MIS Students Fill IT Startup

Published on June 3, 2010

Bauer MIS Students Get Jump on Careers Through Amerishore Internship Program

Management information systems students Aboubakar Lougue, left, and Tom Huynh from UH Bauer are getting real-world experience through an internship program with Amerishore.

A startup company in Houston and 14 students from the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business studying to be IT professionals are out to prove they can compete in a tough business.

The company, called Amerishore, is helping modernize the system used to create and manage reports for VALIC employees and employers served by the Houston-based financial services company.

But its most valuable product is likely to be the talent it helps train from UH Bauer.

The company name refers to its selling point: by using lower cost student labor, it promises quality work for a price comparable to competitors in places like India.

It was created to solve a problem – the need for more entry level programming jobs that are training grounds for the graduates who will be future leaders in the field.

“I’ve seen this over and over again. Large companies call up and say we’ve been outsourcing a lot and it’s not always working out; we need some new people,” said Michael Parks, an associate professor at Bauer College who referred the students in the program.  “As these companies look ahead they realize: ‘We’ve got a real managerial gap. We don’t have any five-year people.’

Offshoring has long been a fact of life in IT. The Bauer College information technology program has recognized this by emphasizing system analysis – the process of figuring out how to solve problems and manage change — which is more difficult to outsource than programming

But systems analysis grads still need programming experience in a corporate setting before they go into a managerial role. Parks said those opportunities are in short supply because that sort of straightforward programming can be done cheaper elsewhere.

Amerishore was the brainchild of Tracy Derr, the Houston regional manager of Neudesic, a national software services firm. He was looking for a way to start a profitable business that created the sort of entry-level job he had when he got out of college.

That idea struck a chord with Joe McKernan, the chief information officer of VALIC, who wanted to expand the company’s pipeline of young IT talent.

As a result, Neudesic created a new subsidiary, Amerishore, where experienced staffers supervise and mentor a group of paid interns, most of whom are members of the Management Information Systems Student Organization (MISSO) at Bauer College.

McKernan is happy with the results.

“We get a good product at rates that are comparable to those offshore,” said McKernan, who is also a senior vice president for VALIC, which provides retirement plans for employees in education and healthcare. “We do internships ourselves. This gives us a year-round internship program to tap into.”

The students say it has been valuable.

“I’m blessed through this program. We had a chance to use real technology in a real corporate setting,” said Tom Huynh, a senior who was hired by Neudesic after working for Amerishore.

“Without an internship they may not have noticed me,” said David Chuah, a student in the DISC program at Bauer.

Derr is working on expanding Amerishore in Houston and other cities. If he signs up more clients in Houston, he knows where he can find talent.

“The University of Houston is an awesome place to be recruiting,” Derr said.

By Stephen Rassenfoss