Three CMU Students Snag Blue Cross Job Offers at the Ultimate Interview: CMU’s ERPsim Competition

Three CMU Students Snag Blue Cross Job Offers at the Ultimate Interview: CMU’s ERPsim Competition

Imagine this: You, alongside more than 200 other students, are working with business professionals and executives from some of Michigan’s largest companies. At stake: the chance to win top prizes and earn an on-the-spot job offer. This dream was a reality for Central Michigan University students who participated in the 2018 ERPsim competition, held February 15.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was one of 37 participating companies at the event, which allows students to showcase their ability to manage real-life business situations using systems, applications and products in data processing (SAP) software. By the end of the competition, each team’s goal is to create a profitable simulated business.

Mentorship Matters

Blue Cross mentors Andrew Goor, Julie Rood and Avanti Madadi (standing, l-r) look on as students focus on executing team strategy.

Blue Cross employees from the IT, Procurement and Human Resources departments mentored two teams at this year’s ERPsim, the sixth straight year Blue Cross has participated. “We know the cream of the crop can be found here, which is why we keep returning,” says Sue Girimonte, a senior IT manager at Blue Cross. “Mentoring is our way to give back to the students and give them some of the tools they need to transition into the working world successfully. We want to educate them and, hopefully, bring in some new hires.”

Mentors Andrew Goor and Deanna Koontz, systems analyst associates at Blue Cross, have fond memories of the event since both were hired on-the-spot during last year’s ERPsim competition. “I wanted to mentor students this year because I know I had no idea what to expect from a real-world job,” says Koontz. “I’ve learned so much working at Blue Cross, and was confident I could help them prepare to enter the workforce.” After being so positively impacted by his own ERPsim mentors, Goor wanted to share what he has learned, as well. “I remember being in awe of my mentors because they knew so much,” says Goor. “Now I want to pay it forward and be a resource for the students.”

Real-World Knowledge 

Blue Cross mentors Deanna Koontz, Tom Borgula, Victor Centeno and Sue Girimonte (seated l-r, center) support Blue Cross Team 1 during competition.

The ERPsim competition is also highly valued by Blue Cross leadership, including Bill Fandrich, Chief Information Officer, and Tom Borgula, Information Technology Director, Corporate Services. “There aren’t many opportunities like this to help prepare students for what to expect in their careers,” says Fandrich. “There are clear ways to measure progress and outcomes, so teams can really develop their knowledge of how to solve business problems.”

During the competition, Fandrich shared insights with teams on how to perform at the top of their game both in simulated competition and the real workplace. “Strong teams work well together, so consider all viewpoints and reach decisions quickly and effectively,” says Fandrich. “To do that, you have to make a commitment to contribute the knowledge and expertise you have to offer.”

Borgula was especially impressed with the Blue Cross teams’ abilities to collaborate in order to achieve their goals. “Our teams were united and excelled at planning and preparation—things that helped them execute their strategy,” says Borgula. “Communication – both talking and listening – were key in keeping things moving.” This, along with a little stress, were valuable lessons for the students.

“The pressure of the competition causes the students to have to lean on one another to see the desired results, much like the real world,” says Borgula. And for three students, the pressure paid off in the form of job offers at the end of the competition. “For the last three years, we’ve hired someone right on the competition floor,” says Borgula. “Because of the time we spend with the students between practice sessions and the competition itself, ERPsim has been better than any interview we could conduct.”

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