Molly Bartley credits her training in classical ballet for steering her toward a degree in management information systems at WSU Vancouver.

“I’m very different from many of my peers,” Bartley said. “I didn’t have technology as a hobby. I wasn’t into video games or computer science.”

Her aptitude came from performing with the Vancouver-based Columbia Dance Co.

“There are so many parallels to ballet, it made my transition to MIS nearly seamless,” Bartley said. “When I analyzed my skill set, I realized I liked working on projects; I had experience working in close teams; and I needed to be able to use my problem-solving skills and creativity.”

Bartley, 21, will graduate May 4 with a bachelor’s degree in MIS from the Carson College of Business (CCB). She’s headed to an internship at the Portland office of New Relic, a multinational software firm. And she continues to teach dance on the weekends.

Bartley is leaving her mark on CCB Vancouver, where she worked as an MIS assistant. The college uses software systems she put into place every day, said Jane Cote, the academic director.

“She’s built an amazing set of technology tools that really have helped us organize our work,” Cote said.

A professor spotted early potential

Bartley in a dance pose on a flight of stairs.
Molly Bartley

During her initial MIS course, Bartley’s professor spotted her potential and sent her the assistant MIS job posting.

“I felt so underqualified,” Bartley said. “I took my first two assignments, which showed my basic proficiency with Excel and pivot tables, to the interview. I was so excited to get the job.”

Her first work assignment was evaluating CCB Vancouver’s customer relationship management tool. It tracked the college’s interactions with volunteers and stakeholders, but the technology was old and no longer supported.

Bartley watched YouTube demos of software and asked others for suggestions. Her recommendation for new software was approved by the university, and she got to work on its rollout.

“It was such a proud moment,” she said. “It wasn’t typical intern work. I was only 18, but I was given the support and freedom to use my skills.”

It was the beginning of a productive 2 ½ years for Bartley as an MIS assistant at CCB Vancouver. Among other projects, she worked on technology that tracked whether companies in the Business Growth Mentor and Analysis program experienced increases in sales. The program pairs students with small businesses and nonprofits, offering free consulting under the direction of faculty and volunteer mentors.

“I had the opportunity to be a self-starter,” Bartley said. “I could try new things, make mistakes and evaluate what we had. It rounded out my educational experience.”

An opportunity to give back

Bartley served as a student representative on the CCB Vancouver advisory board, and she’ll continue on the board after she graduates.

“We love having new alumni — rising stars — to help us understand their perspective,” Cote said.

“It was my opportunity to give back, because the college has given me so much support,” Bartley said.

She received the Vancouver Academic Award, a scholarship that helped make a four‑year degree possible for her.

“I value the relationships I’ve built here,” Bartley said. “They’ll be important to me for years to come.”