Where Business Meets the Blogroll

On becoming an Information Systems professional


I responded to an email this week:
I am currently a freshman at Temple University. I am a Management Information Systems major and aspiring to be a systems analyst or database administrator. I reside in the Fox School of Business Living and Learning Community and I have an assignment that requires me to interview a current faculty member or professional in a field that I am interested in. I was wondering if I may ask you a few questions about your career and what were the necessary steps to be successful as a MIS major.
It resulted in the six questions below. Instead of answering only via email, I’m turning this into a blog post.

1. Why did you pursue a career in Information Systems? What made it stand out from any other career?

While I was working as a software developer, I realized what I really enjoyed doing the most was working with businesses to figure out how applications software could provide business value.
Something that really stood out for me about Information Systems is the satisfaction of helping people figure out what kinds of problems and issues their organization has and then helping them address those challenges.

2. What characteristics do you think someone in this type of career should have?

Intellectual curiosity along with a balance of enjoying both time alone at a computer as well as working with other people. A career in IS also requires an ability to focus on really small details sometimes and other times to pull back and remember the big picture.

3. After you graduated, what type of job did you start off with and with what company?

My undergraduate degree was in computer science and my first job was a heads-down computer programming job with a small software development company. While working there I started taking classes in the evening and earned an MBA in a part-time program. With additional experience and training, I eventually moved into all kinds of different Information Systems roles.

4. Did you do any internships while you were in college?

No, I did not have any internships but I did work all through college. I had part-time jobs on campus each school year and also worked full-time in the summer and during winter breaks. That experience exposed me to a variety of organizations, something that was helpful for my career in IS. Also, I was fortunate to have an IS-related job on campus my junior and senior years as a computer lab consultant.

5. What classes do you think I need to take in order to be best qualified as a database administrator?

First off, my recommendation is that a systems analyst is a better role to aspire to than a database administrator. There is a very specific set of certifications required to be a database administrator and those can be earned outside of degree-granting institutions. Also, the opportunities for systems analysts is broader than the market for database administrators.
The MIS major at Temple University Fox School of Business will prepare you for a systems analyst role. Additional classes that improve your written communication skills, your analytics skills, and your business acumen are all beneficial. As you get farther in your studies your MIS academic advisor can provide the best direction on specific classes for you.

6. Do you have any advice you can give me in order to be successful as a MIS major here at Temple?

a) Become an active member of AMIS. You will learn a lot about the IS field by regularly attending the AMIS sessions. Also, being an active member–and, eventually serving in leadership positions–is something that employers like to see.
b) Start reading trade magazines like CIO, Computerworld, or InfoWorld. I began reading InfoWorld when I was in high school. I didn’t understand a lot of it back then, but eventually it started to make sense!