We provide training for some of the nation's fastest growing fields
For a class project, Brett McCormick and his classmate Kyle Taylor built an Android app that tracked buses -- so people riding the bus could see the bus's location in real time.
And that helped launch McCormick's career, he says.
"The project I worked on at UNT is what got me my job," says McCormick, who rose from an intern to a full-time Android developer at Addison-based Bottle Rocket, a full-service app development company. "It was a huge part of my portfolio while I was going through the interview."
McCormick's education in UNT's College of Engineering prepared him for the popular field of IT. And IT is just one of the areas rated as the hottest careers in the next five years by Dan Naegeli, executive director of Career and Leadership Development at UNT, who stays in close contact with company recruiters and CEOs looking for workers. Some of the hottest careers that can be started at UNT include:
- Information technology
- Financial services
- Digital retailing/online marketing
McCormick and other alumni say UNT gave them the academic training -- plus hands-on experience -- that they needed to land jobs in fast-growing fields.
"The flexibility of the program was a payoff," says McCormick, who transferred to UNT from Collin College and graduated from UNT in 2012. "The IT program at UNT allowed me to focus on topics I was interested in. The professors and students were really strong, powerful and smart."
Careers in information technology are picking up in number again after falling off in the recession, Naegeli says. David Keathly, senior lecturer and undergraduate advisor in the Computer Science and Engineering program, says businesses of almost every size and type need IT graduates to help with networking and computer infrastructure.
"Larger companies have entire IT departments to manage and maintain their networks, computers and telecommunications equipment, as well as to train and support the rest of their staff in how to use them effectively," Keathly says. "Small and medium-sized businesses may not have their own IT staff, but they rely on other companies to provide management and support. As a result, companies are continuing to expand their need for qualified technical specialists."
The class project that McCormick worked on is a staple of the program. Students in UNT's College of Engineering work on senior design projects for companies and present their findings to company officials – as they would in a professional position.
"Students actually get that experience – they get outside the textbook and lecture. They get their hands on projects, and that combination of classroom knowledge and real-world experience is what companies are looking for," Naegeli says.
As baby boomers age, more of them will seek experts in the financial services industry to help them with their retirement plans, Naegeli says.
But financial careers cover more than retirement planning. Those with an interest in finance can find careers ranging from banking to financial planning to financial analysis, says Marilyn Wiley, professor of finance, senior associate dean of the College of Business and incoming president of the CFA Society of Dallas-Fort Worth.
"While there are always ups and downs in the job market for finance graduates, the number of different career paths makes it a major that is almost always in demand by some portion of the industry," Wiley says.
Dave Ragan, who graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance, helps people make smart decisions about their money in his role as a senior financial planning specialist with Grunden Financial Advisory.
"What I enjoy most is the client interaction," Ragan says. "It's not just a career with numbers. It's personal finance – where you meet with Mr. and Mrs. Smith. This affects their purchasing decisions, and it's a chance to make a great impact on clients."
UNT's comprehensive finance classes are taught by academically trained and recognized financial professors and working professionals. Four faculty members hold the highly respected chartered financial analyst designation that requires candidates to pass three levels of exams, and graduates of the program regularly earn the designation. Plus, the finance program was recognized as part of the Chartered Financial Analysts University Recognition Program -- one of only 72 universities worldwide with this honor.
Students get experience managing a real portfolio through the Student Investment Group or earning a Bloomberg Acknowledgement through the state-of-the-art trading room in UNT's Business Leadership Building.
Ragan, who now teaches as an adjunct faculty member at UNT, says his UNT education helped prime him for the Certified Financial Planner ® exam – a challenging two-day exam.
"I was able to pass on my first try -- six months after graduation. It's a tribute to the education I received at UNT."
Naegeli notes that accounting holds steady -- as people "always need accountants."
Those who pay attention to detail and enjoy tackling problems without easy answers may want to consider accounting, says Don W. Finn, chair of the Department of Accounting in the College of Business. Alumni from UNT have taken jobs in public, corporate and government accounting.
"The need for accountants has seldom been as high as the present," Finn says. "Our bachelor of science and master of science degree students undergo intensive undergraduate training followed with entry into one of two masters' programs -- accounting or taxation -- which prepare them to enter the workforce fully prepared for the challenges that they will face."
Digital retailing/online marketing
CEOs consistently tell Naegeli they need online marketers to market products and services to consumers through websites and social media outlets.
The College of Business offers two courses specifically related to online marketing -- Internet Marketing Concepts and Strategy and E-Commerce Marketing Tools and Applications.
In the Mayborn School, online media has been integrated across the curriculum – which includes advertising, public relations, digital and print journalism, broadcast journalism and photojournalism. Students can take a Strategic Social Media class through the Department of Strategic Communications or an Online Journalism class through the Department of News to learn how to incorporate online tools in their communications.
"When students walk out of the Mayborn School of Journalism, they're prepared to think, write and respond in today's digital arena," said Sheri Broyles, interim chair of the Department of Strategic Communications in the Mayborn School.
In the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, students can earn a bachelor's degree in digital retailing.
"Online, e-commerce and digital retailing has been growing at a rate of about 15% a year and will continue in the next three to five years, whereas overall retail and commerce is growing, in a good year, maybe 3- 4%, so clearly where there is growth, there is opportunity for expansion and investment," says Richard Last, lecturer in the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism who heads UNT's Digital Retailing degree program.
"We give our students a well-rounded education," Last says. "We focus a lot on customer experience and web analytics and actually producing content and websites on commerce platforms, using the same digital platforms that companies are using today.
"With the recent launch of the Global Digital Retailing Research Center at UNT, students have opportunities to work alongside both research professors and industry professionals to further advance this exciting industry," says Last, the center's senior director.
The program requires students to work in an internship before graduation to get hands-on experience. Plus, students work with other areas of the university to fill in their knowledge. Since copywriting is an important part of the job, digital retailing students take writing classes in the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. To learn about the supply chain, students take classes in the logistics program in the College of Business. Graduates have gone on to jobs with Haggar, The Container Store and other well-known brands, he says.
"Nobody really has a digital retailing degree like we have," Last says. "This is a fully rounded program with our students learning about the logistics of the operation and the analytics. We bring in a blend of academic professors and industry experts."
UNT's strong logistics program in the College of Business cannot keep up with demand from employers.
"We've got good quality people to provide them with, but just not enough," Naegeli says. "Every company is looking for ways to save money, by getting their product to the consumer faster and more efficiently."
Logistics professionals determine how to transport goods from one place to another -- in the most effective and efficient way possible.
"Logistics offers a very broad range of opportunities for graduates, from working as a logistics analyst, sourcing specialist, inventory planner and fleet manager to being a team lead or supervisor with anywhere from three to 50 direct reports," says Terrance Pohlen, director of the Center for Logistics Education and Research at UNT. "These positions are in companies providing products and services such as JCPenney, Pier 1 or Verizon to companies that specialize in providing logistics services such as BNSF, Southwest Airlines, NT Logistics, PGL or Crane Worldwide Logistics."
Brian Heldebrandt earned his degree in 1997 as one of the first students to study logistics and supply chain management. While at UNT, he learned the fundamentals in the classroom while getting hands-on experience in a United Parcel Service internship.
"Through this dual approach I was able to learn the core principles of supply chain management one day and literally apply them at my UPS internship the next day," says Heldebrandt, regional manager of supply chain operations for Verizon. "Conversely, the real-life experiences I gained at the internship allowed me to more quickly understand concepts and integrate perspective back to the classroom during discussions or team-based projects. As a result of these experiences I was able to land an excellent job at a great company and add value day one. The ability to draw on my UNT education and internship was the foundation I needed to launch my career."