Sharing the Breadth of IT Opportunities

Salesforce’s Allison Park shares what she learned in the MSIT program with current students.

Allison Park (MSIT ‘03) never thought she'd have a career in information technology.

Park earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Northwestern in 1991. Only after graduation did she discover her love of working with technology. She taught herself how to become a developer and later became an IT manager. But she knew there were gaps in her knowledge.

Allison ParkTo fill those holes, she turned to Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program.

“MSIT was a perfect fit. I liked the balance between business and technology,” she said. “I was not interested in going deep into the technology for technology's sake. It was all about the best application of technology for the business.” 

Now she is applying that knowledge in her role as a principal enterprise architect at cloud-based software company Salesforce, a position she has held for four years. She recently participated in a new McCormick Office of Professional Education initiative called Alumni Office Hours, which links students with professionals who have gone through the program and found success after graduation. 

The goal is to give students the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with alumni so they can ask questions to help guide them on their own career paths.  

“It’s great for them to understand the true breadth of career paths available,” Park said.  

Park’s career is an example of exactly how broad those paths are. Her role with Salesforce is far removed from the technical weeds of software implementation. 

As an enterprise architect, she works with the company’s sales team to gain a greater understanding of potential customers’ existing businesses and technical architecture to create a roadmap that clearly shows how to reach a better future state.

"I enjoy learning about each company's business," she said. "I always learn something new and discover how deeply proud people are of what they do. It is important to understand the business to ensure the technical solution fits their needs." 

Park primarily works with manufacturing and distribution companies. Her projects range from advising prospects about how to leverage Salesforce to working with clients and creating a plan to help maximize the platform's capabilities. 

The goal is to develop a roadmap with the customer to help them fulfill their vision, she said. 

“MSIT did a great job of helping me understand the application of the technology,” she said. “Helping business leaders understand how to use technology and the right mix of technology for the business aligns with what I learned in the program.”  

Park’s career path might not be common for most MSIT graduates, and that is precisely why she wanted to participate in the Alumni Office Hours program. She said she counseled students on networking and the importance of building and maintaining connections as their careers develop. She also stressed the wide range of opportunities available to MSIT graduates. 

“MSIT did a great job of helping me understand the application of the technology without digging into proving the theorem,” she said. “I told the students to make sure they are passionate about the application of technology and how to use it to deliver true business value.”  

McCormick News Article