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Bentley’s Graduate Degree Opens Door to High-Tech Success

Alumni_Anna Pravda_coverAnna Pravda could see technology in her future. She just didn’t know how it would fit there.

After earning undergraduate degrees in business and international relations from the University of Delaware and starting her career in finance, she could tell she enjoyed project management and process improvement, but wasn’t really passionate about banking. Anna wanted to look into IT product management, but had no technical expertise to go on.

“A degree in IT felt like a good way to build that backbone knowledge of the field and allow me to get more hands-on with software developers,” she says.

But Anna found herself running up against the same problem with graduate schools that she had in her career: Most schools required a technology background to get in the door. So she tried another path. Her sister had graduated from Bentley, and had a great experience, especially when it came to student resources and career services. And Bentley’s information technology-focused graduate degree had one advantage most schools she considered didn’t: Introductory tech courses for career changers like her.

“Compared to many similar programs that I considered, I liked that Bentley’s program didn’t require any technical experience,” says Anna. “Some programs I looked into didn’t offer any introductory courses, which I knew would be an issue for me given my lack of technical experience. The curriculum for Bentley’s program just seemed like the best fit for my experience to date and my goals for the program.”

A Bentley graduate business degree is about more than coursework, however. Anna’s classroom work has fed into her professional life as an IT product manager at Wayfair, where she serves as an intermediary between operations teams and software developers on tools supporting our warehousing and supply chain network. In a similar way, her career experience has informed her studies.

“From the continuous reinforcement of agile principles to architecture design from the database level to the enterprise level, I’ve found a way to incorporate at least one thing from every course into my day-to-day job,” she explains.

Bentley’s innovation centers and institutional commitment to technology and hands-on learning have also boosted Anna’s practical experience.

“Throughout my courses I’ve used Java, SQL, and more recently low-code application development tools,” she says. “Having this hands-on experience has allowed me to put what I’m learning into practice much sooner than I otherwise would have been able and has made me more prepared for when I encounter the same or similar tools in the workplace.”

But a mastery of technology today goes way beyond coding. Top professionals need to stay up to date with the latest advances, and have the communication and civic skills to translate tech-speak throughout an organization. At Bentley, Anna says, faculty and staff are constantly updating the curriculum to ensure what you’re learning in class is what’s current in the real world.

“Given how fast-paced the technology culture is and how quickly trends change, it’s incredible that everything I’m learning remains relevant and that Bentley is able to keep up with the pace,” she says. “I’ve found the coursework to be interesting and relevant, and I really love that I can tell just how much time my professors have put into developing their curriculum and finding relevant and up-to-date readings, articles, and case studies.”

And with a diverse cohort of fellow professionals from throughout the business world, Anna’s learns from her classmates as well as her professors.

“The most successful people in my field are innovative, fast-paced, results-driven, and realistic. They have the creativity to solve complex problems and design innovative solutions and tools to enable the business to quickly act on opportunities,” she says. “My favorite moments have been being able to meet and work with all of my peers in my program. Everyone has such diverse backgrounds and experience that they bring to the table, so it’s been so fascinating working on group projects and hearing my peers’ insights through in-class participation.”

Studying technology at a business university has paid off for Anna.

“This degree has given me a much different experience and perspective on being a technology project manager than a traditional MBA could have,” she says. “Many of my peers pursue the MBA route, which is much more business oriented, and oftentimes more theoretical. I think that choosing the technology route and getting more hands on will set me apart from many other individuals entering my field, because it enables me to better close the gap between the business side and technology.”