New MTEC SmartZone Tenant Hires Michigan Tech Students to Support IT Division

Lansing-based retirement solutions firm, Jackson®, opens satellite office in Lakeshore Center

HOUGHTON, Michigan (March 5, 2013) – Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®) is a growing retirement solutions provider headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. Their information technology (IT) department helps manage Jackson’s growth, which makes hiring talented IT professionals crucial to the company’s success.

During a visit to Michigan Technological University’s 2012 Career Fair in Houghton, Jackson discovered a way to increase its recruitment pipeline – MTEC SmartZone’s Fortune 500 Formula.

The Fortune 500 Formula is a partnership opportunity for mid- to large-size companies to open satellite offices and utilize talented Michigan Tech computer scientists and computer engineers to help fill gaps in real work projects. Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience close to campus.

“By operating our MTEC SmartZone office year-round at Michigan Technological University, we are able to demonstrate first-hand the sophistication and cutting-edge technology of Jackson’s IT department,” says Rob Sweet, manager of Jackson’s satellite office. “By working with Michigan Tech students for one to two years prior to their graduation, we are able to increase our pipeline of new hires and spend more time with the students individually, to identify those we believe will be a good fit.”

Twelve new jobs were created when Jackson opened in MTEC SmartZone’s Lakeshore Center business incubator in Houghton. The company expects to hire as many as 30 students by the end of the year.

Jackson’s satellite office is equipped with 24 high-tech workstations. Students work primarily part time and serve as resources for Jackson’s Systems and Programming department. Students work on a variety of projects with a focus on Java-based projects, research and proof of concept, conversions, optimizations and mobile development.

“Building strategic business alliances with Michigan Tech connects companies with our distinguished faculty, exceptional students and broad research and service capabilities,” says Brent Burns, director of corporate partnerships at Michigan Tech. “Jackson realizes the benefits of hiring our talented students to perform real work.”

Jackson is one of the nation’s largest annuity providers with nearly $130 billion in assets. They are among companies like GE Aviation, Ford Motor Company, Control-Tec and Dematic, who have experienced growth opportunities through MTEC SmartZone’s Fortune 500 Formula.

Mark Clark, Chief Information Officer for Jackson, says Michigan Tech students are a particularly good fit for their growing company. Several former students are currently employed at Jackson after participating in the company’s summer internship program.

“We’ve been really impressed with our past Michigan Tech interns,” Clark says. “We’ve found that Michigan Tech offers a challenging curriculum that lines up well with Jackson’s needs and develops students into quality professionals. We’ve hired more IT interns from Michigan Tech than from any other university and we’ve asked many to join us full-time after graduation.”

MTEC SmartZone will officially welcome Jackson during a March 6 ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce. The ribbon cutting will be held at 11:45 a.m., followed by a light lunch, presentations and tour of their high-tech office space.

For more information about Jackson, please visit

For more information about MTEC SmartZone, call (906) 487-7000.