The More Things Change…

The more they stay the same?  FALSE.  Everything has changed and nothing is the same as it was in my previous quarters here.

I have to say that this has been one of the toughest quarters of my academic career in the MLHR program.  Some of my colleagues feel the same, some think it has been incredibly easy!  I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation as to why except that we all have different strengths.  I like a challenge!  So I suppose I should be thankful for that at least.

One of the biggest challenges for me so far has been the shake-up in the professor roster.  It is a brand new slate of professors for us and we are not familiar with their styles, what they want from our exams, papers and projects, or what they are teaching us.

I am currently taking Strategic HR as my elective this quarter.  Professor Wilk is an incredible professor who really knows her stuff.  Her teaching style is dynamic, engaging and focuses on discussion rather than lecture.  If she does lecture from a PowerPoint, it is only to give us a jumping off point for our discussions about the cases we analyzed and the articles we read.  I am really enjoying this class, but I cannot seem to nail down what she is looking for.  I had taken an elective last spring that focused on case analyses, and did well discussing them in class as well as doing one-page summaries.  With Professor Wilk, not so much.

I didn’t do great on my first assignment, but paying attention to her feedback and comments on it has helped me better understand her expectations.  Armed with this knowledge, I am hoping to do substantially better on my second and final case analysis for her.

One of the required courses this quarter is Labor Law.  The first half focuses solely on labor laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act and mostly on the National Labor Relations Act.  Robert Weisman, Esq. is a labor lawyer who has extensive knowledge of the these acts as well as experience trying labor cases in court.  Because of this extensive knowledge and experience, he has been brought in to teach this first half of the course and did a good job trying to make this difficult material more manageable.

I have experience with enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act rules and regulations in just about every position I’ve had, and surprisingly mostly in my experience as a retail manager.  I have never worked with labor unions and had no intention of doing so in my career, so the NLRA is like a foreign language to me.  I use this simile loosely because I am actually quite good with foreign languages!  Instead, I’ll say that the NLRA is like gravity to me: I know it’s there, I know it’s important and I have a gist of how it works.  Ask me to delve into the specific mechanics of it and you’ll have me at a loss.

The second half of the course focuses on diversity.  So far, it is unlike what I have learned about diversity in my role as a Diversity and Inclusion intern at OCLC.  My experiences here have focused on programming, strategy, culture change and sustainability of these practices in a business-oriented manner.  This diversity that I am learning is like meeting someone from a different planet that speaks something similar to English, acts in a manner comparable to myself, but in the end, is a wholly different creature.  This will be interesting and challenging.

Finally, we are also required to take HR Negotiations this quarter.  Focusing again on labor issues, I am at a loss.  The professor who previously taught the course, Professor Marcus Sandver, unfortunately passed away the weekend before the quarter started.  His replacement, Professor Hills, is from a very different era than those of the professors that we have come to know and appreciate in the program.  I find him to be the most difficult professor to connect with this quarter and that is a very big struggle for me.

I applaud the MLHR program for their efforts to avoid “homophily” (a big word I learned in Strategic HR meaning hiring people who are all the same.  Read the full definition here), and for keeping us on our toes and challenging us.  Hopefully my colleagues in the Cohort and I will be able to applaud each other for making it through this very trying quarter alive and without being put on academic probation.

PS – as much as I would love to put a picture into this post, I do not think there is one adequate enough to capture all my thoughts, even if it was worth a thousand words or more

SPRINGIN Back Into The Quarter

This was the first week of MLHR classes for spring quarter 2011.  This would probably be the first time that I have not had a full syllabus week this year.

If you are not familiar with Syllabus Week, it is basically the first week of classes for the quarter where all the professors are supposed to distribute and go over the syllabus.  And that’s it.  It is every student’s hope that the professor will be nice enough to let everyone out of class early and not cover any material until the next week.  Ideally, it is supposed to ease you into that particular class and the quarter in general, before the onslaught of reading, papers, studying, quizzes, assignments, and other things that comes with being a graduate student in the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University.

Now, I will be the first one to tell you that I was surprised that I would even get a Syllabus Week in grad school in general…I figured all my professors would be hard core and ready to get down to BUSINESS the first day (get it?).  I mean the first week of fall and winter quarter did not fit the Syllabus Week formula perfectly, but it was still nice.  I guess this is just a sign of more challenging (which I assume will also mean more interesting) classes … and graduation!

So after the dilemma I had in which courses to take this quarter, I will give you my first impressions so far.


Because of my internship and their current business needs, I decided to take this class.  The place I intern for is in need of some sort of recruiting/applicant/resume tracking software.  I am hoping to incorporate the class project with my internship to kill 2 birds with one stone.  Most of the other first years are taking the economics class, so there are only a total of 3 first years that I recognize in this class.  It’s a little weird since the second years all know each other, but I am glad (and hope) to make some new friends.  Even though most of them are graduating, it will be good to network for future employment when I am in their shoes.  The class is taught by the Department Chair of Management and Human Resources  and Director of the MLHR program.  When I first signed up for a class, I thought the professors were going to teach the class together as in like a duet (KC and JoJo,  Hall and Oates, etc).  But, no, they pair off, so that Dr. Greenberger teaches the first half of the course, and Dr. Heneman teaches the second half.  They both have separate assignments and books they want us to read which is kind of interesting.  I don’t even get to see Heneman until late April/May.

The first class took off a little slow just for the fact that the lecture was very techy.  I am still reading Excel For Dummies, let alone whip up a HRIS system (even though a recent skills test I performed confirmed that I am not as bad as I think).  The first book we are reading is about crowdsourcing.  It is a very interesting topic, and enjoyable read.  I feel like this is a book I would have read in one of my former popular culture classes.  I think Dr. Greenberger is going to teach a good deal about social media in the application of HR.  That is the main thing I focus on for my internship, so I hope that it will be able to make me more effective.  Social media is something that a LOT of people are looking to get into, so I am excited that I will get some new knowledge that will hopefully and eventually lead me into a paid internship.


I’ve been excited to take this class for the fact that both my job and internship are currently having me work on staffing related projects.  I feel like this is one of the key skills a HR person needs to have to help him/her stand out as an HR professional (and so did the professor by calling it the 2nd most important HR function).  The first lecture was interesting, and I find the professor to be interesting … and funny.  He claims that he tells really bad jokes, but I was snorting during just his first one. (I mean everyone else was lightly chuckling at best but that’s my kind of humor).  I am excited that by the end of the class we will be “certified interviewers,” the book is easy to read, there is no midterm, and the final exam is optional.  This class is kind of split up.  It is mostly composed of first-years (the other part of the cohort is taking Training and Development), but there are quite a few second-years in the class.  The only thing that might become annoying is that I feel a lot of people in the class either are or have been recruiters or have/had some kind of staffing experience, and I really find it annoying when students think they know more than the professor just because they have experience but only time will tell. So far, so good.


Not gonna lie.  I am nervous about this class.  One of my really good friends from undergrad just graduated with her bachelor’s in HR from Fisher (and she is currently employed in Chicago), and said that the group project was really hard.  So did Wes (reference to another MLHR blogger) who has already taken this class.  Dr. Heneman is the professor.  Apparently his next book is about compensation, so he obviously is an expert in the area (and maybe that’s why the project is challenging).  For the last two quarters, the classes in which I did the best were the classes I have taken with Heneman, so I am PRAYING I still have that luck (and that Eric J Dosch is one of my group members).  Compensation is also something I find weird, because I feel like most HR people only take one class in compensation, but I feel like it is a hard specialization to break into entry level wise, and I feel most organizations want Compensation Specialists who have quite a bit of experience.  Another perk with this class is that the final is a week before actual finals week.  That means that finals studying will start a lot sooner (for at least one of my classes this quarter) and that the class will FLY by the material.  However, if I do well enough in Staffing where I do not have to take the final then I could be done with finals super early by that Monday of finals week (like when I was an undergrad … I miss you Spring 2010).

So far, I am liking classes so far.  Fall quarter we took Foundations I and Stats I, and then winter we took Foundations II and Stats II.  It is nice to be mixing it up in the learning department.  It is a little weird not having Dr. Bendapudi as a professor, but it will be nice to get to know other professors in the department (this my last quarter with Dr. Heneman and I might have to bring a box of tissues to the last class I have with him).  Spring quarter is by far the hardest time to study.  Even compared to fall quarter and the football season, there are SO MANY distractions.  On top of that, I have good friends who still go here as 4th and 5th year seniors who are going to want me to be around to help them celebrate their final quarters of undergrad.

I am confident that I should be able to excel this quarter.  Especially since I am done with stats.