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.
Paul Razgaitis, class of ‘17, is a software engineer at Braintree Payments. Here, he talks about a great day at Braintree, thinks back fondly on his time in the MPCS, and knows that he can figure out any technical program due to the fantastic foundation he received.
What does a great day at work look like for you?
At Braintree we do a lot of pair programming, so there's a good chance that I will be working with another person on my team.
I usually get into the office a little before 9am on most days. I'll pour myself a coffee, check email, and review pull requests from the day before. This involves leaving feedback for code that others wrote and implementing feedback that others left for me. After going through PR's, I'll continue working through the tasks that our team has prioritized for the current two-week sprint.
Before lunch, our team has a stand-up, where we video call with team members who work remotely and in our San Francisco office. Everyone gives a quick status update and then we head to the cafeteria for lunch. After lunch, we pick up where we left off in the morning. After making some good progress, it’s time for a friendly game of ping-pong or a stroll outside along the riverfront.
There is a big emphasis on having a work-life balance, so the office clears out soon after 5pm. Some people stick around for in-office yoga, or just to play video games in the lounge.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I really enjoy programming, so I consider myself very lucky that I get to do it for work!
It's fun to build new things, solve technical problems and learn something new almost every day. The best part about being an engineer is that you can bring ideas to life by yourself. If you have an idea for a new business, app, or just a fun side project, you can just build it!
What motivated you to apply and enroll in MPCS?
I knew that I wanted to work as a Software Engineer, and I didn't study Computer Science for my undergrad degree.
In order to learn the necessary skills, I briefly considered bootcamps or online classes, but the MPCS seemed like a great fit because I didn't need to quit my job to do it. The professors are all very knowledgeable, approachable, and friendly. Most of them work full-time in the field that they teach, so you can be sure that you're learning applicable skills.
Did you come to MPCS with a computer science background?
I did not; I studied business as an undergrad. I worked in startups and tech for a few years after college, but not as an engineer.
Would you recommend MPCS to others? If so, why?
I often recommend MPCS to others who are looking for a rigorous CS education. You'll gain valuable skills that will help you achieve your goals, whether you're looking to advance your career, or just learn about computers and technology. The skills are relevant in any industry now, not just tech and startups.
What is your favorite memory from your time spent as a MPCS student?
I remember spending long hours with friends in the Polsky Center in Hyde Park studying for exams and working on projects. It was very rewarding to make friends, work through hard problems, and learn things together.
What was your favorite MPCS course? Why?
I really enjoyed a lot of the classes, and have a lot of fond memories. Some highlights include: learning how the internet really works in Anthony Nicholson's networks class, learning how to solder and build IoT devices in Todd Nugent's Computer Architecture class, and scratching my head in Gerry Brady's Algorithms class.
My favorite was probably Andrew Binkowski's iOS class. I had so much fun that I agreed to stick around and help TA the class!
How has your MPCS education helped you achieve your professional goals?
As a software engineer, you never really stop learning. The MPCS gave me a great technical foundation - I am now confident when approaching any technical problem. Even if I am not familiar with a specific technology, I know that I can figure it out, because I have a solid baseline knowledge of how things work.
What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to UChicago’s Masters Program in Computer Science?
Be prepared to work hard. A lot of the classes are very challenging, and you definitely get from it what you put in. If you're working full-time and going to class, be prepared to put in the hours after work. It will be challenging, but it will all be worth it in the end! You'll learn a lot of interesting things and you'll make some lifelong friends!