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 MIS Job Myths

 An MIS Job Profile: 1

 An MIS Job Profile: 2

Questions you might have:


What the heck is MIS?

Good question. Sometimes hard to explain because it moves so fast. Let's start with what MIS is NOT. MIS is NOT programming, although we have some people who do that. MIS is NOT networking or bit-twiddling, although some of us like that sort of thing. What MIS professionals DO involves solving business problems or exploiting business opportunities using information technology (IT). For businesses today (think Amazon & Wal-Mart, for example), this is a big deal. This means that you need to know something about both business and about IT. The IT knowledge in MIS is a lot like what a carpenter would need to know about a hammer. The carpenter doesn't build hammers, but it's pretty good to understand how they work when driving nails.

MIS leverages information technology by focusing on the informational component of business products, services or processes. Think of it this way - a computer science major writes programs and a computer engineer designs technology but neither think about what can be done with it so much as how to create it. A general business person wouldn't think too much about new technologies unless they know exactly what they can do in terms of application to business problems or opportunities. This is where the MIS professional comes in. We understand both technology and business, so we're well-placed to help the techies understand what needs to be created to help business, and also to help business people understand what new technologies are out there to help improve their businesses. Check out our MIS major curriculum for more about the range of things our majors learn about. And watch this video for an overview of what MIS is.

If you like business and technology you should be in MIS at UD.


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What's different about MIS?

Another good question. Maybe it'd be useful to compare MIS to some of the other fields related to information technology. There are a lot of them. For example, at UD alone we have four such majors. Having problems keeping the players straight? Here's a table.

 

MIS

CIS

CPS

Computer Engineering

Focus

Organization Software Technology Product

Objective

More efficient or effective business Reliable computer program Better computer technology Improved engineered product

Core skill

Problem solving Logic/procedures Algorithms, math, and science Engineering

Core task

Determine business requirements for information systems Deliver information systems to meet defined requirements Design software and hardware tools needed to deliver on requirements Determine information processing requirements of devices

Theoretical vs. applied

Balanced Applied Theoretical Balanced

Generic job title

Analyst/Designer Builder Tool developer Architect and Builder

Typical starting job title

Business systems analyst Application Programmer System Programmer or Chip Designer Engineer

Career goals

Senior organizational manager Programming manager Manager or architect of particular technology Senior engineering or product manager

University home

Business Arts & Sciences Arts & Sciences Engineering

All of these are great majors, and if you like one or the other, great for you. However, MIS is the ONLY major that focuses on information technology in the School of Business. Check out our MIS major curriculum and you'll definitely note that there is a lot of business in the MIS major. If you are interested in business and technology, like theory but not too much, like technology enough to want to keep up with what's hot but don't want to be writing programs or putting together chips all your life, MIS is for you. We believe that the most upwardly mobile career path through business for those who like to work with technology is MIS. Want to be a leader who gets technology (e.g., IS Director, CIO/CTO, or CEO), look at MIS. Want a career path that you can take in a lot of different ways but still be upwardly mobile in business, MIS at UD is for you.


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Aren't all the MIS jobs going to India or China?

Let's dispense with this myth once and for all. It's true that the trend toward outsourcing has caused a reduction in the number of computer programmers needed. Programming is a relatively straightforward conversion of system requirements into specific programs, and anybody who's reasonably smart can do it. With the global programming market being influenced by the fact that requirements can be digitized (converted to 1's and zeros) and shipped over the Internet to other countries (with lower wages), the ability for programmers in high-wage countries to keep demanding this level of pay will be reduced. That said, who do you think creates the specifications and requirements that are being shipped offshore to be converted to programs? See what our alumni think about this. MIS professionals are in higher demand; indeed, some Indian companies realize the importance of having analysts here in the US to develop the solution specifications and are now hiring MIS professionals in the US. Further, there are coordination and other hidden costs to offshoring arrangements; some companies don't want the hassle. But don't take our word for it. Check out sources such as business leaders and the government. Bottom line: If you want a job that works with business and technology and don't want to worry so much about offshoring, you should be in MIS at UD. 


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What kind of people pursue MIS?

There are a lot of different profiles, but here're some traits we've found make great MIS professionals. Do these describe you? If so, take a hard look at MIS at UD as a major.

  • Are good problem solvers
  • Can think strategically about technology
  • Like responsibility for developing and then implementing their ideas
  • Can bridge both technology and business
  • Can see both details and the big picture
  • Are excellent communicators
  • Can manage time and resources well

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I'm a young woman. What kind of opportunities are there in MIS for me?

Short answer: no different than for men. Some might believe that anything to do with technology has traditionally been male-dominated, but that actually is NOT the case for a business-oriented major such as MIS. There are a LOT of women that hold prominent and important positions in the MIS field, both in industry (working in large firms such as 5/3 Bank, Huntington Bank, the US Veterans Administration, dunnhumby, Proctor & Gamble, Accenture and many others) and in academia at some of North America's top university MIS programs (MIT, Indiana, McGill, Queen's, Arizona, Maryland, Pittsburgh and many others). Indeed, some of the most successful CIO's in Fortune 500 companies (e.g., at Xerox and Wal-Mart) have been women, so don't worry about bumping your head on a glass ceiling on your way up. In short, there are a lot of exciting careers in MIS for women who want to work with people on challenging business information systems projects, bridge between business people who need information and those with the IT skills to help provide it, earn top salaries, and make a difference for business and society.

Many types of MIS jobs make it particularly easy to work flextime or from home for all or part of the time. Depending on their interests and lifestyles, both men and women jump at such opportunities. You can also check out The Center for Women & IT for more information about opportunities for women in MIS and IT-related fields.


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What jobs do MIS majors do?

As you can probably already tell, MIS is an integrative field. MIS operates at the intersection of business and technology, and at the intersection between the various functional areas in the organization. This means that you will have to understand how to figure out how things work, solve problems, find things out, communicate what you found, and learn a lot of new stuff on a pretty regular basis. It's a dynamic field, and it takes dynamic people to do well in it. People who can think fast, work hard, and balance a lot of stuff should really think about MIS as a major. Here's only a sample of the kinds of jobs you can do with an MIS major from UD. You can also check out descriptions of some of these jobs and watch videos of some of our graduates describing what they do at work.

  • Business Analyst
  • Business Application Developer
  • IT Consultant
  • Systems Analyst
  • IT Development Project Leader
  • Database Administrator
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Systems Developer
  • Database Analyst
  • Web Developer
  • Network Administrator
  • Technical Support Specialist
  • Information Systems Manager
  • IT User Liaison

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Who'll hire me?

A reasonable thing to ask about. The UD MIS major will have several potential employers, ranging from banks to consulting firms to manufacturers to technology firms. The following list represents but a few of the firms that have hired our majors in the past few years. The range of choices is limited only by one's imagination, drive, and ability. You provide those, the MIS major at UD will help prepare you.


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What are the starting salaries and placement rate?

Once again, UD MIS majors had a great year. The average starting salary for MIS jobs in the May 2014 graduation class was over $54,000. The high for MIS majors was $63,000. The placement rate for MIS was also excellent - about 80% of MIS graduates had a job before May graduation even in this economy. (Historically, the starting salaries and placement rate for MIS have been the highest of all majors in the SBA.) If you want high-paying, plentiful, and exciting jobs, MIS at UD is for you.


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What are my options for earning money and getting relevant work experience while still a student?

We hear you. Education is worth it in the long run, but one has to survive the short run, and it'd be a good idea to get a leg up by doing something in the MIS field while you're still in school. Luckily, there are a lot of options for you particularly since you'll be loading up on very marketable skills even early in the MIS curriculum. In addition to the usual financial aid packages offered any student at any university, UD MIS majors have two opportunities specifically aimed at helping them achieve their educational goals.

First, a regional IT consortium, Technology First (formerly known as the Greater Dayton IT Alliance), sponsors two scholarships for MIS (and other IT majors): the Technology First College Scholarship (awarded to students working for consortium member firms) and the McKenna Scholarship (awarded to students living in or attending school in the local region). Check out the Technology First Scholarship page for details about these opportunities. Second, the State of Ohio's Third Frontier Internship Program provides a financial incentive to businesses to hire interns from only technology-related majors including MIS. A student may be hired for up to two years under this program. Read more about details of this opportunity, including application procedures and key contact information.

All of this makes it easy for companies such as those listed above to hire MIS students in internship and co-operative education jobs. Students in MIS at UD are no slouches either. They jump at such opportunities. How do we know? We track and promote these things. About 90% of MIS majors at UD have some form of relevant work experience entering their senior year. If you want to earn while you learn, MIS at UD is for you.


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What about a double major or a minor?

The integrative nature of MIS means that it goes really well with a lot of majors. These include Accounting, Operations, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Psychology (really!) and others. We actively work to make our major as amenable to good combinations as possible. Within the major, different options accommodate different interests and career goals.

As to minors, we realize that MIS isn't for everybody. If you are a really good Marketing or Accounting person (as examples), you should focus on being a really good Marketing or Accounting person. Life's too short to be in something you don't enjoy. This being said, an MIS minor is a heck of a way to make yourself more competitive in the things at which you want to be best. In Marketing, a fast growing area involves Marketing Intelligence, which is heavily Database driven. In Accounting, since most of the neat systems that accountants design are implemented by MIS professionals, to be able to audit the transactions (important with Sarbanes-Oxley laws) you need to get the technology.

Check out our major and our minor


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How do I get started?

For those interested in finding out more (and let's face it - who wouldn't be if they've read this far?), we have a student organization, the UD MIS Club. Currently, Kyle Hill (udmisclub@gmail.com) is the president. The Club hosts a number of events through out the year. (Note that there is at least one major networking event each semester that provides an opportunity to interact with leading MIS professionals from around the region.) 

Want some independent advice about the MIS major? You could talk to the folks in the SBA Advising Center on the first floor of Miriam Hall.

You can also contact any one of our faculty. We are a pretty fun bunch, and we all LOVE to talk with students about the opportunities in our field. Contact any of us and feel free to drop by our offices in Anderson Center sometime.

Dr. Harv Enns - enns@udayton.edu (AN 102)
Dr. Tom Ferratt - ferratt@udayton.edu (AN 116)
Prof. Steve Hall - stephen.hall@udayton.edu (AN 106)
Dr. Jay Prasad - prasad@udayton.edu (Dept. Chair - AN 111-112)
Dr. Dave Salisbury - salisbury@udayton.edu (AN 103)
Dr. Donald Wynn - wynn@udayton.edu (AN 117)

You can also keep up with happenings in the MIS department (and the lives of students, alumni, faculty, and friends) by joining the UD MIS group on Facebook. All on the UD network are welcome.


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Got something short and sweet for me to show to my parents?

How about a slideshow that we use to describe the major in BAI 150 at UD? You could download it (click & then save) and then email it. Short and sweet enough? Or, you could simply give the link to this site (www.udmis.info) to your parents the next time you contact them for money.


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