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Baylor University Hosts IS Summit

April 3, 2009

by Melissa Limmer

Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business' Management Information Systems Department hosted its third annual IS Summit on Thursday, March 26. As the nation faces an economic recession and a growing unemployment rate, the IS Summit highlighted a career field that is going against this trend with a growing demand for new hires.

Management Information Systems majors in collaboration with the IS department and sponsoring companies put on the IS Summit to showcase the opportunities in the IS field. While the field is growing, there are not enough MIS students graduating to fill the demand. Despite the opportunities available for new MIS graduates, very few undergraduates know about these opportunities. Not only are the opportunities for MIS majors abundant, the salaries are more than competitive. Since May 2007, MIS has been the highest average starting salary in the Business School for five out of the past six semesters.

This year, the Summit featured a small sample of the types of companies that look to hire MIS majors as interns or as full time employees after graduation. These companies included: Anadarko, ConocoPhillips, McLane Advanced Technologies, Protiviti, and USAA. For many of the companies this was a return trip to the Summit.

Protiviti has been featured since the IS Summits began three years ago. Protiviti representative Cristy Finis, a 2007 Baylor graduate and MIS major, said she attended the first IS Summit her senior year. "Baylor has great MIS majors," she said, "We find good candidates (for jobs/internships)." Every year the company hires a few Baylor interns and full time employees, they use the Summit to build relationships with students who could potentially fill these positions.

A new company featured at the Summit was Anadarko. Monica Pope, an Anadarko representative said they attended the event "to get our name out there." Like Protiviti, they were also using the event to meet students who could be future employees. Pope said despite the failing economy, Anadarko has seen "no change in our recruiting targets, it is important for us to keep our recruiting steady; it is a good strategy for us."

Claudia Phelps, a McLane Advanced Technologies representative, said that her company is still seeing a growth in employment. McLane sees a 25-30 percent growth each year in employment and will add approximately 100-150 jobs this year. Phelps said she hoped the Summit would allow McLane to get their name out "as a viable source of employment." "MIS is not stopping," she said, "there are endless possibilities in this field."

Reflecting on this year's summit, Mike Renouf, a USAA representative, called it "the most successful to date... The interaction between the students and the USAA team before, during and after the Summit is unique to this Baylor event. It is very fulfilling to be a part of this collaborative celebration that impacts so many students so early in their college career."

The Summit also recognized three MIS majors who volunteered at the Summit with Student Leader Awards. Those students were: Sunny Nelson, Jessica Potter, and Isaiah Cisneroz. ConocoPhillips made the awards to thank the students for their efforts and will host the students at their corporate headquarters in Houston for a day of meeting with company management.

"I was very excited and surprised (about receiving the award). I didn't realize that my involvement with the Summit was going to have a big impact on the students. I just felt that I was doing my job in the leadership class and having fun creating posters," Nelson said. Nelson created eight different poster designs that were featured in and around the Business School to advertise the Summit. Potter also dedicated her time to a successful Summit by designing the event floor plan, coordinating volunteers, and providing photography at the event. "It was such an honor to receive the award. Baylor is the only Big XII school that the award was given out to this year. So I feel like that says a lot about the recipients as well as the MIS Department," she said.

Both students also praised the MIS department, and the benefits of being an MIS major. "I know that I will have a job when I graduate, and there are so many different avenues in the MIS field that I can pursue. I am not bound to any particular area, so if I get tired of one thing I have the option to move to another," Potter said.

Nelson shared this positive outlook on her major, "Last semester (Fall '08) I took MIS 3305 with Dr. Koch. I had always thought that MIS was for the nerdy, computer savvy guys. But during her class I realized that there was so much more to the major then just programming and computers. The opportunities available within the MIS field were so outstanding and I just couldn't turn down a chance like that," she said.

Another group of students were recognized at the Summit as winners of the IS Summit Challenge. All students enrolled in MIS 1305 worked in teams to develop presentations to market careers in IS. Six teams were recognized and were each awarded $1,000 from the IS Summit sponsoring companies.

In the dark days of an economic recession and growing unemployment rates, the IS Summit shined light on an industry that continues to grown and provide careers for Baylor graduates.

More information and pictures from the Summit can be found at http://aitp.baylor.edu/issummit/photos.html.

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