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 careers and leadership roles.
Eshé N. Pickett, Class of 2005, is a Software Architect in the Internet of Things group at Intel. In this profile, she explains why it’s important to constantly adapt and learn in this field, what makes the MPCS so special, and how hands-on experience is essential for the growth of your career.
What does a great day at work look like for you?
A great day at work is one where I have the opportunity to solve a problem that makes life easier for my co-workers or customers. I like knowing that something I have contributed to is improving their ability to work more effectively.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I enjoy the range of technologies I am exposed to, and that no one day is the same. I work for a global company so I meet people from all around the United States and the world.
Which programming language/technical skills do you use most often at work?
At the moment, I work with micro-services, virtualization, and containerization technologies, taking into consideration large scale deployment and remote management of devices and applications. Understanding performance implications of how these technologies work in localized environments (“the edge”) and over the network (“the cloud”), how best to secure, and leverage them to modernize software architectures.
Describe a problem at work that your MPCS knowledge helped you solve.
The ability to learn and adapt quickly is a skill that I use every day. The foundational elements of software architecture, and the applicability in a given use case are constant, regardless of the underlying programming language or technology. How to solve problems and think critically, research and propose a solution where one does not exist. Most of the technologies and tools I use today were not taught or didn’t exist when I was in MPCS, which is a testament to how you must constantly evolve in order to stay relevant.
Did you come to MPCS with a computer science background? What motivated you to apply and enroll?
I had a computer science background when I came to MPCS. My motivation was two-fold: One - I had a rough freshman year in undergrad that negatively impacted my GPA, and I wanted to improve my standing. Two - I wanted to round out my foundational knowledge as there were certain skills gaps I encountered while interviewing that I wanted to fill.
What about the future of the computer science/tech industry most excites you?
In my lifetime, advancements in technology directly affected my ability to navigate, connect with geographically dispersed friends and family, and opened the world to me. In the future, accessibility and health innovations will change the face of how we deliver care. What excites me about technology is its ability to democratize the world in ways we never imagined.
Would you recommend MPCS to others? If so, why?
Unequivocally, yes. What I appreciated most about MPCS was the flexibility to complete the program in a way that was compatible with my life. I was working to support myself during my time at MPCS, so the night classes made it possible for me to participate, and reduce the amount of debt I incurred. In addition, the quality of instruction, and the network I gained is invaluable. I have stayed in touch with several faculty members, peers, and staff.
What is your favorite memory from your time as an MPCS student?
My fondest MPCS memory was working in the lab with one of my closest friends from the program (we are still friends to this day). We were fortunate to be paired together to implement an assignment for gaming over the network. I didn’t mind being up so late, because we had so much fun together, we enrolled in salsa classes, and went to the midnight movie for the opening of The Incredibles!
What was your favorite MPCS course? Why?
The MPCS course that I value the most, was Computer Architecture with Anne Rogers. She was tough, but fair, and I learned so much from Prof. Rogers. I even kept the book; Computer Systems: A Programmer’s Perspective. That course taught me how to debug on a level that I still use today.
How has your MPCS education helped you achieve your professional goals?
My MPCS education directly led to my recruitment, and subsequent hiring. I would not be where I am today without it.
What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to MPCS?
Don’t let fear be a deterrent. If you truly have an interest or desire to learn this craft, it is not something anyone is ‘born’ with. Too often we hear that someone has an innate gift or talent for STEM, but much like training for a marathon if you’ve never run before, it takes a great deal of practice, but if you are tenacious, you can be successful.
Do you have any career advice for someone who's pursuing a job in your current field?
I would advise anyone seeking to pursue a career in software to get practical experience as early as they can. Now, this is more accessible and easier to do than ever before. Start contributing to open source projects, play with the technology that is available: develop your own applications, try, fail, and build a portfolio. The more hands on experience you have troubleshooting, understanding architectures that can be used in a given scenario, the better you will become at applying them in real-world scenarios.