Senior CIS Major Earns Full-time Job After Internship

Senior Computer Information Systems major Aubrie Sinclair is set to earn her BBA in December, but even with all her hard work, she did not expect to secure a full-time job months before graduation.

After her summer Database Tester internship at Acxiom was extended into fall, Aubrie was surprised in mid-September with a full-time offer to join the company. She has accepted a position to be a Delivery Support Analyst after graduation.

Learn more about Aubrie’s success in her path to career development from her own words:

Why did you choose to major in business?

I chose to major in business on a whim, but I think what’s more important is why I stayed. I stayed majoring in business because of the amazing individuals I met when I changed my major; I stayed because my advisor in the COB encourages me and pushes me to be my very best, and right alongside him, my professors do the same. Majoring in business can be tough, but I wouldn’t want to struggle and succeed in any other major. The College of Business has given me endless opportunities to learn and grow in an environment that allows me to be surrounded by fellow peers and professors who have the same drive and passion as I have. Being a business major has made my time at UCA worthwhile.

Why did you choose this internship?

I chose this internship as a Database Tester at Acxiom because I saw it as an opportunity for growth with a company that I could see myself working for one day. The internship aligned with skills I had prior knowledge of, but it also grabbed my attention because it required me to expand my knowledge and pick up new skills along the way.

What did you learn at this internship?

At this internship, I learned a variety of skills. I learned very quickly that problem-solving and communication were going to be key in this career. Being a Database Tester required me to think outside of the box daily and pushed me to practice concise communication with both my co-workers and the client. I worked with SQL Database every day, and I enjoyed that I was exposed to hands-on experience with software that I have been taught at UCA.

How do you think this internship will be beneficial in your career?

Internships can be beneficial to students’ careers in many ways. It can show you what you do or don’t want out of a future job and help you grow in your skills. This internship allowed me to exercise the skills I already have and obtain new ones, and it allowed me to network with people who have experience in my future career field. I know this internship helped me me to grow as a student and a future businesswoman in technology. Ultimately, it helped me earn a full-time position with the company.

How do you plan to use your degree?

I have always planned to use my degree in Computer Information Systems and Analytics to work for a technology company that is focused on innovation and creativity. My eventual goal is to go into Business/Data Analytics, and I plan to pursue my master’s degree in Applied Data Analytics.

What advice do you have for students who may (or may not) be considering an internship?

My advice for anyone who is considering applying for or accepting an internship is – just go for it! I never thought I would land such an amazing internship, but I applied anyway and got an interview. The worst-case scenario might be that you get real-life experience filling out applications and interviewing for a company. Don’t let big companies and competitive interviews scare you off; believe in yourself, what you are capable of, and bring that to your interview because that’s what companies want to see.

Innovation Challenge Series at UCA: First Winners Announced!

See related post: Innovation Challenge Series Released at UCA

The first two winners of our new and exciting innovation challenge are Connor Tuttle and Savannah Conly! The competition launched in the COB Imagine Lab last week challenging students to design a suitcase that accommodates clean clothes at the beginning of a trip and dirty clothes during and at the end of a trip. Using tools found in the Imagine Lab (3rd Floor of UCA’s College of Business), the competition winners designed a suitcase that overcomes this core challenge.

Best-upgraded design – $100 value prize: Connor Tuttle

Many thanks to Stoby’s, a long-time Arkansas favorite, for contributing to our prizes for our first place winners!

In his submission, Connor said:
“Imagine a for-the-most-part normal ole’ suitcase, with a golden twist addressing an issue that has been around for decades! The fundamental design premise behind this suitcase is that down the middle of the main compartment there is a stretchy nylon divider that allows for different proportions of clothes to be held on either side depending on how far along you are on your trip! The front-facing section of the suitcase has the typical small, medium, and large compartment. The back, however, is also accessible for dealing with dirty laundry. Taking up approximately half of the top portion of the back-facing side will be a zipper compartment housing all of the tools necessary to temporarily deal with dirty laundry while on the go. Within the flap in the back, there is a mesh-like pocket to slide dryer sheets that have been folded twice right into the space to serve as a form of temporary air freshening.”

Second Place Design – $50 value prize: Savannah Conly

Savannah branded her suitcase and described her design as, “a suitcase designed to help keep you organized, from the beginning to end of a trip. With the detachable laundry bag, clothes rack, and hard shell, it is easier than ever to Rome more organized than ever before. Not only does it offer a way to keep your clean and dirty clothes separate, it offers an at-home closet feel, and you lose no space to pack.

Stay tuned. The first challenge was for students, but we will be engaging other friends on and off campus this semester. Get ready to compete! Teams are welcome. Email for questions or details. And if you plan to compete in the next challenge, request access to the Imagine Lab now!

Department of Marketing & Management: mktgmgmt@uca.edu

Dr. Mike Ellis Explains: How does data analytics affect you?

Do you use spell check or autocomplete when you write? Have you ever gotten a recommendation for a TV show, movie, or product that turned out to be just what you wanted?

These helpful tools are made possible by analyzing past data to predict what should come next. It makes sense that if you enjoyed action movies in the past, you will probably like one tonight, right?

Generally, we refer to data analysis to support better decision-making as “data analytics.” That can involve better decisions on what comes next when you’re writing, which movie you might like to watch tonight, or many other decisions you make regularly. When we consider how data analytics works within the business world, we mean that data is used to discover ways to improve a business. Data analytics can assist in business decisions such as how best to order inventory, set prices, or identify our best customers.

One way to think of data analytics is as a range of options.

On one end, we have data science, the most technical branch of analytics. It typically requires advanced training in statistics and computer science, often in the form of a doctoral degree, and focuses on the theory and tools of analytics. At the other end, we have business people who want to make better decisions. They need some knowledge of analytical tools and techniques, but the business context is more important. It isn’t the tool but how it is used that really matters to this person. This end of the range is “applied data analytics.”

What gets the most attention in the media? Since October 2012, when the Harvard Business Review called “data scientist” the sexiest job of the 21st century, data science has been getting all the ink. But that overlooks an important issue: only a small fraction of companies have the resources they can dedicate to a proper data science effort.

Most small- to medium-sized companies (and a lot of big ones, too) need to find ways to get value from data inside accounting, finance, marketing, logistics, and other operational departments. The solution lies at the applied end of the data analytics range.

A knowledgeable analyst can discover hidden insights in data in many ways. Some are as simple as organizing and visualizing data. For example, say an air conditioning manufacturer is having problems with units arriving in one part of the country with cracked tubing. When looking at the shipping data for the damaged units, the manufacturer discovers that poor road conditions are causing huge jolts to the trucks carrying them, which leads to the cracks. With this discovery, the air conditioning manufacturer is able to upgrade the suspension systems used on those routes, and the expensive problem can be solved.

Because applied data analytics tools are a common solution to business problems, a career in data analysis is a wise choice.

At the UCA College of Business, we have undergraduate and graduate programs that teach the concepts and skills to prepare students to use applied data analytics. Students at the undergraduate level can get the same solid business foundation as our other programs while learning about analytical tools and techniques. Our technical certificate serves as a standalone credential for anyone who wants a foundation in data analytics to boost their career. The graduate-level programs are hands-on programs intended for working professionals and others who want to expand their skill set or are looking for a career change. The Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics is an introduction to applied data analytics that can be completed alone or as part of the MBA program. Our Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics takes the student deeper into analytics while keeping one foot firmly planted in the business world.

Building complex statistical models from scratch might be interesting, but it doesn’t provide value for most companies. If you are more interested in solving business puzzles than in creating fancy models, check out our programs. Or, if you are running a company with a huge amount of data and aren’t sure how to get value from it, keep your eyes open for one of our graduates!


About the Author

Mike Ellis

Dr. Michael Ellis is an Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems and Analytics (CISA) at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) College of Business, where he has served since August 2014. He earned a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Kansas; he also holds an MS in Management Information Systems from the University of Houston and an MS in Finance from Texas A&M University. Ellis teaches both undergraduate and graduate students and has numerous published scholarly works.

2022 Faculty Excellence Award Winners: Professors Nelson, Horpedahl, Shaw, Burleson, Chen, & Schlachter

Each year the College of Business recognizes its outstanding faculty with awards. This year, four new awards were created to highlight the exceptional work of this faculty and to encourage continued excellence in the areas of societal impact, research, service, innovative teaching, engaged teaching, and an individual’s impact on the college itself.

(pictured from left to right, back: Schlachter, Chen, Nelson; front: Burleson, Horpedahl, Shaw)

COB Impact Award: Steve Nelson

This new award was created to recognize faculty or staff who have outsized impact on the success of the UCA College of Business. Professor Nelson’s work outside of the classroom is most often noticed by faculty. He has served as the Director of Assessment since 2016 and revamped data collection and improvement team communications. He is an outstanding communicator who helps all faculty understand what and when to assess, which contributes to continuous improvement of the college for our students.

Societal Impact Award: Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl

Dr. Horpedahl is the incoming Director of the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE). Outside of the classroom, he is well known in the region for sharing his expert testimony with the Arkansas Legislature as well as with the general public in the newspaper and on television. On Twitter, he helps citizens understand how to tell fact from fiction and often dispels incorrect statistics and rumors. He is also a regular contributor to Economist writing every day. This new award was created to encourage societal impact such as Dr. Horpedahl’s impact on countless students and citizens.

Innovative Teaching Award: Steve Schlachter

Professor Schlachter was recognized because of his efforts to innovate in every one of the classes he teaches, whether face-to-face or online. His work sets an excellent example as the world of higher education attempts to find ways to engage students in- and outside of the classroom.

Engaged Teaching Award: Professor Cynthia Burleson

Professor Burleson is the Director of the Center for Insurance and Risk Management (IRM). She welcomes IRM professionals on a regular basis to help students gain experience and network within the industry. Burleson’s excellent work contributes to UCA’s IRM program, which remains the only IRM program in the region, and partnerships with employers are one reason why UCA has one of the most active internship programs in the state.

Excellence in Research Award: Dr. Alex Chen

Dr. Chen is known for his excellence in research. The quality and quantity of his published works are truly excellent, but he was recognized for this award because his focus is teaching others how to research well. Dr. Chen collaborates with other faculty and students in much of his work. In this past year, four of his articles that involved student collaborations underwent review, an achievement which helps his students stand out as they pursue employment and higher education opportunities.

Excellence in Service Award: Susan Shaw

Professor Shaw serves on committees doing work that is noticed by faculty, but her work coordinating the annual IT Careers Camp in partnership with Acxiom impacts high school students around Arkansas.  The event is a significant amount of work each year, and Susan does a fantastic job organizing the camp, which educates students about IT careers and encourages them to continue their education beyond high school.

Faculty Feature: Get to Know Dr. Joe Thomas

Dr. Joe Thomas, Assistant Professor of CISA in the UCA College of Business, gives us all the details – professional and personal – about what drew him to business, mentors who have influenced his life, and advice he has for students.

Degree(s), Certificates, or Licenses Earned

  • PhD, Management Science Information Systems, Oklahoma State University
  • MA, Information Systems Management, Webster University
  • BS, Computer Science (w/ Teacher Certification), Texas State University

How long have you taught at UCA in the College of Business? 5 years

What classes do you teach for the College of Business?

Currently teaching:
– CISA 4361, Cybersecurity Governance & Policy
– CISA 4375, Cybersecurity Management
– CISA 2330, Business Statistic
– CISA 4/5380, Business Intelligence & Data Visualization
– BUAD 1300, Introduction to Business
Previously taught:
– CISA 4328, Systems Analysis & Design
– CISA 3321, Managing Systems & Technology
– CISA 2343, Desktop Decision Support Technology

What student organizations do you participate in or sponsor? Business & Information Technology (BIT) Club

What drew you to the business industry? When and how did you know for sure that an education in business was the right fit for you?

Well, I started out becoming a high school teacher in Computer Science and Mathematics. At the last minute I made an audible and joined the Air Force as a Communications Officer! During my 23-year military career I had many jobs, some extremely technical, some chock-full of leadership and management, and all had a taste of business. I never lost my love for teaching. So while in the Air Force, I earned my PhD, taught at the Air Force Academy, and was the Dean of a leadership school. To answer the question – I really didn’t choose the business industry, it kind of happened organically.

Explain how a mentor has influenced your life and career.

After God then my parents, the most influential person in my life is Roy Kurban. He was my Taekwondo instructor when I was a teenager. He gave me so many life lessons I couldn’t list them here, but a few of the big ones are self-discipline, empathy, and hard work. The one that led to my current career was a passion for teaching. I used to teach the little kids’ class—you know you got something if you can make push-ups the “reward,” and they ask for more. (Now…if I can only find a way to add push-ups to my statistics class 😉)

What do you do in your spare time?

I love cutting grass! Something about seeing your progress and the clean lines…and it’s me-time, no one bothers me, and it’s a great time to listen to an audiobook.

What is a favorite class or memory you have from your time as a COB faculty member?

When a student goes out of their way to tell me I’m a good teacher and they loved my class.

List creative ways you engage students in the classroom.

Well, it’s not very creative but it is effective—exhibit high energy and smile. Learning should be fun and so should teaching, so I let them see that I want to be there. Students tend to mirror the attitude the instructor brings into the classroom. Show empathy—students need to know we care about their success and empathize with their struggles. A student who knows I care is more inclined to come to class, on-time, ready to engage and learn. Be a good storyteller—I try to answer the “so what?” questions with as many real-world stories and examples as I can. And they don’t have to be my stories, professors can use real examples from other professors, professionals in your industry, or case studies. As long as it helps make the course content personal and meaningful, mission accomplished.

What research or publications are you working on now?

I’m working with Drs. Hill and Casey on a paper looking at the impact of COVID-19 on business classes, specifically business statistics. I’m also working with Dr. Chen and Dr. McMurtrey on two papers on the acceptance of e-payment systems in various cultures. I have a student-led research project looking at student success with regard to advanced placement and concurrent credit classes for incoming freshmen. Finally, my ongoing research is related to my dissertation topic on real-world high-stakes deception detection by looking at linguistic and paralinguistic cues.

Comment about a recent collaboration with a student.

This summer, I worked at the UCA/Acxiom IT Camp and got to work with a lot of great people. Two student volunteer mentors in particular stood out, Skyler Austen and Caylen Johnson. They were great – very hard workers, great ideas, and team players! Professors evaluate students as part of our job; they are our product, and the customers are the businesses that hire them. I would hire Skyler and Caylen every day of the week and twice on Sunday!

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students? 

Read!!! Seriously, read every day. Read for fun, read the classics, and read to learn something new. Personally, I like listening to audiobooks as I drive to and from work (it’s amazing what you can accomplish in those tiny nibbles of time). Oh, and read the syllabus {facepalm}!

The other advice I would give to students is: try to develop a hunger for learning. Becoming a lifetime learner is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and society. Learning is fun! Right now, I’m taking classes to get certifications in Tableau, and I’m loving it!

Your future employers (and the world) need people with self-discipline and grit. They also want lifetime learners who enjoy trying new things. Doing something you like to do is easy and fun, doing something you don’t is hard and painful. So jump in, do that class first, work really hard at it, and push yourself to do the best you can at something you don’t like–THAT is grit! Best case, you may learn you like it. Worst case, you learn why you don’t like it. Either way, you learn, and the mental pushups will make you stronger. But the best part is the pride you will feel after all the hard work and self-discipline it took to get to the finish line.

Finally – work hard, play hard, and be excellent to each other!

COB Student Elected International Rep of International Professional Fraternity

Insurance and Risk Management student William Biernat has been selected as an International Representative for the Grand Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma.

The organization shared on its social media platforms, “#GammaIS thrilled to congratulate William Biernat of the Alpha Psi Chapter at the University of Central Arkansas and Zane Smith of the Beta Xi Chapter at St. Mary’s University for being elected International Student Representatives for the 2022-2023 academic year.” [credit @GammaIotaSigma]

Biernat says he is proud and excited to have been chosen to serve in this new leadership role. He was chosen as the Outstanding GIS student for the College of Business at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 academic year.

“I am especially excited and grateful to announce that I have been chosen to serve as the International Student Representative for GIS for the upcoming year,” said Biernat. “I will serve alongside Zane S. as we will represent all 4000+ members and 99 collegiate chapters all across the nation. Can’t wait to get started!

With 97+ Chapters Nationwide with 4,000+ members organized to promote, encourage, and sustain student interest in insurance, risk management, and actuarial science as professions, Gamma Iota Sigma is an international professional fraternity that aims to encourage high moral and scholastic attainments and to facilitate the interaction and cooperation of educational institutions, industry, and professional organizations by fostering research, scholarship, and improved public relations.

UCA’s Beta Alpha Psi Chapter Wins First Place in International Competition

Pictured (R to L): Kaidan Zheng, Tristen Porter, and Harris Felton

UCA students traveled to Orlando, Florida during the last week of July 2022 for the Beta Alpha Psi annual meeting of all chapters.

Before the meeting started, the students enjoyed an Arkansas BAP Connection breakfast sponsored by the Arkansas Society of CPAs. During the meeting, the students networked, provided community service, attended professional development meetings, and participated in multiple competitions.

After their regional win earlier this year, the Chapter qualified to compete at the conference and brought home the INTERNATIONAL FIRST PLACE award in Best Practices in the Art of Engagement for the Resume Escape Room they hosted for students last spring. This is UCA’s 3rd international first place in Beta Alpha Psi Best Practices. Congratulations to students Harris Felton, Tristen Porter, and Kaidan Zheng for their excellent work!

Additional UCA Recognition at the Annual Meeting:

  • Beta Alpha Psi recognized UCA as a superior chapter.
  • Daniel Wheeler competed in Project Run With It, a real-world consulting project.
  • Dean Michael Hargis received the Outstanding Dean Award.
  • Dr. Connie McKnight became a Chapter Advocate for the Southwest Region.

The students also took advantage of their time in Orlando to have some fun!

Beta Alpha Psi is an honor organization for financial information students and professionals with over 300 chapters internationally. The organization promotes academic excellence, professional development, and responsible practices.

Student Profile: Madison Bryant

Marketing major Maddie Bryant welcomes incoming freshmen to campus as a member of the Student Orientation Staff (SOS).

Madison Bryant  |  Marketing major  |  Class of 2025

What drew you to business?

I took a marketing class my senior year of high school. I did really well in there and enjoyed it. After I started college, I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor, and I decided marketing was the right path for me.

What has been useful to you in the College of Business and why?

– the faculty, curriculum, and supportive learning environment
– the events and guest speakers
– the facilities and technology
– an internships
– networking opportunities with prospective employers and industry experts

All of those are helpful because they help you gain connections and ultimately get a job after graduation. Gaining connections is so important because you never know who you will meet and how they will impact you.

My advisor Emma Allen has been wonderful! She wants me to succeed and is always there to even just listen if I have a problem. She gives great advice on classes I need to take and the route I should take. She remembers who I am when I see her around and she is overall just a wonderful person to be around.

What experience has been meaningful for you?

The experience in my Intro to Business class has been the most meaningful to me so far. Throughout the semester each week, we would learn about a different major within the COB. It really helped to shine light on areas I didn’t know existed. It showed me careers I would have never even thought about. This class was very helpful and an experience I feel you don’t get in other colleges. It can be hard to know what you want to do without having knowledge of all your options, so this helped me clarify what I wanted to do.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?

I would advise students to go to tutoring for classes where that’s available. The tutors in the COB [College of Business] are wonderful. I always feel more confident and ready for my test after I visit them.

I would definitely recommend the COB to students because there are so many different paths you can take here. There are lots of majors to pick from in the COB and even certifications you can get. The faculty is very helpful here and is happy to answer any questions you may have. The COB shares internship opportunities and has a few RSOs [student organizations] you can join.

UCA Hosts IT Careers Camp for High School Students

Thirty-five high school students from across Arkansas attended UCA’s IT Careers Camp from June 1-4, 2022. The College of Business and Acxiom partner to offer the camp, which educates students about IT careers and encourages them to continue their education beyond high school.

IT- and STEM-related activities throughout the four-day camp this year included web application development, engineering, programming, robotics, and hacking; they also connected with industry experts in a round-table discussion and visited MakerSpace and the UCA Planetarium.

Students practiced critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills as they enjoyed the UCA challenge course, escape rooms, and a capture-the-flag competition.

On the final day, students’ efforts were honored in front of parents at an awards banquet.

 

COB Alum Ebony Mitchell Crowned Miss Arkansas 2022

Ebony Mitchell, who earned a BBA in Marketing from UCA in 2019, has been crowned Miss Arkansas 2022. Winning this competition against 44 other Arkansans tops her previous titles of Miss UCA and Miss Dogwood.

Credit: Miss Arkansas Pageant

“So many of these professors who have prestigious backgrounds in whatever field they work in are willing to work with you and help you become the best version of yourself,” Mitchell said of her student experience in a 2019 interview.

With this win, Mitchell reportedly won a $30,000 scholarship and over $75,000 in other awards and gifts. Her social impact is “A Responsible Digital You,” a platform which she will promote as she travels the state supporting the Miss Arkansas and Miss America organizations.

Mitchell currently works as a marketing specialist for Conway Regional Health Systems and will represent the state of Arkansas at the Miss America event in Connecticut.