Dr. Jerry Chin has high hopes for his students. In fact, he thinks some of them may go on to lead entire companies. “If you’ve ever said to yourself: ‘Gee, I want to be a CEO one day’ — well, you have to start someplace! Computers are now simply a huge part of the business culture, so CEOs are now being hired out of the computer information systems field. This is a major that carries a lot of weight.”
Q: The College of Business Administration at Missouri State has a reputation for producing great graduates. What role do you think teaching has in this reputation?
A: Teaching is a question of personality, just like learning is for a student. Some students prefer listening and discussing; some want to take plenty of notes; some want to do hands-on activities. We have as many teaching styles as we have professors, so each student can find a learning style that fits him or her. One thing all of our professors have in common: They make sure the courses are rigorous enough that the students are truly prepared. If the classes are too easy, students may like that at first — but it backfires on them later. Once a school gets that kind of reputation, companies won’t hire their graduates because the students are not good at their jobs. All of our professors are highly qualified. More than 80 percent of them have doctorates, and most have real-life experience in their fields.
Q: You are the head of the computer information systems, or CIS, department. What is this field?
A: When I say “CIS” to high school students, they usually say “what?” I have had people jokingly say it’s a virus, a chemical or a branch of the CIA. There’s two ways to study computers on the Missouri State campus: Either you go the CIS route through the business college, or you study computer science through the science college. The difference between the two is curriculum. The science field has calculus, physics and chemistry. We’re business: accounting, marketing, management. Computer information systems studies are not about hardware; our graduates don’t build computers. Instead, they figure out how a company can best use computers as a business tool. For example, they may set up computer systems to track inventory, manage sales or keep track of payroll. Our graduates also make sure technology suits their company’s needs and works reliably.
Q: Why is Missouri State a great choice for students interested in business fields such as computer information systems?
A: Our College of Business Administration has a prestigious reputation. It is the largest college of business in Missouri and surrounding states. The college is also accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. This is an accomplishment shared by fewer than 5 percent of the more than 11,000 business schools in the world. It means this school is able to continuously pass a strict set of standards. We also have a career and advisement center just for business students. The center can help you prepare for interviews and set up meetings with potential employers.
Q: How are computer information systems students at MSU prepared for the real world?
A: You will be highly recommended to do an internship, and we help you find those opportunities. Internships give you honest-to-goodness previews of what working in your field is going to be like. They also help you get jobs. The trend is that companies hire people out of their internship pool — when a company sees you’re good, they don’t want to let you get away! Students with good grade point averages who have completed an internship almost always get job offers. In addition, we have job fairs on a regular basis so you can network with representatives from many different kinds of companies.
Q: What other advantages does Missouri State offer?
A: We have a student chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. Students get together outside of class to eat pizza and hear presentations by professionals in this field. Any student can drop by these meetings to learn more. We’re open, just come on in!