Student Balances UC Online Studies with University Employment

Drew Donkin brings a unique perspective to his studies in our Master of Science in Informational Technology (MSIT) program. That’s because he’s also an enrollment services advisor who works for University of Cincinnati Online (UCO).

Drew’s day job is talking with prospective UCO students about nine of our programs, including the MEd Foundations in Behavior Analysis degree.

You could say that Drew is all in on UCO — and that dual commitment suits him well. He successfully manages his day job and online studies, where he works towards his master’s degree, studying online at a pace that works for him.

Interest in MSIT Degree

“In a previous job where I also worked in recruiting, one of my responsibilities was being the university’s Salesforce administrator,” Drew says. “I didn’t have specific experience with Information Technology — but I knew IT was where I wanted to be.”

Drew believes that getting his master’s will open up career doors. He knows he’ll have to work hard to achieve that goal and is confident he can attain it. “I set out to prove I could go through a rigorous program, like what we have here,” Drew says.

Drew compares his job working for UCO to working for a start-up company — “but with a brand name behind it,” he says. Drew enjoys the recruiting aspect of his job because he can share his UCO experience with students interested in studying online.

Highly Ranked Online Degrees

UCO’s online degree programs include associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Currently, more than 46,000 students study full- or part-time in online programs ranked among the best in the U.S.

Our 100% online programs allow students to earn their degree after hours, in the evenings and on weekends while juggling work, family and other demands. “My wife and I have a young child,” Drew says, “so most of the time, I do my homework from 9 p.m. to midnight.”

The MSIT program curriculum consists of nine hours of core courses, 15 hours of electives and six hours for the program capstone or thesis. Classes include human-computer interaction, network forensics, mobile application development, cybersecurity and social media technologies. Most students complete the degree in two years.

Drew knows the difference a graduate degree can make in the competitive IT job market. “I’m in competition with a million people,” he says. But Drew knows that careers in IT will only continue to grow and expand. “Just like what we’ve seen with COVID-19, new platforms and apps will be needed to meet new demands. The industry needs more people driving that innovation.”

Bridge Classes for MSIT Program

Bridge courses (12 credit hours) are required for students, like Drew, who don’t have an IT background. The four classes Drew took in preparation for his studies included database management, SQL, cybersecurity and Java. “These were important for me to tackle early on,” he says. “I had an idea of what would be involved because of self-studies I’d done in the past.”

Before attending UC Online, Drew spent hours on Codecademy, W3Schools and other online resources, where he learned Java, HTML and CSS. He credits studying Spanish in high school and college for preparing him what he’s learning today. “Having an understanding of a second language — action words and the language of coding — made things much easier for me,” Drew says.

Focus on Application Development

Drew has his sights set on his ideal role in IT, application development. “I know I won’t graduate and automatically be an expert,” he says. “But the exposure I’m getting in the MSIT program is what will make a difference for me as I move out into the industry.”

Currently, Drew is in the Games for Learning & Simulation class, where he writes code to bring characters to life. “I play video games and know what they’re capable of. Combining my love of games with what I’m learning is a blast.” In his spare time, Drew is developing a texting app.

MSIT Staff and Fellow Students

Drew likes interacting with the MSIT program professors, saying they’re experienced and easy to talk to. “If I have a question,” he says, “they respond quickly, and I enjoy our video calls and one-on-ones, too.”

At 35 years old, Drew considers himself to be one of the older students in the program. “Many are in their early twenties,” he says. “The group work we do is where we interact the most closely. Groups bring our different life experiences, education and work backgrounds together in a fun way.”

Drew’s advice to students interested in a master’s degree in IT is to start now. “The industry is moving quickly. Studying for your master’s and taking the advanced courses will set you on the path for a career in IT or expand IT professionals’ opportunities. The industry will move forward with or without us, and I’m glad to be part of those who have made IT their career,” he says.

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