CSE senior means business—in the engineering field

Clay Hall is well-suited for leadership and grateful for the connections he’s built

May 2, 2022

The last four years in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering have presented senior Clay Hall with more opportunities than he ever expected, and he has definitely made the most of them. 

Hall, who is studying Industrial and Systems Engineering, was drawn to his major because of the impact it has. 

“The projects you see people in STEM working on are super valuable,” he said. “I was once told that ‘doctors save lives, engineers save civilizations.’ I’m not really on that technical side as much, but I still feel like my major and the work that we would do is very important.” 

Originally from Moorhead, Minn., he was drawn to the Twin Cities campus because of the reputable engineering school and its generous financial aid. 

“In terms of impact, it completely changed my life,” said Hall, a recipient of the CSE Student Affairs and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community scholarships. “Coming out of here debt-free with a pretty well-paying job and a lot of career aspirations, I would say that flipped my life on its head.”

After graduation, Hall will join Deloitte as a Business Technology Solutions Analyst with plans to move to consulting in the next few years. 

During his time in CSE, Hall has gained leadership skills outside of the classroom. He serves as the president of the National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE)—which unites business, management, and engineering students across the United States and Canada—and also serves on the board for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) at the University of Minnesota. 

Being involved in the Indigenous community and showing that representation within the STEM field are two things that are very important to him. He also emphasized the value and importance of connecting within his communities. 

“Just building those relationships is great,” Hall said.

“Two of my most valuable friendships came from being involved and talking with people,” he added.

As NOBE president, Hall hosted the organization’s national conference, which included virtually hosting all 10 chapters and inviting them to participate in workshops and listen to industry speakers. 

Hall attended the AISES National Conference last fall in Phoenix, Arizona, thanks to funding from AISES and the Louis Stokes North Star STEM Alliance. There, he was able to network and do some career-hunting at the three-day event—​​an educational and professional development opportunity for Indigenous students. He said it was one of the most fun experiences in his college career. 

AISES members
AISES members at the 2022 DEI Leadership Showcase. From left: Pauly Soulia, President of AISES, Tyler Moose, treasurer of AISES, Clay Hall, AISES committee chair, Charissa Blue; student advisor and AISES advisor.

For Hall, being a good leader means showing vulnerability. 

“When I was a freshman, I was very intimidated to get involved just because it seemed like the upperclassmen had it all figured out,” he said. “But, when I started actually talking to them, they were open and honest that they didn’t have it figured out. They don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like. I think that really opened my eyes.”

“It’s okay not to know everything and try things out,” Hall said, “and it’s okay to be vulnerable. I think that’s a huge part of being a leader.” 

Hall said his time at the U has prepared him for the next steps in his career. 

“CSE has offered me a lot of opportunities for professional development and leadership to put on my resume,” he explained. “I had an opportunity through AISES to have a mentor who worked at Medtronic, so she helped me guide my career path. And there are so many student groups that CSE students can get involved with that people don’t know about. There are a lot of resources available to us.”

Hall will continue his involvement in the student groups even after he graduates from CSE. Recently, he was elected to the NOBE National Board as the Technology Chair and plans to stay connected within the AISES network as well. 

“Being that leader and that person whom those clubs can go to for networking and career advice, and just being someone they can lean on, that’s something I would like to do,” he said. 

Story by Katelyn Mayne

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