College of Computing News

Finding a New Future with OMSCS

For many Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) students, the program is a chance to get promoted within their current computing career or broaden their knowledge. But for others, it’s the door to an entirely new career path. From psychology to economics, students of all backgrounds can thrive in the program.

Finding CS

For many students, discovering a passion for CS was more serendipitous than planned. Goda Tarcijonas was managing a psychiatry research lab where her work was half clinical and half computational, and though she expected to prefer the clinical, the opposite happened.

“The days I coded for eight hours were the days I looked forward to the most, and I thought this is worth exploring,” she said.

Shijie Shi similarly found herself using data analysis in her role as an assistant director for Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Program in Economic Development. Although she came from an economics background, she would code in the data workshops she taught master’s students.

“I liked using code to solve problems, and using a program to analyze the data and see the story this data can tell,” she said.

Building skills

Students need to have demonstrated success in undergraduate-level CS courses to be accepted into OMSCS. Yet many prospective students start taking those classes when they discover their passion for CS.

After enjoying coding, Tarcijonas enrolled in undergraduate CS classes at University of Pittsburgh and a nearby community college. While searching for boot camps, she found OMSCS.

“I thought, ‘This really seems too good to be true! What’s the catch?’ This is an affordable amount of money, and it’s an amazing school,” she said.

Tarcijonas applied to OMSCS in 2018. She started the program Spring 2019 and has enjoyed combining her psychology background with computing in the Interactive Intelligence track.

“I’m sure I have to put in more work than someone who already has a CS background, but it’s definitely not impossible to do OMSCS if you’re motivated,” Tarcijonas said.

Shi also decided to pursue her passion for data and completed a datamining certificate at Stanford University.

“From that program, I really started seriously thinking about doing a CS graduate program because it’s my passion even if the homework sometimes takes me a little longer,” she said.

Shi found OMSCS while searching for online degrees and applied in 2015 to start in 2016. She focused on machine learning because it combined her math and economics background with CS.

Discovering new paths

Through OMSCS, Tarcijonas attended the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration, where she got an internship at Docusign that turned into a full-time position as software engineer. She knows without OMSCS she wouldn’t have been able to make this career shift.

Shi now works at the World Bank as a financial analyst, a role she wouldn’t have been hired for without OMSCS. She was first brought on as a consultant because her computing background enabled her to revamp the organization’s data systems.

“I wanted to work for an international organization that makes a difference,” Shi said. “The reason I can work there is because of OMSCS.”