Janine Barger

Senior Director

Financial Services Industry

11/17/2020

As an MIS graduate, how would you describe the typical MIS career pathway?

  • MIS is unique, it doesn’t necessarily have a straight pathway as you see with finance or accounting. In MIS, you make your path into what you want it to be, this makes careers in MIS diverse and exciting.

Can you touch on some MIS roles?

  • Product management

    • This is a great opportunity to work with both the technical and business ends of the spectrum.

    • To be successful, you have to understand the core business problem and help build solutions in the form of tools and services. This calls for the ability to interpret technical data and translate it into business information.

    • You will work with developers on the technical end and work with departments like marketing and sales on the business end.

  • Data analysis

    • This field is very exciting, there are amazing stories that can be told if you know how to get deep into the weeds of data. 

    • If you can learn how to distinguish what is and isn’t important, you can hone into key data that helps owners understand how to leverage their business by really understanding the usage of their products.

Why is MIS a great career choice?

  • It’s a good fit for you if you are interested in understanding business systems, software development, and data analysis.

  • It will give you plenty of opportunities to develop your ability to work on a team.

  • MIS majors are very marketable for positions that require both technical understanding as well as business acumen and soft skills.

  • MIS majors can choose from a broad selection of career opportunities, not only can you choose from more technical or more management-oriented roles, but you can also choose to work in virtually any industry, it just depends on your passion.

  • You can continue your learning with advanced degrees and certificates in many different areas, such as product management, project management, business analytics, and financial systems.

What are some general career tips?

  • Be curious. Talk to people from other parts of your business that do totally different jobs. This builds your knowledge and can open doors in other parts of the company or industry.

  • If you like the vertical market that you are in, such as financial services, become an expert in that industry, this can also lead to a lot of opportunities.

  • Don’t be afraid to cross into new vertical markets. As an MIS major, remember that your understanding of both systems and business means you can pursue a career in pretty much any industry.

  • Networking is essential. 

    • Maintain an active presence on LinkedIn. 

    • Join groups of people with similar interests. 

    • Follow professionals you admire.

    • Go to conferences and be present with the members of your industry. 

    • Look forward to returning to in-person conferences. While virtual conferences are nice, they’re not the same.

  • Never stop learning.

    • Take advantage of the courses offered by your company and the educational funds available to employees.

  • Push yourself. 

    • Remember, it’s the manager’s job to create opportunities and challenges for their people, it’s up to the individual to stretch themselves. 

    • Ask yourself, what goal can I set for myself that would help me get to the next stage of my career?

  • Step outside of your comfort zone. 

    • It can be hard, but you will learn the most in those moments. 

    • If you’ve built a strong network, you can do this with a safety net by having coaches and mentors that you can reach out to for advice.

  • The importance of soft skills can’t be overemphasized.

    • Those with the strongest skills in communication are the ones who will be the most successful. 

    • Even if you believe this is something you can already do, you need to keep doing it. You’ll get better and it will pay off in the end.

    • Being able to articulate technical concepts into simple business terms is essential. 

  • Being an active listener is critical, it can help you realize when someone might be describing a symptom rather than a root problem. If you don’t understand the core business problem, you may end up building a solution to something that doesn’t really exist.

Are there any tools that you recommend?

  • Microsoft Excel

    • So many things can be accomplished with Excel.

    • Learn how to use functions, pivot tables, and how to make creative spreadsheets and you’ll become the go-to person for collecting data and interpreting it.

  • Microsoft PowerPoint

    • A good presentation can really resonate with people. 

    • You can have a very technical problem that you’re trying to solve and sometimes the best way to articulate it is with graphics and animations that make things really easy for people to understand.

Do you have any closing notes?

  • Remember that as an MIS major, it really comes down to your network and your foundational knowledge in business and systems to get you where you want to go. It’s hard to find people with this kind of cross-sectional background.

  • Sometimes it’s the silliest things can lead you to the most exciting opportunities. The most fun and exciting job I ever had was working with brilliant data scientists during the dot-com boom, and this job came from a totally chance encounter that I had with someone I sat next to on an airplane.

    • Always be open and receptive to meeting people, you never know when a cool opportunity will be sitting right next to you!


 

MIS Society

CSUSM College of Business Administration

csusmmissociety@gmail.com

CSU San Marcos

333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd.,

San Marcos, CA 92096

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