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3 Software Engineers Who Wouldn’t Be Where They Are Without a Master’s Degree

Photo credit: Getty Images/gilaxia

Photo credit: Getty Images/gilaxia

In the ever-changing tech world, it’s tough to say there’s a clear path to success. With new programming languages, tools and frameworks evolving each day, a career in tech isn’t just about what you know today, it’s about what you should know tomorrow.

That is where formal training separates the average developer from an innovative engineer. Seeking an advanced degree, like a Masters of Science in Computer Science or a Master of Science in Software Engineering from Villanova University, not only sets your resume apart, it gives you the confidence you need to code for today and create for tomorrow.

“More than anything, my master’s degree gave me confidence,” says Mary Malone, principal engineer and software systems architect at Comcast and Villanova graduate program alumnae. “It gave me a solid foundation and challenged me to a level that I have not often been challenged to in my career, both academically and technically.”

Malone began her college career as a psychology undergrad, but after just one intro to computer science class, she was hooked. She finished out her bachelor’s degree in psychology but went to work in computers following graduation. Her first job out of school was as a computer programmer at Bell Atlantic writing code on an IBM 370 mainframe computer.

Malone’s story isn’t unique to the tech world. The field is filled with passionate career changers who start their undergraduate careers in one area and then become “hooked on technology” as Malone puts it.

“Different backgrounds, creativity and innate talent play a large role in success in this field,” she says. “But there is no substitute for the rigorous foundation provided by an advanced degree in CIS.”

That’s what led Carmen Nigro, now a senior software engineer for ESPN, to pursue his master’s degree at Villanova.

“[It’s] allowed me to combine both my passions for programming and sports,” he says. “I’ve always felt that was one of the most exciting things about this career path is the flexibility it can provide in terms of the many different industries.”

As a natural problem-solver, Nigro found Villanova’s rigorous courses like Analysis of Algorithms to be the challenge his critical thinking skills needed to reach the next level. That, and the team of passionate professors fueling his desire to learn more.

“One of the Villanova Computer Science program’s most valuable assets is the excellent staff of professors teaching at the university,” says Nigro. “They have a passion for their craft that is contagious, and they make it a priority to expose students to new concepts and to prepare them for careers in the field.”

With an estimated 17 percent job growth in the next year, advanced skills in computer science and software engineering are more in demand than ever before. The knowledge professionals apply in these fields can be found in a variety of industries, from fashion to healthcare, agriculture to technology. Startups, as well as Fortune 500 companies, are looking for skilled engineers to help innovate products millions of Americans use each day.

“It is very gratifying to help develop applications that millions of people use daily,” says Ivan Ong, principal engineer focused on Wi-Fi technology for Comcast and Villanova graduate program alumnus.

For him, a master’s degree was a personal achievement, a challenge to not only stay sharp in his field but also stay ahead of the curve in technologies outside of what he does on a daily basis.

“It forces you to immerse yourself into a new technology and even exposes certain attributes that I wasn’t aware of having worked on wireless projects in the past—it helped provide a different perspective [outside of my daily work].”

Plus, he notes, classes were taught by industry professionals who could convey real-world expectations to their students. The faculty’s knowledge and flexibility—with evening classes and the ability to conduct some elective classes remotely via video—helped Ong achieve his goal and deepen his knowledge while balancing a career and family life.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career or to learn more about Villanova’s graduate programs in computer science and software engineering, visit them online.