University of Chicago Masters Program in Computer Science alumni 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 esteemed alumni use their applied skills education from 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.
Lakshman Mody, class of 2017, is a Product Manager at Grubhub. Lakshman reflects on how he came into the program with no technical background, shares how his MPCS education helped him land the product manager role he sought and offers advice to those considering the program.
What does a great day at work look like for you?
After working on launching a feature for a while, launching it is by far the greatest day.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Being a product manager, I love engaging with engineers, designers, data scientists, and marketers to come up with:
1. What problem are we going to try to solve?
2. What feature will we build to solve it?
3. Then execute!
What motivated you to join the MPCS?
I wanted to be a product manager. I interviewed a lot of product managers and found it was nearly impossible to land a junior role without a technical background. Also, as someone looking to enter and stay in the technology field, I felt that an investment now would pay off for the rest of my career.
Did you come to MPCS with a computer science background?
Nope! However, I had a math background, which definitely helped me. I also fortunately had taken the GMAT in college, which this program accepted in place of the GRE. I worked my way through the intro courses and picked up everything as I went. However, I think that the Java course was probably what gave me the best backbone to writing code as there was a lot of homework.
Would you recommend MPCS to others? If so, why?
Yes. It got me the role that I wanted! Also, I picked up a lot of technical skills along the way. I don’t use them actively as a Product Manager, however, I understand how many more pieces of technology work and have the confidence to pick up new technical skills on my own.
What is your favorite memory from your time spent as an MPCS student?
Studying in the UChicago hospital with a few friends. Their cafeteria is heavily subsidized and is open 24/7!
What was your favorite MPCS course? Why?
I would have to pick 2: Machine Learning and iOS. ML is incredibly important to know these days. Also, it is mind blowing what you can do with a jupyter notebook and sci-kit learn! iOS was great because I got to make a bunch of apps that had actual functions.
How has your MPCS education impacted your career?
Going into MPCS, I knew that I wanted to be a Product Manager when I graduated. Doing this masters qualified me for a summer internship, which later led to a full-time job offer. Also, the technical education that I got from MPCS helps me understand the engineers that I work with. I don’t think I would be as effective without the technical education.
What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to UChicago’s Masters Program in Computer Science?
Take Machine Learning and iOS development! I learned a lot in those courses and thoroughly enjoyed them. Also, if you join the program without a CS background, as long as you put in the work, you will enjoy yourself as well.