Angela Yao, MPCS Class of 2020: “I use everything I learned from these classes (seriously) on a daily basis now”

The University of Chicago Masters Program in Computer Science students push boundaries and innovate across many facets of industry. Whether it’s developing seamless UX interfaces, engineering software at Fortune 500 companies, working in big data or keeping networks secure, our students use their applied-skills education from the MPCS to problem-solve, create, and elevate the computer science field. Learn from their stories and discover how a CS background can prepare you for cutting-edge internships.


Angela Yao graduated from the MPCS in 2020. She currently works as a Software Engineer at Tempus. She shares her experiences of joining the MPCS from a non-computer science background and how what she learned in the program impacts her daily life. 

Did you come to the MPCS with a computer science background? What motivated you to apply and enroll? 

No I did not. Before the MPCS, I was working in consulting and had a few projects in the tech industry, which got me interested in software. I then taught myself how to write code and loved it, so I decided to pursue an advanced degree in Computer Science.

Can you tell us a bit about your role as a Software Engineer at Tempus? 

I am currently working on LIMS, a team at Tempus that builds internal software for the Tempus Lab. Our web applications automate sample processing workflows and integrate with the lab equipment. LIMS has over 200 internal users grouped into multiple teams who work on transforming patient samples into DNA and RNA strands to prepare them for sequencing (Tempus’ primary product offering). I work in a team of 8, including 6 engineers, 1 product manager, and 1 QA engineer. On a daily basis, I develop new features, provide product support for lab technicians, and maintain our code base.  

What was one of your most valued MPCS courses? Why? 

Algorithms. Most tech companies ask algorithmic interview questions, so the foundation I acquired from that class helped me tremendously in landing an internship and a full-time job. 

Did you have a particular MPCS instructor that you found influential? 

Gerry Brady (Algorithms). That class would have been impossible for me without her as my instructor. She did such a great job at breaking down concepts into concise pseudocode (line by line, literally on a blackboard). So, thank you Gerry!

How has your MPCS education helped you in your new role / helped you achieve your professional goals?

The best part of the MPCS program, regardless of whether you’re doing a 9 or 12 course program, is that you get to decide your areas of focus in Computer Science and tailor your classes towards them. I was primarily focused on full stack development, so I took Python Programming, Databases, Web Development and Cloud Computing. I use everything I learned from these classes (seriously) on a daily basis now. I also want to highlight the great MPCS alumni network out there. When I was searching for internships, I reached out to a lot of MPCS graduates on LinkedIn, who provided great tips for job searching, interviewing, and more. I landed my first internship through a referral by an MPCS alum. 

What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying or enrolling in the MPCS? Especially for someone without a CS background?

Learn some basic programming first and see if it interests you. You don't want to get an advanced degree in Computer Science without knowing what you are getting yourself into! There are some great free resources online (I took an introductory course on MIT OpenCourseWare).