Category: Co-ops and Internships

Nathan Sodini Named Outstanding Man in Business

Nathan Sodini, a student dual majoring in engineering management and finance, is the 2022 Sam Tidwell Outstanding Man in Business. Roger Woods, College of Business faculty member, says Sodini’s involvement in campus programs defines what it means to be a Michigan Tech business Husky. “This is a student who from day one has engaged in all opportunities Michigan Tech has to offer—and his involvement has paid off.”

Back in high school, Sodini launched a profitable entrepreneurial endeavor with his passion for classic and performance automobiles. During his first year on campus, the scholar-athlete landed a paid internship as a production supervisor at General Motors’ (GM) Heavy-Duty Truck Plant. In his second year, Sodini took on a co-op with GM as a quality-operations supervisor, tasked with controlling the daily quality of T1 HD trucks with his team of more than 40 employees.

Student Nathan Sodini standing in staircase
Nathan Sodini

Adding to his already impressive resume, Sodini obtained a motorsports internship with Hagerty back in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, and last fall was back at GM in the body shop, orchestrating the procurement of pre-assembled trucks to support the Oshawa launch. His leadership skills were further honed on campus, where he served for two years each as elected president of the Society of Automotive Engineers student chapter and as business manager of Advanced Motorsports Enterprise—Formula SAE. For his final college summer, Sodini heads south to General Motors Defense in North Carolina where, as a business manager/shift leader co-op, he will support the production management of the Infantry Squad Vehicle being produced for the United States Army.

Being able to blend the worlds of engineering and business has been a dream come true, Sodini says:

“A business degree from Michigan Tech is more than coursework. It’s an experience preparing strategic leaders for tomorrow’s challenges.” 

Nathan Sodini, Michigan Tech Outstanding Man in Business

The Sam Tidwell Outstanding Man and Woman in Business awards, valued at $250 each, are presented annually to two current College of Business students who embody a dedication to academics, leadership, and extracurricular involvement within the Michigan Tech community.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.


Tomorrow Needs Accounting Analytics at Michigan Tech

Accounting is a critical component of any successful business. Students interested in pursuing accounting careers need to be aware that the traditional study of accounting and accountants’ roles with companies are transforming.

Data Analytics Disruption

In a recent study by KPMG, a worldwide “Big Four” accounting firm, 99 percent of organizations indicated that advanced technology could enhance their financial reporting. However, 81 percent of CEOs stated that companies were not keeping pace with the emergence of these technologies, which could help them make more informed business decisions.

Accounting at Michigan Technological University responded by developing an updated, robust curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our program prepares students to make immediate and valuable contributions in professional environments by instruction them in the core areas of accounting in addition to contemporary coursework in data analytics.

BS in Accounting

The Michigan Tech Bachelor of Science in Accounting offers an 18-credit concentration in data analytics. Students enrolled in this major prepare to sit for the CPA exam to become licensed accountants and complement their education with topics including data cleaning and visualization, programming, statistical analysis, and optimizations.

Measured against peers, Michigan Tech accounting students earn the second-highest CPA pass rates in the nation and achieve the highest average score.

MS in Accounting

At the graduate level, learners in the Master of Science in Accounting program can also earn certificates in analytical skills expected of them in today’s workforce: accounting analytics and forensic accounting

In a STEM-focused institution like Michigan Tech, the accounting program has the faculty and resources to provide students with an educational experience that bridges the gap between accounting and technology. Accounting analytics skills set our students apart.

Career Success in Accounting

Taylor Johnston
Taylor Johnston

For senior Taylor Johnston, finding the right major took a few tries. “I started in chemical engineering and switched to chemistry before classes even started,” she said. “I stayed in chemistry for four years before realizing that my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.” After moving to management information systems in the College of Business, Johnston found herself in Sheila Milligan’s Accounting Principles I course in fall 2020 and after two weeks of class, she ran to her advisor to add accounting with data analytics as a dual major.

No one thinks of accounting as a glamorous career, but the passion and enthusiasm Sheila shows in her teaching lit a fire inside of me I never knew I had.”

Taylor Johnston, Michigan Tech accounting student

Johnston spent last summer interning as a tax accountant with Freeport-McMoRan. In that role, she created a database from scratch and automated more than 20 calculations that were required each quarter.

 “I was the only person in the entire department able to do this since I had the accounting background and analytics skills.”

Taylor Johnston, Michigan Tech accounting student


Now, she’s gaining attention from Silicon Valley corporations and Big Four accounting firms, but first has her sights set on achieving her MS in Accounting. “I’m committed to completing the accelerated master’s in accounting program to continue strengthening my skills in a subject I love.” 

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.


Marketing Internship Success Story

Third-year Michigan Tech marketing student Jaxon Verhoff has received four internship offers from industry-leading companies—General Motors, Kimberly Clark, Caterpillar, and Dow Chemical. 

Jaxon Verhoff

“My offers are due in large part to the opportunities the College of Business has made available to me,” Verhoff says. Some of the most valuable career-shaping experience, he says, has been interacting with alumni, student organization activities and competitions, projects, and technology incorporation into curriculum.

While all four companies would offer valuable marketing internship experience, Verhoff settled on Dow Chemical, where he’ll serve as a digital marketing analyst intern, because of its proximity to his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin. His top internship goal? Soaking in all that working at a large company has to offer.

“I am going to have the opportunity to meet and interact with many people company-wide, so I will be asking questions and learning from professionals.”

Jaxon Verhoff, Michigan Tech marketing student

In addition, Verhoff will have his hand in projects, getting to apply and build upon classroom knowledge.

Verhoff participated in Michigan Tech’s Career Fairs to gain the internship opportunities. In fall 2020, he met virtually with as many companies as possible to get his name out there. By fall of this year, he met again with some of the same recruiters who remembered him and were able to track his personal and professional growth.

“Jaxon has followed our success formula. He has continued to apply for an internship until he gets it.”

Junhong “Jun” Min, Michigan Tech professor of marketing
Jaxon, second from top left, chilling post-class with his broomball team

Long term, Verhoff is after a sense of career fulfillment. The people he surrounds himself with, the company culture he immerses himself in, and the projects he leads, he says, all lend themselves toward the feeling of making a difference, making an impact—that he’s ultimately looking to achieve. “Success and a great salary are important, but feeling fulfilled is what’s most important to me,” he adds.

Before he heads off to Dow, Verhoff, who is a senior residential assistant, is eager to continue working toward goals as president of the American Marketing Association group on campus. “We are developing meaningful connections with industry professionals, faculty, and students, while deepening our digital marketing skills through data analysis, case studies, and competitions.”

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.


Engineering Economics: One Student’s Journey to a Grad School Scholarship

John Ruf and a classmate during a DC trip
John Ruf (left) during a DC trip for winning the iOme Challenge, a national retirement security essay competition

Like many STEM-savvy Huskies, John Ruf came to Michigan Technological University to study mechanical engineering. When he arrived on campus from the Chicago suburb of Orland Park back in 2016, Ruf’s passion for economics was untapped. A series of unexpected opportunities during his time at Tech gave Ruf the chance to dive deeper into a newly discovered field.

Ruf’s initial interest in economics began with Free to Choose, by prominent monetary economist and University of Chicago’s-own Milton Friedman, followed by John Galbraith’s The Affluent Society. Ruf says, “I began to realize that economics is a mathematical and scientific discipline, not just something people argue about; it’s an endeavor to understand how people behave, trade, and make the best for themselves in a complicated world.”

It wasn’t long after that Ruf saw a poster for an MTU Economics Club meeting, and on a whim he showed up.

During that first meeting, Ruf learned from club advisor Emanuel Oliveira, an associate professor of economics in the College of Business, that many club members had graduated, leaving a gap in leadership. Ruf stepped up.

“At the time, I had not even taken an economics course, so I really had to learn on the fly, without any coursework backing me up.”

Ruf

As club president, Ruf reinvigorated the group by hosting regular meetings, moderating discussions of current economics events, and networking with guest speakers from industry. He was building relationships as well as knowledge. “Emanuel always took the time to teach me economic concepts and to introduce me to members of the College of Business,” he says.

Between the four economics courses offered to engineering students (one required and three electives), and his curiosity and club involvement, it was a natural evolution for Ruf to add an 18-credit economics minor to his résumé.

In his junior year, he landed a cost-management engineering co-op at Oshkosh Corporation, which blended econ and engineering. He’d continue that position into his senior year. In addition, Ruf became involved in the KHOB Economic Outlook Report, a research project studying the four-county region—Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, and Baraga— surrounding Michigan Tech. “We presented to the community and attracted the interest of policymakers—that’s when I knew that studying economics and using the data-driven principles we were learning in class not only mattered, but could make a difference in the world,” he says.

Ruf (far right) meeting with US Senator Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)

Balancing Studies and Leadership

Ruf, who served as VP of finance for Blue Marble Security Enterprise on campus, is the first to admit that managing the opportunities—leadership in student organizations, his co-op, research projects, and studies in both engineering and economics—was a challenge. “I had to master time management skills very quickly.” His econ underpinning helped with that feat, too.

The Blue Marble Security team

“The comparative advantage I learned in Jenny Apriesnig’s [assistant professor of economics] class helped me realize I could spend less time on my strengths—like data visualization and coding—and focus on areas I’m not as efficient at,” says Ruf, who wound up applying what he learned in econometrics everywhere, including his Senior Design engineering project.

During what was the most competitive application cycle in more than a decade, Ruf set his sights on an economics graduate program—and not just any program. “I applied to schools as far away as Italy and also to top US schools like Duke, Clemson, and the University of Chicago.”

​​The vast research Ruf conducted while on campus, he says, prepared him for top programs. With mentorship from Associate Professor of Economics Bill Breffle, Ruff conducted an in-depth study of the impact of broomball referees on game outcomes, producing a paper in the niche field of sports economics. He also was an integral member of Dr. Apriesnig’s research team—a study of local beer brewing: “Berries & Brews: Understanding the Market and Technological Processing Opportunities of Michigan Grown Fruit in the Craft Beverage Industry.”

He helped manage and motivate the team. During the survey stage of the project, John helped develop the questions, contact Michigan brewers, and analyze the results with econometric methods.

“I have never met another student with a more genuine curiosity for answering economic questions. Anyone that meets John immediately knows of his passion for economics.”

Apriesnig

The relationships Ruf developed with College of Business professors both in class and through hands-on research projects supported his grad school application process. “My professors advised me on which schools to apply to and they helped review my submissions, making them as strong as possible. They were also always available for pep talks when I started to doubt myself.”

He did it! Profs Sorcha (left) and Apriesnig (right) help celebrate the big day with John and his fellow 2021 grads!

Ruf earned admission to a University of Chicago PhD-prep program, complete with a valuable and hard-to-earn scholarship. In fall 2021, Ruf began the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences. The economics program accepts up to 36 students on average from a 1,800 applicant pool. Ruf’s scholarship will cover two-thirds of his master’s degree.

His ultimate goal is to become an academic economist. Some of his future research focus areas include using patent and shale reservoir data to evaluate the relationship between process improvements and reservoir productivity.

“At Michigan Tech, my mentors in the College of Business inspired me to use the tools I learned in engineering and economics to really further our understanding of the 21st century economy. At UChicago, I hope to make my mentors proud and showcase the best of Tech,” Ruf concludes.


About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.


My Engineering Management Co-op Experience

This summer, engineering management major Mitch Watters participated in a co-op at Greenheck. The third-year student completed real-world work assignments related to his major while being simultaneously enrolled in a course requiring online discussions, written assignments, evaluations, and a final report. 

Q: Where are you doing your co-op?
MW: I am doing my co-op at Greenheck, which is a supplier of air movement and air control systems. I grew up in the same Wisconsin town Greenheck is located in, so when I saw a co-op job posting on LinkedIn, I applied right away.

Q: What are your responsibilities there?
MW: I am a test engineer at the dampers lab. I am responsible for performing tests and carrying out test plans. To set up tests, I perform air-leakage tests on our products; other times I make modifications or adjustments to our products and test how they perform. I collect data and communicate test results to our product development engineers. I also help brainstorm and make recommendations for our tests.

Student Mitch Watters in a test oven

Q: Who do you work with?
MW: In the lab I work with our lab supervisor and test technician. A lot of the testing I do comes from our engineering team and product development engineers. I spend most of my time working with our product development engineers.  

Q: What are you learning?
MW: I learned how engineering teams work together and how my role assists the sales team. I learned the importance of effective and efficient communication.

Q: Favorite co-op memory?
MW: Some of the best parts of my co-op were when I traveled for field issues. I was able to see the application for our product in the field and how to maintain a professional level of communication with our customers.

Student Mitch Watters

Q: What will you take away from this experience?
MW: My co-op experience helped shape my future career by giving me the engineering experience needed for my degree. As an engineering management major I need an understanding of both the engineering and business side of the company. Next summer I hope to do an internship where I can gain hands-on business experience. Overall, I am even more certain that I will really enjoy an application engineer position.

About the College of Business
The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.