Paul Baier

As an undergraduate, I earned a BA in International Relations. However, I have always had a passion for math and computer science, and it was this interest that guided me to my first profession: teaching. I started as a high school math teacher, and eventually added computer science to my curriculum. After a few years as an educator, I was ready for a career change, and I knew I wanted to get into the software industry. With almost no formal training, I realized I needed to go back to school. Unsure where to look, my wife and I (living in New England at the time) asked each other, If we could live anywhere in the country, where would we want to live? We both agreed, without question, that the first place to look was Charleston, South Carolina. The city has a rich history, vibrant social scene and beautiful beaches who wouldn't want to call it home?

Luck would have it that the College of Charleston offers a Master's program for Computer and Information Sciences, and it was exactly what I needed to start my new career. Even without a Bachelor of Science degree, I could apply and pursue my dream. Once enrolled, the faculty worked closely with me to ensure I had done everything correctly and was poised for success. During my first semester, in addition to taking my grad classes, I worked as a Graduate Assistant. Not only was this a paid position but it also qualified me for in state tuition! It did not take long to discover that Charleston has a booming tech industry. So, after taking a summer class and studying for just one semester, I decided to apply to a few of the software engineering positions in the area. I completed a few interviews and was offered a job as an Associate Software Developer for a local real estate software company. With classes at night, I am still able to pursue my graduate degree while working full time in the industry that I love.

I could not be happier with my decision to attend C of C - the Computer Science building is beautiful and overlooks the Charleston Harbor, the program is accommodating for people with all types of backgrounds, and the faculty have been amazing - they are so knowledgeable and always willing to collaborate with the students. I have really enjoyed building these relationships with the faculty. Needless to say, I would not be in the position I am without C of C's Computer and Information Sciences master's program!

Gabrielle Cozart 19'

During my senior year of high school, I thought I wanted to go into medicine to follow in my father's footsteps. It wasn't until one day, when my friend suggested computer science as a major, that I realized it was perfect for me. Thankfully, I picked the right degree for me from the beginning and eagerly started getting involved with the department. I did undergraduate research, volunteer work, and was active with the computer science clubs. When I first decided to apply for the 4 + 1 program at the College of Charleston, I did it because I didn't think I was ready for a real career. I hadn't had an internship, and I didn't think it was possible for me to be accepted into one. I thought having an extra year in school would give me more time to gain the experience I needed for someone to hire me. I soon realized I was wrong; I had applied to a software engineering internship and was accepted not long after I started the program. That summer internship really gave me the confidence I needed. I seemed to exceed the expectations of my employer, and I was asked to continue my internship remotely while attending my final year of school. It made me think that maybe I didn't need to finish the master's, but since I had already completed 15 of the 33 hours of the master degree in my undergrad, I decided to stay. I really enjoyed the courses, as well as the in depth topics we covered, plus, who can beat getting a Master's of Science in only one extra year? I envied my friends starting their careers after our graduation in 2018, but staying gave me more time to do things I didn't realize I wanted to do. I started working as a lab instructor and TA for three undergraduate programming classes, which gave me many skills that I personally lacked. I had, and still currently have, a hard time with public speaking, but it gave me the chance to feel more comfortable. It gave me skills in patience when explaining concepts as well as experience speaking with individuals that don’t understand the jargon of programming. It will be a valuable skill when speaking to clients in the future. I started doing other volunteer work as a graduate ambassador for our program. I helped to coordinate and manage events, which included more public speaking on my end. I also started going to hackathons. I didn’t even realize there was this whole world of students that were ready to code for a weekend straight to make a cool project. I attended a few different hackathons, one of which led me to the career I’ll start in July of 2019. Many companies attended the Georgia Tech hackathon in Atlanta, and the participant resumes were sent to each company there. One of the companies reached out to me about an interview, and, after researching them, I thought it would be a great fit for me. I received an offer for a mobile development position, and I happily accepted it. The moral to this story is don’t try to finish as early as possible. Sometimes additional time in school can really give you more opportunities. The computer science BS and computer and information science MS programs really gave me what I needed to stand out in this demanding industry.