Graduate Certificate in Software Design & Development

Sijie Chen, Class of 2017

Sijie ChenWhat made you choose to apply/enroll in the UW Bothell Graduate Certificate in Software Design & Development?

I chose this program because I wanted to switch careers to computer science, but without an educational background in computer science it was going to be hard for me to gain admission directly into the Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering at UW Bothell. Then, I found out they offered this graduate certificate program and it was a perfect match, providing the knowledge I was missing from introductory programming classes. Now that I’ve graduated, I have the computer science background needed to apply to the CSSE master’s program one day.

I also chose this program because I’m an international student finishing a master’s in transportation engineering at UW Seattle, and could complete the graduate certificate at the same time. This program is convenient and flexible since it’s a part-time evening program, and did not conflict with my master’s day-time classes.

What were some of the highlights of your experience as a student?

The main highlight of my experience was the high-quality classes. The graduate certificate has six courses, which is exactly what I needed. I encountered challenges during my studies, but I had the resources to overcome them, and when I did I learned a lot. 

What advice do you have for others regarding the career search during and post graduate certificate completion?

Start looking for career opportunities early; don’t wait until you complete the graduate certificate to begin searching.

What has been the most challenging part of being a student? 

The coursework was challenging. However, I think it’s supposed to be since it’s like a computer science undergraduate degree packed into three quarters.

What advice do you have for future students?

First words of advice: Don’t give up. What you lean in the graduate certificate is only your foundational knowledge in the vast computer science world. Some people were scared away after taking the operating system class, but if you like mobile coding and you give up in the very beginning, you will lose your chances to see other interesting things in the CS world.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that when you complete the program you will gain direct admission to the CSSE master’s degree at UW Bothell, or that you will find a job. Therefore, talk with your academic advisor early about going into the master’s program and start career preparation early with the graduate career counselor—they’re there to help!

Where are you currently working, and what is your job title? Do you feel the graduate certificate prepared you for the work you are doing adequately?

Soon I’ll start my job at Amazon with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team as a Software Development Engineer. I found the classes CSS 501, CSS 502, and CSS 503 helpful for interviews, and CSS 506, CSS 507, and CSS 508 helpful for understanding how a team operates.

Any other thoughts you want to share?

Tons of thanks to Michael Kimball-Bryant, the STEM graduate career counselor, who helped me a lot during my job hunting, from editing my resume all the way through salary negotiation.