Kristin MacKenzie '13, September 28th, 2011
Canoeing, campfires, ropes courses, S’mores â€” words that aren’t immediately associated with the Mays Business School Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS). However, for the eighth year in a row, the CMIS program has proven that technology and the outdoors go hand in hand through its annual leadership retreat held at Camp Allen in Navasota.
This year, 30 undergraduate Department of Information and Operations Management (INFO) students attended the retreat, where they participated in a variety of activities ranging from business etiquette workshops to ice cream socials.
Students who attend the CMIS Leadership Retreat participated in outdoor activities designed to build their teamwork skills, such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges.
The purpose of the retreat centers on the importance of leadership techniques and how they translate in the professional world. Students participate in conflict resolution and personal managing sessions, where they are able to assess their own leadership style and learn how to effectively apply it to the workplace. Numerous guest speakers share on topics including real-world finances and crossing cultural boundaries.
Additionally, corporate representatives from around Texas come and meet with the students, offering career advice and real-world insight.
“It’s a relaxed way for companies to meet with some of the students over dinner,” says Randy Blaschke ’84, senior IT manager with HP. “Students ask questions about the career opportunities that are out there and we have casual conversation about which opportunities align with their capabilities.”
This is Blaschke’s second year at the retreat, although he’s been involved with CMIS for eight. He is consistently impressed with the students who attend, adding, “I like the ambition that I see in these kids.”
Jennifer Smith ’07, ITS analyst for Anadarko Petroleum, attended the 2011 retreat as a corporate representative. She attended the first four retreats (2004-2007) as a student.
“The setting is very casual, so it gives students an opportunity to ask for career advice, about the transition from college to corporate life, and for information about the companies at which we work,” says Smith.
MIS student Kaleigh Morgan ’12 also appreciated the casual environment, saying it was a great way to meet and talk with the corporate reps “without the pressure of trying to score a job or interview.”
But the retreat isn’t all leadership workshops and career-centered talk.
Students who attend the retreat also participate in outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges. The activities are designed to build teamwork amongst the students, many of whom will work together on group projects throughout their time at Mays.
The CMIS leadership retreat has a long-standing history of preparing students for leadership roles in the information technology field. Not only do the students gain invaluable knowledge regarding their personal strengths and career options, they also establish friendships amongst peers who share common interests.
Morgan sums it up this way: “I think it was a great experience to not only get to know other people within my major and recruiters, but also to spend some time figuring out where my strengths lie as a member of the group, which is definitely something I’ll be discussing in my upcoming interviews this year.”