For the third consecutive year, the last week of summer break for some of Mays’ students consisted of much more than alarm-less mornings. This year 28 management information systems undergraduates attended a three-day retreat in Navasota, Texas, to focus on leadership and team building.

With a wake up call at 7:30 a.m. and lights out at midnight, the students took full advantage of their days. The Center for the Management of Information Systems’ Leadership Retreat was an informative student getaway full of useful tips and techniques for the workplace.

A unit on team building focused on job skills ranging from communication to trust and patience. Retreat speakers addressed conflict resolution, wellness and motivational practices. Students also attended an etiquette session and visited with representatives from Dell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Anadarko. The retreat was also sponsored by OfficeMax.

Tim O. Peterson, Mays’ director of undergraduate learning assurance, stressed the importance of understanding conflict resolution in business. His primary focus was on the change in the workplace that IT professionals initiate. “You are change agents,” he instilled in them, “and employees are going to resist you.”

While the retreat’s purpose is to teach undergraduates the importance of leadership, senior Jennifer Smith said it did more than that. “When I attended the first CMIS Leadership Retreat I had not even decided if I was going to declare my major as INFO (information and operations management),” Smith said. “But they offered so much advice and encouragement that even before leaving the retreat I had decided INFO was where I wanted to be.”

Potential employers say the retreat broadens students’ perspectives—and makes them even more attractive to the workforce.

“The course work is important, but students get exposure to other aspects that really will pay dividends in their careers—teamwork, wellness, manners, networking and fun,” says Carl Wilganowski, manager of ITS Customer Service for Anadarko. “This really will differentiate you from your peers.”