Emily Hsu


What inspired you to choose the Graduate Certificate in Software Design & Development program at UW Bothell?

I studied biochemistry in college as an undergraduate and worked in the biotech field for five years. I hit a point in my career where I wanted to try something new, but I didn’t know where to start. Then I heard about the role of software engineers, and knew I could apply the skills I learn to many industries, so I thought I would give it a try. I had never taken a programming class, so when I started in the beginning just wanting to learn coding and see if I liked it or not. I searched some programs online and found that this program would be a good option for me.

Any big question you asked yourself before enrolling to make sure the program was right for you?

Yes—all the ‘what if’ questions. I was worried about everything that was uncertain before enrolling in the program. I still wasn’t positive if I really liked programming or not, and even if I did, completion of the program did not guarantee that I could successfully switch careers. I had to put a lot of time, money, and effort into it and there was no promise in return. Luckily, my family and friends encouraged me to do it anyways so I would not regret it later. Now I can say I was glad I stepped out of my comfort zone, finished the program, and switched my career.

What would you say makes the program unique or innovative?

I think what’s unique about this program is it really teaches you the fundamental knowledge about software development, which is different than other graduate programs. You will learn the computer science fundamentals that comprise the essential knowledge a software engineer must have.

What are some highlights from your student experience?

As an undergraduate at UW Seattle, almost all my classes were big and hard to interact with the professor in class. In the graduate certificate at Bothell, each class felt like no more than 50 students, so I got more opportunities to ask questions and speak directly with the professor and other students. I like that students in this program are from diverse backgrounds, but we all have the same goal: to become software engineers or gain more knowledge in the software field. It was good to get to know them, study together, and learn from each other. I made a lot of good friends in this program. I also received the support I needed and got a lot of help with my homework from tutors in CS labs and QSC center. These are very good resources for students.

What courses did you enjoy the most?

I liked CSS502, Data Structures and OOP2, the most, but particularly Dr. Zander’s lectures. I really liked one big group project where everyone in class developed a program together. We saw it through complete from design to implementation using the OOP concepts. It was my first time to complete a project from the design phase to completion, and I really enjoyed it and felt so accomplished at the end.

What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a student?

The most challenging part was time management. I worked full time while attending classes, and it was very difficult to manage time back then. The most rewarding part of being a student for me was learning new things and making new friends.

Do you have any advice for future students?

Don’t give up quickly. As a non-computer science background student, it was very challenging for me at the beginning. But every time I finished one homework assignment, I learned new concepts and gained valuable knowledge. Looking back now, the skills I have today are so important in industry and apply to many projects.

Where are you currently working, and what is your job title?

I’m a software engineer at T-Mobile.

How has completing the graduate certificate program helped you in meeting your educational and professional career goals?

Completing the program has helped me to continue my studies and enroll in the Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering program at UW Bothell, as well as find a new job as a software engineer.

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

I would suggest starting it as early as possible. That said, I did not actively look for a new career while in the graduate certificate program. The main reason was because I was working full-time back then and couldn’t make time to job search on top of work and school. Start early though! There are many resources on campus such as career fairs, alumni talks, and mock interviews that are all very helpful. The UW job searching tool, Handshake, was helpful as well.

Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?

Enjoy the learning journey. It will pay off at the end.

Continue on to read Emily’s alumni success story on the Master of Science in Computer Science & Software Engineering.