“The Master’s in Software Development (MSD) is set up to help you succeed. You can come here knowing that the faculty will do all they can to help, and then, with the team projects, your classmates work with you and everyone helps each other. It’s a great environment, very supportive, and set up for learning and moving forward. It’s an investment year of your life, but in the end, it will be worth it.” ~ Jeremy Chronister
By Christine Albers
It takes a lot of courage and determination to pack up yourself, your wife, 3 young children, 30 beehives, and a kayak, and move from Tennessee to Iowa to pursue a new career. But Jeremy Chronister did it – and he’s glad he did. After working in the paper industry as an engineer for 19 years Jeremy knew it was time for a change. “Paper mills are an old school industry,” he explains. He was in the fine papers industry, which includes printer paper, magazines, etc. and much of it was declining. He had enjoyed creating some computer programs at the job and wanted to gain more expertise in computer technology. But where to go? Most computer science Master’s programs require a BA in computer science and Jeremy’s degree was in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maine. Then he found the Master’s in Software Development program at MIU.
CA: How did you become interested in computer science?
CA: How did you hear about MIU?
Jeremy: I learned about MIU through my mother-in-law who lives in Fairfield, Iowa. She told me there was a new Master’s in Software Development (MSD) which didn’t require any experience or background in computer science. We weren’t sure how it was going to go, because in 2019 it was only in its first year, so we waited and watched the first class and it turned out great. All the graduates got good jobs so I felt encouraged to apply. The MSD program covers all the in-demand technologies and offers a well-rounded education which was a heads up for me.
CA: Was MSD everything you hoped for?
Jeremy: I learned a lot and I liked the block schedule where you work on one subject at a time and everything builds from the class before it. We used what we just learned in our next class and I liked that we didn’t have to keep switching up subjects like at other colleges.
CA: Was it challenging?
Jeremy: It was challenging but my classmates were great and we all helped each other when we ran into problems. Plus, our professors were very helpful and willing to assist whenever we needed it.
CA: How was the international culture?
Jeremy: Catching the accents of everyone was difficult at first but I finally got there. Ironically, I was told I have an accent which I couldn’t believe! Once you get the rhythm, the other languages are easier to understand, especially since many of the international students had been in the USA for a few years.
I really liked meeting people from so many countries, such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Pakistan, Nepal, and China. They were polite and fun to work with. We were all in the same boat, trying to improve our lives no matter where we came from. It was a good opportunity and it expanded my understanding of the world to see that the news doesn’t show you everything. They are all people like me.
CA: How are the faculty?
Jeremy: They are excellent, always helpful, and trying to assist and challenge us. They got us started on an idea for a project and encouraged us to learn the details and implement it on our own. We learned how to read the API documentation which we will need in the future when we are constantly learning new technologies. It will be important to be self-sufficient and work out problems independently in the working environment.
CA: Now that you have finished MSD, how do you feel about programming?
Jeremy: I really enjoy programming because you can make it into an art. You can create code that moves smoothly or roughly; it’s up to the programmer to make it easy for everyone to understand what you are doing and minimize any redundance.
CA: How did you like working on a team?
Jeremy: If you have a good team, it goes pretty smoothly. As long as the code works and passes the tests there is a lot of room to play, so each person can do their part, with their own style. Everyone writes slightly differently, but we keep to the standards and then put it all together to make one full application. It’s great to see it all work in the end.
Jeremy: I feel comfortable with everything we covered in the curriculum and our professors always gave us the latest popular framework. Although each company might use different standards, once we learn one framework, we can quickly learn others because they are usually similar ideologies.
Jeremy: A good programmer needs to be detail-oriented and also a little creative, able to spin ideas in a different way. If they learn one skill, they should be able to spin it and apply it to something else. I do not think everyone can be a programmer, because everyone is given different gifts and talents. The ability to write programs requires being able to break a problem down into logical steps which will be combined to accomplish your goal.
CA: How did you do all this with a family?
Jeremy: My family was very supportive. We have 3 girls, ages 5, 7, 9, and my wife home schools them. They always made sure I went to school and gave me time to do my TM and study at night. My wife wanted me to do this because of the opportunity to get a good job in the end. They helped me stay rested during the year and I was in bed every night by 10:00 pm, which helped me be alert during classes in the day.
CA: How do you feel about your TM practice? Did it help you in school?
Jeremy: I learned TM when I arrived at MIU and it was questionable at first, but I was willing to try it because of all the good research on the benefits.
For me, the effects were more subtle. It helped my mind settle down so I had more clarity. I think it helped me learn more and absorb the material because I could focus better without all the racing thoughts.
CA: Will you continue your TM now that you have graduated?
Jeremy: I plan to continue meditating. I’ve kept it up since graduating and hope to stay in the routine of doing it each day when I get a new job.
CA: How’s the job search going?
Jeremy: I took a few weeks off after my courses ended to spend time with my family, so I’m just getting into the job search process. I’m hoping to get a job where I can see the whole flow, from the back end to the front end, to the distribution of information, to the Cloud. I like seeing how all the pieces work together. In the MSD program, we learned in a development setting, but code production is fundamentally different. With development, you are only testing code, but in production, you might get a million requests so you have to scale things out so you can handle all the incoming requests. We learned how to set that up in our Cloud Computing classes.
CA: What are you looking for in a job?
Jeremy: I would like a remote job. I am location-specific with my hobbies because I’m into whitewater kayaking and the best spots are away from big cities where the tech jobs are. My family and I hope to go back to the tri-state area of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, where we are from, and where there’s a lot of white-water kayaking.
CA: What would you say to students who are applying for MSD?
Jeremy: MSD is set up to help you succeed. You can come here knowing that the faculty will do all they can to help, and then, with the team projects, your classmates work with you and everyone helps each other. It’s a great environment, very supportive, and set up for learning and moving forward. It’s an investment year of your life, but in the end, it will be worth it.
The Masters of Software Development is a 12- or 18-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. MSD is now accepting applications for February 2022. For more information call or text 800-563-9673.