CMU’s “ERPSim” Equips Students with Essential Skills for IT

Thomas Schiffman Blue Cross Information TechnologyThomas Schiffman was a junior business information systems major at Central Michigan University when he heard about ERPsim, an annual, high-pressure simulation game where the ultimate goal is an on-the-spot internship offer.

Each year, nearly 200 participating CMU students are grouped into small, multidisciplinary teams with advisors from leading Michigan, national and international companies. Advisors mentor students as they run a fictional business using a real-life Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, a technology tool that helps some of the world’s largest companies run more efficiently.

Thomas joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s team with three other students. He spent several months preparing for the competition with guidance from his Blue Cross mentors, learning how to build an efficient team and how IT integrates with other areas – like marketing and supply chain.

The actual ERPsim Competition is four intense hours of analyzing reports from the ERP system, and making business decisions to maximize the profitability of their operations. In addition to getting hands-on experience using ERP software, Thomas says the experience taught him a lot about working with a team. When pressed by time limits in the heat of competition, he saw the importance of keeping communication respectful and positive as you work toward a shared goal.

As Thomas worked to understand how to develop and execute strategy in a real-time business environment, his mentors took note of how he thought through problems and worked with others. At the end of the competition, Thomas and his teammates were offered summer internships and jobs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Thomas’ internship was designed to include strengths and interests that he displayed during the ERPsim competition, like critical thinking and problem solving. He continued to learn and develop throughout the summer, and had a full-time offer from Blue Cross by the time he started his senior year.

Thomas is now a systems analyst associate at Blue Cross, where he works in PeopleSoft HR. When asked what he loves about his job, Thomas talks about the opportunities he’s had to grow and learn. As busy as everyone is, he’s always encouraged to ask questions and get exposure to other areas.

In addition to having a hands-on learning environment, Blue Cross’s overall workplace culture—where everyone is smiling and open to collaboration—appeals to Thomas. Plus, the upgraded company campus brings a bit of excitement to each work day. To learn more about IT internship opportunities at Blue Cross, visit mibluetech.com. You may also like these blogs:

Photo Credit: William Murphy

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