Sponsored by: Department of Operations and Information Management, and Central CT Chapter of the Society of Information Management
University of Connecticut students were given the opportunity to ask career questions and prod the minds of senior IT leaders at a special presentation in the Rome Commons Ballroom at South Campus on Thursday, October 20th, 2011. This presentation, titled, “Future Potential in IT” was sponsored by the Department of Operations and Information Management (OPIM) and the Central CT Chapter of the Society for Information Management (SIM). It was a unique occasion for students to talk to senior IT leaders and recent graduates in the field.
The panelists had diverse backgrounds and degrees. A couple of speakers were engineering majors, a few were in business, and there was even one person that graduated with a degree in history. With that background, it was only natural that the first question asked was “Why IT?” Many of the speakers replied that IT was something that just happened serendipitously; others responded that they wanted a job that was dynamic, exciting and challenging. MIS and IT are a particularly enticing career choices, as UConn’s MIS graduates earn the highest median starting salaries among all Business majors for the past 4 years and IT employees have the highest job satisfaction rate.
In addition to careers in the IT field, the presentation addressed the Management Information System (MIS) major at UConn. A student asked the panel if they thought that UConn’s MIS program was helpful for the “real world,” to which an alumnus on stage replied that the MIS program does a great job helping prepare students for careers. In addition, the alumnus stressed the importance of a writing course in their careers. Many students may not think that writing is crucial later in business, but because a lot of communication is done via e-mail, the ability to write well becomes very important.
The students were also interested in the current outsourcing dilemma. According to the panel members, outsourcing is a factor, but as long as individuals stay up to date, there is nothing that they need to worry about in their IT careers. In the global economy, outsourcing is one tool, but it is not the only tool that is being used the presently.
Questions about social media were also on the students’ minds. The panel noted that before getting hired, future employers do check both Facebook and Linkedin profiles and it is important to maintain an online persona. Across the board, the speakers said that companies look more for values and work ethic, as well as attitude and approach. They do, of course, look for skills, but the skillset they look for goes beyond just the technical but also leadership. Most companies have a leadership program that will help to build whatever skills are really needed.
In conclusion, each speaker was asked to say in one word what the most important trait was to succeed. The responses included: persistence, passion, determination, personality, attitude, optimism, critical thinking, and initiative. These are all exceptional traits that it takes to succeed in business and what many companies look for in their future employees.
The evening was kicked off with an introduction by Sudip Bhattacharjee, Assistant Department Head of OPIM, and the panel was moderated by Chris Connolly, Director of Business Development at BlumShapiro and a Board member for SIM.The panelists included:
- Paul Theriault– XL Insurance (Senior IT Leader)
- Mark Boxer – Cigna (Senior IT Leader)
- Leo Pellerin – United Way of CT (Senior IT Leader)
- Joyce Therieault – Axis Capital(Senior IT Leader)
- Elizabeth Yenkner – CyberCoders(Exec Recruiter)
- Josh Kirchmeier – Blum Shapiro (Recent Grad)
- Ezeibe Anosike – UTC(Recent Grad)
- Raymond Gillett – Cigna(Recent Grad)
- CJ Brexel – Cigna(Recent Grad)
Pictured (left to right): Paul Theriault, Leo Pellerin, Ezeibe Anosike, Joyce Therieault, Elizabeth Yenkner, Josh Kirchmeier, Mark Boxer, CJ Brexel, Raymond Gillett