Master is over! #CMUGrad
I finished my undergrad studies in December 2013, I was an average student (3.20/4 GPA). My undergrad was in Information Systems Management at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.
Being honest with myself, I could have been a better student. That inner struggle made me want more for myself.
When I started to look for master degrees I was not sure of what I wanted, nor I was certain of my motivations.
In January 2014, I found a dual degree between ITESM and Carnegie Mellon University. Exclusive for Latin American citizens, the program gives each graduate two separate degrees, one from ITESM and another one from CMU.
The rest of the world had to take the degree either in CMU or ITESM, but not both at the same time.
I was immediately hooked and I started to see the admission requirements. Around May I contacted who was the coordinator for the degree and he asked me to send all my paperwork right away. The requirements were considerable, and I decided to postpone the process until 2015.
In comparison to most Mexican universities, the process of admission to CMU is more extensive. I was required to write a 1,000-word essay, a transcript of my grades, a credential of that transcript, an official translation of my undergrad diploma, a copy of my resumé, three letters of recommendation, present the TOEFL and GRE exams, three years of professional experience in IT and an optional video essay.
The long process forced me to really evaluate why I wanted to be in that program. First things first, it is important to know that a master degree, or any degree, is no job guarantee. The way I see it, it is just a professional career enabler, the rest is up to you.
More than professional reasons, I wanted to put myself to the test and give education another chance.
Somewhere mid-May from 2015 I received a call telling me that I was admitted. The master consists of 13 courses by CMU and 8 by ITESM. There's an introductory week in CMU and closing week is in ITESM.
It all makes sense once you are there. The people I met are incredible and talented professionals who I now call "friends".
The master was challenging academically, mentally and financially. There was a time in which most of my payroll went straight to pay for the degree, the rest was for basic items. There was even a couple of months in which I survived solely by food coupons.
In March 2017 I was hired as a Software Architect by a company that I used to work for. I was very fortunate that they offered to pay the rest of the degree!
For me, Business Process Management, Statistics, and Decision Making Under Uncertainty were the toughest courses. Business Communications is a course that I use almost every day.
The degree lasts for two and a half years. They passed rapidly. Fast-forward to August 2017 and we were already planning our graduation.
Although there is no thesis, there's a team field project which pretty much puts everything you learned to the test. We chose Artificial Intelligence applied to a business scenario as our topic.
For our final presentation, a teammate could not assist. We had to make last-minute modifications to ace that presentation. When it was my turn to present, a professor decided to turn off the projector. I did not panic, instead, I simply presented in the smoothest way possible.
And that was it. All those years made sense in that twenty-minute presentation.
Since you obtain two degrees from two separate schools, there are two ceremonies. One in CMU and another one in ITESM.
As of today, I have no idea where am I going now, personally and professionally. If I could tell anyone what to do, it's all about embracing the process. Today I am just in another process of my life.
tl;dr studying is cool and you should do it
Edit: In spring 2019 there was a formal announcement from CMU about cancelling the dual degree with ITESM, citing primarily financial reasons.
I was fortunate enough to have taken the dual degree when it was available. From now on, you can study MSIT in CMU or MATI at ITESM but separately.