Get to know Michael Ferrer, MSIM student

Michael Ferrer

After spending some time in the defense IT industry, Michael Ferrer decided to return to school for his MSIM degree to gain skills in areas such as data visualization and advance his career. Outside of his studies, Ferrer is a competitive ballroom dancer and member of the Illinois Army National Guard.

Why did you decide to pursue an IM degree?

Before entering the MSIM program, I worked for six years at a network operations center. I enjoyed my time there, but I felt a bit stagnant in my professional growth. I needed a significant change in my life to break that cycle, so when the opportunity to pursue an MSIM degree presented itself, I took the leap and applied.

Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?

I earned my bachelor's degree in computer science from Illinois State University in Bloomington, which is about an hour from Urbana-Champaign. Since I'm well acquainted with central Illinois, I welcomed the chance to pursue my graduate education in a familiar environment. I also chose the University of Illinois because of its amazing academic reputation nationally and abroad. I have found the faculty and staff at the iSchool to be very helpful, and while there are a lot of students on campus, my learning environment feels just right with classes that are not too empty or full.

What particular IM topics interest you the most?

I really like classes that leverage tools for data visualization. We get to use tools like Microsoft PowerBI and Salesforce Tableau, which are used in industry to interpret and visualize data into something that clients/customers will understand. I also enjoy classes that cover interdisciplinary concepts, touching on data analytics but also delving into business-related principles and lessons learned from case studies.

What do you do outside of class?

Outside of class, I am primarily a part of Illini DanceSport, which is the university's competitive ballroom dance student organization. I attend many social dance events too, such as salsa, bachata, swing dance, etc. I also serve part time in the military through the Illinois Army National Guard. The organization lets me fulfill my dream of being a soldier, while letting me pursue my civilian education.

What career plans or goals do you have?

As of right now, my plan is to return to St. Louis, Missouri, after completing the MSIM program to pursue a higher-level position at my old workplace. However, I am also open to other opportunities as they present themselves.

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