- Hayden Hayes
University of Alabama
Hayes is studying management information systems. "The outlook for IT positions is terrific," he says. "Because of the nature of our MIS program here, I believe it will be relatively easy to find the job I desire."
He may have a point. The university has partnered with some of the world's leading companies to provide direction, real-world experience, internships and placement. For example, Hayes has completed two internships and several part-time jobs with the likes of Procter & Gamble Co., Harbert Management Corp. and the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Describing his experiences, Hayes sounds like a veteran IT professional. At Harbert, "I led project scoping, functional requirements analysis, RFP issuance, vendor evaluation and selection, data conversion, training, user acceptance, and I oversaw vendor implementation," he says. "At P&G, I led projects in the supply chain, inventory management and warehouse management systems division involving process design, process redesign and a feasibility assessment."
But with all of this real-world experience, Hayes says an advanced business degree, not a technical degree, is probably in his future, since it would give him critical business knowledge.
- Marina Kolomiets
Thayer School of Engineering,
After earning a bachelor's degree in computer science, Kolomiets worked as a software engineer for two years at Motorola Inc.'s headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., where she experienced outsourcing firsthand.
"The entire software group seemed to disappear from the company, only to reappear in India and China, where the qualified labor was a lot cheaper," she recalls. Though Kolomiets' job wasn't outsourced, she saw the trend, and in 2003, "it was time to rethink my future as a software engineer in the U.S.," she says.
Despite her love for technology, Kolomiets made the tough choice to start an advanced degree in engineering management rather than in computer science. She says this will keep her competitive in a market where qualified labor can be hired cheaply in China, India and elsewhere.
Like others, Kolomiets views a management/ technology hybrid as the only way to obtain a competitive advantage over purely technical workers. "A person with a master's degree in computer science would generally get no preference over somebody with a bachelor's degree and a couple of years of work experience," she explains. "The IT market is changing so rapidly that all the knowledge obtained in school becomes obsolete in a couple of years."
- Justin Ligas
An IT major, Ligas has completed a three-year internship at a local bank, which gave him valuable experience in everything from IT support to migrating a major application during a corporate acquisition. Like many of his counterparts, Ligas believes a business degree with a focus on MIS would serve him better than a technical degree that will eventually become irrelevant because of the pace of technological development. "This will give me the business training I need to manage a department," he says.
- William Mosley
Although he expects the job market to be competitive, Mosley, who is majoring in MIS, says he knows that some IT jobs are going unfilled, because he searches online job boards and sees job postings that have been there for two years or more. Having completed two summer internships at IBM, Mosley has an offer from the company, but he plans to look at all his options before he makes a decision. Mosley says he would like to pursue an advanced degree, but he's not sure what kind. "Ideally," he says, "I would like to pursue a technical degree and a business degree."
- Michael Armbrust
West Lafayette, Ind.
Armbrust is pursuing a double major in computer science and mathematics. Last summer, he completed an internship at Motorola's business and government solutions division. He plans to stay in school to earn a graduate degree in computer science, but not with a view to working in IT. "I'm doing this because I would eventually like to do some kind of corporate research," he says.
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