Written by Stephanie Keydel, director of career services
I recently interviewed Minnesota School of Business (MSB)-Elk River’s Winter Graduate of the Quarter, David Anderson. Anderson shared his story about his educational path before attending MSB and during his training in the Information Technology (IT) program, his goals for the future and his advice for fellow students.
What was your first job?
I had a few things going on about the time I left high school. I pumped gas at a local gas station, and I also worked as a bag boy at a Red Owl grocery store in high school.
About six months before graduating, I landed a full-time job at an Old Dutch Potato Chip factory. I started that job on the night shift and was responsible for cleaning potato chip manufacturing equipment. After a few months I got promoted to a maintenance position where I repaired potato chip manufacturing equipment. One week after my eighteenth birthday, I enlisted in the Marine Corps on a delayed entry program. I graduated high school in the spring, continued working at Old Dutch throughout the summer, and left for a tour in the Marine Corps in the fall.
A year and a half after leaving high school, I was a highly trained Marine Corps aviation electronics technician and was assigned duty as part of the aircrew of Marine One, the President’s helicopter. I proudly served aboard Marine One at the pleasure of President Ford and President Carter throughout the entirety of my first active duty enlistment.
What got you interested in the IT world?
I got involved with computers almost out of necessity. At one point in my not-so-straight career path, I worked as an automotive machinist in a shop where we built race engines. To fill in the gaps between paychecks, I ran my own machine shop on the side. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time to get everything done that needed to get done.
Years later, as I still struggled with this vexing resource management problem, desktop computers started to show up in the workplace and held the promise of providing increased efficiency. I acquired a cheap, used desktop computer in an effort to improve efficiency and found out I had a natural talent for making computers work.
After a few years of playing around with computers, I came to realize that working on computers paid pretty well and could be a viable career path. In 1998, I went back to school, received a formal education in computer networking technology and switched careers. None of this was ever planned. Everything fell into place, and fortunately, I had the cognition to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.
What are your favorite memories as a student as MSB?
I have so many fond memories of the time I spent at MSB from the hours of solitude locked away in my office during that crunch time that happens just before a project is due to the hours spent with my peers in a classroom, debating and defending a philosophical perspective.
Each quarter, I always made it a point to make connections to each instructor I had and still maintain many of those priceless connections today. While attending MSB, I thoroughly enjoyed the student tutor program and always seemed to get just as much out of tutoring, if not more, than the students I tutored.
Starting in my second year as a student, I was given many opportunities to guest speak on a variety of subjects in classes inside and outside my IT networking track. Having the opportunity to guest speak in front of students outside my normal IT peer group gave me the chance to reach out and connect with students in a variety of programs. It is all the meaningful connections I find most memorable. Even seemingly simple things, like finding a delightful new friend in Cindy at the front desk, are memories I will enjoy forever. We showed up, we shared, and we all grew from the experience.
What experiences stand out the most for you?
Several quarters ago, a group of IT students, myself included, were struggling with online lab simulations that were a required part of the curriculum. As a solution, we decided as a group to scrounge up some hardware, meet at the Perkins restaurant in Elk River on a Saturday morning, and wrestle our way through the exercises.
We got the blessing of our instructor to work as a group on the labs and met at Perkins the following Saturday. Word got out about our first successful effort, and from that day forward, every Saturday morning every student in that class showed up at Perkins and contributed to the success of the group. Many Saturdays, the group stayed for twelve hours or more just to overcome a perplexing technological hurdle. I had never seen a group work that hard at anything in my entire time at MSB. It was inspiring. We eventually became known as the “Perkins Tribe” and were a permanent Saturday afternoon fixture at Perkins that quarter.
What advice would you give to current students?
My advice is very simple. There is a reason I did well academically and had an exceptional attendance record. I couldn’t have done one without the other. In light of this, my advice is to show up for class. Make a commitment to show up for class, no matter what; just show up for class. Everything else will fall into place.