Nelly Wilson

My journey as a Business Gator

By Nelly Wilson, BSBA ’17, MS-ISOM ’19

I arrived as a freshman at the University of Florida in the fall of 2015, enrolled in the Warrington College of Business and excited to craft the next chapter of my life. My goals as a Gator were to grow and learn more about the world and myself, while exploring and discovering what I was really passionate about. Having earned an associate degree in high school through dual enrollment, I immediately jumped into my finance major classes. At the same time, through the Intro to Information Systems and Operations Management (ISOM) class taught by Dr. Aditi Mukherjee, I discovered I was excited about new technologies and passionate regarding the positive impact they could make in the world.

Prior to coming to UF I had never written a single line of code, nor had I worked with databases or interacted with technology in any significant way. Getting involved and making friends in Gatortech, a student organization focused on technology, was extremely helpful to see how an ISOM degree could be a sustainable path forward. I ended up changing my major and applying for the Master of Science in Information Systems and Operations Management program all in one week, enthusiastic to embark on my quest to learn about technology and its potential.

I dove into the field, reading articles and newsletters about the industry, pursuing internships and pushing myself academically. Assuming leadership positions in Gatortech as VP of External Affairs, Director of Membership and Coordinator of Programming gave me ways to connect with others on a similar journey. More importantly, it gave me a venue to encourage others who reminded me of what I had been like – interested in exploring tech, but unsure and a bit intimidated. Recognizing a need for greater diversity in tech and wanting to increase awareness of ISOM on campus, I initiated a recruitment program. This resulted in doubling Gatortech membership from 30 to 60 active students, achieving gender equity, and having over 25 percent of our members come from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. One of the best experiences during my time at UF has been actively working with many students, especially those who traditionally might not pursue a tech education. Helping them find their place in the tech space and knowing they can access tremendous opportunities is extremely gratifying.

In January 2017, eager to explore Europe’s “Silicon Valley,” I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland and interned with Computerology. Participating in events such as the Dublin Tech Summit, Tech for Good and Google Women TechMakers, I created new connections in the global tech community. It was wonderful to host Dr. Alex Sevilla, Associate Dean and Director of the Heavener School of Business, for a day sharing about my internship and international school.

I enjoyed being an International Program Student Ambassador (IPSA), offering my experiences to fellow Warrington Gators to encourage them to study abroad and helping those who did travel to design a beneficial and successful learning opportunity.

This past year I completed two internships at Google and Harris Corporation. At Google, I worked as an account strategist helping businesses troubleshoot technical issues and optimize their online marketing strategies. At Harris, I was a software development intern helping design UX focused sites for Harris suppliers and internal employees. These were valuable experiences, obtained through participation in UF’s career fair activities.

I am very grateful that UF has so many opportunities for personal growth and learning. Being able to develop and apply skills outside of the classroom has made me a better person. Here are a sample of activities I have been privileged to participate in: Freshman Leadership Symposium speaker, Heavener International Case Competition, AMA tech intern panel, presenter at Warrington Welcome sharing about ISOM and also how to secure internships, Karl F. and Nancy J. Flammer Professor and ISOM Department Chair Dr. Haldun Aytug’s inaugural project class as an Exxon Mobil team member presenting at the ISOM Symposium Conference; attended events such as a luncheon with C-trip CEO Jane Sun, Supply Chain Department Advisory Board luncheon, MBA dinner hosted by Dr. Brian Ray for the Poe Business Ethics Center, Alumni Cafes, ISOM Forum, and more. Most recently I participated in the Big Idea Competition as the technologist on my team, learning what it’s like to develop a start-up from concept to business plan to “the pitch” and ultimately, execution.

This May, I graduate with my Master of Science in Information Systems and Operations Management with concentrations in Information Technology (IT) and Business Intelligence & Analytics. I am honored to have received the ISOM Outstanding Graduate Award for the ISOM master’s program, with gratitude and thanks for the collaborative efforts and the people who have enriched my experience at Warrington supporting my achievements. Being a Business Gator has many different facets, but the key components that really stand out are the incredible experiences I had on campus…. professors and classes that pushed me to learn and dive deeper, establishing lifelong friendships and interacting with everyone in the Gator Nation – which continues to be a supportive network even after graduation.

Moving forward, I will be joining Google in their new Cloud Technical Residency program. I leave the University of Florida having achieved my freshman goals “to grow and learn more about the world and myself, while exploring and discovering what I am really passionate about.” However, now I understand this will be a lifelong process. I continue to be excited to “craft the next chapter” knowing my education at UF has given me the tools to create a meaningful life – but equally important, has prepared me to be a valuable contributor in the conversations that shape the present and forge the future.