Utah State University: Preparing aspiring business leaders for success
February 9, 2024 | by magnews24.com
When it came time for McKenna Rogers to determine where she would pursue a degree, Utah State University made the most sense. It notably offered over 240 degrees across its nine colleges and schools, making it the perfect destination for young learners keen on exploring their interests before solidifying them. That’s precisely what Rogers did during her undergraduate years.
“My journey took me through various majors across different USU colleges,” she shares. “Ultimately, I chose to enroll in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, drawn to the unparalleled opportunities it offers students during their academic career and its commitment to preparing individuals for success in the professional realm.”
Initially a Business Management student, Rogers stumbled upon the Data Analytics and Information Systems (DAIS) program during an introductory course. Contrary to her expectations, it ignited her passion for delving into data, solving problems, and creating solutions. Graduating with her BS in Information Systems degree in 2023, she decided to stay on for a Master of Management Information Systems (MMIS).
On track to complete the postgraduate degree this year, Rogers already feels ready for her first steps as a full-time professional — partially thanks to the insights she’s gained from Huntsman.
“The Huntsman School prepared me for the professional world in many different ways, a main one being having the opportunity to network with corporate professionals. Through events like ‘Focused Fridays,’ ‘She’s Daring Mighty Things Summit,’ ‘HackUSU,’ ‘the Career Expo,’ and others, I was able to meet and learn from many different professionals from all different disciplines,” she says. “These opportunities gave me valuable insights and perspectives on businesses and guided me to the kind of roles and industries I wanted to pursue.”
Rogers’s education has never been confined to classrooms. In her sophomore year, it extended to experiential learning at the Analytics Solutions Center and as an Analytics Teaching Fellow. Active engagement within the Huntsman community, including roles in the Women in Business Association and founding the Women in Tech student organization, further enriched her experience.
This level of exposure set the stage for her current role as an Apprentice Data Engineer at General Mills, where she manages data pipelines and collaborates across diverse teams. Reflecting on her studies, she acknowledges its invaluable role in her professional preparation. Networking events like Focused Fridays and the Career Expo connected her with corporate professionals, offering insights and perspectives that guided her career choices. Support from the faculty and staff in the DAIS department facilitates her balancing act between work and academics.
“I have always wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but choosing to stay at the Huntsman was greatly due to the impact the faculty, staff, and students had on me during my undergraduate degree,” she shares. “The people of the Huntsman are consistently creating new opportunities for students and preparing them to become qualified candidates after graduation.”
Oliver Heady, just months away from completing his BS in Data Analytics, couldn’t agree more. Throughout his academic journey, he was encouraged to view every opportunity as a chance to grow. True enough, his involvement in analytics case competitions, including Adobe & Marketstar, HackUSU, and the national Domo student case competition, sharpened his analytical skills and positioned him as a finalist and a crucial member of winning teams.
Heady credits his success to the Huntsman faculty, stating “All the faculty in the Department of Data Analytics and Information Systems are exceptional, and I could share personal mentoring stories about most of them.”
The first professor that served as a mentor for Heady was Dr. Carly Fox. “She was an instrumental part in kickstarting my career in data analytics. While I was in her class, she provided me the opportunity to come work with her in a data position at a non-profit here on campus, which was my first real practical experience in big data,” he says. “She provided the opportunity and helped me along the way, which I am infinitely grateful for.”
Heady describes The Huntsman School student chapter of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) as “an incredible catalyst for opportunity” within his journey. “The wide variety of workshops, speaker panels, competitions, and networking opportunities have greatly increased my confidence and opportunities in the field of data,” he says. “Now, as I serve as the President of our chapter, I’m helping to organize the annual worldwide AIS conference that we’ll be hosting in March.”
Despite his busy schedule, Heady allocated time to gaining exposure beyond campus too. For example, he joined the Marketing Strategy and Analytics team at Pluralsight for an internship in the summer of 2023. After that, he began working at USU, analysing its sustainability data and creating a public-facing dashboard for enhanced transparency.
Looking ahead, Heady envisions a career as a data analyst at a tech company. He credits his clear vision to the Huntsman School for shaping his aspirations, providing networking opportunities, and fostering a learning environment that instils the skills needed for success. “I’m stoked to bring these competencies to my career,” he says.