by Justin Abraham
2nd-Year MISA Student
I vividly remember countless times when I would have to explain to people what my specialization was. Most of them would respond “What the heck is MISA?” and then I would rattle off what the acronym stands for (Management Information Systems and Analytics) like a machine gun. They would then become even more perplexed because they had never heard of such a thing. This scenario happens a plethora of times and as soon as you start explaining what it is you actually do, they become bored and intimidated, and suddenly that accounting homework they have procrastinated on becomes extremely enticing to start. Even though that was a specific and maybe a bit exaggerated example, this cloud of unfamiliarity in regards to information systems is starting to vanish. Just in one year alone, I have seen first hand that people within the Ottawa community, whether it’s students, company employees, or even professors, are becoming progressively more aware of the field and the vast potential it has within the sphere of business.
There is a common misconception that MISA is strictly only for computer geeks who want to thrive in IT. But it is much more than that. Information systems and analytics is a magnificent blend of computer science and business, which in my opinion is a deadly combo to possess and is extremely applicable. This leads me to my next misconception to debunk. Numerous people have this notion that since it is associated with the phrase “computer science”, that it is too complex for them to pick up. Let me assure that this is not the case. As a student specializing in MISA, your role is essentially to discover ways where you can apply technological solutions to business problems and make operations more efficient. Of course, this is just me simplifying the role, but that is the gist of it.
Tasks could be intuitive and involve suggesting to use social media metrics for a company marketing plan or integrating a simple program within a business to compute calculations faster. But there could be times where problems may seem quite complex and involve meticulously interweaving a data system throughout an entire corporation for example. I hope you see that there are a multitude of ways that information systems can be administered and that is why in my opinion, it is the most applicable program within the Telfer School of Management. I could make the argument that regardless of your specialization, you will encounter some aspect of MISA within your future careers. I can name a few off the top of my head: automation of auditing in accounting, designing templates through HTML/CSS in regards to marketing, coding in VBA to filter client financial transactions, or even helping implement campus recruitment HR software.
Information systems can be applied to nearly every facet of business. I believe with the boom in technology and the versatility of it, MISA is becoming increasingly sought out in the job market and I think the best way to distinguish yourself from the other candidates is to become familiar with some of the associated skills and learn more about the field. Some ways I would recommend is to compete in tech-related case competitions or hackathons. These competitions may seem daunting at first, but most of them almost always welcome new and eager people. Another excellent way to learn about the field is to join the Management Information Systems Association at Telfer. They host a couple of pragmatic events where company representatives from various industries come out and talk about their jobs and potentially recruit students. Of course, hands down, an important technical skill to have is programming. There is an ocean of resources online that teach coding basics and I think it is imperative to have some knowledge in this. In conclusion, if there is one thing that you should remember and take away from reading this article, it is that MISA is on the rise and will become more prevalent in everyone’s lives.