University of Minnesota

Management Information Systems Student Profile

Name: Tanner LaFond
Graduation Year:
Hometown: Edina, MN

How and why did you choose your major?

Oh boy, that was certainly a long process for me. I started out here at the U of M trying to decide between nine different majors. I basically did everything I could to narrow it down. I spoke with friends and family about what they could see me in. I did a lot of "soul searching" to figure out what I value. I took personality inventories as well as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I read a wonderful book titled "Do What You Are" that is based off of the MBTI. I conducted hours upon hours of research online; I even have numerous word documents I made resulting from this research where I organized my findings. I took classes in multiple fields that interested me. I worked at jobs in my areas of interest. Honestly, if you can think of a way someone could go about choosing their major, I probably did it multiple times. Eventually, I found that all of these different things all pointed me towards MIS (Management Information Systems) as my second major alongside Marketing.

As for MIS specifically, there are two main things that led me towards choosing it. First, I took Comp Sci 1901 and found that I didn't enjoy programming much but I found the bigger ideas within technology fascinating, which is what MIS is all about. Computer Science is more focused on the nitty-gritty programming, whereas MIS tends to be much more focused on the "big picture" uses of technology. Second, I spoke with Tim Olson, the professor for IDSC 3001, who gave me a multitude of information on the major and thoroughly convinced me of the power and flexibility of an MIS degree.

Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.

MIS is all about how to integrate and use technology effectively in an organization. It's about how to maximize the relationships between people, technology, and the greater organization. Because it such a broad field, you will learn many different things in the courses in a MIS major. You'll delve into everything from programming to database design and business process analysis to information security.

My favorite classes thus far are probably IDSC 3001: Information Systems for Business Processes and Management and IDSC 3014: Enterprise Systems. I enjoyed IDSC 3001 because it skimmed the surface of a huge variety of topics within MIS. This allowed me to really get a feel for all the different topics within the major and figure out what I really wanted to delve deeper into with additional coursework. As for IDSC 3104, it's a very hands-on course where you get to work directly on an SAP enterprise system. The teacher for this course, Corrie Fiedler, is also just wonderful.

The main challenge I have faced is the significant level of difficulty and time commitment within the MIS major. IDSC 3001 is a fairly laid-back course; it's not too difficult and doesn't take up too much of your time. After that course though, the difficulty immediately spikes. Every other MIS class I've taken has been very difficult and very time consuming. If you enjoy the material as I do, this will be fine, but I think it's good to know this in advance before you lock into the major. The fact that MIS is ranked #3 in the nation at the Carlson School of Management helps explain this level of difficulty.

What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)

Well, in terms of work experience, I haven't had a "pure" MIS role at this time, but I have found that MIS exists in some small amount within every job I've had, from my working in an insurance company to my current position at the University YMCA as a Marketing Consultant. This highlights that MIS is definitely one of those majors that transcends the bounds of the degree and pours over into numerous other fields. I've also participated in Club MIS at Carlson a few times. Meetings there typically consist of a person from a company coming in and talking about their company and internship/job opportunities. Great people. Great speakers. A good opportunity to gain internships and jobs.

In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?

There are a TON of important things students pursuing or considering a MIS major should know:

- MIS is ranked #3 in the nation at the Carlson School of Management and the students majoring in it have the highest starting salary (around $52,000) of any CSOM degree; this is a very in demand and highly valued degree, especially when coming from CSOM

- MIS has some of the best professors in all of CSOM. Tim Olson, Corrie Fiedler, Gordon Everest, and Akhmed Umyarov, to name a few. Look them up and see for yourself!

- When you take IDSC 3001, which you should take as early as possible if you're interested in MIS, make sure to take it with Tim Olson. He's a wonderful guy and acts as a great introduction to the major. In fact, CSOM made him the face of the major, as he teaches bookends the degree by teaching the intro class (IDSC 3001) and the capstone course (IDSC 4301)

- IDSC 3202, which is a required course for both the MIS major and minor, is a beast of a course, and by that I mean it's especially difficult and incredibly time consuming. Make sure to plan your schedule the semester you take it accordingly

- Both the MIS major and minor offer a ton of options for electives. Some examples of electives to choose from include: IDSC 4401: Information Security, IDSC 4421: Financial Information Systems and Technologies, and IDSC 4441: Electronic Commerce

- Keep in mind that many of the MIS classes have very few sections, typically two per semester. Some MIS classes only have one section per semester, and some even only have one section per year, like IDSC 4401: Information Security. So, it's important to plan out your schedule well in advance

- Given it's rank at Carlson and how in demand it is as a major, even just minoring in MIS is a wonderful idea, as it nicely complements any other major at CSOM

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