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MSIS Grad Learns to Level Up His Leadership Skills

Justin Rinearson

Justin Rinearson attended CSULB twice, earning a bachelor’s in 2015 before returning to campus from 2021 to 2023 for his Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) degree. He doesn’t need to prove his school spirit, but Justin does have a special place in his heart for his double alma mater.

“I always wanted to pursue a graduate degree, and it felt natural to come back,” he said. “I told myself it was ‘The Beach or bust!’ That’s how deep black and gold runs through my veins.”

While Justin felt that he struggled through many academic experiences, he gained admission to CSULB through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Summer Bridge Program, which is offered to students who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Balancing two consecutive degrees while working his way towards a leadership position in the IT industry, Justin is grateful for the ability to overcome obstacles that were previously in his path.

“I am a first-generation college student of partial Latino ancestry with a single mother who was disabled, and an absent father,” Justin explained. “The EOP Summer Bridge Program helped lay the foundation for my life and helped me achieve social mobility. Without it, I do not know if I’d be where I am today.”

Justin attended the MSIS program by alternating in-person evening classes with online sessions that saved him the long drive from his home in Glendale. He learned to use standard coding technology like Python as well as develop skills in leadership and business analysis. He won a class project competition for designing a blockchain-based app prototype called Votely, which focused on Los Angeles voter turnout data and argued against the idea that digital voting can encourage fraud. An accompanying business plan, presented to a panel of industry experts, elevated his profile further. 

“My peers looked to me for guidance, both in the classroom and professionally, due to my professional experience as a manager/decision-maker,” he said. “I was happy to help where I could.”

His experiences at The Beach continue to inform Justin’s current position as Director of Operations at VIP IT Inc., a provider of strategy and support for small to mid-sized businesses. The graduate degree, along with 13 years of experience in the IT industry, has helped Justin transition into a planning and analyst role where he “manages the managers” of various teams. He is now able to migrate his company to a new Professional Services Automation (PSA) platform, which combines all functions of the business—services, projects, expenses, invoices, and purchasing—into one. Other new tools like ChatGPT are helping him and his colleagues to accelerate their workflow, reducing the amount of time spent on certain tasks. 

“My primary responsibility is to ensure that the company is operating efficiently, effectively, and profitably,” he said. “The MSIS program helped me find new ways to look at my company and the capstone course opened my eyes to see what it takes to be a good business analyst. My emotional intelligence and self-management all leveled up from it.”

“The biggest thing that the program gave me is that my upper-capacity limit has significantly increased,” he continued. “Trying to complete a graduate program while working full-time and maintaining all the other obligations that life requires is difficult. It puts you to the test to see how much you can handle. Once the program was done, I realized how much more I could handle.”

Click here to learn more about the MSIS program at CSULB.


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