SEATTLE - Mark Bonicillo had a philosophy degree, and four years in the marine corps, and a realization:
‘The industrial revolution's over. It's all about the internet, and understanding code and computers.’
So he made a change.
‘I just knew if I wanted to stay relevant, and stay in this industry, and in Seattle, I had to get these skills.’
He got those skills from Northeastern University, which has a unique path to a Master’s degree in computer science. The program was launched at NEU’S South Lake Union campus: The epicenter of the tech boom. It’s since been implemented by NEU’s other campuses across the country.
Average starting salary for grads from this program? One hundred thousand a year.
Northeastern's Align in Computer Science is open to people with a bachelor's degree in any area, like Bonicillo, with that philosophy degree.
Through the program, he landed a coveted Amazon internship.
‘It was like taking a drink out of a firehose. It was just all coming at me 1000 miles per hour.’
Experiential learning that includes working with some of the world's top tech companies is a program plus.
‘When I did my internship at Amazon, I was like, oh, professor so and so was right, I've seen this before!’ laughed Bonicillo, recalling how a lot of his profs taught from their own real world work experience.
Maggie Xu, a master of political science from Duke, got a dream internship at Zillow through the Align in Computer Science program.
'My first day, when I set my foot into Zillow for my interview, I wanted to work in here. That's my first thought!’ Xu said.
‘You could definitely tell she had a great understanding of some of the fundamentals of computer science," said Curt Yamanaka, a manager at Zillow who was Xu’s mentor during her internship.
Maggie went from intern to employee: today she’s on Zillow's mobile development team.
‘You can have huge impact on people. I know the Zillow app has millions of users, and I know that when I develop a new feature, millions of people are going to use this feature. That means that I'm making a difference,’ said Xu.
Northeastern’s recruiting efforts are also closing the tech gender gap. The ratio of female to male students is higher than most graduate computer science programs: 44% of Align in Computer Science students are female.
‘We really want to provide more opportunities for the residents of the state of Washington to advance in high paying, high demand careers,’ said Paula Boyum, Associate Dean at NEU’s Seattle Campus.
Mark Bonicillo will soon graduate, and he's already been offered a job in one of those high paying, high demand careers in South Lake Union.
He thinks he’ll accept the offer Amazon just gave him.
To learn more about Northeastern's Align in Computer Science, attend a free Break Into Tech seminar on July 13th.
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