapella group from Indiana University, and they’re fantastic. Watch this video of them singing the 12 Days of Christmas in a way you’ve never seen before. So after those two snafus, the wedding went off without a hitch. It rained, but about 30 minutes away from where my wedding was, and the rest of day was absolutely beautiful. I only have a few pictures from the day so far, but below is one of my favorites of what I do have. 🙂

The reception was a lot of fun, too. Oh boy, I did not know wedding dresses could get so heavy and hot as the day goes on. It’s alright though. I had so much fun. As soon as we get our wedding pictures back, I’ll be sure to post some online. It may take a while though. They took close to 1,500 pictures and they have to edit them all. Definitely not a job I would want.

The honeymoon was a blast as well. We went to Yellowstone National Park and the Tetons. After seeing a bison take out the front panel of a car, almost hitting two wolves as they ran out in front of us, watching black bears and grizzly bears snack on some berry bushes on the side of the road, and horse back riding, we can honestly say we had a blast. We had a lot of fun. Pictures are below.

We hiked a lot, too. I would definitely go back.

This week, however, is a 40-hour work week.  Benjamin gets the week of from work, so he has a “honey-do” list. The first is buying a washer and dryer!!! I however, will be working hard at finishing my training for GE, catching up on what I missed at both jobs, and preparing for the summer camps MSE offers. It should be a fun filled week.

And so I sign off, for the first time, ever, as Amanda Wenner. Have a great week everyone!

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.

Counting Down

Well, the school year is almost finished. I almost feel like I’m in high school or even elementary anxiously anticipating the summer so that I would be done with school and also to have a blast during the summer. This summer looks to be a lot of fun, possibly stressful along the way, but enjoyable none-the-less.

There are 5 actual class days left. Two of them are finals, then there’s a final during finals week. It’s hard to believe. It’s been such a stressful quarter, and I can’t wait until it’s over.

Here’s a brief picture at what my summer looks like:

  • Continue working at CMS
  • Continue working at MSE for my GAA
  • Start working at GE! (Official internship announcement!)
  • Get married
  • Go on honeymoon
  • Go to Denver to see Benjamin present at a national conference
  • Go to 4-H camp as a dean
  • Relax at the State Fair instead of having to work the whole time
  • Visit the Hartford Fair
  • Drive to Washington D.C. to see the Hope Diamond and the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
  • See Wicked for the 3rd time

All in 2 1/2 months, and then school starts again. Geez.

Tonight is my group’s presentation for our compensation class. I’m looking forward to it being completed. I just need to write my portion of the paper which is due next week. And, I also have to write my portion of the paper for 854, which is also due next week. It’s my project for tonight during presentations and also tomorrow before class. I’ll be hard pressed for time this weekend because on Saturday we’re having an assembly day for all of the favors, centerpieces, etc for the wedding. Sunday is Benjamin’s sister’s senior recital.

For now, time to continue working. Hope everyone has a great day out in the sun. Don’t overheat.

Oh, and our engagement pictures were finally posted online. Here’s one of my favorites so far. More to come!

Oh yeah...mad monkey bar skills!