Career Watch

Business Meets Academia

How U.S. colleges and universities are working with the private sector to develop next-generation IT leaders

School: Bentley College, Waltham, Mass.

Does it have an IT advisory council? Yes, a formal advisory group of senior IT executives meets with Bentleys faculty on a quarterly basis to review recruiting issues IT executives are facing and the types of skills theyre seeking.

IT executive feedback that has helped amend the curriculum: For the past couple of years, Bentleys masters in IT program has required a full semester of business process management studies.

Bentley College

Bentley College Number of degrees awarded in spring 2007: Undergraduate: 66 (34 in computer information systems; 29 in information design and corporate communication; three in a information systems). Graduate: 58 (27 in human factors in information design; 31 master of science degrees in IT).

What were hearing from both sides, including recruiters, is that they need the technical skills and the business process skills, says William T. Schiano, associate professor and director of the masters in IT program at Bentley. So were addressing that on the graduate and undergraduate levels. We talk about manufacturing business processes and traditional supply chain management issues, and we also focus on services industries, whether its a financial services or consulting businesses, and how thats different from traditional manufacturing businesses.

Those dual needs could lead to more changes to the Bentley curriculum, says Schiano. IT executives are telling us they need people who can do ROI analysis and the profit and loss implications of the work theyre doing, he says. We already do some work with that in the program, but were trying to do more of that, plus net present value.

Schiano says that technical skills in demand by the private sector include middleware technologies and .Net. Why? Everyone is trying to move to a service-oriented architecture, so the two predominant areas are J2EE and .Net, he says.

Schiano also notes that half of the masters in IT students work full time, and some students will go to great lengths for internships. Were seeing a big increase among companies that want students to do internships abroad, the ability to work with offshore talent, says Schiano. For the past three years, weve had students do internships in Ireland and China for U.S. companies, he notes. Theyre really seeing the value of someone having spent six to 10 weeks with their company in China and then hiring them to a local office in the States.

Thomas Hoffman

The Worst Answer to Give in a Job Interview

When the interviewer asks, Do you have any questions? the worst answer you could possibly give is, No. That makes you look unprepared, uninterested and uneducated, according to the Career Hub blog (

So, how do you know what to ask? The best questions usually stem from the dialogue that takes place during the interview process, but if that doesnt happen, come prepared with specific queries about the business or the position youre applying for. Some questions should pop into your head as you do upfront research on the company.

If nothing else comes to mind, a blog commenter noted that one of the best questions you can ask is, What does success in this position look like? It always impresses the hiring managers.

Mitch Betts

Room for Improvement?

CIOs were asked, In which of the following areas do you think your IT staff could most use improvement?

  • Technical abilities: 25%
  • Project management skills: 23%
  • Verbal and communication abilities: 15%
  • Organizational skills: 14%
  • Interpersonal skills: 12%
  • None/no improvements needed: 3%
  • Other/dont know: 8%

Source: National poll by Robert Half Technology of more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.

Compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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