Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?
I spent a significant amount of time researching potential schools, compiling a spreadsheet of criteria that rated everything from the tuition costs to the type of learning management system. I looked up the faculty on LinkedIn, watched videos of recorded presentations, and searched through [forums] for honest reviews.
Working in academia, specifically education technology, I knew more than most how to evaluate programs. Harvard Extension provided me access to subject-matter experts, from Harvard and MIT, as opposed to taking a canned publisher’s course on outdated systems. Knowing I would be dedicating two years of my life to this endeavor, I wanted to maximize my time by getting the best possible learning experience.
How has this experience helped you in your career or personal development?
After I graduated, I spent the summer deciding the next steps for my career. I took a blind leap from the public sector, having worked in academia since I was 18, to the private sector. I knew that true growth happens when you step outside of your comfort zone, and I wanted to expand my horizons.
I now work in developer education at Netflix and have been putting my digital media design degree to use. I am incredibly happy with my choice, and working at Netflix has exceeded my expectations. I love being part of something that can spark joy and provide a distraction to the world during difficult times.
If you were a distance student, how did you manage to fulfill the on-campus requirement?
I took time off work and flew to Boston to fulfill my on-campus requirement, and it was one of the best experiences. I got to tour the University, explore Harvard Square, and shop at the Coop. I was taking the visual communications design course. And for the next couple of days, we were thrown into a series of projects where we worked individually and within groups. It felt how I imagined reality competitions feel, where you are given a series of challenges, then you present, are judged, and move onto the next challenge.
Do you have a favorite class or faculty member? Why?
There were so many outstanding faculty and classes. Susan Buck’s Dynamic Web Applications was one of my first classes, and it reinforced that I had made the best choice by selecting Harvard Extension. After her class, I became obsessed with Laravel and ended up creating a half dozen Saas applications.
David Malan’s CS50 Computer Science course was phenomenal. It had such incredible production value that I would stream live on my living room TV while sitting on my couch with my laptop taking notes. It made me feel like I was in the lecture hall with everyone else. Nicholas J. Manley’s Video Field Production class was also a favorite, and I converted my tiny apartment into a makeshift studio.
Stacie Green and Denise Snyder’s Instructional Design class was life-changing. It was a catalyst for me to decide to pivot to a career in developer education. Jen Kramer taught me front-end design but was also a mentor who gave me the best advice about spending time applying my talents in the next couple of years.
Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.