Category: Student Spotlight

Networking for Success

Caitlin Pionke '12, a management major at Michigan Tech, talks about how she used networking to secure a job at Dow Chemical in Midland, Mich.

“Networking” is no more than a vague concept for many students, something they might do in a far-off professional future. For management major Caitlin Pionke, networking came into play far earlier as a crucial job-hunting tool.

Like many graduating students, Pionke started her job search in a tough, highly competitive market.

“One of my friends applied for thirty-five jobs without success,” said Pionke. “I applied for two. And, thanks to networking, I got offers for both.”

Pionke’s networking opportunities came on the heels of her 2011 Woman of Promise award in the School of Business and Economics. Michigan Tech’s Women of Promise program, which was initiated in 1999 by the Presidential Council of Alumnae (PCA), is a way to recognize a female student in each department who goes above and beyond what is expected of them. Students who win the award gain an introduction into the network of alumnae who have been recognized for outstanding professional achievements.

Pionke made full use of the opportunities afforded her as a Woman of Promise, fearlessly using the network of PCA alumnae as a support system. “During the first event, I introduced myself to PCA members, asked for career advice, and sent my résumé to everyone I met,” she said. “All of the women in the network were supportive and happy to be of service. They helped me get my résumé to the right people.”

Well aware of the scarcity of jobs, Pionke worked tirelessly to build on these relationships in the months leading up to her senior job fair at Michigan Tech. “You have to actively show that you are interested in the job with regular contact and follow-ups,” she said. “Face-to-face connections and name recognition are important, especially when many students are applying online. You can’t just click “apply” and send a résumé.”

Using tools like LinkedIn, she branded herself as a strong communicator and promoted her experience as the business team leader for the International Business Ventures group, a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma national honor society, and a small business owner.

Pionke’s hard work and strategic job hunt paid off. By the time she arrived at Dow Chemical’s booth at the job fair, company representatives knew her by name. After several rounds of interviews, Pionke accepted a position as an information analyst in the company’s IT department, which she will start in June 2012.

“The whole experience was a lesson in the importance of networking,” she said. “I’d advise all students to do the same.”

PCA members pictured, top to bottom, are Ellen Horsch ’78, Carrie Schaller ’87, and Marie Cleveland ’82.
Originally published in Impact, Spring 2012.

APMP Students Win CFA Challenge in Kalamazoo

Michigan Tech APMP students placed first in the CFA Challenge. (L to R: Anna Paul, Jessica Zaiki, Justin Wilson, Eli Karttunen, and APMP Director Dean Johnson)

Michigan Tech’s student team took first place at the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute Research Challenge held in Kalamazoo recently. With the win, the team advances to the Americas Regional competition to be held in Toronto, March 20-21.

In the challenge, the students from five universities analyzed Perrigo, a pharmaceutical company, and made investment recommendations to them. The Michigan Tech team had traveled to Perrigo’s headquarters last semester to begin their research. The challenge was held on the campus of Western Michigan University.

“We based our recommendation on four basic factors: strong business fundamentals, sustainable growth factors, positive industry outlook and limited risk factors,” said team member Jessica Zaiki. “Paired with strong financials, these fundamentals gave us an overall buy recommendation for Perrigo.”

Teammate Anna Paul added, “Since we’ve made our recommendation, the Perrigo’s price has risen and is approaching our target price.”

“The team had to prepare written reports and oral presentations to a panel of Wall Street executives,” said advisor Dean Johnson, the James and Delores Trethewey Professor in the School of Business and Economics. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to have a real-world experience of what it’s like to make an investment recommendation.”

The Tech students participating are also members of the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP), a student group that invests more than $1 million in the stock market.

Other schools participating in the competition were Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, the University of Toledo and Western Michigan University.

The Research Challenge was hosted by the CFA Society of West Michigan, an association of investment professionals: portfolio managers, security analysts, investment advisors, and other financial professionals.

Jeff Tryka, CFA Society of West Michigan president, congratulated Michigan Tech and said, “This is the third year we’ve sponsored the competition, and each year we have seen the quality of research and presentations improve on those of previous years, so it’s clear that every student who participated in the competition should be proud of their accomplishment.”

“We’re very excited to be heading to Toronto to represent Michigan Tech and the whole region to the next level,” said team member Eli Karttunen. “It’s an amazing opportunity for which our hard work is paying off.”

Financial support for the students’ participation in the CFA Challenge also came from James and Dolores Trethewey.

Written by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor in University Marketing and Communications.

What happened this semester? Fall 2012 Student Project Round-up.

It seemed like just yesterday that campus was green and the sun was shining–wait, that was yesterday. Even with a relatively mild fall as a distraction, the students in the School of Business and Economics have been busy making significant advances in their own professional development, marketing savvy, and knowledge conquests. Reflect back with us as we review a few of the best class projects from the Fall 2012 semester at Michigan Tech.

APMP students, Anna Paul, Jessica Zaiki, Mike Harry, and Justin Wilson met with Perrigo's CFO to discuss corporate financial decision making.

On-Site Company Research for Finance Competition at Perrigo

In late November, four students in the Applied Portfolio Management Program traveled to Perrigo, the largest manufacturer of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals in the United States, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of the CFA Institute Research Challenge. This competition brings students, publicly traded companies, and industry investment professionals together to promote hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills.

Anna Paul, Jessica Zaiki, Mike Harry, and Justin Wilson took part in the investor relations meeting and talked to Perrigo’s CFO, Judy Brown, about financial decision making and analysis within the company. The students will now take the information and compile financial forecasting to present at a competition against five other schools at Western Michigan in February.

“This trip made learning about the actual company so much easier than pulling information from the website,” said Paul. “It’s nice to see that a world leader in the pharmaceutical industry cares about the local community and not about cutting corners.”

This is the first year that Michigan Tech was able to take part in this competition thanks to the support given to APMP by Jim and Dolores Trethewey.

Management Information Systems Students Team Up with Blue Terra Energy

Dave Camps, CEO of Blue Terra Energy, LLC, pictured with Emily Jensen, Rachel Plafchan, and Seth Stever, students in MIS 4100.

Emily Jensen, Rachel Plafchan, and Seth Stever worked closely with Blue Terra Energy LLC, a local energy company in Hancock, to develop a usable database system as part of an upper-division management and information systems class. Assistant Professor in Management Information Systems (MIS), Haiyan Huang, orchestrated the curriculum to include this experiential learning opportunity.

“The goal was to streamline the data collection, organization, updating, reporting, and analysis processes for the company,” she added.

Working closely with client Dave Camps, CEO of Blue Terra Energy and ’93 Mechanical Engineering alum, students were able to create a workable database with customized customer fields, inputs, and sorting that will keep projects running smoothly.

“I have been very uneasy about our data and the cost to maintain it. I am very excited about the system the students developed and it has great potential,” said Camps. “This system is really going to help us a lot to track customers, schedules and orders. It will allow us to move forward more aggressively. I am eager to get this implemented on our server.”

Finance U: Educates Michigan Tech Students about Financial Literacy

First FinanceU Event hosted at Michigan Tech. A partnership between the Finance Club and the Office of Financial Aid.

During December, the Michigan Tech Finance Club, in partnership with the Michigan Tech Office of Financial Aid, held the first FinanceU educational event at the J.R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. Aimed at fostering financial literacy on campus, the event was specifically tailored to students, regardless of class and major. Finance Club members offered personal consultations and information related to personal finance, financial aid opportunities, the upcoming FAFSA for 2013-14, and useful tips on how to benefit from CashCourse – a free online personal finance program sponsored by the Alumni Association.

“Since last May, this fantastic group of students and financial aid representatives have been working together on organizing and developing content to make FinanceU as effective and fun as possible for everyone, regardless of class and major,” said Finance Club Advisor, Dr. Emanuel Oliveira. “Now it is time to learn from this first experience and the 69 questionnaires we were able to collect from students concerning their demographics and financial habits. Ultimately, the goal is to make FinanceU an annual financial literacy event on campus though we are also seriously considering the feasibility of holding it every semester. We sincerely believe that all participants have something to win from this.”

A Leaner Meaner Brand: Students Report on Subway’s Marketing

Amber Campbell, Michael Bennet, Joel Vertin, and Qin Xu developed a marketing plan to improve the brand of Subway in both America and China.  As part of the MBA Marketing, Technology, and Globalization course taught by Assistant Professor of Marketing Soonkwan Hong, the team worked together to present a compelling case for change. The final presentation is available on the School of Business and Economics YouTube channel.

Marketing for Local Businesses: Gitzen Company

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yupfjG_s1CU[/youtube]

Students in Assistant Professor of Marketing Jun Min’s Business-to-Business marketing course provide marketing consulting for local companies. This student consulting project was designed to apply knowledge of marketing theories in a real business context, evaluate the practices of the client company, and develop an advertising strategy for potential customers.

A team of students including Angela Barr, Kaylee Betzinger, Chyanne Knudsen, Samantha Robbins, Christina Ruth, and Sarah Vadnais put together a strategy that included a commercial (above) for Gitzens Company that provides food products such as candy and snacks and operates out of Houghton, Michigan.

Digital Marketing for ShareBliss.com

ShareBliss.com is a new website that combines features from popular social sites, such as Pinterest and Sharethis, and integrates online advertising by using Googles Ad Sense. While ShareBliss.com is a live site, the founders are completing beta testing and needed digital marketing advice for their formal launch.  Instructor Cindy McColley’s Digital Marketing class completed projects and sent them to the ShareBliss.com founders who were thrilled to obtain thoughts and insights from the Michigan Tech students; and they were impressed with the quality and detail of the work.

View the ShareBliss.com digital marketing projects from Lindsee Willis and Alexander Alsobrooks.

Michigan Tech Entrepreneur, Jess Tompkins, featured in UP’s Second Wave

Jess Tompkins, a fifth-year student in business management, was recently featured in the Upper Peninsula’s Second Wave. The publication tells the story of the new economy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — a narrative of creative people and businesses, new development, cool places to live, and the best places to work and play.

Tompkins was touted for her business Two Bows, which she started in 2010 under the tutelage of the late Professor of Practice in the School of Business and Economics Bob Mark. The article mentions:

To begin the networking process and get the ball rolling, Tompkins joined Tech’s entrepreneurship support center. During this time she incorporated her business plan, sketches and her prize money from the competition to get sample products made. She later joined the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance. Soon, her idea was starting to look a lot like a real company.

Read the complete article at UP’s Second Wave.

Two Tech Teams Chosen for Clean Energy Challenge

Two teams from Michigan Tech have been chosen to join in the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge. Twenty-seven teams were chosen from 71 teams that applied from across the state. Through the challenge, teams will learn the skills needed to start a successful company, through classroom and hands-on learning.

The teams will also meet regularly with their on-campus mentors and venture capitalists and have access to a micro-grant program offering up to $2,500 for each team to move their business forward.

The Tech teams are GreenedIt!, a web-based application for energy auditing, and Aquaponics, for healthy, local food in urban communities.

GreenedIt! team members are physics students Travis Beaulieu, an undergraduate, and graduate student Abhilash Kantamneni. The team traveled to East Lansing for their initial training this past weekend.

“The training we received through the challenge was incredibly useful,” said Beaulieu. “The whole point was to try and get young entrepreneurs into the mindset of finding a customer need and forming the idea around the customer’s feedback. Thankfully this training worked for our team, and we had a complete pivot during the weekend.”

The other team, Aquaponics, features indoor farming using water instead of soil, with a fish tank providing nutrients to plants. Team members include Robert Handler, post-doctoral environmental engineer in the Sustainable Futures Institute; Josh Krugh, economics undergraduate; and Jacob Bray, chemical engineering undergraduate.

“Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics,” Handler said. “And we want to examine the potential for this type of agriculture to expand as a business opportunity in urban communities throughout the state.”

On the final day of the venture challenge, all participating teams will present their results, and a few teams will be awarded additional prizes and investments totaling $50,000 or more. The six-month challenge is run by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Written by Senior Editor Dennis Walikainen of University Marketing and Communications.