Originally from Neshanic Station, New Jersey, junior management information systems major Victoria Trautman grew up in a very traditional, small-town community. As she went through the motions of K through 12, she consistently found herself being pushed away from STEM-related interests in favor of more stereotypical female roles and careers. In grade school, she felt “weird for loving science and wanting to study it,” but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her analytical passions. She defied the expectations her community set out for her, took every science-based AP course she could, and made it her life goal to define herself and inspire other women in the process.
Sitting down to have a conversation with Trautman in the Student Union, I am met with a very compassionate and self-actualized woman. Yet, as Trautman informs me throughout our conversation, she wasn’t always so self-assured. There were challenges she had to surpass in order to reach the level of confidence she exudes, today. Even when she had originally applied to UConn in the fall of 2016, the social factors that surrounded her during her upbringing still held weight on her decisions, including her original major. “I came here as a nutrition major,” Trautman says, “because I wanted to be a dietician, and I did that because I loved science. But, it also felt very socially acceptable and safe–at least back home–to be a female studying STEM in a healthcare-related field.” However, upon beginning her undergraduate career at UConn, she was inspired by students, primarily other women, studying STEM, technology, and business, something that was not very commonplace in her hometown. “I said to myself, ‘Why am I not doing this? I’ve always loved business, I’ve always loved technology–what’s stopping me?’ And so I applied to the School of Business.”
So, why management information systems (MIS)? Well, according to Trautman, her decision was in part due to her personal interests and in part due to her friend circle. “My first semester, I joined a professional business fraternity [Alpha Kappa Psi] and that kind of shaped me towards business. A lot of my close friends also studied MIS, and so I gradually learned from them that MIS was what I wanted to do.” Big data and graphic art and design also drew Trautman to the major. “I’ve always been an artistic person, and I wanted to find ways to marry design and technology together. And, with big data, I think that it’s amazing that we can now look at all of these different data points, analyze them, monitor them, and then use that data to help people.”
In becoming a management information systems major, Trautman has pursued a variety of opportunities. From business case competitions and IT-related internships to being president of the Information Management Association (IMA), she is always learning, exploring, and overcoming. “I did a case competition representing UConn during the fall of 2017 through Travelers and that’s kind of how I got an internship with them. I was an IT intern in their Business Insurance Architecture and Infrastructure side, and I was able to master a bunch of different technologies. Basically, I told them on day one that I wanted to learn. The more you learn, the more you can understand.” For this coming summer, while Trautman is set to intern with Cigna for their TECDP program, she is also striving to make these possibilities as accessible to her IMA members as possible. “I joined IMA because I was looking for community, and now I want to give back by helping people interested in technology, regardless of their gender, find like-minded people while also connecting them with potential employers.”
For current and prospective School of Business students and management information systems majors, Trautman has this to say to you: “I think it’s very important for everyone, regardless of their gender identity, to be encouraged in terms of what they want to pursue. Don’t judge people based on how they look. You don’t know their story, but if you take the time to stop and listen, you might just learn something valuable while validating somebody else’s journey in the process.”