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Student Spotlight

Phil Shaffer

Phil Shaffer

May grad has tough choices to make

Phil Shaffer has a big decision to make before he graduates in May: Where does he want to launch his management information system (MIS) career? 

Already, as the spring semester begins, he has two job offers and will likely have more before he graduates, which is certainly good news in a weak economy and job market. However, for Shaffer it's a dilemma. "I have to consider several things," he said. "Location, salary, cost of living, and my family." 

Shaffer was born in Lima, Peru, and was adopted by Terri Shaffer, and brought to live in Baltimore, Md. He was raised by his mother and her parents, Thomas Shaffer, 81, and the late Edna Shaffer, life-long Baltimore residents. Phil Shaffer grew close to them all and was saddened when his grandmother died in 2010. Then his grandfather had a stroke. He'd like very much to move back to Baltimore in May to be close to his mother and grandfather. 

"My family is a big part of my life," he said. "I wouldn't be where I am today if not for them, and I wouldn't just move on without thinking about them." 

A guitar, piano and percussion musician, Shaffer had planned to attend WVU for a music degree, but he decided that building a career around music might drain some of the excitement and creativity from his talent, so he opted for management. He had worked in a music store in Baltimore, Md., his hometown, and thought he could be the manager if he had had a degree. 

He enrolled in management and also joined Alpha Kappa Psi, and the latter had a profound effect on his educational and career path. One of his fraternity brothers was leaving a job at the B&E Information Technology Department (BEIT) and told him about it. He applied and got the job and also some advice. Several people in BEIT told him about the MIS program, and he became interested. "I had never heard of management information systems," he said. "I found out more and decided to make it my major." 

Shaffer, who works 20 hours a week for at BEIT, advises incoming students just starting out on their educations at WVU to be engaged. "If I hadn't gotten involved in Alpha Kappa Psi, I wouldn't have found out about the BEIT job, and I wouldn't have learned about the MIS program. So, I say that a student's first step in the door at WVU should be to get involved." 

Right now, he's involved in making a decision about one job in particular, a decision that must be made by the end of January. 

It's not easy, he said. "One decision affects the others. Right now, I'm biding my time. There will be a time when everything clicks, and I'll make a decision." 

In the meantime, he's discussing his options with friends and his family.