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By Alexis Santa Cruz

Alexis Santa Cruz was among the five MIS undergraduates who hit the Beltway this June for a study tour coordinated by Bill Neumann, director of MIS undergraduate programs, and Allison Bacalia, MIS career coordinator. The students learned firsthand how information systems contributes to every branch of our government, from the Executive Office of the President to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.

The Washington D.C trip was an amazing experience. From all the business meetings to seeing the monuments and more, the trip in all was fascinating. Meeting MIS alumni really opened my eyes as to the opportunities I have with a MIS degree.

Meeting Dr. Alissa Johnson [Deputy CIO, Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President] was also an incredible opportunity. She gave very insightful advice to us, which I believe will be helpful in the future. One of the things she told us was, “If you aren’t nervous going into your job interview or something new that interests you, then it isn’t right for you.” I think she impressed me the most not because of her high education level but she really knows how to speak to any audience. When I left her office I was just in awe.

Bill Neumann and students take a break from the Segway tour for a Capitol photo opp.

Bill Neumann and students take a break from the Segway tour for a Capitol photo opp.
Photo courtesy Alexis Santa Cruz.

Throughout all the business meetings, I learned that a MIS job will never be boring. I also learned that an MIS degree will take you far. Each person who spoke to us told us about how they learned a set of skills then would be hired for a new job using those skills and then build up more skills for another new job. They were being hired for interesting work because of their experience, not because they were necessarily the manager.

The Library of Congress was one of my favorite places. The building was extraordinarily beautiful. After we were given a small tour of the building we had a meeting with the IT team.

We went on a Segway tour and the U.S. Capitol was one of our stops. There was a high number of security  at the White House because a president from another country was visiting at the same time we were there. Dr. Johnson gave us a tour and we were able to see the West Wing and were very close to the White House. There was a guard standing outside the West Wing and Dr. Johnson informed us that if the guard was standing outside the door then that meant the President was there. It was very cool that we were so close to the building the President was in.

We also visited Arlington Cemetery, where there are about 260,000 military gravesites. Not only are military figures buried here, but also George Washington, Edward Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Robert Todd Lincoln and William Howard Taft. We had a meeting with the cemetery’s IT team who in about eight months had transformed all their paper documents into database system. Each site records the person’s name, date of birth, the site “address,” and a number. In a matter of eight months everything was in their database system. Now, if one wants to search for his or her loved one if is much easier to find. The site, app, and the kiosk located in the information building give routes for finding the grave you want, show pictures and give information. To me I was very impressed on how much they got done in so little time.

Top photo courtesy Alexis Santa Cruz.