Master of Computer Information Systems alum finds purpose working for CSU

Laura KinCannon, right, stands beside fellow Master of Computer Information Systems graduates Olesya Tishkina, left, and Uzair Farooqi, during the Walk Across the Oval ceremony in Nov., 2020.

In her professional life, Laura KinCannon has a few simple goals: be creative, be challenged and help people.

Shortly after graduating from the College of Business’s Master of Computer Information Systems program in 2020, she was able to meet those criteria by landing a job as a developer for CSU.

In her new role, KinCannon is working on the University’s IT team to ensure secure and smooth authentication for students and employees at CSU’s main campus in Fort Collins as well as CSU Global and CSU Pueblo.

“I’m satisfying that mission of helping people, which is pretty core to me, by working for CSU,” said KinCannon, who previously earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University.

Even before coming to the MCIS program, KinCannon found she had a knack for finding resourceful ways to solve people’s tech problems and enjoyed using data to inform her work.

As a student coordinator with CSU’s student-run Call-A-Ram pledge program, she dove into call logs and performance metrics to revamp their strategic outreach, adjusting call times based on location while matching callers with the alumni they meshed best. This interest ultimately led her to explore data mining as an MCIS student and earn a business intelligence certificate.

“It was empowering to be able to use that data to make decisions, and then ultimately, the only reason I’m sitting in that chair is because I want to be able to help people,” said KinCannon, who was motivated by supporting University’s land-grant mission and principles of community.

The direct impact her analysis had in aiding the University’s fundraising efforts inspired her. Her decision to enroll in the MCIS program and pursue a career change boiled down to her interest in learning more about how she could put technology and coding to good use. However, she knew that those skills were ones she’d need help effectively developing.

A Supportive Professional Community

She was far from the only student in the program without a technical background. With roughly half of the students entering the program having limited technology experience, faculty design their courses around providing a rigorous education that accommodates an extending learning cycle for those new to the field. KinCannon was struck by how patient and helpful her faculty were, making sure that she understood topics before moving on.

The result?

“I really, really, really, really, really liked a lot of my instructors,” KinCannon said.

She also was heartened to hear Leo Vijayasarathay, chair of the College’s Computer Information Systems department, speak authentically about the desire to increase the representation of women in the field.

“We see women taking a more active role in shaping the future of technology and its applications.”

– Leo Vijayasarathy, CIS Department Chair

“I felt like it mattered to him not just because you want to appear diverse, but because you actually care about having women helping write our code of the future,” said KinCannon.“I felt like [the faculty] had a lot of faith in me too. Not only that they wanted me to succeed, but they were like, ‘She’s going to do a good job.’”

The College’s CIS department was even co-awarded a $600,000 grant in 2020 from the Center for Inclusive Computing, chosen for its strong commitment to increasing the representation of women in computing.

“We see women taking a more active role in shaping the future of technology and its applications –ultimately connecting business and technology in innovative ways to move our society forward,” said Vijayasarathay.

That level of support and encouragement KinCannon felt from faculty also extended to the professional staff that she worked with in the College’s dedicated Career Management Center.

To aid in her job searches, KinCannon was assigned to work with Jason Radman, a career counselor and manager at the CMC.

“He ended up being like a life counselor to me,” said KinCannon with a laugh, recounting the stressful process of applying for jobs, which was made easier by Radman. “I know that he went above and beyond for me.”

Portrait of Jason Radman
Jason Radman, Career Counseling Manager, Career Management Center

“[Jason Radman] was just awesome. I give him a lot of credit for helping me navigate the application process.”

– Laura KinCannon

Radman helped her overhaul her resume, work through her cover letter, and tailor her applications to present her skills and experience in the best light.

“I told him when my interview dates were and he would email me to ask me how the interview went and to check in and give me tips for like follow-up interviews.”

She received a job offer while still waiting to hear back about her application to CSU, sparking soul searching whether to accept a certain position or hold out for the one she really wanted. In the end, she held out and CSU’s IT team fast-tracking her application, calling her two days before Christmas to offer her the job.

With all the ups and downs, Radman kept a “really positive attitude the whole time,” a perspective that prove reassuring and invaluable to KinCannon.

Since starting work at CSU, KinCannon said colleagues have been welcoming and inviting and she’s excited for what the future holds.