4 Insider Tips to Succeed in Eller

PDC Staff Student Stories

Brek ThompsonThe Ultimate Guide to Surviving Your First Semester in the Cohort

By:  Brek Thompson, a second semester Eller MIS student

  1. Manage your time – organization is key!
  • Read ahead. It’s nearly impossible to do all the readings, for every class, all semester, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them. The pressure builds as the weeks pass, so read ahead now. You will be grateful later as group work and complex deliverables are assigned. Assess what classes are more difficult for you and stay on top of readings. For the classes that come a little easier, at least review the chapter’s key concepts and the glossary for each chapter.
  • Take notes in every class for every lecture and try very hard not to miss class. For note taking, use a program like Microsoft One Note or Evernote. In MIS331 class you are required to draw diagrams, so taking notes by hand is generally better for this. Many professors will release PowerPoint slides ahead of class, so use them to take notes prior to class then add more during lecture.
  • Organize your time. Use iCal, Google Calendars or another calendar application to track assignment due dates and other obligations. Remember, organization is key to being successful in your academic and professional life.
  1. Be a good team member
  • Working with teams can be very challenging. Be familiar with Google Drive and how to create/share documents. Keep your Google Drive organized with folders for different classes and teams (you’ll be grateful you stayed organized as the semester progresses).
  • Take on a leadership role. You will encounter a few kinds of team members: slackers; leaders; and people who think they know it all. Set a good example and also hold all team members accountable for their work. Speak up and contribute ideas, but also explicitly ask your quieter teammates what they can contribute and support them in contributing (even when you don’t like their ideas). Arrive on time to team meetings and expect the same of others.
  • Collaborate with a smart-phone app like Asana, Slack or Trello to communicate, assign tasks and track progress on your projects. I am a big fan of Asana because it can be integrated with other useful applications like Instagantt and Chrome extension.
  • Schedule team meetings to work together but make sure you have an agenda and specific tasks and goals. Without an agenda meetings become a social hour. Contributing work independently through Google Drive may work, but some team members will wait until the last minute and then contribute subpar work. Meeting in person and accomplishing work together will help alleviate this slacker tendency.
  • Above all, do not be a slacker yourself. Communicate clearly about expectations for quality of work and what behavior is unacceptable in your team. My groups made a statement of values and work ethic that we all agreed to at our first meeting. This made expectations clear and allowed us to work effectively and with less stress than other teams I observed.
  1. Get Career Ready – Your graduation date is closer than you think
  • Subscribe to Wild Cat JobLink and keep your resume updated. I found on-campus employment through this site that relates to my major.
  • Complete your esms profile and keep it updated. I received a scholarship and had recruiters take me to a dinner with other students because my esms profile stated that I was interested in their industry.
  • Job fairs are great places to shake hands and talk to recruiters. Companies that will be at the fairs can be found through Wildcat JobLink. Verify the type of internships/employment opportunities they are offering before speaking with them.
  • Take advantage of the Eller Professional Development center. Get to know your Career Coach. Nancy is an excellent career coach and she lets me know when she has heard of an opportunity. This is because I have made sure to connect with Nancy and made sure she knows my face and name.
  • Make an effort to network in person and connect on LinkedIn. I also create profiles on companies’ career websites and employer review sites like Glassdoor to help me understand more about a company’s culture, employee happiness and details for full-time positions I am interested in.
  • Join a club. I am a member of the Management Information System Association (MISA). MISA has information sessions with company representatives to network and learn about employment.
  1. Be prepared and be kind 

  • Ambiguity (doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention) is something you will encounter continually at Eller and in the workforce. Professors can offer some assistance but you will be mostly left to research and find answers and make decisions on your own and in your groups. When in doubt, Google it.
  • Finally, your most valuable resources are your peers. Be kind to each other and offer help if you can. Create a study group and help each other be successful.