Over the past few months I have been pretty absent on my blog, most of this is caused by the fact I decided to start working on a masters degree. I put a lot of thought into what university I would attend and put together a list composed of top universities in the country that provide acceptable online degree programs for working professionals. My final pick was Boston University with their Masters of Science in Computer Information Systems focused in Security.
This decision was based on several factors such as cost, name recognition, programs available, class/program length, and most importantly expected online experience. After doing months of research I applied to the university and got accepted within several weeks. I was very excited yet nervous to get started, the staff was very helpful at walking me through the initial process of getting my account information and figuring out my financial aid. Yes, no matter the university I would have to rack up some student loans to make my degree goals happen. The online Masters degree program BU offered was composed of 7 week courses, where 6 of those weeks are primarily used for teaching, writing, discussions, lectures, and assignments while the last week is used for a final exam. Each semester we would take two classes, so for Fall1 I picked CS669 and Fall2 I picked CS782.
Once I was accepted and all the paperwork was set, I had a little over a month to decide what my first class would be. This decision would either break me or show me the ropes on what I was going to be dealing with. I was uncertain that I could jump into a writing class right away, and I opted for something technical during that term. My thought was, I would slowly transition into a writing class after I gained some experience. It had been just over five years since I completed my bachelors degree, so I was definitely rusty in academic writing.
Some people ask why go back to school? Others, say it’s probably not worth it unless you are expecting to get a huge pay increase. Some say university name don’t matter if you do it online, and others believe that in IT a degree isn’t as important as experience. I would agree that most concerns have some merit, but my goal was to obtain a world class degree from a reputable university that I would be very proud of. In addition, I also wanted to make sure I felt I am getting that world class education, that could one day make me into an exceptional leader. My career goal still stands at going up higher into the leadership track of IT, and at one point becoming a director or chief level executive to help an organization or company achieve their IT goals. With this education I hope to sharpen my skills to have a better high level picture of technology, executive writing, and an excellent combination of professional experience with an academic background.
I also understand that while I work full time, I do not have children. This apparently is a luxury for someone seeking to spend 20~40 hours a week in schoolwork, in addition to whatever they already spend at work. Therefore, it just makes sense to complete this degree as soon as possible while still not breaking the bank.
The First Class
My first class was MET CS669, Database Design and Implementation for Business. This class took me completely unprepared with increasing workloads every week to almost the breaking point. Not being a DBA myself, I was challenged every week with increasing workloads that required me to often spend between 30 to 45 hours just in classwork. I would read the assigned chapters, read the online lecture notes, read the assignment and Labs to get a general understanding before I could complete everything. My biggest challenge was time, our lectures would run Tuesdays and Thursdays and assignment reviews would take place on Saturdays. Trying to attend the lectures, while staying on track was a challenge of itself, but I figured Labs would be my priority followed by assignments and finally the weekly quizzes. As each week progressed, we started working on our term project shown in the following link: CS669_TermProject. This increasingly got harder as the topics would blur a bit sometimes and required me ask the facilitators plenty of questions. They were smart, often answered questions with more questions in an attempt to lead me to the right answer. However, this can be challenging and can backfire if a student is way behind in a subject.
While I know my term project wasn’t perfect, I definitely scored a decent grade on it. The following images are examples of some of the basic Conceptual and Logical work I put together to answer the Netflix term project assignment. It required a lot of work by putting together everything we had learned during previous lectures and what was utilized in the Lab assignments. Unfortunately for me the final exam was extremely picky on what it covered and required me to memorize a lot more than I had planned. In addition to complications at work that same evening I did not prepare well for this exam and bricked this proctored exam. My final grade was a B thanks to my overall cumulative grade gained from my other assignments.
The Second Class
My second class was CS782, IT Strategy and Management. This course provided me with a strategic high level overview of multiple technologies and business approaches. I enjoyed this class quite a bit as it provided a more personal feel and interaction between student and professor. It offered challenging topics that scaled with difficulty as each week progressed, and a broad range topics for our weekly papers. I spent a lot of weekends writing research papers for this class, and definitely got better at putting these together as the class progressed. There was a lot more time spent on lectures on this class unlike the previous course and both facilitators and teacher alike had excellent information to provide, which became extremely useful when asking questions.
I found my experience as an IT manager and IT professional to prove quite useful in this class as I understood the majority of the terminology and technologies being mentioned. I also had several moments in which work and class intertwined together during “cloud” discussions. The majority of work was focused on the papers, as an example my third week assignment: “91_RinconFabio_assign3“. I was scored around the same on most of my papers, always asking for more emphasis on anything I said or claimed and learned to backup any statement that I made with credible resources. The last assignment was a lackluster CIO/CTO PowerPoint that I struggled with, I did not feel I could put that much energy in it as I did with research papers. Probably a mental thing I have against PowerPoints, the Final was a four essay question exam that allowed me to go wild. I felt I scored high on my final to earn me an A on the class at the end.
I am still far from finishing my degree, but I feel that I have moved further into my long term goal. I have more classes to prepare for, but from what I have gathered I have finished some of the more challenging classes offered in this program. I’m sure my up-coming quantitative methods class will still be challenging enough for me to keep me overly occupied. I hope to keep posting updates on my degree and other technologies as they come up now that SCCM and Windows 10 are buzzing on my twitter feed.