Making the Right Decision Leads to a Master’s in Software Development

An Interview with Shawn Daudi, 2020 MIU Graduate

By Christine Albers

In 2014, Shawn Daudi had to decide between a first-class ticket home to Los Angeles or pursuing an education at MIU. Six years later, with a Master’s Degree in Software Development, Shawn knows he made the best decision in his life when he decided to take his education seriously and commit to some hard work. Let’s hear his story!

Christine (CA): How did you hear about MIU, Shawn?

Shawn: My sister, who teaches Transcendental Meditation, tried to convince me to go to MIU, but I wasn’t about to leave Los Angeles and go to the middle of nowhere. I was thinking, LA is where it’s at, but my mom said, “Just go try it out for 6 months and if you don’t like it, I’ll buy you a first-class ticket and you can come home.” So, I thought I would try it for 6 months and go back home. I didn’t think I would ever graduate from college.

When I got here, I was thinking, oh college life, I’ll just relax with my friends and have fun. But one day, after finishing my third year, I was sitting at Caribou Coffee and it hit me, “Am I actually going to get a Bachelor’s degree?” Something shifted inside me. I decided to take my senior year seriously and I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2017.

CA:   Why did you choose the Masters in Software Development?

Shawn: After I graduated with my BA in Business, I realized that being an executive or supervisor is not my thing. I had an interest in computers and thought I might prefer to be the person developing something on the floor. Ironically, after resisting coming to Fairfield, I didn’t want to leave, so when they launched the new Masters in Software Development program, I was all over it.

They say that all the information you need is on the internet, but some people do better in a classroom setting and I’m one of those people. I felt this program was a calling for me. Although I had no background in software development Luke (MSD Director) said I was the perfect candidate and it worked out perfectly.

CA: How did your family feel about the new program?

Shawn: My family was a huge help. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done. My sister introduced me to MIU, my mom encouraged me to go, and my dad was a disciplinarian so he pushed me. His attitude was to work hard and accomplish something. So, in my mind, if it was a challenge, I needed to go for it, and that came from him.

CA: What did you like best about the MSD program?

Shawn: I liked that it was difficult, challenging. I had lost sight of how to work hard for something, and I discovered the merit in finding yourself through hard work. My dad once told me that when someone earns something, and they know they’ve earned it, that’s the best possible feeling.   With the MSD program, I worked hard and felt I had earned my Master’s degree. It was by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, but it was worth every single minute. I didn’t think I would finish high school, let alone get a Bachelor’s Degree, so when I got my Master’s Degree it was emotional for me.

CA: Were you able to stay balanced during the 12 months of courses?

Shawn: At the beginning of the program I told myself I would stay up until 2 am every night and study, study, study. After 6 months I realized I needed sleep. Sleep for a programmer is like mental steroids. I learned very quickly to stop at 11 pm or midnight, get some sleep and start again the next morning. The meditation also helped me handle the stress and fatigue.

CA: How do you like the international setting at MIU?

Shawn: It’s great! Before I came to MIU I didn’t know anyone from Africa. Now I have so many Ethiopian friends.  I’ve eaten Ethiopian food; I know a few phrases of Ethiopian and I get along with them so well. It can be a bit scary at first because you don’t know exactly what their culture encompasses. But when you get to know them you realize you have a lot in common. My Ethiopian friends have such a sense of community amongst them and that’s the type of social life that I wish we had more of in the United States. We don’t have it on the level that they do. They are light years ahead of us in this way.

CA: How were the classes? Did you get the knowledge you need to go into the job market?

Shawn: When we finished the course, our professors said, “Now you know the basics and you’re good to go,” but I was nervous. The nature of the computer industry is that there’s so much information that it’s impossible to know it all.  So, I talked to my friends who work in the industry and when they looked at the curriculum they said, “You are way ahead of this.” That was a big relief and boosted my confidence.

CA:  How is the Career Development program working for you?

Shawn: I can’t believe how valuable it is, I didn’t know how great it was until I got into it. The director (Kay Hazen) is absolutely phenomenal. She is such a good coach. If I’m in a weird funk, she just outlines the next steps and I’m back on track.

CA: What do you think of the faculty?  

Shawn: The faculty members are incredible. I think that teaching computer science is an art. There’s a bit of a gray area between teaching and making it so we can understand. It’s hard to zero in on it and they did great because they understood the art of teaching the subject. You can be the most expert developer in the world but not know how to teach, and I made it difficult for them.  I was constantly asking questions and complaining that it was too hard but they put up with me and we’re all buddies.

CA: Would you recommend the MSD program to other students?

Shawn: I absolutely recommend this program. Whenever I have an opportunity to meet a potential student or candidate, I always tell them to check it out. Especially now with the 18-month extended program, it’s easier to learn everything at a comfortable pace. That was a great addition to the program.

For me, enrolling in the MSD program was the best decision I ever made in my life. I love the faculty, and even though it was challenging, I’m proud that I pushed through and got my Master’s in Software Development.

 

Shawn graduated from the Masters of Software Development program in August 2020 and is currently pursuing a position as a JavaScript web developer. We wish him the best of luck!

The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month 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.

 

 

 

 

 

A Masters in Software Development (MSD) Program that Exceeds Expectations

An Interview with Michael Fitzgerald, MSD Student

“The culture at MIU is truly an internationally-diverse one. We hear about the need for people to come together and experience other cultures to broaden their perspective, but at MIU, it’s automatically the reality. And it’s just so beautiful to see many different cultures overlapping and co-existing. Even students from countries with a conflict between them interact joyously and peacefully here. It’s incredible and very uplifting.”

Michael Fitzgerald is finishing his course work for a Masters in Software Development degree at Maharishi International University (MIU) and will be seeking a job as a JavaScript web developer.  In this article, he shares his experience of the program and why he thinks it may exceed many students’ expectations.

Michael, how did you come to join the MSD program in 2019?

I graduated from MIU in 2016 with a Math degree and accepted a digital marketing position with a Fairfield company.   Two years later my friend Luke Hillis suggested I might like the new computer science program, which he was managing. I knew I needed more education if I wanted a career in computer science and it seemed like a good wave to catch and ride because the world of web development and JavaScript is exploding in demand.

How did your Math background prepare you for software development?

Most anything computer science-related has its basis in math, and ultimately, math is an exercise in spatial and logical thinking. So, the two disciplines go hand in hand.

What are your career goals?

If I find the right position on the entry-level, I hope to build a solid career with room to grow. I see lots of potential roles in the software development arena, such as Product Management, DevOps, etc. I’d also like to explore staying in Fairfield, using the education I get from the program, and building a software development firm here.

Why Fairfield?

The people here have qualities that you may not find in other places. The best way I can describe it is the ability to connect on deeper levels and a certain level of awareness that makes it a safe space to have a natural and effortless exchange of ideas. Maybe it’s due to going deeper inside during the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program and experiencing more inner happiness that makes people here so open and caring.

How has your TM program helped you during the course?

What suffers the most when you’re in school is having enough time in the day to fit everything in.  I have to choose how many hours I can sleep, how long to study and when to study, and when to stay up late.  I’d be worse off and further out of balance if I didn’t prioritize my meditation twice a day. If I only get 5 hours of sleep, I still make sure I fit my meditation in before the morning lectures so I feel rested and alert. It’s a technique for maintenance and I notice if I neglect that aspect.

The students on the MSD program represent 40 to 50 countries. What’s it like, being with so many international students?

It’s great. I’ve made lifelong friends from other countries and had unique and unforgettable experiences, like listening to a traditional Ethiopian singer while working on projects with Ethiopian students. We may be from many different countries, but we’re all on the same trajectory, taking our classes together, so there’s a cool group feeling that we’re in this together. The whole program and curriculum are laid out, so it’s like riding a train, and there’s this sense that the train will take you to totally new heights.

What do you think of the Faculty?

I’ve enjoyed connecting with the faculty; they are compassionate, helpful, and smart. We’ve come a long way when you consider it was the first year of this program and it doesn’t require previous coding experience. We had to trust that the faculty had done the best job of planning and organizing the course and we would be successful. Now that the 12 months are coming to an end, I realize how much I’ve learned.

How is MIU different from other universities?

MIU is the only university I know of that encourages its students to stay rested and have a healthy lifestyle. For me, that’s as important as knowledge. Many of my classmates noticed they didn’t have as much stress and had greater clarity and focus in school, and it came as a surprise to them. They didn’t think much of the meditation before coming here but they were impressed with the results.

Would you recommend this program and why?

The tech world has many different streams and careers which this program prepares us for, so even if someone has no experience in computer science but wants to learn software development, this is the best road to take. And if the idea of self-development appeals to someone, they will gain so much more than they ever expected from this program.