A former chief information officer for Dell Computers says that if you want to hire good information technology people, hire them right out of college and hire them from colleges "such as Fort Hays State University."
Jerry Gregoire, former chief information officer at Dell Computers and PepsiCo, addressed hiring issues in his Jan. 7 column in CIO Magazine. His column (and the blog on the CIO Magazine Web site) is addressed to a reading audience of current computer and information technology managers.
In "Conditionally Human," he had this advice for practicing managers: "Make it a point to do most of your recruiting at small and/or lesser known colleges and universities such as Fort Hays State University, Park University, St. Edwards University and Canisius College."
"The most successful candidates we ever hired out of our college recruiting program at PepsiCo came from small, and/or rural colleges like Fort Hays State," said Gregoire. "These kids had a great work ethic, were delighted to find a job, were delighted to find a job where they could wear a tie instead of rubber boots."
One person who read this column with understandable pleasure but no surprise was Dr. Mark Bannister, chair of FHSU's Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications.
"We have alumni working across the country in brand-name companies and companies that no one has heard of," said Bannister. "I tend to get the same feedback from employers. That feedback is: 'We love your kids. We want more of them!'
"We have Fort Hays State INT alumni at Cisco, Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, Cerner, AT&T, Berbee and many other top-shelf national companies as well as very progressive regional companies such as Nex-Tech, Eagle Communications and United Telephone.”
Recently, he said, the head of human resources at a fast-growing IT consulting company sought a conference call specifically to ask, "What is it that Fort Hays State University is doing that other universities are not?" His company had recently hired four INT graduates from FHSU.
"Our strategy is simple," said Bannister. "We start with excellent faculty, quality labs and equipment and then constantly ask employers for advice on what we should be teaching and where the IT industry is going."
"This does not always make life easy," he said. "We are currently having to abandon courses that were state-of-the-art five years ago and we must create new courses."
"We usually recruit students who are excited about technology and enjoy adapting it to their own needs," said Kevin Shaffer, associate professor of INT at Fort Hays State. "Our role is to channel that energy and ability so that when they graduate they can do valuable things for employers or they are able to start their own businesses."
Angela Walters, assistant professor, agreed. "Whether they are farm kids or suburban kids, we tend to attract students with a can-do attitude," she said. "Our goal is to make life-long learners who are technologically literate.”
The INT faculty at FHSU are not new to this kind of limelight, said Bannister.
"Last summer, the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications received an international award from Cisco Systems for its effective partnerships with industry," he said.