Management information systems added to STEM major


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Beardshear Hall in September 2016.

Mia Wang

The management information systems major at Iowa State was added to the STEM category last week, giving students–especially international ones–more flexibility on job hunting.

In most cases, international students have a one-year training opportunity in a full-time job position before they are required to apply for a work visa. Often, one year is not enough for employers to train, evaluate and eventually sponsor an international student’s work visa.

Anne Benning, human resources team leader of Viafield, said her company has had an international student working as an intern but has never employed any international students for full-time positions.

“We actually wanted to keep that student, but apparently, there is a limit,” Benning said. “I know there is a procedure, but by the time we get the students, and we like them, and we want them to stay, the deadline has already passed.”

If students graduate from majors in science, technology, engineering or mathematics(STEM), they have a two-year extension, which grants them a three-year total training period.

Majors like computer science, chemistry, physics or engineering, naturally belong to STEM majors. But other majors that require students to do similar tasks are not categorized as STEM at Iowa State, such as management information systems.

Tushar Sharma, senior in management information systems, said he has been under “extreme pressure” in the past few weeks, because he must find a full-time job within two months after graduation, or he will have to go back to India.

“It’s already hard enough for international students to find jobs because of the time and money companies have to invest on work visa sponsorship,” Sharma said. “When you add on the one-year-only training time, even fewer companies want to hire us. One year is just too short for them to make the decision.”

However, Sharma will have more time to find a job after graduation, because last week the management information systems major has been added to the STEM category.

Jackie Rees Ulmer, associate dean for undergraduate programs, is the person behind this change. She said this will motivate more companies to offer work visa sponsorship to international students.

“We are always looking at our majors, and we think it’s a great opportunity for international students to gain more work experience,” Ulmer said. “Our economy in Iowa needs educated people for the workforce. The change will help both international students and regional employers.”

Sharma said the management information systems major’s graduate program already belongs to STEM at Iowa State, so it’s time for undergraduate students to have the same treatment.

“I only have one chance a year to apply for the work visa, before I only have one opportunity to do that. Now if I don’t get it the first year, I’ll have two more shots,” Sharma said. “Even after three years I still didn’t have the work visa, I would have so much work experience. I can just go to another country or go back home because I’ll be happy then.”

Rees Ulmer said the other major she and her colleagues are considering adding to STEM is business analytics, and one of the incoming majors, actuarial science, will also be STEM.