University creates new leaders in IT thanks to innovative mentorship program

Central Michigan University and ERPsim pair students with University professionals for an immersive IT career path preview.

Q&A w/ Tom Borgula, Information Technology Director, Corporate Services at BCBSM:

Q: Tell us about the BCBSM CMU partnership:

Tom Borgula, IT Director: In addition to learning in the classroom, hands-on training can be eye-opening and transformative, which is why we decided to participate in the unique ERPsim program at Central Michigan University (CMU). The program brings together our employees from the IT, Human Resources and Procurement teams with students studying finance, information systems, SAP applications and logistics.

As the program progresses, the students work through activities that show exactly what happens in the industry, all the while being guided by professionals who know the subject matter best. We also make it a point to introduce the students to the multiple avenues that come with an IT career path.

The IT industry is very diverse and it can involve more than coding; we want the students to learn that through this program.

Q: How long has the program existed and how did it come about?

Tom Borgula, IT Director: For the past five years, Blue Cross Enterprise Resource Planning employees have mentored CMU students in the five-month-long ERPsim program. Lately, people all over the world have been keeping their eye on Metro Detroit for many reasons, one of which being the city’s burgeoning IT industry. Blue Cross is one of the top IT companies in the region, so it’s only right that we have a hand in shaping the future leaders of IT and support them as they make their own contributions to the industry in Detroit.

Q: Why do you think the ERPsim program has a major impact on the CMU students?

Tom Borgula, IT Director: The mentoring program culminates with the ERPsim Competition, which puts students’ learning to the test by having them solve real-world business challenges. The competition is more than just a contest–it’s an opportunity for mentors and students alike to showcase what they’ve learned throughout the program.

The best part about the competition is that students also get the opportunity to connect with Blue Cross executives that they may not have interacted with over the past five months. It’s the ERPsim Competition and the presence of Blue Cross leadership over the course of five months that truly makes our mentoring program stand out for the participants.

Q: What other benefits do the students walk away with at the end of the ERPsim program?

Tom Borgula, IT Director: In addition to expanding their industry knowledge and forging meaningful connections with seasoned mentors, some participants in the program walk away with jobs! Over the last three years we’ve hired 11 students directly after the ERPsim Competition. We offer them full-time positions on the floor of the event! We have an IT executive make the offer! All of them are still with the company and thriving in their careers.

Q: How can students at the CMU join the program if they are interested?

Tom Borgula, IT Director: If students are interested in joining the program, they can visit or they can visit the Central Michigan College of Business Administration to learn more.

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