Reflecting on a 'Transformative' Experience

Recent graduate Pooja Bala Nehru looks back on her time in the MSIT program.

When Pooja Bala Nehru considered information technology (IT) master's programs to apply to, she was looking for three things: a university with a strong academic reputation, a curriculum designed to cover a broad range of topics, and an alumni network that could offer valuable connections and support for career advancement. 

She found those traits in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program. 

Pooja Bala NehruHaving just completed the program, Nehru (MSIT '23) reflected on her experience in the program and why she felt it was transformational.

How did you grow during your time in the program? 

MSIT heightened my awareness of industry practices, ethics, and standards. It equipped me with a broader understanding of the field, including current trends and challenges. Additionally, the dynamic nature of the IT sector taught me adaptability, a crucial trait for navigating the ever-evolving landscape. 

Networking played a pivotal role in my growth. Building connections with professors, peers, and industry professionals provided valuable insights and opened doors for future collaborations.  

Overall, my time in the MSIT program at Northwestern was transformative, shaping me into a more knowledgeable, adaptable, and well-rounded professional. 

What were the most important lessons you learned in MSIT? 

During my journey in the MSIT program at Northwestern, I gleaned invaluable lessons that have profoundly shaped my perspective and skill set. I learned the art of continuous learning. The rapidly evolving nature of information technology demands a proactive approach to staying abreast of emerging trends and technologies. Embracing a mindset of lifelong learning became not just a necessity but a cornerstone of my professional ethos.

Another pivotal lesson was the significance of effective communication. The program underscored the need to articulate complex technical concepts clearly, both in writing and verbally. This skill not only empowered me to convey ideas persuasively but also enhanced my collaborative efforts within multidisciplinary teams.

How did the program prepare you for life after MSIT? 

The MSIT program at Northwestern served as a robust foundation, equipping me with the tools and mindset needed for a successful transition into post-graduate life. One of the most significant preparations was the program's emphasis on practical, hands-on experience. Engaging in real-world projects and case studies provided me with a tangible understanding of applying theoretical knowledge to solve complex problems — a skill set directly transferable to the challenges I would encounter in my professional journey.

Moreover, the program's focus on collaboration and teamwork was pivotal. Working alongside diverse peers on projects not only mirrored the collaborative nature of the industry but also enhanced my ability to communicate effectively and navigate different perspectives — a crucial aspect in any workplace. Staying abreast of the latest advancements during the program ensured that I was well-positioned to contribute meaningfully in a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

What advice would you give to future MSIT students? 

Embrace every opportunity for hands-on experience. The real-world projects in the MSIT program are where you'll truly apply and solidify your knowledge.

Don't just focus on grades; prioritize understanding and practical application.  

Cultivate a collaborative mindset; learn from your diverse peers as much as from your coursework. 

Network actively; connections made during the program can open doors post-graduation.  

Stay curious and adaptable; the tech landscape evolves rapidly. 

Lastly, balance hard work with self-care; maintain a healthy work-life equilibrium to ensure sustained success and fulfillment in both your academic journey and future career.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

The program felt like a sneak peek into the real tech world, and being close to Chicago's tech scene was like having a backstage pass. It's not just a degree, it's like getting a secret code to unlock the doors of the tech world.

I'm immensely grateful for the transformative journey in the MSIT program at Northwestern, where every challenge became a stepping stone for growth.

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