How I Chose MIS

By: Kimberly

On my student orientation day, I came in strongly believing that Computer Science was the major for me. My first semester consisted of some liberal education courses and one computer science course. I knew that this computer science course would either further solidify my decision or reject it. Soon enough, as I quickly stumbled upon the halfway mark of the semester I started to question myself and this major. My grade in the computer science course was slowly dropping, I wasn’t happy in the course, and I couldn’t help but doubt my abilities.

After a week of contemplation, I knew that the only way I could resolve this situation was… setting up an appointment to meet with someone who had the experiences and knowledge behind this dilemma – my advisor. It was through her I found out about Career & Internship Services and how helpful they would be. She recommended I take a few assessments through their department and in addition, schedule a follow-up appointment with a career counselor to dive more in depth into the assessments. Without hesitation, I made my way to their office and got all three assessments and all appointments scheduled.

MIS Major

My appointments with the career counselors were absolutely phenomenal. I came in stressed, frustrated, and full of negativity about the possibility of finding a new major that would fit me. Immediately, after I expressed to them about why I decided to take the assessments they responded with such positivity and reassurance that it was not the end of the world. As they went on explaining the results as well as shining some lights on some of my interests, we were able to narrow down a few possible majors that could potentially be options for me.

I took it into my own initiative to further my research behind the different majors that were most appealing to me. Thankfully, I knew some peers around me who were currently majoring in these majors, I could reach out to. Each one of them was extremely generous by taking their time to respond with helpful information and even sharing their own experiences. After many research and consideration, I decided to take courses related to the MIS (Management Information Systems) major.

In my MIS courses, I noticed a huge difference in my performance and interest within the major. For example, I didn’t score poorly on my exams and I enjoyed the material  I learned within each course. I was also able to slightly get a grasp of what I could potentially do with this major which made me more certain with this major. After halfway into Fall semester I decided to change my major officially and declare my major as Management Information Systems.

Currently, I am a Junior with an MIS major and I absolutely love it. I enjoy the things I am learning in my upper division courses and my performance also reassures me that I understand the material as well. Overall, if you feel like you are completely lost and don’t know which direction to go when deciding on your major(s), I highly recommend that you seek out the resources available to you. It’s also a great idea to explore on your own skills, interest, and truly get to know yourself better. Lastly, remember that if something doesn’t work out, it could just mean there is something else out there, that you are much better at.

Read Kimberly’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Luca Bravo

Navigating Human Resources: Part 1

By: Tori

I came to college undecided. Not just on what I wanted to study, but on if this was the best school for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Duluth. It was by far my favorite school, but I felt so much pressure to get everything right the first time; to meet all of my expectations. Soon I learned that when it comes to expectations, they sometimes are set too high. And when something doesn’t go how you expected it to, you get thrown for a loop.

I didn’t expect to be a Human Resource Management major. Honestly, it was not appealing to me at all. I was drawn to business, interpersonal relationships, and helping others, but I couldn’t figure out where all of this fit together. And then BAM! one day someone (actually it was my Strong Interest Inventory assessment) said, “What about Human Resources?” and I said, “What about it?”. So I learned more.

Human Resources is the “umbrella” of all businesses. It is where the development and managing of an organization and its people happens. Some would say that without Human Resources there would be no business. There are 5 overarching sectors to this “umbrella” that stretch across all aspects of an organization.


Recruiting and Staffing
People are a necessity to an organization’s success; without them, organizations wouldn’t exist. But how do you figure out who you want to work in your organization? This is where Recruiting and Staffing come into play. Recruiters look for and “recruit” qualified employees to work for their company and staffing makes sure we have employees whose skills match with open positions. Interviews, phone calls, brochures, questions, job descriptions, and first impressions all happen in this sector of HR.

Compensation and Benefits
No one works for free; aka there is no such thing as a free lunch. If we want people to perform services and do their job, we need to reward them. Compensation and Benefits is the sector of HR that motivates employees. Compensation looks at pay structures, which determine how much money you want to pay your employees for their employment and tasks accomplished. Benefits are the alternative, non-financial parts of a business offered to employees, this includes stock, insurance, paid vacation, etc.

Employee and Labor Relations
Recognizing state and federal laws and abiding by them is the purpose of Employee and Labor Relations. Understanding the government, how it works, and how to maintain positive relationships with your employees are all important tasks for this position. Remaining discreet and ethical is vital in this area of HR.

Safety and Health
Safety and Health HR employees strive to minimize any legal action that might be taken against the company by implementing safety procedures and health guidelines. Their main goals are to provide for physical and mental well-being and prevent work-related accidents.

Training and Development
Training and Development is the first step to helping employees feel at home. So much so, training and development is usually part of the on-boarding process. This includes making connections, navigating new positions, and learning the company culture. Diversity inclusion, performance management, and team building all happen in this sector of HR. Keeping employees up-to-date will allow them to continue to be an innovative part of the company.

If after reading this post you are interested in learning more, check out the Human Resource Major at UMD and talk to your advisor or the department head. Or come into our office and meet with a career counselor. They are more than happy to help you navigate Human Resources and all the nitty gritty details.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash|Jose Martin

Why Health Care Management was Right for Me

By: Cassie

I recently wrote a post explaining the careers that fall into health care management. There are so many different sectors and areas you can go into. I realized after I wrote the blog post that I didn’t explain why health care management was the right fit for me. Maybe it will inspire you to consider it as a path for yourself.

I originally was dead set on being a nursing major. I wanted to work in a clinical setting and I wanted to be able to help people. Then I took high school physics and realized if that was that hard, there was no way I was going to make it through the nursing classes. At this point I hadn’t picked a school and I was searching through programs when I found health care management. I did some research into what it was and decided, “well I can always change my mind!” Truthfully, I didn’t have any knowledge of what the major entailed until I got into my sophomore year and made an upperclassmen friend who was also a health care management major. She told me about all the classes and what they were learning and I thought hey maybe this really will work out! I am now a junior and I absolutely love all my health care management classes and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. There are a large number of reasons this major is right for me.

There’s Variety
Depending on what job you get, you may not do the same thing every day which is a huge bonus for me. The fact that there are also so many different directions within health care management is a huge contributing factor for me. I’m someone who likes options and who doesn’t like doing the same thing all the time. Health care management is great for that type of work environment.

You’re Constantly with People
This is a very people oriented field. Not only will you have coworkers, but you also have to work across different departments, with other managers, patients, and more. I am someone who is extremely extraverted, so this part of the job is very appealing to me.

It is a Part of Health Care
These jobs are very essential to the health care field. You get to help patients without having to deal with the “blood and guts” aspect of health care. You are always working towards people’s lives better, even if it is behind the scenes.

These are just a few of the reasons I chose health care management. I hope if you have even let the thought of a career in health care management cross your mind you consider these reasons for pursuing the major and career path.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts

So You’re Thinking About Health Care Management

By: Cassie (an actual Health Care Management major!)

There is a common misconception that working in a hospital means that you have to be a doctor or a nurse. Well, I am here to tell you that that is WRONG. There are so many more opportunities in the hospital setting than what you see on the surface.

Health Care Management is the section of the hospital that works behind the scenes. They are the people who run the ship, so to speak, and they make sure everything is running smoothly and swiftly. The jobs they do include things such as scheduling, clinic management, financing, data analysis, quality management, and so much more. If you don’t know what some of those jobs entail, don’t worry, I’ll give you some examples.

Clinic Managers
These are the people who organize specific clinics in the hospital. By this I mean the sections of the hospital like pediatrics or orthopedics. As a clinic manager you wear a lot of hats so to speak. You are there to keep everyone happy. You work with nurses, physicians, and patients to make sure schedules are working and to make sure that everyone is having the best possible experience. Clinic managers also have to attend meetings to make sure they are meeting hospital standards. A large chunk of this job involves rolling with the punches and being able to think on your feet and be flexible, so if you are looking for a job that isn’t the same every day this is something you should really look into.

Health care is expensive and insurance is very confusing and it can be very hard for patients to figure out what they need to pay and why. Working in this area of the hospital means that you help patients work through how they are going to pay their fees and you work through how insurance can benefit them. If you are interested in math or money this job would be good for you. In this role you get to work with people and you get to help them and if those are areas that interest you, this is something worth looking into.

EHR’s and Coding
EHR stands for Electronic Health Records which in short terms are the health records that are attached to each person’s health history. By working in EHR’s you are focused on things like technology advancement, data collection, and troubleshooting. You can also go into coding which is the computer language EHR’s are written in. This is less people focused and more focused on progressing health care management into the future.

Community Outreach
Being a health care management major means you can also go into areas of public health. This means you are focused on the overall wellness of communities and focus on getting healthy habits out into the community. This would be things like focusing on nutrition, physical activity, water quality, and laws & acts to enhance the influence of health care. This area of health care really focuses on working in a team to decide how to benefit the lives of the community that you serve.

I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you, and I want to emphasize just a few of the jobs and job areas that a health care management major can offer. The nice thing about a health care management degree is that you have SO many options of things to do. I hope you really consider this major because it is a field that is always growing and a field that allows you to help people and help the health care field.

Of Possible Interest

Read Cassie’s other posts

What Can You do with a Computer Science Major?

By: Kirsi (double major in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering)


There is so much you can do with a Computer Science (CS) major that I did not know where to start! As a result I turned to a community of over 3,000 computing students on Facebook for their thoughts. I am a part of the NCWIT Aspirations In Computing Community comprising of women from across the US who study computing related to majors. I asked “what are unique things that you can do with a CS major?” Some responses include programming for deep space exploration technologies; wearable tech; engineering an bionic pancreas; and programming a robotic octopus arm to tighten jar lids, lift the jars into boxes and load pallets for Smuckers Company. The possibilities are endless with a CS major alone or even paired with another discipline. In 2012 Forbes listed Computer Science at number 3 college major in their “Top 15 Most Valuable College Majors” article, for “hirability” and salary. A CS major can also prepare you for medical, business, or graduate school. I will share what University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) alumni are doing with their degree, what CS majors across the US are doing with their degree, and future applications of computer science.

CS Major

Photo source: Unsplash | Sai Kiran Anagani

Careers of UMD CS Alumni

UMD has been collecting statistics of alumni employment about the computer science major since 1981 (when CS became its own major after splitting from Math). The CS program has grown in the number of graduates and employed graduates. 93% of CS graduates from 2013-14 are employed while 7% are pursuing post secondary degrees (this is with a 94% response rate for our graduate follow-up survey). Of the 93% employed, 84% have indicated they are in a position related to their major. Occupations held by these graduates include Programmer, Analyst, Automation Engineer, Software Developer, and Web Designer. Data on our 2014-15 grads will be released in the next few months.

Diving further into UMD Alumni statistics, LinkedIn offers of a view of where CS graduates work in industry since the beginning of the CS program. If you log into your LinkedIn account you can see the analysis for yourself. Top five employers for UMD CS Alumni in order include UMD, United Health Group, Target, Thomson Reuters, and Medtronic. These professionals perform engineering, information technology, operations, and research related work.


Testing Fishnetstockings interactive art instillation by UMD’s Joellyn Rock, Alison Aune, and Pete Willemsen

UMD is involved in a number of cutting edge CS research opportunities and projects. One group that stands out is SIVE Lab (Simulation and Interaction in Virtual Environments) lead by professor Pete Willemsen. SIVE Lab uses position tracking and virtual reality to illustrate data in a new way. Combining arts and computing SIVE Lab and UMD’s Art and Design department installed interactive artwork at Lydgalleriet art gallery in Bergan, Norway. This interactive installation is called Fishnetstockings and is composed of multimedia elements. A user can enter Fishnetstockings casting a shadow like a mermaid, make virtual waves, and display words from a Twitter stream. Other projects SIVE Lab works on include an iPad app that records/analyzes motion for bio-mechanics, energy/budget measurement station, and simulating urban environments to maximize sustainable structures.


Capturing illustrations from Fishnetstockings interactive art instillation by UMD’s Joellyn Rock, Alison Aune, and Pete Willemsen

CS Careers of CS Majors Across the US

Looking back at LinkedIn’s search tools you can search for all positions open with the keyword “Computer Science”. There are currently over 100,000 positions posted on LinkedIn related to computer science. The highest number of positions open are at Technosoft (8,833) and Amazon (3,795). The most popular locations for these computer science positions include San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. Top positions being offered include Information Technology, Computer Software, and Recruiting. Hot topics of computer science include artificial intelligence, bio-medical engineering, and robotics according to Forbes “13 of 2015’s Hottest Topics In Computer Science Research“.


Working with LabVIEW sofware at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. [Photo source: Kirsi]

Future of CS Careers

A unique aspect about computer science is that you can have a CS career in any discipline or industry. New CS careers are being made daily, inspired by new applications of computing. Essentially, the CS major creates the future. While interning at NASA Johnson I learned how a deep space habitat’s life support systems communicate their statuses with an interface for astronauts, a critical application of CS. Code drives automation of the International Space Station’s life support system. Data analysis tools alert flight controllers of the Space Station’s well being. An autonomous program recently landed SpaceX’s reusable rocket on a barge out at sea! If you want to be at the forefront of the future in any industry, CS is the career for you.

Want to try out some programming? Try some of these projects which can be completed in less than an hour!

Read Kirsi’s other posts

What Can I do with a GIS Degree?

By: Lexi

When it comes to college, figuring out what to major or minor in can be one of the most challenging parts, but crucial. Personally, I was fortunate enough to decide what I wanted to major and minor in early on in my college career. It is important to consider all academic majors to find out what you are really interested in. If you have ever thought about GIS as a degree or if you have never even heard of it, read below! I’ll give you some useful information when considering GIS as a degree from what it is, who uses it, what careers you could pursue, colleges with GIS degrees and other websites to check out! For my minor, GIS is what I chose. GIS can be a major, minor or a certificate program, at UMD at least. Look at the links below to see other colleges that offer this degree as well!

Degree in GIS

What is GIS?

Geographic information systems or science (GIS) allows us to visualize, analyze, capture, store, manage, and interpret spatial data to understand relationships or trends. GIS needs the hardware, the software, people, and organization to work. It is commonly used to make layers of data showing different variables of a location to inform decision makers and the public. One of the key components it does is help create maps, as well as charts, globes, and reports. Maps help analyze almost anything. Many of these topics can be analyzed through writing also, but showing them through maps can be worth a thousand words, without using any words. Imagine that your company wanted to figure out the best place to locate a new store that would bring in the most buyers, GIS can help with that. Imagine the DNR needs help looking at the land cover and soils beneath it, GIS can help with that. Imagine that one wanted to look at the similarities between low housing areas and crime rates, GIS can help with that. Imagine that one wanted to look at the lack of doctors and areas with high levels of HIV/AIDS, GIS can help with that. Imagine that a disaster strikes and the city needs to figure out how and where to evacuate citizens to, GIS can help with that. GIS is an extremely useful tool for many disciplines and there are a huge array of job paths to take in it. Whatever your interests are, one could pretty much find a career path in GIS that follows those interests.

Who uses GIS?

GIS is a benefit for many organizations and companies. It helps cut costs, improves decision making and communication for anyone who uses it. GIS is implemented in areas of business, natural resources, public safety, transportation, utilities, communication, education, health, human services, economics, real estate, sustainable development, and map/data production. The government is a large user of GIS. Many federal agencies use it, such as, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Weather Service, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many more.

What are career titles in GIS?

Here are some careers that one with a major/minor/certificate in GIS could pursue:

LIDAR Engineer, GIS Coordinator, Software Engineer, Applications Programmer, GIS Software Product Specialist, Cartographer, Industry Marketing Manager, Mapping/Survey Technician, GIS Instructor, Database and System Integrator, Computer Mapping Technician, Planner, GIS Data Manager, GIS Sales Manager and many more.

Many students who graduated with this degree from UMD have become successful in this field. Some career examples that students from UMD have gone to work for are the Minnesota DNR, Regional planning divisions, GIS consulting firms and engineering firms. If you want more information on what UMD has to offer with GIS, visit their website here.

Considering a degree in GIS?

Numerous colleges and universities have this program. Check out these websites for a list of colleges that offer a GIS education:

Looking for other resources?

Check out these websites for more information about GIS:

Read Lexi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | John-Mark Kuznietsov

Decisions, Decisions (Choosing My Major)

By: PJay

Choosing a major is probably one of the toughest decisions to make in college. There are so many great subjects to learn about, but sadly, we just can’t study them all. It’s so unfortunate that we are so limited on the time given to us to complete our four year degree. I honestly feel lost in college very often because I always want to study everything. I can be entertained easily, and I’m always so intrigued by every new thing that pops into my life.

Since I realized that I have such little self control, I’ve developed some ways to help me make my decisions less complicated. Recently I decided to switch my major from biology to cell and molecular biology. You might think:


And honestly, you aren’t the only one to think that (I thought the same as well). But after a little bit of research on the UMD catalog page, I decided to compare the coursework of the two majors together. I learned that cell biology had a stricter outline of required courses, whereas biology was more open to the upper division course possibilities. For some people, they might enjoy that kind of flexibility more.

In addition, I also searched for what graduates do with the two different majors (information can be found on the Graduate Follow-up Report). Apparently, twice as many people graduated with a biology degree compared to a cell and molecular biology degree. However, the rate of students heading onto graduate school were about the same. Therefore, I learned that my conclusion to choose one major over the other lied upon my interest in the upper division courses, and with what I wanted to do after graduation, which is to hopefully to enter medical school.

Honestly, no major is necessarily “better” than another. At the end, what matters the most is if you are truly enjoying what you are studying. If it makes you happy, then stick with it. Everything is more meaningful in life when you have the motivation. Once you accomplish what you have been dedicating your time to, it will be worth the change in your life!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read PJay’s other posts

Photo source