Coffee Chat: All About Technology Programs at HES

Coffee Chat: All About Technology Programs at HES

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Thank you everyone, so much, for joining us today for Harvard Extension School for our coffee chat, all about technology programs at Harvard Extension School. We're thrilled that you're here to join us today, and we have a great session in store. My name is Jacqueline Brinkhaus, and I am our coffee chat moderator for today. Before we get started, I have a few housekeeping items. A recording of this webinar will be sent to the email you used to register. The recording will also be accessible on the event web page and on our Harvard Extension School YouTube channel.

Please utilize the Q&A feature at the bottom of your screen to submit your questions to our technology staff, students, and alumni. Our team has compiled your pre-submitted questions, and we will elevate appropriate questions to our panel. Please note that we will not utilize the raise hand feature during this session. Today, we will start with Dr. Bruce Wong, our director of master's degree programs in information technology, reviewing the Harvard Extension School advantage annual review program offerings.

We will then discuss program benefits and outcomes and conclude with a live Q&A session with Bruce and academic advisor and three technology students and alumni. Members of our enrollment services team are also here, answering your questions in the Q&A feature. And with that, it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Bruce Wong. Welcome, Bruce. Thank you. Thank you, Jacqueline.

Good morning, or good afternoon, or good evening, depending on where you are calling from. Yes, we are a global community. So thank you for joining us today to learn more about our master's degree programs in technology. In the dynamic and ever-evolving field of tech, in technology, it is critical for us to stay current, and our education program offerings are here to support your ambitions whether you are just stepping into the tech world or seeking to elevate your career.

We provide an array of degrees and certificates that cater to every stage of your professional journey. Our programs are defined by their flexibility and customization, allowing you to study at a pace that suits you and choose courses that directly align with your career objectives. Next. So now, let's delve into the specifics of our graduate degrees. Our master's programs are meticulously crafted to arm you with the advanced technical skills and cutting edge knowledge, up-to-date, needed to tackle complex challenges and remain at the forefront of technological innovation. Our technology programs includes five master's degree field of studies.

At the foundation, at the cornerstone layer, we have the computer science degree program. Now the computer science degree program basically allowing you to dive deep into programming, software engineering, algorithms, and system design to prepare you for the software-driven world. The typical persona for the computer science degree is a problem solver, eager to delve into coding, and create innovative software solutions. With an earned computer science degree, you can take on roles, such as like software developers, systems architect, or specialist, contributing to the development of cutting edge technologies.

For example, like autonomous vehicle technology, right? So professionals in computer science basically that they are instrumental in developing vehicle technologies. And professionals in computer science basically develop software that empowers self-driving cars. And this is basically a career that you will be involved in developing transformative technology that has potentials and to make this world a better place. You can improve traffic efficiencies, and you can enable our elders and to better their mobility issues, right? So with the transformative cutting edge technology and system being created, we need to make sure that we can safeguard and protect those systems. So we have the cybersecurity degree program, focusing on protecting data and systems from digital threats. An increasingly vital field in our interconnected world, right? As long as you put your computer-- you put your technologies on the internet, on the network, you are a target for cyber attacks.

So graduates basically from our program often find themselves in high demand positions, like security analyst, specialist, penetration testers, security architects, chief information security officers, right? Cybersecurity professionals play a critical role in creating secure mobile payment systems, for example. This includes the development of encrypted transaction process, secure users, authentications protocols, and fault detection systems to protect against data breaches and financial depth, allowing for safe and convenient financial transactions on the go, right? And so we said that cybersecurity experts are there to protect data and systems. Data must be a valuable asset. You might have heard people say that data is the new oil.

Well, we automatically equate that to data must be valuable and expensive. However, when British mathematician Cliff Humby said that in 2006, when he said data is the new oil, he actually meant that data is like oil. It is not useful in its raw state.

It needs to be refined and processed before it can be turned into critical and important assets for the business. So we have the data scientists, right? And so we introduced the data science degree program, enable you to harness the power of data analytics and machine learning to extract insights and drive decision making. Those who pursued the data science degree programs are analytical thinkers fascinated by the story data tells. With this degree, you are looking at career like data scientist, data analysis analyst, machine learning engineers, or big data solutions specialist, transforming raw data into strategic decisions. Just a month ago or so there was news that talking about a lady in California, and she was able to speak in her own voice, the first time in 18 years after a stroke. And the first time that she can speak to her husband using her own voice in 18 years.

And that is enabled by data science and AI. But what about the presentation layer? Well, at the presentation layer, we have the degree program digital media design which blends the technology and creativity to innovate the realms of interactive media and design and beyond, right? And so it is ideal for creative technologist in this field. And so, they merge design principles with digital skills to produce compelling media experience. Graduates, basically, they embark on careers, such as like user experience designer, digital content creator, and virtual reality developers, pushing the boundaries of how we interact with digital content.

For example, in virtual reality, professionals in digital media design create immersive VR experiences, which are being used in various industries, ranging from gaming to education to health. For example, a VR simulation for medical training allows health professionals to practice complex surgical procedures in a controlled virtual environment before performing them in real life. Yes, digital media design for good. Then, we have systems engineering, right? So basically, that is the field tying it all together. Systems engineering optimizing complex systems, ensuring that they are efficient, reliable, and meet user's needs. The systems engineering graduate basically, they have a big picture view, right? They are the big picture thinker who designs, integrates, and manages complex systems over their life cycles.

Career pathways can include system analyst and quality assurance engineers, project managers, CIO, CTO, and et cetera, right? And so this is basically integrates everything together. And if you see some of the cool things that people are doing out there, like for example, managing smart grid technology with IoT and so forth. And each one of this program is a gateway to a future proof career, ensuring that you not only be ready for the challenges of today, but also the opportunities for tomorrow. So what sets our tech degree programs apart? Is they're impact-driven design. Our curriculum is challenging, yet profoundly experiential. It geared towards delivering real world relevancy and emit the applicability.

And so you might, for example, take courses such as advanced machine learning or network security management. And then the next day, you're actually applying those concepts at work, in the workplace. Our faculty are pulled from the highest echelons of academia and industry, including-- for example, we have Dr. Henry Leiter who has been in Harvard for a number of years and at the School of Engineering and teaching computer science to a number of the celebrities in big corporations that you find them today.

You have Professor tenured Professor James McCann, right? And you can learn about how to construct operating systems from him. You have members like David Kaskin. And they are from the industry who is the president of the largest chief information security officer associations and on and on. And so we have a number of faculty that you can tap on. And with our capstone projects, you also will step beyond theory into practice. And working on tangible problems with peers and industry leaders, the flexibility we offer is unparalleled with the majority of your coursework available online.

However, we also value the immersive experience, which is why we include a three-week pre capstone course on campus. You can tailor your education experience through elective courses and stackable certificate options, enabling you to build a degree that is unique as your career path. Although the degree is designed to be completed in five years, many of our students basically finish in 2 and 1/2 and three years.

The choice is yours. We are dedicated to make education accessible-- Harvard education accessible, offering affordable tuitions, and an earn your way in admission policy and open doors to as many passionate learners as possible. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to my colleague, Katie Genovese, who is the academic advisor and who will be guiding you in the next slide. Hi, everyone.

I'm happy to join everybody today. Just to talk a little bit about the stackability of our programs, we have a variety of certificates in different topics, and most of them stack towards a related master's degree. Many of our students earn a certificate, lots of folks earn certificates. They're a really great way to maximize your time here and maximize the credentials that you leave us with. And you can choose courses that are going to stack and apply to multiple programs at once.

We move to the next slide. So just to talk a little bit about these types of microcertificates and certificates. Basically, the microcertificate is a smaller course. That is two courses, eight credits. They can typically be earned in a semester or two.

It is competency based. It's designed to help you build and demonstrate your mastery in a specific given area, and it's stackable with both related graduate certificates and master's programs. The master's-- pardon me, the graduate certificates, they're similar, but a little bit more content to them. They've got four courses, four credit courses to complete a graduate certificate. They also help you build expertise in a specialized area to help advance your career. And they can be earned on your way to your graduate degree.

The stackable certificates can be a really great option because courses can be used for multiple types of credentials at once. So you could use one course that would apply to a microcertificate, a graduate certificate, and your ALM degree simultaneously. There are several-- there are some really great options for this.

Data modeling and ethics microcertificate can be folded into the data analytics graduate certificate, and the two courses for the micro are also applicable to the graduate certificate. And then the four courses for the graduate certificate can then be also used and applied toward your ALM if you were to do, for instance, a systems engineering ALM. And it makes-- it's a really great way to maximize your experience and your credentials here. And we can move to the next slide.

So just to talk a little bit about earn your way in admission program. We believe that-- we believe in earn your way in admissions because we want to meet you where you are now. We know life's complex. Test scores, previous grades, they aren't always a full picture of who you are and what you're capable of. We want to meet you where you are and give you what is going to help you progress in your career and in your life.

So you begin your path to admissions, completing the two designated courses for admission for your program. These courses enable you to showcase your ability and showcase your ability to be successful in the program while preparing you for graduate level coursework. You're getting your feet wet.

You're showing what you can do. And you're getting to know us as we get to know you. These courses are part of the program curriculum. They're going to count towards your 12-course degree once you're admitted.

For example, computer science degree program, you'll take a course in data structures and another in programming languages. If you are at least in each course-- and this is for all programs, not just computer science. But if you earn at least a B in each of your admissions courses, you will be admitted to the program. And then you only have 10 more courses to complete. You've already got a chunk of your degree out of the way.

Be sure to visit the degree requirements page on the website. And for your degree program of interest and to learn more about confirming that you've confirming your admission eligibility and what to do to complete those admission courses, you can find out when they're offered and what's going to fit well with your life. And with that, I'm going to turn it back to Bruce. Well, thanks, Katie. So now, this slide here that you're seeing in front of you actually brings us to the highlight of that master's degree program.

The picture that you see there is actually our capstone or capstone students standing in front of Harvard Hall, right? That's where we have our pre-capstone right there at Harvard yard. The capstone project experience is on another assignment, another project. It's the culmination of your hard work and learning. It's where theory meets practice, and you get to leave your mark on real world challenges and leave your footsteps at the Harvard Yard.

So now imagine that collaborating with industry leaders and your peers, bringing diverse perspectives and skills to the table. And that's exactly what our capstone project is all about. You will harness your collective knowledge to solve problems that matters and problems that are relevant to today's world, specifically for our degree programs.

There's a unique twist. You will come to our wonderful Harvard campus for an immersive three-week summer session or in January, the J-term session, for the pre-capstone course. And I have the pleasure of guiding our data science and cybersecurity students through this crucial stage, right? And the picture that you're seeing, basically, those are the bright minds from 2023 cohort, right? And so the purpose of this on campus experience is multifold. Firstly, it helps to build a community, a network of ambitious, like-minded individuals coming together. And secondly, it allows for an intensive focus on learning, something that is a bit difficult to do and a little difficult to replicate online. And finally, it's about bridging the gap between knowledge and applications.

You learn not just how to approach the problem but also how to navigate the complexities of collaborative interdisciplinary work. And after you complete the capstone during the three-week sessions and you step into the next semester, you're ready to dive into your capstone projects. And this projects are varied and as dynamic as the field itself, right? And so you have the opportunity of working with industry partners and thought leaders. And that will add another layer of depth to your project, right? And so this collaboration is a stepping stone.

Many of our students continually find their capstone projects, even after graduation. And some find opportunities with their sponsor companies. And so the capstone project isn't just an academic experience. It's a launch pad into your career. It's a chance to make an impact, right? And a way to start building your professional legacy.

Next. So when you enroll with us in the program, you aren't just signing up for a top notch education with a top notch school. You are stepping into the world, brimming with opportunities and resources.

And the best part, as a student here, as a matriculated degree student here, you have the same access of resources as other Harvard matriculated students. It's about equity and quality, experiences and opportunities. So our dedicated staff are also your co-pilots on this education journey, whether you need academic guidance, career advice, or just a listening ear, they are here for you. And believe me, their support is invaluable.

They are the unsung heroes who help make your dreams attainable. Imagine having the keys to Harvard Innovation Lab, a playground for the curious and ambitious. This is where ideas are nurtured, where innovation blossoms, and where tomorrow's ventures take root. In a few moments, you will get a closer look at I labs and through the eyes of our students who have lived that experience. But it is not just about the physical space.

It's about the people you will meet, in and the Harvard Extension School is your ticket to a global community, to the Harvard community. From online interactions to in-person events, the connections you forge here will shape your future. These bonds often transcend time and distance. And then there are those hallmark moments, like the convocations, the commencement held in the historic Harvard yard. There's nothing quite like celebrating your achievements with so many great minds have walked. You will find, and you will feel the weight and the wonder of centuries of academic excellence as you take those steps.

But let me tell you, the true essence of this experience isn't just their prestige. It's the personal growth you will encounter, the challenges you will overcome, and the sense of belonging to something greater than yourself. As a member of this Harvard community, your voice, your vision, and your words will find a home here.

So on a personal level, seeing the diversity and passion within our student community has always been a highlight for me. The connections you make here, they are not just for the duration of your course, but they are here for life. So as you embark on this journey with Harvard Extension School, remember that the benefit extend well beyond what you learn in the classroom or over Zoom.

They are about who you become in the process, whether you like it or not. Whether you like it or not, you will become a Harvard Graduate, and you will be Harvard Alumni for life. So with that, let's look forward to hearing from our students panel in their firsthand experiences in the I lab.

Awesome, Bruce. Thank you so much for that comprehensive presentation of our programs. So now we'll transition into the main portion of this event today-- our coffee chat.

I would now like to introduce our students and alumni panel who will be joining us for our Q&A. First, Vivian, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself. Sure. My name is Vivian.

I am doing a degree in data science, and I am going to graduate next year. Fantastic. Thank you, Vivian. Up next, Frank. Hello, future Harvard students.

I'm Frank Vounasis. I'm a ALM degree candidate in systems engineering. It was formerly known as information management systems. And I've transitioned to the new program. And I anticipate graduating in May 2025, and I also want to share I recently completed the graduate certification in cybersecurity.

So some of the things I'm really interested, and I think are amazing about Harvard Extension School is the flexibility and the variety of the courses. Our course catalog from the Division of Continuing Education is extensive. We have a huge variety of courses you can take towards your program requirements.

For example, in my program, we have a database management requirement. While you're not just confined taking one course, you have a multitude of courses to meet your needs, and some are more technical than others, and some are more applied. And of course, the flexibility of taking evening courses, be it on demand or a live webcam seminar course, so you can take them at your own pace to fit your busy schedule. And I can't underscore the importance of your classmates. Get to know your classmates. This is an incredible academic journey.

You meet incredible helpful and humble people, so you can build a global network. And that's great for yourself and your personal advancement. And also, don't be surprised in finding out that many of your classmates are seasoned executives and managers. And that's a plus for your network as well.

So I look forward to answering any of your questions and hope to see you in some future classes. Thanks, Frank. That's a great point about these opportunities to connect, both on a personal level and professional level, both in the class and outside the class.

Next, I'll welcome Nikita. Nikita, if you could join us. Hi, everyone. My name is Nikita Roy. I graduated earlier this year from ALM and data science program.

Harvard Extension School has been a huge, basically, a transformation in my career and completely changed the experience that I had where the work I'm doing today. The Harvard Innovation Labs has been a huge contributor to that. Innovation, basically, the moment I joined Harvard, I had this entrepreneurial spirit, and that was basically nurtured and transformed by the courses that I was taking, as well as being part of the Harvard Innovation Labs.

And so I'm now doing my dream job, which is basically being a media tech entrepreneur. I host a podcast called Newsroom Robots, which explores the role of AI in journalism. And my strong background in data science that I got from this program has really been able to help me in the work that I'm doing right now in the news industry. And so I'm very excited to share the experience that I'm having, that I've had at Harvard and answer any questions you have today. Thanks so much, Nikita.

Congratulations on graduating, and definitely going to have to check out your podcast. So thank you so much. And our last student panelist that I'll invite is Kislay. Kislay, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and then we'll jump into our coffee chat.

Definitely. So I'm Kislay Kumar. I'm pursuing ALM in data science, and I'm on track to complete all the course requirement by the end of this year and will participate in Harvard commencement next year. Based on my experience, I'd like to emphasize two key aspects of this program that I have personally failed.

The first and foremost is the practical applicability of the course content that is taught in this program. You'll be able to apply what you learn directly to your job, if you are working in same area. For me, it is same area. I work in data science. I did my-- I'm doing my master's in data science, so I directly use whatever I learn.

That is the first thing. Secondly, I think the most important part of this program is the pre-capstone experience at Harvard campus. It offers you great opportunity to build essential connections.

And I think networking is a vital part of the journey in this program. I have made many connections. And feel free to ask any question related to all this.

Thank you so much, Kinslay. And thank you to our whole panel for your introductions. I would now like to invite everyone back, including Bruce and Katie, so we can start our coffee chat. And to kick us all off and in on theme with our coffee chat here today, we could all raise our coffee mugs.

If you can see them to the camera. Awesome. And that will kick us off. So the first question for the panel is for Bruce.

We've got a few questions from panelists in the chat about this. What does the typical path look like for a degree candidate, and how long does it usually take? So basically, our program normally consists of a total of 12 courses, as Katie mentioned previously. And the students basically started with two earn your way in pre-admission courses, right? And then they will basically continue and finish the 10 courses. And then, finally, they will get to the pre-capstone and capstone.

As mentioned earlier that the time that we allow students to complete the degree on a part-time basis, right? And that's what Harvard Extension School is about, extending Harvard's education to professionals who want to complete their degree in a part-time or a part-time basis. So you can complete it within five years. We give you five years frame, but we've seen that a lot of our students actually, basically that completed in 2 and 1/2 years and three years. And so throughout the journey, we and the supporting staff will be with you. Thank you so much, Bruce. And on the same vein, Katie, this next question is for you.

Few people have been asking, what's the maximum number of courses you can take in one semester. And to follow-up with that, as an academic advisor, do you often have conversations about course load-- maximum course load, how to balance your time with your students. What is that look like, those conversations as an advisor? Absolutely. Yeah, that is a frequent conversation that we have. Because as a school for mostly adult learners, that's so relevant to people's lives, the flexibility. Our maximum enrollment is, during the fall and spring semesters, four courses, 16 credits.

That is considered full-time. Folks do that sometimes. Most of our folks do not take that full course load, but it is permitted. Summer and January term have slightly different rules because they are more intensive short courses. So it's a little bit different in January. But for the spring and the fall, it's four courses, 16 credits.

I spend a lot of time working with my advisees about how to think about their schedule, how to think about how their course load is going to work with their lives, and we have a lot of guidance that we can help offer people about how to look at your schedule and how to think about your personal schedule and your work schedule. And we provide a number of tools for you to understand the course before you even enroll. We have course evaluations you can access. We have syllabi.

We we can work with you and make sure that we can help you fit this program into your life in a way that's going to really work for you and help you be successful. Awesome. Thank you, Katie.

And I hear from so many of our students that they graduate with the help all of our resources, our academic advisors. They have a community guiding them to graduation, even after. So it's great to hear that these conversations are happening early. They're happening frequently, and our students are leaning on these resources for support.

So thank you for that. The next question is for a few of our students. What would you say the value would be of doing a capstone project has been for you in culminating your Harvard Extension School experience.

I will start off with Vivian. Vivian, if you could tell us a little bit about your capstone, what the topic is, and how it's helped you bridge theory practice and everything you've learned in the program so far. Sure. We are having a fantastic capstone experience. Our sponsor for the capstone is NASA, and we are using satellite images to predict phytoplankton levels.

Phytoplankton are practicals in the ocean that help produce oxygen. And I am saying that we have a fantastic experience because NASA invited us on several occasions to the Goedert Space Flight Center, and they gave us a behind the scene tour. And we got to see a satellite that is going to be launched to the orbit in January next year.

We were also invited to the launch itself, and we are invited back to NASA to present the findings of our capstone. So it was mind-blowing for all of us, and I think what further opportunities are there is that some of the students are trying to get an internship or a full-time job at NASA, and I think it is going to happen. So I'm very proud of the team Thank you, Vivian.

That is truly inspiring. I am jealous myself. I might have to sign up right now, just to get some access to NASA.

Awesome. Kinslay, could you tell us a little bit about your experience with your capstone and maybe a little bit about your pre-capstone course on campus you were telling us about. Yeah, definitely. So starting with the pre-capstone. So as I was telling that we were able to meet as it was more than 40 folks were there. And all were expert in their own area and all.

So you will get totally different perspective from different learnings. It's a different learning moment. And as part of that, you will build the connections as well. That's what I made.

I made many connections that will be lifelong. And coming to the capstone part, so we are doing very interesting classification task. It is very tough, and it is very interesting as well. So as one of the slide has the Lyme disease classification, right? So we are working with one of the University in Canada, and we are trying to use social media data to classify the Lyme disease sentiments. So you have to just classify whether it is people are talking about Lyme disease, whether they are just talking, or whether someone is diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Or it is just nothing related to Lyme disease. So we are gathering data from social media, Reddit, and Twitter. And we are using large language model. That is talk of the town you would have heard, like ChatGPT and all.

So we are using similar technology here, like open source technology, to just try to classify the text. And that has been very interesting. In technology-wise, as well as how people suffer from Lyme, it's eye-opening for us. Now this whole experience is totally different. I'm not from the medical background, but now I got to know about this whole Lyme, how it works and all. So it's great experience that I'm totally from the engineering background.

Now, am I got to know about the medical issues, like Lyme and all. And that is going to be like you are solving AI for good. We are using AI for good. So that's our capstone.

That's super interesting. Thank you, Kinslay. It sounds like you found a topic that you're very passionate about, and you're learning about both through the lens of the theory you've learned in class, but also through this pragmatic hands on education offered at Extension. So, thank you for that. And Nikita, congratulations, again, on graduating.

I'd love to hear a little bit about how your capstone project helped prepare you for the career you now have. And then on top of that, how Harvard Extension School, in general, helped you for your career in your current role. Yeah, so actually, my capstone, I have to give a shout out to Bruce because he really pushed me to innovate during the capstone project. We have the option to either go with one of the sponsored projects, like NASA and like the University from Canada McGill University, or we had the option to also come up with our own idea. And I think our cohort was very entrepreneurial-minded, and a lot of innovation was happening, and people wanted to have their own projects and ideas.

And I had a journalism startup at the time. And Bruce actually was like, aren't you going to do anything for journalism? And I was like, wait a second, I should probably think about that. And I had my journalism one side and my data science AI bubble in another. And because of that, I was able to bring the two worlds together. And we built out our recommendation system for local news platforms to make it personalized news experience on local news platforms. And that's actually what led to where I am today.

If, probably, Bruce hadn't pushed me to innovate at that time, I would have kept my two data science and journalism bubbles as two separate things. But as a result of that, newsroom robots, which is the podcast I'm doing right now, came about because I had this curiosity on how people are using AI in journalism. And then now, I do a lot of consultancy as well as a result of the work that I was able to do as part of the capstone. So I think it's been such a great experience, as everyone's been saying.

That community that you develop at that time, it was we had to pitch as well to our cohort to get our teammates to buy into the idea. And so that was another experience. It was like going and pitching in front of your teammates. You're talking about your idea and then going around and rallying people because you had to get four people on your team as well. So it was like a really team building experience and opportunity for you to show your leadership skills and develop that as well. And, yeah.

So that's why I would say the capstone is the reason I'm actually doing the work that I am doing today. And it's very exciting to have had that experience. Thank you, Nikita.

That is super powerful. And it's great to hear that our community is not only there to support you class to class, but also support you in pursuing your passions, even if maybe there hasn't always been a path carved out ahead of you. So I think you're really highlighting some of the great benefits of our community here. And so we've gotten a couple questions in the chat about opportunities to learn and connect outside of the classroom. Frank, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about some of the projects you've done outside the classroom, ways you've connected with students during your time here at Harvard Extension School.

Absolutely. So one of the best ways to meet folks is actually coming to the convocation ceremony that takes place on campus, typically, in the fall. It's a great way just to meet faculty as well and students. And of course, during your academic pursuits, you'll have group group work, discussions, and that sort of thing. So you'll be able to collaborate outside of the class as well.

And another thing that I do, I take it upon myself to just message people during a Zoom lecture, saying, how is everything going? How are you enjoying the course? And just taking an interest in your classmates goes a long way. Connect on LinkedIn, have those continuing dialogues and discussions outside of the class is phenomenal. And I can't underscore the importance of building that network. So, yeah. And also, introduce yourself to your lecturers, your professors.

Let them know what you want out of this course, why are you taking it. And that helps them design the curriculum as well and the course syllabus to make it more relevant. So, yeah, there's just so many ways you be a part of this community. And, yeah, so it's very exciting Thanks so much, Frank. Kinslay, I was wondering if you can also share a bit about some of the experiences that you've partaken in outside of the classroom, ways you've been able to connect with your community, despite the fact that some of our classes are online. How have you been able to do that? So as the whole course content is online, right? So it was like my whole journey started from the COVID time.

Everything was online at that time. We used to have all the courses online. And for Harvard Extension, anyway, it is online. So at that time, I made good connections. And from the very first initial course, if you have good-- it's just not connection. It's friends.

And I have continued my whole journey with them. So we used to choose the right courses. We used to discuss even choosing courses which is right for us. And we used to just go through all those online resources available from Harvard to identify which course is good for me, good for us. And by that way, it was good collaboration, even choosing the courses.

And then we worked together, and it has been really great journey till now. And I made like lifelong friends now. They're not just my coursemates. They are my friends. Awesome. Thank you so much for that.

And it's great to hear that you went from classmates to friends, and friends that will probably stay in contact after graduation. So that's great to hear and very inspirational, KInslay. Thank you.

We're getting a couple questions in the chat about research opportunities while pursuing your degree. And so, Vivian, I was wondering if you could tell us a bit more about your experience with the Harvard Innovation Labs, which is one of the opportunities Harvard Extension School students have access to while they're pursuing their degrees here. Right. So I am building a startup, leveraging the data science skills I learned during my master's degree. And Harvard Innovation Labs is actually a building and an organization on campus that helps students build their startups.

And I got phenomenal opportunities because of them, as well as I've won several awards, such as a non-dilutive Harvard grant to test the market. I got to pitch on a Shark Tank for a Harvard show where I got to meet Kevin O'Leary. My startup was selected as the top four startups of Harvard University, and I got to pitch in front of thousand people in Claremont Hall on Harvard Business School.

And I got to travel to Dallas and San Francisco on several startup conferences. So I'm very thankful. It is a fantastic opportunity, and it's not only on campus, but there are also online events. So I would recommend it for everyone who is interested in entrepreneurship Thank you, Vivian. And Nikita, could you also tell us a little bit about your experience, working with the Harvard Innovation Labs.

Yeah, all the work I'm doing today is because actually of the Harvard Innovation Labs. As soon as I had gotten in, this was back in 2020, you had the opportunity to apply with an idea. And that's what I did. And they straight away give you a grant that you can apply for. And it's just that you have all of these access to experts and these resources that absolutely blew me away.

Whatever question I wanted was legal, accounting, just people who have built multi-million dollar companies, sold them. We see venture funds. Everybody was there.

And you had these one-on-one support and guidance for you through Harvard Innovation Labs. And so I went out with my first venture which was the Digital News startup and then now with my AI consultancy and with my podcast as well. And even after you graduate, they have another program for one year that you can be a part of and you can apply to. So there is continuing resources. Harvard Innovation Labs has definitely been one of the biggest resources that I took advantage of.

I was there quite a lot. I spent a lot of time on campus as well, being there and just meeting people. The founder community, it's very entrepreneurial. And the best part about it was that I was able to take all of these courses and apply them directly to my startup.

And all my professors knew about the startup and were so encouraging and gave me a lot of time to help guide me on how I should be building my startup. So that's been one of the best parts about being part of it was also that access to the Harvard Innovation Labs that, I think, has really transformed my career. Thank you, Nikita. And it sounds like for you and Vivian, marrying what you were learning in your courses with the pragmatic ability to implement that in heart of Harvard Innovation Labs was really transformative for you. Very powerful. Bruce, we have one question going back to the beginning.

A few people have been asking, do people need to have a technology background to start a technology master's degree here at Harvard Extension School? Yeah, you don't really have to have a technology background, right? And so the five different fields of study that we have and that we have students come from all walks of life. So we have people that-- students that who wanted to upskill, and they are in the career, in the field, and they want to upskill to the latest technologies. But we also have students that wanted to get into the field, right? And so we have students from a management background.

We have students from a video background. And we have students from the consulting and management consulting and et cetera. And so the way that Harvard Extension School work is that we have the earn your way in through admission courses, and those are the introductory courses, right? But besides that, we also have a number of courses, and some of them are open courses for you to fulfill the prerequisite requirements. So for example, everyone knows David Malan, the celebrity at Harvard professor, that David Malan teaches CS50, right? And so that is not part of the curriculum for the degree program, but it's a prerequisite. And so, we have a lot of the prerequisite courses that we offer for you to fulfill those requirements if you do not have a technology background to start with. Thank you, Bruce.

That was a great answer to that question. And now, we're going to have our last question for the panel, which is why should someone join the Harvard Extension School technology community? If you could give us a brief explanation of why if you could do it again you would, and the key benefits that keep you coming back each semester. Frank, if we could start off with you. Yeah, that's a great question.

I definitely don't regret starting my academic pursuit at HES. It's just been an incredible journey. It opened so many doors. I was able to pivot into the cybersecurity field, even prior to completing my graduate certificate in cybersecurity. It just gave me the confidence to interview and really show employers that I can handle personal life and academic pursuits at the same time. That speaks a lot to you.

So if you're sitting on the fence, you can do it. Believe in yourself. The courses are interesting. They're not so overly demanding, you won't be able to have a social life or anything like that and meet your family obligations. So I can tell you that, yeah, it's well worth the investment. The financial commitment, the time commitment, you won't regret it.

Definitely not. Thank you, Frank. Next up, Vivian, could you tell us a little bit about why you would do this again? Sure. One of the most important things for me was the flexibility that we could do it online.

Because I used to be a consultant prior to being an entrepreneur. And because of that, I was traveling all the time. Thus, being able to take the classes online was extremely helpful. That was the key thing for me.

Thank you. I love that. That note about flexibility, that is core to our mission here at Extension. Kinslay, how about you? Yeah. So I have a good amount of experience in this area, right? So I just go with whatever helps me. And I found that Harvard provides you a lot of options, a lot of course options are there, and you can choose what is going to help you in your career.

So that is the best part I have felt. And I feel that after I will graduate, still, I will be-- I'll be keep on doing this some of the courses after my graduation. Because I know what is needed for me, what is needed for my career growth. And all I can come and choose whatever course is applicable. And practical aspect of all those courses.

Yeah, the two items. Thank you, Kinslay. Nikita. Yeah. For me, it's the access to a world class education and resources. And I think just the power of being part of the Harvard ecosystem is something that you cannot really underscore.

It opens up a lot of doors. And if you are-- even if you just have an entrepreneurial spirit as well, there are just so many resources there to support and guide you, and the flexibility and the support ecosystem that you can develop is really unmatched. Thanks, Nikita. And Katie, what would you say is one of the highlights for you of working with our technology students? I love working with the technology students. They're one of my absolute favorite groups.

They are so interesting. They are driven. They come in with great ideas and big plans. And it's so gratifying to help them.

Connect with the resources to make those plans a reality. They're one of my favorite groups. I love IT. Thanks, Katie.

And Bruce, lastly, with you, what is so powerful about the technology programs here at Harvard Extension School? Well, being in technology is wonderful, right? And this is probably the most exciting field because of the dynamic and ever evolving, right? And that technology is changing and so fast. If you think about a year and a half ago, no one's talk about ChatGPT. But now, everyone's talking about ChatGPT, right? And not just us, the technologists, but everyone in the world is talking about ChatGPT.

So I started my career at IBM as a data analyst, and the tool that they gave me was a stopwatch to take measurement, right? And so you see how things change and so quickly and so fast. And in order for us to basically stay up right and to stay current with the trend, so basically, what we have done is that we created an awesome advisory board for our degree program. And our advisory board is basically consists of some very top senior thought leaders in the field, whether it is data science or cybersecurity or digital media, design system engineering, or computer science. And so they consist of the Harvard faculty at the School of Engineering, and they consist of the thought leaders in the field, and many of them are hiring manager as well. And so that's basically help us to keep ourselves current, and that our goal, our mission here at Harvard is basically that not just ensuring that the students will get an A excellent education.

But at the same time, the relevancy, right? And the relevant skills that they can actually practice and to enrich and to enhance their career. And so that's what makes our program so powerful. Thank you so much, Bruce. And thank you to you all for your insightful answers. And to all of our attendees today, for the questions you've been asking of everyone, if you weren't able to get your question answered during our session or more arise, please contact us at or call us at 617-998-8500.

Make sure to also follow us on social media to stay updated on deadlines, hear student testimonials, and learn more about our offerings. We want to remind you of a few key dates for January and spring sessions. So December 7 is the full payment deadline for January session.

January 4 is the full payment deadline for spring term. January 2 is the last day to register for courses for January session, and January 18 is the last day to register for courses for spring term. Lastly, as a few of you been asking, we will be sending out this recording today to the email you used to register. And you'll also be able to access it on the event page in our Harvard Extension School YouTube channel. Thank you all so much again for joining us today, and we hope to see you in class this spring.

2023-11-19 10:06

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