Category: MIS

Securing Your First Business Internship as a Husky

By Matt Chard, third-year management information systems student

The first moment I stepped onto Michigan Tech’s campus, I became overwhelmed with emotion. It was an exciting time—balancing classes, joining student organizations, and making new friends—all while looking to secure my first summer internship. With so much going on, you may wonder where to begin to find that first internship. Let me share my story and help answer some of your questions.
Photo of MTU student Matt ChardMy first introduction to Michigan Tech Career Services was only weeks into my first semester. I walked out of class to find the center of campus filled with the newest vehicles from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Ford Motor Company. As a motor enthusiast, I was interested in learning more, so I took the initiative to talk to the company representatives. I had a casual conversation about the new vehicle features and I ended up learning about career opportunities, which got me fired up to apply what I was learning in class to industry. I was now determined to get an internship! 

As the semester continued and the Fall Career Fair approached, I attended several résumé help sessions, where company representatives spent time providing feedback to strengthen my résumé and help me create an effective elevator pitch.

I felt ready for my very first Career Fair. Dressed head to toe in professional apparel, improved résumé in hand, ready to deliver my pitch. After more than four hours, I talked to about 20 companies. Feeling confident, I was getting ready to leave when I saw that the Harley-Davidson booth line had dwindled down to just a few folks. I saw on their Handshake page that they were only recruiting engineers. Still, my passion for riding motorcycles brought me to the booth. The conversation started with a brief introduction, quickly moving the topic to the motorcycle on display. I gradually shifted the conversation to how business students provide value even in an engineering workspace. I handed the representative my résumé before departing.

That evening, I received a few phone calls to set up interview times for the next day. Fortunately, I attended a Career Services’ mock interview practice session and was prepared. After the interview, I felt that I nailed it, but what was next? After sending follow-up emails thanking the representatives and reiterating my excitement for the positions, I received an offer letter for a summer internship with Amway and a four-month co-op with Harley-Davidson during the fall semester. All of my hard work and preparation paid off! I reached my goal of securing my first internship.

I found that the best strategy was to utilize Career Services, emphasize your passion regardless of its relevance to the job, and, most importantly, work on interpersonal communication and the ability to engage in small talk to develop relationships. 

In addition to campus-wide programs like Career Servies, to help facilitate the process of getting prepared for your first internship, the Michigan Tech College of Business has a program called Professional Blueprint. It is a series of steps and resources to guide you toward reaching your dream career. Plus, as you progress through the Blueprint, you earn College of Business swag and get an honors cord to wear at commencement!

I am glad I took advantage of every opportunity available to me. Michigan Tech prepares you not only in the classroom but through a variety of career experiences. There is no doubt you will be ready to create the future after leaving Michigan Tech!


Alec Fisher Scholarship Fund for Managament Information Systems Students

The Alec Fisher Scholarship Fund was established to honor the memory of Alec Fisher, a Michigan Technological University student who double majored in environmental engineering and management information systems. Raised in Portage Township, Michigan, and a 2016 graduate of Hancock High School, Alec was a member of the Blue Key National Honor Society at Michigan Tech.

Scholarship Information

Scholarship Requirements

  • Junior or above
  • Enrolled in management information systems or environmental engineering
  • 3.2 GPA or higher
  • Preference given to individuals from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
  • Financial need considered

Milligan and Wall are 2019-20 Ten Haken Faculty Fellows

Exterior of Academic Office Building

The School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Michigan Technological University announces the appointments of Sheila Milligan, senior lecturer in accounting, as the Richard and Joyce Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Accounting/Finance, and Jeff Wall, assistant professor of management information systems (MIS), as the Richard and Joyce Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Business.

Photo of senior lecturer Sheila Milligan
Senior lecturer Sheila Milligan (center)

Dean Johnson, dean of SBE, says the fellowships shine a light on the important work Milligan and Wall do in the classroom and beyond: “Our faculty stand a part for being large enough to lead and small enough to care. They know our students’ strengths and goals, and they play integral roles in guiding them with hands-on learning and mentoring.” 

Milligan, a 17-year veteran at the University, says that Richard and Joyce’s giving inspire her every day. “I want to be my best for our hardworking students, who are very conscientious about their education,” she says. 

Photo of professor Jeff Wall with student
Jeff Wall (left). assistant professor of management information systems (MIS)

Fellowship funds will be used for student travel, experiential education, student scholarships and to provide teaching assistant positions and professional development for faculty. “Attending conferences in forensic accounting is critical to keeping my teaching agile and relevant to prepare students,” Milligan says. 

Wall intends to direct his fellowship funds toward undergraduate scholarships for students dual majoring in accounting or finance and MIS. “Using the funds–more than $8,000 in total–in this way can help support Michigan Tech’s enrollment goals for business students,” Wall says of the new initiative directed at growing the School of Business and Economics.

Trends in industry are placing a greater emphasis on the intersection of accounting and finance with MIS.  Wall anticipates seeing top-quality, interdisciplinary students through these scholarships.

The Ten Haken Faculty Fellowship positions were created in 2017 to attract and retain high-quality business faculty and to inspire teaching and research activity amongst business faculty. Both accounting majors with bachelor’s degrees in business administration, Richard and Joyce Ten Haken are pillars of support for SBE’s students and faculty. 


Tech’s MIS Students Benefit from Corporate Partnership

Drone photo of campus and Portage Canal
Students in a management information systems (MIS) course at Michigan Technological University are seeing the benefits of a partnership with the provider of the largest cloud platform for developing integrated, custom business applications. Students in Russ Louks’ MIS 4100 capstone course have developed applications using the Quick Base low-code/no-code platform.

Louks, management information systems professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics, said “One of the challenges we face in providing experiential learning opportunities for MIS students, is ensuring the tools and projects offered are in line with the learning curve.”

He said MIS intersects business and technology with graduates developing into “IT Swiss Army Knives.”

Relying on nearly three decades at Ford Motor company, Louks maintains a network of professionals eager to support his business students. One of those connections, Tech alumnus Evan Rice ’06,  senior director of IT operations, information and analysis services for CCI Systems, an Iron Mountain-based communications solutions provider.

Rice, who is also a member of Michigan Tech’s MIS advisory board, was instrumental in implementing a new classroom technology tool that is rapidly becoming a model for educational settings across the country.

“Evan suggested low-code/no-code as a concept our students should learn,” Louks said. CCI employs Quick Base in their professional work and offered to sponsor the licensing of the emerging technology for capstone students.

CCI Systems Business Analyst and Application Development Manager Janet Plumley, led the student project for the past two years. She said, “In traditional settings, students would start by writing code, which can lead to frustration and inefficiencies.” MIS students use a data-model first approach; it’s an easier development environment.”

Louks added “Students enjoy the experience of going from nothing to having a finished product in one semester and a possible career path using the skills they have developed in the program.”

Plumley, who serves on the Builder Advisory Board for Quick Base, has another Husky connection; her son, David, is a current student.

The collaboration was so successful after the first year that CCI Systems expanded the program to include multiple student teams with Tech’s MIS faculty and Quick Base’s Builder Program, that provides no-cost builder accounts for learning purposes. Additionally, CCI adopted the application students developed in class and hired Tom Strome, a Houghton native and ’19 MIS grad.

Plumley said this real-world knowledge of up-and-coming technologies in their toolkit makes Michigan Tech MIS students even more valuable, whether they pursue IT or another high-tech field like finance. “It empowers them to solve their process improvement challenges.”

She added that because these students have a sound knowledge base, they catch on to new challenges quickly. “They aren’t doing theory — they are doing real work that can positively impact a real company.”

“The applications the students presented at the end of the semester were amazing in how closely they mapped to the requirements provided to them by CCI and Michigan Tech,” said Mark Levitt, Quick Base builder program team member. “These students are very well prepared to solve business problems that they encounter in the workplace.”

What began as an industry partnership between CCI Systems leaders and MIS faculty has now evolved into a great lesson about the value of this kind of partnership between universities, commercial organizations and service providers dedicated to helping to equip students with the tool and training they will need in the workplace.

Management information systems at Michigan Tech continues to provide Huskies with a broad background in modern technologies to solve business problems so employers will continue to value hiring its graduates.


Q&A with Russ Louks

Sit down with Russ Louks, management information systems professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics.

louks-personnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

You received your BS from Michigan Tech in 1979. How has campus evolved since your time as an undergrad?

EERC had just opened. Walker was Sherman Gym. There was no Rozsa Center. The Union was about half its size. K-Day was either on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. A whistle blew at Noon and class was dismissed. Students piled in their cars and went out to McLain for a barbecue. Not knowing when it was going to be held was a lot of fun.

Michigan Tech’s focus on academics hasn’t changed.

Tech students haven’t changed. They are still smart students who are technology focused.

The emphasis on experiential learning and preparation for a career has changed dramatically.

How do your nearly 30 years in industry inform your teaching?

I saw a huge technology change over my 28 years at Ford. Laptops didn’t exist. Devices didn’t exist. Computers were the size of a three-foot bookcase. But the concepts are the same, which is the key to longevity in the field. Eighties and nineties IT is unrecognizable, but the concepts are the same.

It’s about putting what you are trying to learn into a structure you already know.

The new Emerging Technology class I teach at MTU is the same thing I was doing at Ford, interfacing with the real world, using a computer system to use information to make decisions or control a part of the physical environment. It’s a realm I am still incredibly interested in.

What does it mean to be a professor of practice? 

Being a professor of practice goes back to experiential learning—I’ve been there, done that. I have a lot of war stories [chuckle]. I’ve learned how technology evolves. The trends that fizzle out. You learn to look deeper to determine if a trend is really going to make a difference, and how to apply it.

A technology whose hype tails off tend to be the ones who deliver on the offerings. MIS professionals ask: What’s behind this and how can we take advantage of the technology to solve business problems? Getting across the idea that technology is great, but it must solve a problem . . . a technology problem, a business problem, a social problem. Chasing a solution without a problem is wasting money.

You have a diverse background in computer technologies including experience with data collection technologies including 2-D barcodes, RFID technologies, computer networking, serial communications, and handheld computing devices. Why is it important for business students to have technology knowhow?

You can’t run a business today—even a mom and pop shop—without technology solutions. Whether you are in IS, CS, or any other area, you have to touch technology. We must ask: How can technology advance my business? Can I take advantage of it before others? What negative impacts will it have? Will it put me out of business? How will we use it? How will we make money?

It’s an imperfect science.

As the advisor of IT Oxygen Enterprise, what does the team have in store for this academic year?

We’ve got a stream of all-new projects this year including data science projects; we’ve got a project with the Department of Defense, where we will research how to keep mobile networks alive in extreme environments; a project with Microsoft; a project with Ford; and an internal project within Enterprise to develop an easy-to-use web template for the dozens of Enterprise teams on campus.

IT Oxygen is multidisciplinary, bringing together students from computer science, MIS, engineering, and scientific and technical communications. All components are necessary. All skills are complementary–not in competition. Any overlap in skills is what allows us to communicate.

One of your research areas is information security. What can a layperson do now to protect themselves?

Be vigilant. The biggest cybersecurity threat in the world today is people. Perform a risk analysis just like in a financial situation. There isn’t a business immune from cybersecurity issues. You are responsible for the data you collect and store. Change passwords. Use strong passwords. Implement two-factor authentication. It can be a pain, but it’s today’s world. Every morning I check my bank accounts. The cost of convenience is vigilance.

What keeps you motivated?

If you are really enjoying what you are doing, you keep up on trends without realizing it; you read for pleasure. It doesn’t feel like a burden (if it feels like that, you are in the wrong job). Reading, going to events, and learning—not to learn—but because there’s an interest. Working with students is a joy; it’s easy to stay motivated.

What has been your biggest source of pride in working with Huskies?

Watching the transformation that takes place over the course of an internship. The light turns on and students return to campus as young professionals. Just because I teach doesn’t mean students learn. It’s incredibly rewarding when students come back and say, “I get it now.” Seeing them progress and seeing their success makes this job worthwhile.