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Business club offers competitive advantage in slow job market

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's no secret the economy, and subsequently the job market, is not graduate-friendly right now. Students are trying to gain every advantage they can before graduating. The Information Systems Association of KU (ISAK) helps with that.

Hosting speakers from large companies, going on fieldtrips to global businesses and networking with students and guest speakers all help members get an edge up on the competition. Former vice president of ISAK Miles Underwood went on a field trip to Perceptive Software last year, ended up with an internship and now works full-time with the company.

ISAK is open to all majors. Even if you don't know anything about information systems, it's good to learn, said Corey Beckmann, a junior from Overland Park, Kan., and current vice president of ISAK. Even just a general knowledge of it will be helpful when applying for a job.

"Having a background in information systems is key," Beckmann said. "It can get you a step above the next guy."

Information systems provides a professional education with a liberal arts background. Students study introductory programming, database management, computer networking and information security. Nearly every company uses information systems so the opportunity for jobs after graduation is great. However, the information systems field is not immune to the slow economy and in these times companies hire fewer new employees because they invest less in information systems.

"If someone has been an information systems major, worked really hard, graduated and can't find a job for six or eight months, other students aren't so sure about that major," said Greg Freix, director of Master of Science in Business Supply Chain Management and Logistics, lecturer and faculty advisor for the club. "Parents don't want to send them to college, spend the money and have the student not find a job afterword."

Freix said professional development is crucial. The school created ISAK to give students the professional development that makes them more attractive to employers. The club provides broadening experiences that seem to be helping.

"The information systems major had the highest job placement rate at the time of graduation last May," said David Byrd-Stadler, employer relations coordinator at the Business Career Services Center. "Among all of the business schools undergraduate programs, information systems was at 66 percent, followed by supply chain management at 63.5 percent and accounting at 61 percent. Basically, as of graduation day, 66 percent of information systems graduates already had jobs."

Dean Neeli Bendapudi spoke to the group Feb. 9 and they plan to have more speakers throughout the semester. Two representatives from KU chief information officer Bob Lim's office will speak on March 8 and Mark Carney, vice president of strategic services at FishNet Security, will speak on April 5. Freix said he is trying to secure a visit from a big name in business toward the end of the semester. The organization is also working on arranging a field trip to Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Mo.

If you would like more information on ISAK visit the ISAK homepage.

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