Student Spotlight: James Mercaldo

Growing up in Milford, Connecticut, junior management information systems (MIS) major James Mercaldo knew he wanted to use emerging technologies and his analytical intellect to make an impact. In high school, he was on the engineering path, taking standard maths and sciences as well as multiple advanced placement classes in subjects like physics and calculus. However, when he began to look at colleges, he started to realize that he wanted to be in a professional environment where his network was more business oriented. As such, he decided to apply to the UConn School of Business, choosing management information systems as a happy medium between technical concepts, quantitative problem-solving, and business analysis.

“I’ve always been good at [information technology],” Mercaldo tells me as he reflects on his childhood. We are sitting in the Student Union, trying to speak over the voices of jubilated students participating in their weekly club activities. “My first internship was during high school. It was at Aquinas Consulting, and helped me understand the fundamentals of computer systems and the vocabulary behind the trade.” When searching for internships his sophomore year of college, however, Mercaldo was discouraged by what seemed to be a lack of options. “I didn’t know what the specific job titles were. Management information systems is such a broad field–I just didn’t know where to start.” But, as Mercaldo realized that professionals in MIS are the shapeshifters of the business world, able to execute anything from business analysis to data architecture, it became clearer to him that the MIS degree is extremely valuable, and that there are so many opportunities open to him. “Now, I see a lot of flexibility for what I can do outside of college, and I like that about MIS. I’ve worked in places like Webster Bank, and now I’m going to be doing business analysis for Travelers this summer. It’s really exciting.”

Regardless of his analytical mind, Mercaldo professes to me that he enjoys the management information systems degree primarily for the business component. He appreciates the soft-skills that are required for the major, including teamwork and team-building. He also just likes the variation. “Working on a project and using technology to solve a business problem is very interesting to me. I’m curious about all aspects of MIS in business, and want to see where my skills can help. I’m not sure where my work will take me, but I’m looking into project management positions like scrum master and [business-oriented] career paths in data science.”

In the technological side of the UConn community, Mercaldo is the secretary of the Information Management Association (IMA). He got involved during his sophomore year when he wanted to learn more about the management information systems major and the job prospects associated with it. “It turned out that IMA was a great resource for networking and connecting with industry professionals. The community aspect also kept me involved, and so I started spending a lot of my time there.” Now, he works with other members of the IMA Executive Board to try to connect UConn students interested in information technology with each other and potential job opportunities. “It would have been helpful to know other MIS majors when I started going to UConn. IMA provided that for me, and now I just want to give back.” Other than his involvement in IMA, Mercaldo also leaves time aside to participate in recreational activities. He currently plays Spikeball with the UConn Spikeball Club, a volleyball-like sport where team members bounce a ball onto a trampoline to get it to their opponents’ side of the court. “It’s a fun game, and it reminds me of my hometown by the coast. I’ve always been a beach person.”

For future MIS students, Mercaldo has this to say to you: “Learn about the major as soon as possible, especially with regard to internship opportunities. It’s very easy to get discouraged when you don’t know the vocabulary, but there are communities around you, like IMA, that can help.”

A big thanks to Mercaldo for letting me interview him.