Monday, November 17, 2014

$5000 scholarships/internships to improve tech diversity at Acxiom

 Getty Images from article cited herein
No doubt you heard about the big techs like Google & Apple admitting their workplace diversity is woefully lacking. Most recently Amazon joined their ranks, too. They cite a number of reasons–for one thing, the tech-related programs like Computer Science, all over the country and including our very own MIS program here at SJSU, don't attract many women, try as we might. Just doesn't happen. But we're all trying.

One great example is Acxiom. They've just announced a pretty cool program to help support groups that have been historically under-represented in the information technology workforce–they're offering five scholarships for students in MIS, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, etc.–$5000, renewable up to 1 year and they can come with paid internships on top of the cash!

I don't know that much about the company but they say they're constantly being ranked as among the best to work at and I admire their commitment to actively strive for diversity with a program like this. Definitely worth putting in your app if you meet the criteria. Check their web page describing the program, including the requirements and application processs.

Note the deadline of December 31st. $5000 would make a great start to the new year...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

web content management support internship opp for....NASA!

Yeah, this is a dream internship but not just for the obvious reasons, eg. working close by (Mountain View) at NASA with super-smart people (hey, this really IS rocket science) on an uber-cool website.

What I really love about this opportunity is this line in their posting:
“Training, documentation and expert coaching will be provided to support the intern in learning and using the NASA CMS.”
That says a lot about a workplace. It means they “get it”–that students are bright and full of energy and ability but that they're also inexperienced and can't be expected to be experts on every tool being used at the site on Day 1. They know you need training and mentoring and they’re going into it expecting to provide that and help you grow into that “star” you have the potential to be.

So unlike many postings we see go by with long lists of specific software tools they want you to know already, these guys are looking for someone good (eg. smart, reliable–see more below) who has basic web skills & familiarity and who wants to learn and do a great job. Note (below) they say Project Management knowledge (your 119a course) is a plus.

Fortunately, another SJSU MIS student had the position before and really impressed them so now that he’s moving on, they're hoping for another and that could be YOU. (If you do get the job, we're all counting on you to impress them like he did, ok? Don't let us down.)

Another great aspect is this:
“This internship position is focused on learning and using the standard NASA internet portal content management system (CMS) to upload and manage content to be posted to various pages.”
CMS's are the right way to manage real websites for real organizations. They clearly “get it” about this too and it would be a great thing to learn if you have any interest in doing this kind of work for your career.

Clearly this is a class outfit and these are good people to work for/with–good role models for you. Not surprising, given that it's NASA, but good to see it confirmed.

Now get on it. They’re eager to hire someone before Thanksgiving if at all possible, so don't hesitate. But if you really can't start that early, then apply anyway because they know it will be hard to get students at this point in the semester and they may have to wait. In any case, apply now!

Here (below) is some more info from their posting and here’s the actual posting on their site.

Note that the hiring manager explained to me that the end date is set to March for now but she actually expects to retain the position for a full year, assuming things work out.

Ok, 3...2...1....GO!
Position is located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. This internship position is focused on learning and using the standard NASA internet portal content management system (CMS) to upload and manage content to be posted to various pages . The intern will be responsible for working with ARC Staff to identify, create and /or locate content, then post, coordinate, organize and maintain the website content. Image processing and work with the CMS will be required. Training, documentation and expert coaching will be provided to support the intern in learning and using the NASA CMS. 
Requirements: Seeking a smart, reliable, responsible, well organized, adaptable intern with website development, content coordination, and image processing skills. The successful candidate needs to understand and be comfortable in learning and using web content management systems, familiar with basic HTML coding and digital image processing. Graphic design experience and skills are desired, and knowledge/awareness of advanced topics involving Engineering, Science and Project Management are a plus. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

yet another innovation opp, right here on campus

Heck if you're gonna live in Silicon Valley and deal with the astronomical rents & soul-withering traffic, you really ought to share in the benefits from the startup industry that's fueling all that craziness. You're in Silicon Valley, for Pete's sake! When I taught in New Zealand a few years back, my MBA students thought I was an astonishing super-hero when they heard I was from here. Seriously–just cuz I was from here.

There are tons of ways to work your way into the innovation industry here or to just learn about it which is fascinating, fun and will impress any/every hiring manager you ever interview with. They love to hear you have a passion for the technology and the intellectual curiosity to pursue opportunities like...
  • the IBM Smart Camp tomorrow night (posted last week here), 
  • the Salesforce Workshop this Friday (posted here–few tickets left, register now), and...

This is an SJSU event that gives students a chance to develop their startup ideas and show them off. It's a competition and there's pretty big money ($10k) for the winner but the really big money comes from the VC's if you develop a good enough "Elevator Pitch" and really get funded.

Hey, it does happen. And I just heard yesterday that the VC funding level here is now surpassing the crazy high record level it hit back in the dot-com boom days. I think they said $19B and counting. (Yeah, that's with a "B".)

Anyway, it's too late to enter for this year but next Wednesday, the 19th, between 9 & 5 pm you can circulate around the Student Union Ballroom to check out the finalists' poster tables and hear their pitches. (This is where you get like 60 seconds to explain your idea and convince someone it's worth throwing money at. You have to hone it to make every syllable count.) There's even Elevator Pitch Competition at 3pm. Worth a look, for sure.

I heard an amazing elevator pitch story a few weeks ago on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny.


At 24:00 into "The New Age of Podcasts", Alex Bloomberg, the producer of "This Amercian Life" (my all-time favorite show) tells how he pitching his new podcasting startup idea to a VC here in SV. It was his first try and he didn't know what he was doing. After awhile the VC stopped him and gave Alex the pitch he said he should have given. It's quite amazing. Being a radio guy, Alex recorded it and it really is worth a listen, especially if you think you might ever try this yourself, but also if not.

Anyway, there's a list of all the ideas being pitched here. Some sounds really crazy. Some sound very cool & I want to invest in them myself if I wasn't an impoverished professor. Oh well. Maybe you should give it a try?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

MIS Career Edge back in spring - Salesforce preview 11/14

Everyone's favorite Yogi Berra quote comes to mind immediately - “It's like deja vu all over again.”

If you've been a student with us since spring of 2011, well, you're very...deliberate. And rare. The vast majority of current MIS students weren't here when we did this last so just trust me when I say you want to keep your Friday afternoons open for spring term–we're reviving the free, smash hit MIS Career Edge series and you're not gonna want to miss a single session.

MIS Career Edge is a series of “tune-up/enrichment” sessions designed to:
  1. help MIS students refresh what they learned in MIS classes they already took and 
  2. expose them to new, hot tech topics we couldn't fit into the MIS classes at all.
The series is aimed primarily at graduating seniors as a way to maximize their marketability to employers, so they get first priority. But last time we ran these there was leftover space for other MIS students too and even some recent grads caught wind of it and came back for some tuning up. But space is limited and registration is mandatory for each session you wish to attend.

These sessions are free. They run 1-4pm on Friday afternoons in one of the innovation labs in the BBC so there is a definite hands-on orientation. We want you doing stuff, not just sitting there listening. 

Last time we had refreshers on courses like 111, 112, 110b, etc. and intro workshops on Linux, Python, HTML5 and even a participatory session from an external biz communication consultant on how to interact effectively with professional colleagues. This time we're thrilled to add a new ingredient–a benevolent organization of local CIOs is getting involved to help with speakers, topics, etc. so we're guaranteed to feature the knowledge and skill sets employers are looking for today.

We're just putting the program together now but next week, 11/14, there's a preview session, a hands-on workshop on building mobile apps with Salesforce. Yeah, you read that right. Amazed? If not, you should be. Check out my recent posting about their user conference, Dreamforce. They're on a major tear in the CRM and enterprise systems industry right now, in case you didn't know, and chances are excellent that you'll be touching their systems somehow when you're out there in your job. In other words, this is a can't miss session. For sure.

But space is limited and you must register here to get in. It's going to sell out. Don't wait. But note: registered no-shows without a valid excuse will be blocked from registration for future sessions.

The spring sessions will be announced over around the beginning of the semester. Keep an eye out here. In the meantime, save the dates! (BTW, we will try to capture and make available video of the sessions for those that can't attend.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

free IBM “smart camp” on startups next week in SF

If you're into startups (or even if you're not), this would be a smart way to spend your evening on the 13th. Our IBM Academic Alliance liaison asked us to invite you to this free “SmartCamp” event they're holding up in SF to:
  • “hear from the best and brightest startups as they present their business models in six minute pitches and describe how their innovative solutions will make our planet smarter, 
  • gain insights from fascinating speakers on the topics of entrepreneurship, investment and more,
  • listen as successful startups from the Global Entrepreneur program tell their stories, and
  • network with entrepreneurs, academic institutions, industry thought leaders, entrepreneurial organizations, angel investors, venture capitalists, representatives from governmental institutions and others who share a passionate for entrepreneurship.”
Silicon Valley is the startup epicenter of the world and IBM is a heavyweight in the industry. There's no way this won't be an awesome experience for anyone who shows up.

Here's the agenda:

5:00    Registration & Networking with wine
6:00    Welcome
6:15    Finalist Presentations    
7:30    Networking Break with wine & food
8:00    External Keynote Gus Tai from Trinity Ventures; "Emotional Design"
8:40    Announce Winners moving onto SmartCamp Global Finals

Note the frequent appearance of the word “wine”. Even if you're not drinking, the guys with the big $ will be....< wink, wink >

Go here now (to sign up).

Then go here next Thursday:

The Regency Center & Warfield
Sutter Room
1270 Sutter Street, San Francisco

You can take Caltrain to the SF station and take the 47 bus to Sutter & Van Ness or drive up to Millbrae BART, take it to 16th & Mission and ride the 49 bus to Sutter & Van Ness. 

Don't let these opportunities keep passing you by. Get out there and be part of the Silicon Valley innovation scene. It'll be worth it, even if you never work in a startup, cuz you'll be expanding your horizons, experiencing something amazing, something people in the rest of the world could only dream of, and you'll learn.

For questions or more information, please contact Pam Sparks at

living the dreamforce

Salesforce running their stuff across a giant iMac, iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad
And I thought MY iPhone 6 was big! Take a look at the one behind the Salesforce dude! (Guess that's the 6 Plus, Plus.)

A couple of weeks ago I finally made it to the Salesforce annual users' conference, Dreamforce, for the first time and came away with a few pics of the madness, some random impressions and some hopefully noteworthy takeaways–

First, these events really are totally mad. They had 125,000 people show up for the thing. San Francisco was crawling with them everywhere. Rooms at hotels like the Hilton were going for $800/night, minimum. Uber was charging triple. Bruno Mars & played one night but I was too worn out to care by then.

But I got it. Salesforce is a formidable force, indeed, and sure seems to be on a big, big roll. I saw where they were putting up what will be the tallest building on the west coast a couple of blocks from Moscone. Not surpirsing really, given their momentum. Worth keeping a eye on for sure.

What else? Big emphasis on running across device platforms. Lots of talk about running your business from your phone or, the latest–“running your business from your watch.”

Big emphasis on Internet of Things (IoT) too. All kinds of demos of “things” integrated into the SF platform. Loved this inspection robot, for example:

I love how it seems like some kind of animal or person, craning their neck to get a good look here and there.

The major Salesforce announcement was Wave, their new data analytics tool. They played it up with a tropical theme and had the Beach Boys play during the keynote when they unveiled it–

It does look really cool–the name comes from how you can switch to different visualizations of the same data & the columns of the bar chart, for example, slide over and morph into the segments of a pie chart, or whatever. Guess you have to see it.

At one point, one of the speakers ordered a Coke on his phone and the video screens showed a guy in Coke's SF distribution center attaching some cans to a drone. The video showed the drone fly out, down Market Street, into Moscone, down the escalator and then the doors burst open and the drone flew over our heads and delivered the Coke to the guy on stage. Crazy.

Later on I saw how to create apps for Google Glass. While we watched, they coded one for a company that makes high-end label printers that businesses use. The app would be used by repair guys. When they looked at the serial number on the back, Glass would read it, look it up in the database and use the features & history show them stuff while they were working with both hands. Pretty nifty.

Coolest thing was the Occulus Rift, though I didn't get to try it out myself. (Line was too long–rats!) Anyway, in the pic you can see a couple of people sitting there wearing the goggles, manipulating the virtual 3-D globe in front of their eyes. The screen shows a 2-D version of what they're seeing - some kind of customer demographics fed from Salesforce that they could explore by turning and touching the globe. I want one. Now.

There were something like 2000 sessions over the 4 days of the conference. I missed one or two. But I saw some that were super-useful & learned a ton. One of the best was on the current state of the “social business” trend. Salesforce is big on this–they've integrated this “Chatter” feature that lets you create a discussion with your colleagues on any record or field in the database, so you can get fast advice, buy-in, etc from your team on the price that you're negotiating with a customer on one of your products, for example. 

Anyway, the guy presenting the social business trends session was Alan Lepofsky. He works as a consultant at Constellation Research in Toronto. I learned a ton from him in like 50 minutes so you might want to check out his blog where he recently posted a much more detailed and informative reflection on Dreamforce takeaways. Looks like there's a lot of other good stuff there so check it out. He did post his slides from the talk which you might want to browse if you're interested in social media at all:
Bottom line–this took a big chunk out of my schedule and put me way behind on work, sleep, etc from which I'm still recovering, but it was totally worth it cuz it was mind-boggling, crazy, memorable and a really valuable experience. If you went too, post your takeaways here. If not, think about going to these kinds of events. There's a bunch around here and they almost always have free passes that let you in to a lot of the stuff so you can still learn and have something cool to talk about in a job interview. I'm tellin ya.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kaiser's leading edge again with new MIS career opp

If you've been reading this blog much, you've seen a bunch of postings about opportunities at Kaiser Permanente and you know how impressed I am with them as a place for MIS types to do really exciting work. They've been hiring a bunch of SJSU students & grads for both internships and full time jobs–more and more in the recent years–and one of our liaisons there, Luke Scanlon, recently told me about a pretty awesome-sounding new program they're recruiting for now.

It's a brand new, two-year training program out of their Pleasanton location in which the new hires are mentored through four 6-month rotations in various areas of Kaiser's IT organization, learning new skills and exploring a variety of different career paths as they go. Seriously, there are not too many companies offering this–Google is one but I don't see this very often–and it really shows some thoughtfulness and dedication to developing new hires which tells me the place is seriously valuing them, serious about welcoming, nurturing and retaining their talent for the long term. That's the way it should be everywhere but it's not so when you do come across it, you should be all over it. 

It covers very cool stuff within their Chief Technology Office, dedicated to "advancing technological innovation throughout KP" through:
  • Strategic Platforms (such as cloud computing and mobile devices)
  • Enterprise Architecture 
  • Data Management
  • Advanced analytics and Data Science
  • Application Management and improvement
Luke says they're interviewing now for two cohorts, the first one starting 1/12/15 with the 2nd scheduled for summer 2015, so whether you're graduating this December or next May, you should get in on this right now. Go!