Fisher College of Business – The Happiest Place on Earth

That is, unless you have a class at 8:30 AM. But somehow my early morning tax class is also my favorite class in my schedule.

I have to say that life as a MAcc graduate student at Fisher is just on a whole other level compared to life as an undergraduate. It starts with orientation – three days of getting to know the people you’re spending the next three quarters with. My classmates are the most educated, interesting and diverse group that I’ve met at Fisher. Orientation provided the perfect environment for getting to know as many students as I could. In undergrad I might not have taken advantage of such an opportunity – I’m glad I didn’t make that mistake this time. We have a group with very diverse backgrounds, from other states or countries and with different academic and professional experiences. As a graduate, I feel really prepared and even psyched to become accounting masters with the people I’ve gotten to know over the first three days of the program.

Gerlach Hall - my new center of learning.

It’s a different vibe from undergrad, sharing the same courses with the same tight-knit group. Someone I have in one class can always provide input on what happened in another. There are always MAcc students doing something together outside of classes as well, whether it’s going out for hamburger specials or attending a recruiting event. I’ve become especially close with the students who took the Pre-MAcc program with me – three weeks of eight-hour class days will do that. We made it through a crash course on more accounting rules than you can shake a ledger at and now I’m guaranteed a close friend in any one of my accounting classes. In undergrad, my closest friends were in my dorm. In graduate school, my closest friends are my classmates, and it makes school work and projects a lot more entertaining and insightful. You get closer to your classmates when you work and play together.

My mother told me undergrad would be the best years of my life. She was right. Towards graduation, she told me grad school would be the best year(s) of my life. I think she might be right about that one, too. While I’m just barely into classes and the recruiting cycle, I’m confident this year at Fisher will be the richest and most entertaining year of my education, and it’s all because of the people – both students and faculty. I hadn’t planned on becoming a master of accounting, but right now I’m very glad I did.

What I Took from Orientation

I have always loved Ohio State.  Whether it be the academics, the athletics, or the countless traditions, I am always amazed by what this University can do.  The 2011 MAcc Orientation lived exactly up to these standards.

I’ll be honest – I was a little bit skeptical of what I would gain from orientation.  I am a combined BSBA/MAcc student (a great program that Fisher offers, for any of you who may be accounting or finance undergrads at OSU right now!!) and thought I was pretty well versed in the ways of Ohio State.  After all, I’ve spent the last three years of my life on campus at Fisher and the last 18 years of my life in Columbus.

I was so wrong!

True, I may not have needed the facilities tour (which was still fun, and for those who do not do their undergraduate work at OSU will be extremely helpful!), but there was so much more for me to gain.  I think what impressed me the most was how interactive each session was, and how well I got to know some of my classmates before classes began.

Throughout orientation, I was given opportunities to see how diverse of a class I will be a part of.  This diversity is not only based on physical locations but extends to the way we each think and act.  I have classmates that will think completely differently than me, as this is really their first exposure to accounting!  Being able to see this as one complete MAcc class, rather than in bits and pieces once we meet each other a few people at a time in class, was incredibly interesting and really got me excited to work with everyone in the program.

We also got to meet all of the people at the University present to help us throughout the year.  Alisa downstairs in the Programs Office said she will help with anything from scheduling meeting rooms to Halloween costumes, Samantha (our advisor) will help us all find the courses best suited for what interests each one of us, and Dr. Dietrich (the department chair) will (attempt to) provide us comic relief if we’re feeling stressed.  The best part of who I’ve just listed is that they’re the tip of the iceberg.

Before signing out, I want to share one of the most rewarding portions of orientation.  Our class took a trip to Summit Vision, a high/low ropes course, for some team building.  We all walked away with much more than we thought we’d get though!  Throughout the day, we learned to communicate creatively, think diversely while working towards a common goal, and to really trust one another.  I think I can safely say too, that the high ropes course left us all extremely motivated and confident to begin classes.  Climbing over 35 feet in the air and jumping off a platform attached to nothing but a rope is not exactly in my comfort zone, nor was in the many of my classmates’ comfort zone.  Yet so many of us did just this.  Each of us that jumped absolutely loved it.  I can’t think of a better way to learn that stepping out of your comfort zone can be INCREDIBLY rewarding.

So – whether you’re a diehard accountant looking to expand your expertise or a soil scientist interested in studying for a MAcc degree, the MAcc program at Fisher can help you step outside of what is comfortable to you and really develop you as a person.  I can’t wait to keep stepping out of my comfort zone this year and sharing all my experiences.


This is me at the MAcc Mix'n'Mingle - one of the great parts of our orientation experience. We got to tour the Ohio Stadium and mingle with our professors and recruiters!




First Year Reflections and Summit Vision

When I first started graduate school, I thought it would be a lot like undergrad, where you met a few people that you liked in classes, were maybe in a few groups together, but at the end of the day, we would all go home and hang out with our friends from either back home or from undergrad. Of course, I couldn’t be more wrong. This year has been quite the opposite, in fact. I know I’ve made friends for life in this program.

At the beginning of our first year, our class was required to participate in team-building exercises at one of the fitness facilities on campus led by a group from Summit Vision. They told us that in the spring, we would go to Summit Vision after having spent a year together to do more of these types of activities. I thought, at the time, that a year wouldn’t make too much difference in how we were towards each other. But, what a difference a year really does make.

When we first got to Summit Vision we were divided into teams, then each team did their own activities with one of the leaders from Summit Vision. Our first event was the zip-line, which put me right into anxiety mode. I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with the zip-line because we were told that we needed to stay in our “growth zone” and not put ourselves in our “panic zone.” As soon as the lady told us our first activity was the zip-line my mind went right to the boarder of “panic zone” and “growth zone.” However, we got suited up in our harnesses and thank goodness the guys volunteered to go first. It really helped to see them go first. Not to be left out or be a baby, I decided to at least climb up the thing and see how bad the height was before making any final decisions on whether or not to do the zip-line. Once I got up there, I watched 2 people go ahead. They didn’t die, so I thought it might be ok. Emily and I were the last to go, and probably the most scared, but we both were able to encourage each other to move forward. Sure enough, we both counted down from 3 and off we went, down the zip-line. It was actually pretty fun, quite honestly. I enjoyed it and I might even zip-line in the future.

It was after this activity that I really started to realize how much we all had changed over the past year. We really had developed friendships, that I didn’t even know existed. It sounds silly, but I always thought a friend was someone who went to the bars with you on Friday night and someone who was there for you when you needed to cry.I didn’t realize until Friday during these activities that friends don’t always have to come like that (meaning they don’t always have to be your best friends who you over-share everything with). Friends can be the people who just encourage you to scoot your behind off of a platform to go on the zip-line. Friends can be there to calm you down after you’ve been scared about doing the zip-line.Everyone in my group were all of those things and more.

Our next activity was the “Commitment Bridge” or as I called it, “Marriage/Dating Counseling 101.” This was one where you had to get on the ropes and balance each other as the two ropes got further and further apart. This, again, got me thinking about how I’d developed a friendship with everyone in my group. Emily and I had to lean on each other and trust that the other one could help with balance. You also had to trust that the people who were standing in front of you or behind you were going to catch you if you fell. Having, a few trust issues myself, this was one that was difficult for me, mentally. Yet, the important thing was that I had friends there to help me. A few people were there to grab me when I fell and Emily proved that she really could help me balance on the rope and vice versa.

This trip really helped me to fully understand how great the people in our first year class are and how I really have developed friendships with most people in our class. I may not be out at the bars with everyone in the class on a Friday night  nor has everyone in the class seen me cry; however, I have learned to lean on my classmates for support, and I’ve learned to be support for classmates. We’ve learned about each others strengths and weaknesses through group projects and we’ve seen how everybody holds up after a 2-day long case competition. The activities at Summit Vision really helped to cement those friendships and helped those of us who hadn’t before this, realize that they actually had developed.

Over the past year, we’ve laughed, cried, had anxiety, stressed, studied, shared stories of significant others mis-behaving, shared stories about work, discussed job searches, and most importantly, gone to Varsity Club on most Thursdays together. I think I can say with confidence that I can call everyone in the 1st year MLHR class a friend. Classes come and go, but the relationships that have been built with our classmates will hopefully last a lifetime. Here’s to an awesome first year with everyone and hopefully, here’s to a speedy/challenging 2nd year. Cheers!

Lisa and Rebecca
Emily and Rebecca - getting ready to zip-line

PS- Thanks for letting me use these pictures, Lisa 🙂

Photos courtesy of Lisa Carpinone

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.

You say you want a resolution…

A resolution is not a burden, but an opportunity — a chance to prove you’re master of your fate.  -Terry Dunkle

I read this quote in an article by Terry Dunkle and it really made me think.  I’m not normally one to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I believe most of us make resolutions that reflect our end goal and not the steps we need to get there.  For instance, a common resolution is to lose weight.  But, without a metric for how to accomplish this, you set yourself up for failure.  Even if you say “I will go to the gym every day”, you are setting yourself up for failure.  You miss one day, promise that it won’t happen again but inevitably life gets in the way.  Sometime in March you realize that you haven’t been to the gym in weeks and then you beat yourself up for failing on your resolution.  Or, perhaps this only happens to me?

But this quote forced me to rethink resolutions – to look at them as opportunities to construct positive change without the internal punishment for “failure”.  Resolutions should be a chance to commit yourself to doing something differently, even if you accomplish it incrementally.  In that spirit, this year I am making a couple of resolutions:

  • Take on one more activity/class/event than I think I can handle in order to stretch myself and get the most out of my time at Fisher (which is already flying by!).
  • Get back to the person I used to be.  You know, the one who actually liked to exercise and wouldn’t miss it for anything.  I remember her… 🙂
  • Embrace the advice given to us by Senior Associate Dean Karen Wruck during Fisher Advantage Orientation: “All of [the Fisher MBA students] have enormous potential.  Find it in your classmates.  Don’t squander your own.”  (Paying special attention to that last phrase)
  • Spend at least two evenings at home NOT doing homework – at least until the kids are in bed…
  • Make entries to this blog more often!

The plan is to do better – it’s not an all or nothing game.   Here’s to a fantastic 2011!

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Hello everyone. This week I felt it would be fun to give you a glimpse of how I felt orientation went recently.

While there were several other auxiliary type events going on (such as association fairs), orientation primarily consisted of three days of activities. The week before classes began, we gathered within the Gerlach hall to initiate the adventures. As you would expect, there were some “get-to-know-you” games going on throughout the morning with a promise of prizes to those who participated the most. After a continental-type breakfast (very popular in the program), we began a series of presentations and discussions designed to help us ease our way into the program and feel out the atmosphere. Professors introduced themselves, administrators gave great advice, and it was incredibly fun to get to know those who shared similar ambitions as mine. Later that night, the MAcc program put together a welcoming social mixer that was held in the president’s box at the buckeye football stadium (Ohio Stadium). As was promised, prizes were given for the games earlier that morning and I won a gift card to Kroger (score!). All of the prizes were sponsored by firms that would be having a recruiting presence during the quarter. While it was fun to network with professionals from different corporations, I think most would say the best part of the evening went to the outstanding tour of “the Shoe.” Many alum would love to see the press box or walk on the field (I think there was even a wedding going on that same night between a couple of true buckeyes).

The next day was just as great. The morning began with a couple more presentations. We were familiarized with different resources available to us along with some handy information concerning the CPA examination and how to prepare. After a brief lunch (no, we did not eat underwear… get it?), we all hopped on buses and were taken 20 minutes north to begin our summit vision. The summit vision was first and foremost an incredible time. The MAcc students were divided into teams of about 12 to 15 and we were tasked with different challenges. Some tasks were designed to build teamwork skills such as a timed three-dimensional puzzle. Others were meant to simply get us out of our comfort zones. One of my team’s high-element challenges was jumping off a platform and swinging 40 ft above the ground. Other teams had to balance on the top of a pole nearly as high. While many lessons were gleaned from the summit vision, I feel one that stood out to me was that I was among an incredibly talented group of individuals. While I think very highly of my undergraduate education, I always considered myself as a top-performing student and often sought to lead on team assignments. After confronting our challenges alongside my classmates, I felt as though any single person in the group was more than qualified to lead. I learned to trust.

The third event I would consider meat and potatoes of orientation was the MAcc boot camp. This day was filled with guest speakers and panel discussions. Working professionals gave advice on careers, succeeding in life, and professionalism. Of our panels, one consisted of former MAcc students all working in different areas of accounting. It was great to see that some were still working their way through ranks of large public firms while others had the flexibility to move into industry and get into corporate accounting. Another panel was filled with only individuals working in industry and that had a background in accounting. Most of the topics discussed dealt with the corporate world and how accounting helped those in it. A third panel was composed of public accounting firms (recruiters specifically). I was amazed to learn how hard the big 4, other national, regional, and local CPA firms worked in order to compete for the talent coming out of the Fisher School of Business. The big 4 even hold office hours on campus with open door policies designed to help us get a feel for the atmosphere present within their respective companies.

As I navigated my way through these different events, I was gratified knowing it was far more than a pleasantry to truly tell those that surrounded me, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Opportunity Knocking

All the opportunity is there for you. You just need to step into it”
– Dean Poon to the Class of 2012

A New York City girl, born and bred, I leased my first car and drove the nine hours to Columbus, Ohio, driving longer than I ever have in my life.  I heart cruise control.  And I heart my little Honda Civic which I was very happy to discover got me all the way from NY to Pittsburgh on one tank of gas. (Happy to discover not just because it has good gas mileage, but also because, being new to driving, I completely forgot to fill up the tank until my friend in PA said, umm…you know you are on empty, right?)

After working in the non-profit world for seven years, I came to business school not to make money so much as to try to change the world in some small (or big) way, because in my mind, business can be an incredible force for social change, for innovation and for empowerment.

And so, I started the Fisher Advantage Orientation, required attendance for all full time MBA students ready to dip their toes into graduate school waters, hoping to fill up my own personal tank- not on gas, but on the fuel of inspiration.

Luckily, a few nuggets were shared by the myriad of speakers including Dean Poon,  Dean Wruck,  Professor Larry Inks,  Jim Rohr, the CEO of PNC,  and the dynamic Bob Irwin,  CEO of Sterling Commerce, among others, which I imagine I will be referring back to as the school year goes by and which I share with all of you….

To the Class of 2012…

“This is a school where excellence is not a question. We aspire to imminence and we are partners in this adventure to build imminence.

The small decisions that you face every day of your life are the most important. They define who you are.

This – if you choose- can be a “transformational experience.” The key factors to make this happen are your willingness and motivation to engage in the opportunities in front of you.

If you are not uncomfortable, then you need to ask yourself “Am I making good decisions?” You need to learn how to expand your inner capacity by expanding outside of your comfort zone.

There is no other time but now. Now is the time. Don’t squander your potential and don’t underestimate the potential of others.

Work hard. Learn everything you can.

Success if a function of richness and depth in both character and capability.

You are two things here. You are yourself, and you are an example for everyone else.

Where there is tremendous change is where you need to be.

Leadership is translating vision into reality.

Achievement and ambition will get you into a position of leadership, but once you are there, you need to focus on empowering others.

It doesn’t matter what you say- it only matters what they hear.

The questions that you ask define the leader that you are.”

It is Dean Poon’s statement about taking opportunity and Bob Irwin’s about asking questions that I liked the most, and that I have put in my pocket to be pulled out on a daily basis.  So off I (we) go on an adventure,  hopefully full of lots questions and opportunities, and of course, lots of driving and lots of fun.

Making Connections

Orientation these past few weeks can be best represented by my first night of work at a local restaurant. Being a grad student comes with a lot of great aspects- unfortunately money is not one of them. To help out with expenses, I took a job as a hostess. I was excited for the job, and had a little restaurant experience. Steve, my boss, told me to come at 5 to train on what he thought would be a slow night. I was supposed to just shadow him for a few hours to learn the system.

I showed up to work early, all decked out in my black uniform, ready to master the art of the hostess. I figured that if I could get into Fisher, then this should not be a problem….was I wrong! But with the good weather, coupled with a live band, Steve could only help me for about ten minutes, leaving me to fly solo the rest of the night. I did not anyone’s name or really any of the procedures. However, over the next four hours, people were given tables, they enjoyed a good time, and left happy, and I slowly began to feel less like a chicken with its head cut off.

I went in thinking I was going to have someone to hold my hand, but looking back I realize how naïve I was. This was also my view coming into orientation. I have learned that grad school is not undergrad and also that I am responsible for my abilities. Throughout countless hours of speakers and jumping off a 55 foot pole, orientation has also showed me that feeling like a headless chicken is not necessarily a bad thing, and if you work hard, you can get the successfully get the job done.

Even though I have now realized how much work I am getting myself into, I cannot wait for classes to start soon and to start a new chapter in my life!