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Using Technology to Change the World
Anya Novicheva ’18 has always been interested in how technology impacts people’s lives. In high school, she was fascinated by the technology behind Tesla’s high-performance electric cars. Fast-forward to a summer internship at Microsoft before her senior year at Bentley University, and she hasn’t lost that spark. Only this time, it was cloud computing, user interface and quality assurance that held her interest as she worked for a company committed to using technology to change the world.
“Microsoft focuses on making products accessible and meaningful to people,” Novicheva says. “Whether it’s helping people with disabilities or offering affordable software to students, it’s always about the broader goal of using technology to help remove barriers and create opportunities.”
It’s why Novicheva accepted a full-time position as program manager with the Fortune 500 Company. It was offered to her on the spot on the last day of her internship.
Part of the reason the work at Microsoft appealed to Novicheva was because of what she wouldn’t be doing: coding. “I knew of the ‘program manager’ job title from researching big tech companies that have this position, which typically combines business and tech but does not require coding. I knew from my programming courses that I didn’t want to be a programmer, but still needed the knowledge.”
Technology Meets Business
With three years of Bentley coursework under her belt, including in database management systems and applied software project management, Novicheva felt prepared to take on the work as she started her internship. But she admits having had first-week jitters as she sat alongside interns from Harvard and MIT. Nonetheless, she proved herself. Microsoft managers were particularly impressed by the combination of business and technical skills she was learning at Bentley.
“A lot of my managers had a computer science or engineering degree plus an MBA they got separately,” she recalls. “When you’re talking to clients, you do have to sometimes know the finance terms. If you’re designing a technical feature, you have to work with the marketing or user interface team. There’s a lot of overlap.”
During the internship, Novicheva worked on a team that built features for Microsoft’s Intune and Azure cloud computing platform. Her managers quickly noticed her problem-solving skills and willingness to ask questions. “I was very willing to learn and bounce ideas off of each other. My manager wouldn't give me the answer but we would talk it out.”
A Lifelong Interest
Novicheva was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and immigrated to the United States when she was 6 years old. In elementary school, she loved taking typing tests, captivated by the different-colored Mac computers in the library. It was during high school that teachers sparked her interest in the economy. She spent personal time following the stock market and looking for trends. Her love of cars led her to the technology “under the hood” of Tesla’s battery-powered vehicles. So when it came time to choose a college, Bentley’s combination of business and technology fit the bill.
“I actually came to Bentley thinking that I wanted to major in finance or marketing,” she recalls. “But once I took general education courses, I realized that the one I enjoyed most was IT 101. I loved using HTML to design my own website and learning about all of the features in Microsoft Excel. I took a few more IT courses and declared my major in Computer Information Systems my sophomore year.”
Though she enjoys the technical side of her major, her work at Microsoft allows her to pursue aspects of business that she loves including communication and relationship-building -- which she did, for example, while working on an international team focusing on customer feedback to make product improvements.
Novicheva is excited about a career in technology because it never stops evolving. “The tech world will never be boring,” she says. “Clients are always looking for something new or more efficient, and we will always be finding ways to improve. If I’m building features, I need to have that curiosity to always make something better and do my part to change the world.”
About Bentley University
Bentley University is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader with the technical skills, global perspective and ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Bentley’s diverse arts and sciences program combined with an advanced business curriculum prepares graduates to make an impact in their chosen fields. The university enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. For more information, visit www.bentley.edu.
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.