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Bears in the Field—From Baylor Intern to Valero Employee

Feb. 11, 2020

To showcase the job-diversity in the MIS field, and the path from an internship to a full-time job, we interviewed former Baylor students Brooke Blackmar and Roy Martinez. Both started as interns at Valero, and are now full-time Business Systems Design Analysts.

For this feature, we asked questions about how Baylor MIS classes helped them prepare for a career, and what their day-to-day at Valero looks like:

Valero Interns

What is your job title, and what are your main responsibilities?

Brooke:

• I am a Business Systems Design Analyst in the Commercial department at Valero. I get put on project teams to help develop and design systems that benefit the business side of Valero. Projects range from enhancing current systems to completely starting from scratch to do something that hasn’t been done before but that will greatly benefit the business and give Valero a competitive edge. I just got put on a new project so going through the design process from start to finish has been really exciting!

Roy:

• Being a Design Analyst, I am the person who gathers requirements from the business, learns the current process and what aspects need to change to meet the business’s needs, and shares that information with our development team who is responsible for the back-end of our solution. Once that information is shared, I work on designing the solutions themselves, testing (and re-testing) what we come up with, and ultimately, cut-over the solution into our production environment where the business will use it. Also, creating a constant dialogue between the business users and the team is a key function for all Design Analysts.

What’s one thing you learned at Baylor that helps you the most in your everyday work-life?

Brooke:

• The skill of learning and being able to think critically. Going into a position right out of college, you’re not going to know most things when it comes to your position and that’s okay. What is incredibly beneficial is knowing how to quickly learn, take in what is being taught to you/what you observe and being able to apply that to your role. You’re in a constant state of learning new things so the critical thinking skills you learn at Baylor are invaluable.

Roy:

• At Baylor, I learned how to learn. I was the type of high school student that did not read or prepare as much for a test or quiz because I could still get pretty good grades. When I got to college, I realized that would not work anymore. With the help of my professors, I learned how to tweak my studying to where I could learn, understand and apply what I’ve learned to a real-world example. This helps me extremely at Valero since I know now how to internalize what is being shown to me and could explain it to someone else needing to understand the problem/solution.

Can you name an example / specific incident that showed the job-diversity of the MIS field at Valero?

Brooke:

• As a design analyst you are in the unique position of working and interfacing with the business/your users and working with your technical team to give input on the technical design. So you get to wear both a functional hat and a technical hat. You get to become an expert in your user’s process and really design from a user experience perspective while also getting to dabble in the more technical aspects of an MIS job so you don’t have to choose to be strictly functional or technical, you can be a hybrid of both.

Roy:

• When I was placed on a team for my first project, I had to help with solutions for how our system handled international taxes. I had to learn everything I could about the financial side of the international business. I was then introduced to the Procure-to-Pay process in which I had to learn about how the international business placed orders, how they procured the products they were paying for and how to set up their accounts in SAP to reflect the orders they were placing, paying for, and procuring from our terminal. In my first 6 months, I had to learn all sorts of aspects of this new business that would have left me lost and overwhelmed had I not had the diverse background given to me by the MIS curriculum.

What is you dream job / position? Or where do you want to take your career?

Brooke:

• I really enjoy working on project teams so ideally I would love to progress to being a project manager and getting to lead my own multi-year projects. If I do well enough hopefully I can start getting into the leadership teams that help guide the direction that the IS department takes as a whole.

Roy:

• I would love to become a manager or maybe even a C-suite member where I can work with all sorts of individuals and create solutions used for many, many years.

What is one skill you are glad you had when you started your career?

Brooke:

• Communication skills! Being able to explain things from multiple points of view is critical when working with audiences that vary in their understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish or when you’re trying to support a user.

Roy:

• Debugging. Taking the coding classes through the MIS curriculum helped prepare me for Valero since a lot of the work done here is custom to the business needs. If something is not working in the solution I came up with, I know how to look through the hundreds or thousands of lines of code that my developer wrote and I am able to debug the issue.

What surprised you the most about your job?

Brooke:

• How creative I get to be and how diverse my role is. Valero wants to make sure the business has every advantage possible through there IT systems so a lot of the things we design are custom, so it really gives you the ability to design something that is brand new and pushes the envelope. Additionally, no 2 days are the same. Being on a project team you are constantly taking on new responsibilities and playing different roles so it’s never boring and I am constantly getting to experience new things!

Roy:

• How early everyone is able to wake up every day :-)

Honestly, I was surprised at how ready and prepared I was to succeed. Again, due to the help and teaching of the professors I had in my time at Baylor, I was ready for the first project I was put on even though I had very little time to absorb all sorts of information.


A feature by Madeleine Tauber

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