USU student business group gets real-world experience
Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, November 14, 2013 00:11
The Business Intelligence Group is an organization within the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business that gives students high rate of job placement upon graduation.
David Olsen, department head for management information systems, started the BI Group four years ago. It is not for credit and members are not paid. Students in the group are interested in business intelligence, tools and techniques for analyzing data.
The group looks for non-obvious correlations like a project future or customer loyalty. Some groups try to get free available stock market data, Olsen said.
“I've been in the business intelligence group for a little over a year,” said Chad Williams, a senior in accounting. “Right now I am the project manager for analyzing data from Backcountry.com. Backcountry.com is a Park City-based company that sells quality camping and outdoor equipment online all over the United States. We are trying help them recognize purchasing patterns for the purpose of increasing customer loyalty. We have done things like figure out what customers purchase at the same time. We figure out what influences a customer to come back to a website.”
For Meghan Lewis, a master’s student in MIS, the BI Group gives her opportunities to put the knowledge learned in class to use.
“Being a member of the BI Group has given me the opportunity to meet and work with professionals from companies such as Backcountry.com and Conservice,” Lewis said. “It has been useful to have the opportunity to apply the concepts learned in classes to real-life data and to learn new business intelligence and data analytic techniques.”
“Students that actively participate have a higher job placement and more job offers,” Olsen said. “They usually make $10,000 more in starting salary. That’s kind of a big deal.”
Williams said he was in a recent job interview and was able to talk about his business intelligence experience.
“The interviewer didn't ask about my previous internship as a manager, my involvement with campus activities or grades from classes,” Williams said. “Out of all the accomplishments on my resume, the interviewer only wanted to talk about my experience in the business intelligence club. My experience with the Business Intelligence Group gave me a great competitive advantage in the interview. It is a shame most students fail to recognize how great of an opportunity they are passing up by not participating in clubs like the BI Group.”
There are about 10 to 11 people in the BI group with subgroups of three or four who work on a project. There have been more female students over the years, which is good for them because they can get jobs in MIS that are flexible, are high-paying and allow them to live in different places, Olsen said.
“Business intelligence transforms large amounts of large data into meaning and useful information for businesses,” Williams said. “A lot of people hear words like data or computers and tune out. Computers and data are part of what we use, but business intelligence has much more depth. I love business intelligence because it focuses on answering important questions managers have always wanted to know. Business intelligence allows me to make important business decisions.”
“Through the contacts I met during the BI Group, I was invited to participate in a 24-hour All-Women's Hackathon at the Backcountry.com offices in Park City last March,” Lewis said. “I put together a group of four current and former USU students, and our team took first place in our category of the competition.”