My Re-Introduction to Data Engineering

Northwestern MSIT student Rekha Goverthanam shares why she wanted to pursue an optional summer internship and what she hopes to learn from the experience.

Rekha Goverthanam (MSIT '19) has a background as a data engineer, but after taking four years away from the professional environment for personal reasons, she was looking for a way to integrate herself back into the industry. She decided Northwestern's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program was the perfect entree.

Prior to completing her final quarter as a full-time student in MSIT, Goverthanam decided to pursue a summer internship in the Chicago area to gain additional hands-on working experience. She is currently interning at Change Healthcare, where she is migrating the ETL framework to AWS Glue.

The internship was coordinated by the McCormick Engineering Career Development office, which is a resource available to all MSIT students. Goverthanam recently spoke about why she wanted to pursue an internship and what she hopes to learn from the experience.

Why did you want to pursue the optional summer internship?

I thought an internship would give me the opportunity to get real-world industry experience and apply what I have learned in the MSIT program, and I was right! I also thought it might increase my opportunity to get hired as a full-time employee and continue with the role if it is mutually beneficial.   

What do you hope to learn from the experience?

I wanted to learn ETL designing, data modeling, AWS services like "Glue," as well as develop my presentation skills by pitching my ideas and views effectively to the team. I have four years of experience as a data engineer, but it’s been four years since I worked in a professional environment. I hope this internship at Change Healthcare will let me learn cutting-edge technologies and trends happening in the data engineering field.

How do you think you'll be able to apply the lessons you learned in the MSIT program to your internship?

I think the technical courses I took in the MSIT program will be a great help in accomplishing my day-to-day tasks. The MSIT Capstone course Technology Strategy & Enterprise Architecture gave me a great platform to understand how to best approach a business problem. The MSIT program's student cohort model will definitely help me know how to more effectively collaborate and work with a team.

What was it about the Northwestern MSIT program that initially appealed to you?

I thought the Northwestern MSIT program stood out as a unique program and curriculum. The program offered data-focused specializations while allowing me to sharpen my project management skills, and being a program at a prestigious university like Northwestern was a huge draw for me. What I've learned in the MSIT program and the experience I am having during my internship will definitely strengthen my career in data engineering.

What are the most important lessons or skills you've learned during your time in the program? 

As a full-time student, taking four courses in a quarter improved my time management skills and ability to multitask and prioritize workloads. The data science courses that I have taken in the MSIT program have helped me understand the field and have provided me with the necessary confidence to land a job after graduation.

How would you describe your overall MSIT experience?

It's been a wonderful experience because of my classmates and the MSIT staff, and it has had a huge impact not only on my academics but also on my soft skills. Being a graduate of “Northwestern MSIT” is an identity that I will proudly carry forever in my professional life.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I want to thank all my MSIT professors, the MSIT staff and all my classmates who have made this an incredible journey!