Kay Hazen: The Force Behind the Masters in Software Development

Kay Hazen MSDMeet Kay Hazen, the dynamic Program Manager for MIU’s Masters of Software Development (MSD)program.  Kay has a strong business and educational background, including working in Career Strategies for the MS in Computer Science (ComPro) for several years before joining MSD. Currently, Kay wears two hats, as both MSD Program Manager and Director of the MSD Career Strategies Workshop. With her solid experience and diverse skills, we are fortunate to have Kay onboard.  Let’s learn about Kay and all she does to ensure the success of the MSD program and its graduates.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: What are your responsibilities as Program Manager for MSD?

Kay: I make sure the program runs fluidly; from advertising to reviewing student applications, to making sure the students are comfortable when they arrive on campus. In addition, I run the Career Strategies Workshop. It’s the last course each student takes, so I’m involved every step of the way during their journey, from start to finish.

CA: The Career Strategies Workshop is a vital part of MSD, as every student’s entire goal is to get a great job when they graduate. What do you cover during this time?

Kay: During this 2-week workshop they learn how to find the position they want to apply for, write a professional resume, ask and answer questions during interviews, and write a follow-up thank-you note. These soft skills give them confidence in promoting themselves and handling interviews, so when they complete the workshop, they literally can’t wait to jump into the job search.

CA:  How do the students know where to apply? It’s a big world out there!

Kay: There might be 1,000’s of positions to choose from, but we help them decide where to apply. For example, do they want a corporate culture where they wear suits and ties and work with top-tier global consulting firms? Or do they prefer an informal setting where they can wear t-shirts and jeans? What are the technologies they will be working on? Where is the job located?  Do they want to live there? Is the company only offering a salary, or are benefits included? These are the things to consider before starting their job search.

CA: Do you teach them how to promote themselves on social media as well?

Kay: Definitely! They learn how to promote themselves online on sites such as LinkedIn, Dice, Indeed, and Career Builder. In addition, the MSD website has a landing page where recruiters can review their resumes, and we try to make sure the students only work with professional recruiters. We also encourage them to network with friends and associates who work in companies where they want to apply.

CA: How long does it take for MSD graduates to land a job?

Kay: In a good market the job search can take 3 to 6 months and at times, up to a year. However, our graduates are getting jobs quickly because they are well-prepared. They know what type of company they want to work in and have developed quality interviewing skills. Another advantage that our students have is that we partner with companies who seek the technical skills that our students have.

CA:  What is your success rate?

Kay: Our graduates are doing great! 100% of our August 2020 graduates and about 50% of our August 2021 graduates have accepted positions at top US companies including Google, Citibank, USAA, Hays Companies, Boeing, and others, with an average annual pay of $90,000 (ranging from $71,000 to $130,000).

CA: What makes you confident that MSD graduates have the technical skills needed for the job market?

Kay: MSD is different from a typical computer science program where they learn many technologies but the courses are shallower. Our classes are specific. The MSD students learn JavaScript web development. It’s the front end and back end for web and IOS, so it’s more hands-on than other programs. Plus, with MIU’s block system, they take one course at a time so it’s easier to focus and retain the knowledge.

CA: I understand the courses are project-based. Can you describe how that works?

Kay: The students work on 9 to11 projects during the year, and each one is similar to projects they would have in an actual workplace. Approaching the problem as a real-life project develops and establishes their skills and helps make them proficient JavaScript web developers.

CA: What are companies looking for in new hires, and software developers in particular?

Kay: First of all, the applicant needs to have strong technical skills, but soft skills are also in high demand. Many times, companies choose someone who is confident and comfortable in their own skin. The employer knows they will be sitting with this person for two-thousand hours a year and they want to hire someone who is easy to be around, driven to succeed and wants to continue to learn all that they can, because learning new technologies never ends in the field of software development.

CA:  Is this why perfecting the interview process is important?

Kay: Very much so. During the interview process, our graduates have an opportunity to demonstrate their technical skills, but they can also demonstrate that they are team players who show up on time, are excited about the company and its projects, are dedicated and professional and will bring those high standards to the workplace.

CA: What inspires you about working with MSD students?

Kay: I enjoy meeting people from all areas of the USA, and different countries and cultures, who have various perspectives on life. It is a joy to watch these students start a master’s program with little, if any, experience in developing software, and achieving a master’s degree and a life-changing new career.

They embark on this new path, leaving their jobs and families for 12 to 18 months to attend the Masters in Software Development program.   In the end, when they complete the program and find a great job, they are so happy they made that decision! They inspire me because they leave everything they know to come to this little town of Fairfield seeking higher education at MIU and take a chance on a new career path because they want a more fulfilling life, and they do it! It really is an honor to be a part of their journey.

Kay and Students at Picnic

The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month Accelerated program or 18-month Standard Track training program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program and any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission. MSD is accepting applications for the February 2022 entry and the deadline is December 31st. For more information call or text 800-563-9673.