Building a globally focused career

Building a globally focused career

Katarzyna “Kasia” Plawiak entered and won a highly competitive scholarship competition in Poland, offered by the Wasie Foundation, the Gostomski Family Foundation, and Saint Mary’s University. The six-month process involved writing an essay, making a presentation, and an interview. First prize was a full scholarship to attend Saint Mary’s. “First prize was really amazing,” she said. The Computer Science and International Business double-major hasn’t wasted any time since arriving in the U.S. “I studied international business two years in Poland,” she said. “When I was choosing my career path, it was a few years after Poland entered the European Union. From a global aspect, I could see changes that had occurred in my own country. I thought this major would lead to a good job that would involve travel, seeing the world, and meeting new people. Businesses want people who are able to work in a global environment.” For her second major, Plawiak said she knew that business and technology were tightly interrelated. “Technology impacts business to a large extent,” she said. “These two majors teach problem solving, critical thinking, data analysis, and creativity. The opportunities are endless. And I saw many pathways for my career.” Plawiak put the knowledge she has acquired to work this past summer as an application developer for J.P. Morgan in Chicago, where she worked on software solutions for big clients. “Internships are a practical implementation of knowledge,” she said. “And employers are not only looking at your GPA, they are interested in hearing about your practical training. I met great people during my internship,” Plawiak said. “It was a great learning experience. It...
Using education to make an impact

Using education to make an impact

Jamal Akubar wasn’t sure he’d be able to juggle everything if he went back to school. He was working two jobs and was newly married. But once he began pursuing his bachelor’s degree completion program in accounting at Saint Mary’s, he realized work and school could coexist, and the two benefit one another. Almost immediately, Akubar found he could apply what he was learning in class at work. “At the Abubakar As-Sadique Islamic Center, we run a great Islamic school where kids come in on the weekend and learn. But it goes through a lot of change, and every couple years they change the program director. Taking the Organizational Change course at Saint Mary’s helped me deal with leadership change,” Akubar said, “and it helped me adapt to new leaders and new ways of managing work flow.” His Saint Mary’s education was directly applicable at Akubar’s other job at the Hennepin County Library System as well. He enjoyed helping library patrons learn how to better use the features of the computer systems, such as the job search function. The communication and ethics courses at Saint Mary’s, along with his bilingual skills, helped Akubar become the de facto bridge between the library and the Somalian refugees who needed help using the computers. “Library systems in Africa and the United States are not the same,” Akubar said. “This country offers a lot more. We don’t have any large public libraries in Somalia, and people didn’t use the few libraries we had. The Hennepin County Library offers more programs and support beyond the traditional book system, like help with résumé building, homework,...
Entrepreneurs dream together at Kabara event

Entrepreneurs dream together at Kabara event

In an age of smart phones for the masses and ever-increasing connectivity, the Internet of Things (IOT) is a timely topic. The Saint Mary’s University Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies celebrated this rising technology and discussed its entrepreneurial aspects before a crowd of 140 people at “The Internet of Things: A Profile of Minnesota Entrepreneurs, Devices, and Their Impact,” held April 16 on the university’s Twin Cities Campus in Minneapolis. The definition of IOT can get extremely technical, but a panel of Minnesota IOT experts and entrepreneurs boiled it down to a very simple phrase: “making dumb items smart.” The potential for connectivity between devices goes far beyond phones and computers to exercise equipment, washing machines, thermostats, agriculture equipment, healthcare applications, and more. Business opportunities aren’t limited to large corporations, according to the panel that included: -Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO, Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) -Lois Josefson, Principal, Greater Minnesota Development Services, LLC, and Executive Director, TiE Minnesota -Rodney Landers, Inventor, Serial Entrepreneur, and IOT Veteran -Scott Schwalbe, CEO, NimbeLink -and moderator Rick Brimacomb, Founder, Brimacomb and Associates The entrepreneurial spirit of the Kabara Institute was present as the panel discussed their ideas and advice to a public audience that ranged from colleagues, educators, and business hopefuls, including a number of current Saint Mary’s University undergraduate and graduate students. “You don’t need to be a ‘techie’ or a ‘geek’ to have a dream or an idea and make it happen,” said a panelist. “You only need an idea and perhaps some business savvy. Big companies are providing resources in the IOT industry, but so can smaller companies.”...
The Internet of Things: Exhibition and Discussion

The Internet of Things: Exhibition and Discussion

Interested in innovation and future technology? If so, plan on attending “The Internet of Things (IOT): A Profile of Minnesota Entrepreneurs, Devices, and Their Impact” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the Saint Mary’s University Twin Cities Campus in the Saint Mary’s University Center, 2540 Park Avenue, Minneapolis. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested at www.smumn.edu/IOTevent. All are invited to this evening exploration of IOT. The event will include a moderated panel discussion, along with an exhibit fair featuring IOT devices, technology, and information from Minnesota entrepreneurs and IOT-related organizations. A networking of objects through the use of embedded sensors, this technology is predicted to have a vast impact on the economy and affect a variety of industries. In fact, IOT is already changing the way we connect, live, work, and play. Additional event details: 5:30 p.m.: Registration, Networking, Exhibit Fair, and Refreshments 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Welcome, Moderated Panel, and Q&A Moderator: Rick Brimacomb, Founder, Brimacomb and Associates Panelists: Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO, Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) Lois Josefson, Principal, Greater Minnesota Development Services, LLC, and Executive Director, TiE Minnesota Rodney Landers, Inventor, Serial Entrepreneur, and IOT Veteran Scott Schwalbe, CEO, NimbeLink Exhibitors: A variety of IOT technologies, devices, and information will be showcased. Exhibitors include Verizon, NimbeLink, Exosite, Club Entrepreneur, and others. This event is sponsored by the Saint Mary’s University Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. The Kabara Institute aims to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the importance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in our society; to incite a passion for an entrepreneurial spirit...
Hegland’s start-up business opens window of opportunities

Hegland’s start-up business opens window of opportunities

Peter Hegland had no idea when he began a window-washing business two years ago how much it would open a window into the world of entrepreneurship. By talking about his start-up business, the finance and entrepreneurship major from St. Charles earned an opportunity to compete in the national Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA) competition in Miami this November. Hegland was originally recruited to apply for a regional competition after key words like “entrepreneur” in his LinkedIn profile drew attention of a member of The Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which hosts the competition. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a dynamic, global network of more than 10,000 business owners in 46 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, the organization is a catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other. Hegland’s LinkedIn profile lists himself as a student entrepreneur and details his involvement as owner and operator of Hegland Window Cleaning, as well as a lengthy number of activities, including Saint Mary’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Envision Club. Hegland began his window cleaning business after discovering he was too young, at 17, to purchase a window-cleaning franchise. Two months after he turned 18, he thought, “I’ll just go ahead and start my own.” “I figured I’d learn a lot more running my own business than by working for someone else,” he said. Hegland Window Cleaning now includes about 130 residential clients, primarily within Rochester and the surrounding communities. Besides washing windows, he also cleans gutters and screens. He works throughout the summer months and into the fall as a way to supplement his income through the college...
Algren solves mysteries of complex data

Algren solves mysteries of complex data

Zach Algren, a double major in Accounting and Business Intelligence and Analytics, plays with numbers for fun. The Prior Lake, Minn., native decided to major in accounting when he discovered that the coursework came easily to him. “And I thought it would be important to know accounting, with anything I did in business,” he said. His junior year he began taking classes revolving around business intelligence, analytics, and data mining. And Algren fell into a deep fascination with manipulating data. “I like crafting numbers and letters into actual information you can use in business,” he said. “I enjoy playing in Excel for fun, but I want to learn more about Microsoft SQL Server and R (an open-source “software environment” that is used primarily for statistical analysis), MicroStrategy, and geomapping. I’m a big geek that way.” In summer of 2014, Algren worked as an assistant data research analyst for Fastenal, North America’s largest fastener distributor, based in Winona. He has used data analysis to compare performance of different Fastenal stores. “I want to be in an environment where people are fun to be with and have a strong work ethic,” he said. “I’d like to be more involved with working with data and solving problems than accounting. Working with data doesn’t seem like work to me. It’s like solving an interesting mystery or jigsaw puzzle.” For one of his data analytics classes, Algren and a partner (Steven Mills) decided to see if they could predict crime based on the weather. Although it didn’t turn out quite as they expected, they did successfully create a housing retail app. The pair took...
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