Student

A Reflection: CoMIS Case Competition 2019

On Wednesday, April 10th, the University of Connecticut’s Operations and Information Management (OPIM) Department sent a team of talented students to participate in the University of Minnesota’s (UMN’s) CoMIS case competition. In order to qualify for the trip, each student had to take the Business Case Competitions independent study (OPIM 4899-004) and show substantial improvement in each of their weekly presentations for the class. Although difficult for Jonathan Moore, the Business Case Competitions instructor and Management Information Systems (MIS) director, he decided to invite students Mariela Kridzelis (MIS & English ’19), Joseph Gauthier (MIS ’20), and Victoria Trautman (MIS ’20) to compete. Joining the three students were himself and MIS senior Hannah Bonitz as assistant coach, who had competed in the CoMIS case competition the year before.

The morning of April 10th, all students met Professor Moore to fly out to Minneapolis. During the kickoff dinner they were introduced to their rooms, other teams, and their competitors for the preliminary round. After a good night’s sleep, they were ready to visit the sponsor sites and prepare for the competition.

On day two, students and faculty were invited to partake in one of two tours: a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota or a tour of the U.S. Bank Stadium. Both were interesting snapshots of what Minneapolis had to offer and allowed competing schools to mingle with each other while experiencing something new. “The U.S. Bank Stadium definitely lived up to the hype,” said Gauthier. “Every aspect of the modern fan experience was covered and integrated with top class engineering and [information technology] solutions.” For the Federal Reserve Bank tour, both Moore and Kridzelis enjoyed learning about the Federal Reserve System and how artificial intelligence (A.I.) is helping workers count, transport, and sort money.

On CoMIS day three, all teams were confined to their respective hotel rooms to assemble their business solution in twenty-four hours. The prompt asked participating teams to try to help U.S. Bank increase IT security through the use of biometric technology. For UConn’s team, self-named “CoMMIT,” their ideas were the following: iris technology to get access to bank information, fingerprint activated payment cards, and A.I. chatbots that improve with machine learning to detect call-center fraud.

After the case was completed, which took approximately twenty hours of consecutive and/or simultaneous work from all team members, Trautman, Gauthier, and Kridzelis took advantage of the time they had left to rest and practice before their presentation. As they were selected to present at 9:00 AM, that meant that they had to deliver their case by 8:20 AM. The anxiety and tensions were high, signaled by a few pauses and self-doubt when mistakes were made during practice runs. When 8:00 AM hit, they realized they had to get ready to leave. “We just had to trust ourselves and each other,” said Kridzelis. “We knew our nerves were getting to us, but we reminded ourselves of each others’ potential and that, in the moment, we would be okay.”

When CoMMIT finally presented in front of their panel of judges, the professionalism that emanated from each team member masked any unease they were experiencing during the fifteen minutes they were given. Due to the creativity of CoMMIT’s solutions, they were able to get second place out of all teams in their randomized bracket for the preliminary round (which included three winning schools from the year before). This meant that they had a chance to go to finals through a question-and-answer lightning round. Unfortunately, they did not advance beyond this point, but ended up achieving seventh place overall “Our team stayed for a short time, but managed a good showing against steep competition,” said Moore. “Although there were times where I felt I would nearly fall down, I always had a teammate ready to pick me back up,” followed Trautman.

Although CoMMIT did not make it to finals, they grew in those few days in Minnesota, became closer with each other, and gained feedback that would help them in the future. “In any competition, there are bound to be winners,” said Bonitz in retrospection,” but being a winner doesn’t always mean getting the gold. We celebrated the experience and what we learned from it–that was our real reward.”

We would like to thank the University of Minnesota for inviting us back to the CoMIS case competition, and for Noel Vierra for being such a wonderful team host. We hope to continue bringing our best talent to the playing field in the years to come.

Student Spotlight: Andrew Taylor

Raised in Wallingford, Connecticut, sophomore management information systems (MIS) major Andrew Taylor learned of his love for technology when he was introduced to the Sega Genesis by his father. In experiencing classic video games titles like the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, he developed an appreciation for the underlying complexities behind a fully functioning piece of software. This followed him to his high school years, where he partook in coding classes to improve upon his growing computer literacy. He learned coding languages such as Java and Visual Basic to satisfy his technical curiosity, but found that the fundamentals only spurred his desire to learn more.

Andrew sits across from me in the OPIM Innovate Lab, patiently waiting for me to begin the interview. He has lent me his laptop computer to take notes, a kind gesture on his part after I informed him that the battery on my own machine had died. If there is one thing I can say about Andrew’s character from the brief time that I have known him, it is that he is a selfless and thoughtful individual. Acts of kindness are never few and far in between with him, and they are easily reciprocated by his friends. Only a few minutes after commencing Andrew’s interview, for example, a mutual friend of ours tells me to make sure I write him “the article he deserves.” Andrew laughs it off as a joke, reaffirming my belief that he is a genuinely humble person. To him, praise is not the reward–making an impact is.

When deciding his college major, Andrew already knew that he wanted to declare MIS. “I knew that MIS would give me a lot of analytical thinking skills related to general business strategy. I also knew that it would give me a technical perspective on business problems.” In discussing this further, Andrew professes to me that he did not want to become an individual too engrossed in functional expertise to be flexible. “In MIS, you learn to communicate beyond your technical foundation. Especially for those who don’t have strong soft skills, that’s important. While I identify as someone who is more attracted to the technical side of MIS, the major has challenged me to become better at public speaking and presenting to a general audience, something that’s really broadened my perspective.”

Outside of the MIS major, Andrew is the Alumni Relations Manager for the Information Management Association (IMA). As the Alumni Relations Manager, he is responsible for keeping in close contact with alumni, encouraging alumni to get involved with the MIS curriculum, and organizing alumni-student events. “Right now, I am planning an alumni panel on April 16th where five UConn alums will come in and talk about their experiences as students. It will mainly focus on how they got internships and how they made the MIS major work for them, but it’s open to all UConn students.”

In terms of his personal interests, Andrew informs me that he and his roommate want to become entrepreneurs. They are currently working on attaining an LLC license, and are working on a prototype compression program to make files smaller than they already are. “It’s based on a certain algorithm that we constructed; we’re implementing it now to see if it actually works. It’s for all types of large files, and our goal is to have the algorithm compress more than what’s currently offered.” When I ask him if he has a name for his LLC, a sudden jolt of energy bursts from him. “We don’t!” He says. “The hardest part is always coming up with the name! We’ve been trying to for the past year-and-a-half, and we still can’t come up with one.”

Andrew and his roommate hope to one day turn their LLC into a video game company that specializes in cloud gaming. Until then, they hope to penetrate the general technology industry with their algorithm and provide a more effective solution for compressing big data. They continuously share their technical knowledge with each other in preparation for the future, and let their mutual ambition inspire each other. “We were friends in high school and used to make video games together. Now, we just want to make those experiences something more than good memories.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Student Spotlight: Alexander Zevin

Originally from New Milford, CT, Alexander Zevin knew from a young age that he wanted to use technology in a business setting. As he was sitting down in his math, computer science, and business classes, he saw each new concept and theory as a stepping stone that could be used to bring about change and increased efficiency. Throughout high school, Zevin used this entrepreneurial mindset to work on a variety of projects, including a small business venture. Mixed with a growing interest in finance, he soon realized that he wanted to understand business from a financial standpoint to supplement his innovative ideas. As a result, he became a Computer Science and Finance dual-degree student at the University of Connecticut, and has since been working on building the business acumen necessary to become a well-rounded business professional.

Now finishing up his sophomore year at UConn, Zevin sits across from me in the Gladstein Lab, OPIM Innovate’s hub for technological exploration. As we speak, a 3D printer is working on making a student’s design become a reality. It is distracting to me, but is very commonplace for Zevin. He is comfortable in this lab, it now being almost a year since he became a lab specialist for the OPIM Innovate initiative. The gentle hum sparks conversation regarding his work here. “I see the enormous benefit this initiative has on the University as a whole,” Zevin says. “When I first started working here, we weren’t as situated as we are now [with the learning opportunities the Lab has to offer], and it’s satisfying to see [the initiative] grow. Also, on a personal level, I’ve become more experienced with a lot of these emerging technologies we research. I didn’t quite understand the applications for virtual reality (VR), for instance, but the more I use it the more I see the practical functions for it.” Next semester, Zevin will actually be helping a graduate student from the UConn Department of Psychology utilize VR to reduce stuttering in patients. “I have been helping her prepare by advising her on the equipment she can use and the technical capabilities of VR. It just goes to show how this technology can be used in a variety of fields.”

Outside the OPIM Innovate initiative, Zevin has remained incredibly active in terms of academic opportunities. Viewing his college experience as a way to expand his mind as much as possible, he has been consistently challenging himself since his freshman year. “When I began college, I came with the mindset of wanting to learn and wanting to change–I wanted to become a better version of myself,” Zevin admits. As a result, he refused to remain inside of his comfort zone, and in turn increased his level of self-confidence by testing his skills. In his first month at UConn, for example, Zevin got involved in the annual Management Information Systems (MIS) Case Competition. “My team consisted of myself and three other freshman students,” Zevin recalls. “We were up against juniors and seniors, and we hadn’t even taken a business course yet. The case was about using Internet of Things (IoT) to help increase the efficiency of UConn facilities, so we decided to focus on preemptive maintenance.” Zevin describes the experience as “nerve-wracking,” and as he talks about winning first place, he still seems a bit surprised by it. “The month after that, we did a case competition with PwC, and we placed first again. Then we did one for Cigna, and we placed second. So, while participating in these competitions did improve my confidence, they also helped increase my business acumen–we had to do our research, we had to do our due diligence.”

Zevin has been doing his due diligence in everything that he does, enough to get him the position of Vice President in the Information Management Association (IMA). There, he attempts to create a sense of community for all UConn students, regardless of their academic backgrounds. “What we’re trying to do is reshape IMA by getting people from all sorts of disciplines inside the Innovate Lab. We want these students to become involved with the technologies Innovate has to offer, not only for their personal curiosity but also for their fields.”

In his professional pursuits, Zevin interned for United Technologies the summer of his freshman year. Working with one of their branches, Otis Elevator Company, he was tasked with assisting business professionals with developing a live chat feature for Otis’ next-generation Customer Portal application. In addition to this project, he assisted Otis with connecting the Customer Portal with their existing IoT products, his role as a point of contact evolving into a new internship opportunity. “This summer, I’ll be working with Collins Aerospace in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m very excited about that, to travel to a new place, and to learn about a new industry. My role will be finance- and technology-oriented, but I don’t have the details quite yet.”

Reflecting on his personal success so far as a student and budding professional, Zevin has this advice to say to incoming UConn freshmen: “Go to class, attend office hours, and if you can’t explain the subject matter to somebody else, have a conversation with your professors or [their teaching assistants] until you can. Also, become involved in your campus community and start setting goals for yourself–they’re a great way to start thinking about the future.”

To keep up with Alex Zevin and his professional development, follow him on his website: alexzevin.com.

 

 

 

 

Student Spotlight: Victoria Trautman

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.”

 

 

 

Student Spotlight – Hannah Bonitz

Hannah Bonitz, a senior from Cheshire, CT is wrapping up her final year of college with a busy schedule before she enters the workforce. As an MIS major since her freshman year, Bonitz has grown into one of the department’s outstanding students, receiving the Treibeck Family Electronic Commerce Initiative Fund Scholarship her junior year and participating in two case competitions, all while managing her honors student status. As a senior honors student Bonitz has to create a senior thesis. This thesis is a full year project that includes a research paper as well as developing a prototype or proof of concept. “My project is on using analytics and technology to globally combat modern slavery. I’m planning on developing a proof of concept by making a website that displays all of my research on human trafficking as a problem, and providing technology solutions around data management to combat it.” This project is a glowing testament to her character and intellect, but Bonitz was sure to take on more responsibilities for her last year at UConn.

Bonitz holds three on campus jobs at the School of Business, two in the Management Department and one in the OPIM Department. In the Management Department Bonitz acts as an Administrative Assistant and the Social Media Coordinator for the Group and Organization Management Journal. In these roles she has acted as the communications liaison on all of the social media platforms and performed important desk utilities such as managing the financial transaction records, collecting data on the Innovation Quest program, and using Microsoft Office. In the OPIM Department Bonitz works as a Lab aid in the OPIM Innovate Lab. Here she is working on developing the analytics technology track. In addition to working, Bonitz stays involved on campus through the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life as the Vice President of her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi.

Even with all of these responsibilities, Bonitz has made sure that she dedicated time during the school year to apply for summer internships to further her professional career and explore possible career paths. For the past three summers Bonitz has interned at Travelers Insurance, each time working under a different manager in a different Line of Business. “I absolutely loved each of my experiences. They each provided a new perspective and expanded my knowledge base regarding IT in general, specific technologies, and different project management methodologies and approaches. I was given the autonomy to drive my own research efforts in conjunction with participating in a terrific intern experience program that offered broad learning opportunities and a culminating summer-long intern group project.” With all of this experience it is no surprise that Bonitz was given a full-time offer from Travelers, this time in the three year IT Leadership Development Program. “It definitely is my dream job! I am so excited to officially begin working full-time at the company I have interned with over the course of three summers. I look forward to expanding my depth of skill in different technologies, developing my skills as a leader, and understanding the business of property casualty insurance as a whole.”

With all of this success, Bonitz credits the OPIM Department for providing ample opportunities for knowledge and growth. “I am fascinated by the intersection of business and technology, as without either one, businesses and institutions simply cannot function. MIS provides the opportunity to explore this intersection.” With an MIS major Bonitz was able to explore the facets of IT that piqued her interest, learn general business codes of conduct, and access many academic and extra curricular resources. “One of the highlights of my college career would definitely be the independent study I had the opportunity to participate in titled Business Case Competitions. I learned how to develop effective presentations and carry myself confidently when presenting; I then leveraged these newfound skills at the CoMIS Case Competition at the University of Minnesota, and it was a surreal and worthwhile experience to see how far myself and my fellow teammates had come in our development!”

As Bonitz prepares for her final semester as an undergraduate here at UConn, she leaves with some parting words for her fellow MIS students. “Get involved as early as you can! The department provides incredible learning opportunities via workshops and written materials if you are just willing to explore when a topic piques your interest. I would also generally say that if you have a passion or even an interest in a technology topic, pursue it and stay curious. Curiosity and a passion to explore will not only keep you motivated and engaged but also serve you well in MIS – a field where trends are constantly changing and new technologies are consistently blossoming!”

Alberto Principe Student Spotlight

Alberto Principe, a junior Management Information Systems (MIS) major and Data Analytics minor, was introduced to Information Technology as a child.”When I was little my uncle used to fix computers around the house. He was really good at technology so being able to see him fix problems always sparked my curiosity.” It was these childhood experiences that inspired him in his academic career. The MIS major and Data Analytics minor will allow Principe to take the passions of his IT childhood, and apply them to the business world. “I’ve always wanted to be able to get to know computers, but having the ability to combine them in the business world in one cohesive subject has been influential in preparing for my future.”

Principe has been preparing for his future since his freshman year, making sure to stay active on campus through Information Management Association (IMA) and an on campus job. After hearing about IMA at an on campus career fair, he decided to join and became an active member in the club. His participation and passion for the subject did not go unnoticed, and a year after joining he was elected the Alumni Relations Chair. Principe is the first student to hold this position and has many plans for the following semesters. “My goal is mainly to build a foundation for future Alumni Relations Chairs. At the moment I’m focused on trying to find the right people to contact, how to contact them, and being able to get the IMA word out.” He is trying to make these advancements by boosting social media advertising and reaching out to contacts that would potentially be interested in visiting, becoming mentors, or helping create contacts in companies. In addition to his position on the IMA E-board, Principe works at ITS, the UConn IT Department located on the first floor of Homer Babbidge Library. His position involves solving IT based issues from other students, on the phone or at the support table in the library. This job will give him entry level experience in the IT field, which could open up more opportunities for him in the future.

Although he is unsure about where his future will lead him, he wants to get into a career path that will allow him to develop more efficient ways of completing tasks, such as in machine learning. Machine learning is a relatively new area of technology that focuses on teaching computers how to perform tasks. “It’s really interesting to see how a computer or machine can go from not learning, to doing almost exactly what you want it to do in a really short period of time.”

With another year left at UConn, Alberto is spending the majority of his time focusing on schoolwork and applying for internships. In preparing for the real world, Principe reflected on some helpful experience he has gotten in the classroom. “UConn has exposed me to a lot of group activities. I know in the earlier semesters we are taught to do our work and make sure everything is on time, but now we focus more on applying concepts and working in teams. Being able to work with people we have never met before and work through conflicts and meeting times, is something that I will have to face in the workplace.” After graduation, Principe hopes to move to a big city and work at a company in information technology. He is hoping that this company will help him become an established professional and allow him to build connections with employers and peers.

For younger students pursuing MIS or Data Analytics, Principe encourages students to get involved. “It’s hard to find other MIS students because the major is so small, but come to IMA and you’ll realize all the connections you could have.”

John Hauselt Student Spotlight

John Hauselt, a sophomore pursuing a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) with a minor in Computer Science, has been interested in Information Technology since he was in high school. As a proactive student he decided to begin his job search as a junior in high school, looking for jobs in IT to fill his free time. He was able to land a position as an intern in the IT Department at Masonicare, a hospital and rehabilitation center. Here Hauselt was able to get introductory level experience on how the IT world works, and was exposed to cyber security. Masonicare uses a program called Honeypot which “generates fake information to analyze how people are trying to hack the network and traces incoming IPs.” It was this exposure, in addition to his later work experience, that pushed him to work in cyber security.

Working at Masonicare opened the doors to IT positions Hauselt was eligible to apply for. His next job was in the IT Department in the Wallingford public school system. Most of the work involved solving basic computer issues, but the work was independent which gave him the ability to work through issues on his own. He now works at the IT Department in the School of Business and really enjoys the diversity of work he is exposed to. “People always ask me what I do, but what I really enjoy is that everyday I do something different. So I’ll tell people today I did something as simple as blocking pop ups but tomorrow could be something like downloading software, coding, or something totally different.”

This job, and the ability to be a student worker, is perhaps the most helpful aspect of preparing for his career. His job has given him helpful connections such as other students who are able and willing to help him with school and connecting him with future employers.

While fulfilling his goals of doing well in school and securing a job after graduation, Hauselt is the Secretary of the Information Management Association (IMA) and involved in the Business Connections Learning Community (BCLC). The BCLC provides students with a place to live, learn, and connect with each other, helping students grow both inside and outside of the classroom. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and get involved,” Hauselt advises younger students. IMA is a great way to make connections with employers and peers. He was amazed to see that employers who would attend meetings were actively engaged and cared about the students they were talking to.

Dominika Lichomska Student Spotlight

Dominika Lichomska, a junior pursuing a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) with an Analytics Minor, has had a passion for Information Technology since her childhood. “I was highly fascinated about computers and what made them tick. Once I took several OPIM classes I realized that technology is equally interesting as it is challenging.” Because technology has become an integral aspect of modern day life and is constantly evolving, her MIS degree will help her succeed in any field she decides to work in.

After transitioning from the Stamford campus to Storrs her sophomore year, she became involved in Health Care Management Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, Hearts Over Latin America (HOLA), and Information Management Association (IMA). IMA was a great way for Lichomska to meet other students who are interested in MIS and share her passion for technology. “IMA was the perfect club to get me acclimated to the opportunities that MIS offers,” she said, and after just one semester she was elected as treasurer. “My main goal as Treasurer is to support the IMA EBoard in introducing the MIS field to undergraduate students, present technology opportunities, and connect students with working professionals.” In addition to IMA, she is also interested in attending the OPIM Innovate workshops so she can “further develop technology skills and knowledge.” With her experiences through the business school and prior work experience at The Center for Women’s Heath, she decided to combine the interests and join Health Care Management Society.  Although Lichomska stays involved within the business school and the OPIM Department, she also makes sure to lend a helping hand through HOLA. HOLA designs campaigns that will have a sustainable impact in public health and education in Latin America. Even with this broad array of clubs, societies, and organizations outside of the classroom, her main goal after attending the University of Connecticut is simple, to “learn a lot, meet some friends, and make great memories.”

“I adore that UConn not only focuses on the knowledge that MIS majors could benefit from but also the history and logic behind them. For example, in my advanced business application development class, before learning how to code in C# we learned the history of computers and the logic behind the language.” This background knowledge is helpful to gain a deeper understanding of topics in class that may be difficult to grasp, and will help prepare students for their careers. Although Lichomska may not know what her future holds, she has been most interested in the concept of gamification. “Gamification includes the process of using objectives and rules, while taking into consideration intrinsic motivations, to apply a gaming environment into non-game contexts.” In the future, she would enjoy working in an industry where the gamification concept is used to help solve industry obstacles. It is the opportunities within the department, such as the courses and workshops, that helped Lichomska intern with M2 Media group, a magazine subscription agency, located in Stamford, CT. “During my internship I learned about the magazine industry, how to efficiently coordinate with many company departments, and edit magazine descriptions. I was able to polish my Microsoft Excel and communication skills. Communication is important especially for business majors and my internship with M2 Media Group has introduced me to the art of business communication.”

With her remaining year at the University of Connecticut, she hopes to find her calling within the technology industry.

Christopher Calaci Student Spotlight

Christopher Calaci, a sophomore Management and Informations Systems (MIS) student, has many accomplishments to be proud of from his short time at the University of Connecticut. Originally a finance major, Calaci realized his passion for Information Technology (IT) after attending the Operations and Information Management (OPIM) Department workshops and information sessions. Since changing his major from finance to MIS, Calaci has been elected the Vice President of the Information Management Association (IMA). Calaci originally became involved with IMA to make connections with employers and peers, but since then has become an advocate for IMA. “I want people to realize that getting into IT or learning about it isn’t hard. It may be something that is unfamiliar at first but it is a great subject to get involved in.” Getting more students involved in IT and IMA is one of his goals as Vice President, helping to break down the stereotype behind information technology.

In addition to IMA, Calaci is a member of the Business Connections Learning Community (BCLC), mentors freshmen through UConn’s First Year Experience (FYE) program, and works in the IT Department in the School of Business. The BCLC provides students with a place to live, learn, and connect with each other, helping students grow both inside and outside of the classroom. It was through the BCLC that Calaci was introduced to the FYE course that he would later teach. It was here that he encouraged students to “take time out of your day to learn something you may not be learning in the classroom. Just because you’re not taking business classes now doesn’t mean you have to wait to start learning.” These are words he tries to live by, by pursuing his passions outside of the classroom. Last winter break, with the help of the internet, Christopher built a computer and described it as “adult legos.” This determined and dedicated attitude is what helped him land his position in the IT Department at the School of Business. Here he works at the helpdesk, assisting students with their technological needs.

Although Calaci is currently focusing on his academics and securing an internship for this summer, he is most interested in pursuing a career in project management, specifically in software development, or cyber security. Because Calaci is still early in his business education career, he is mostly taking general education courses which has helped push him to learn and try new things, such as philosophy and social ethics. This class taught him how to discuss and form opinions on prominent ethical issues. He is planning on using this class to help him in his future and his career, specifically if he goes into cyber security because of the controversy over privacy issues. He would ideally want to work at a large company that gives him the opportunity to grow and explore as a professional and then look to downsize once he has found his passion.

With his remaining two years at UConn, Calaci is hoping to quench his thirst for knowledge with a variety of OPIM courses and adding a minor that will be both beneficial and enjoyable. Although he may not know where his future will take him, UConn has encouraged him to get involved involved and meet people with similar interests. “Interacting with all of these people has helped me realize what and who I want to be as a person, and the longer I am here the more I learn about myself and what I want to do.”