Long term Travel while doing a Master of Science in Computer Science

I saw your comment on r/OMSCS and your experience sounds really similar to my ideal experience. I just got accepted to the program and I’m trying to do it without working. I also see that you have a some computer/electrical engineering stuff.

Basically I am torn between this program and Colorado State’s computer engineering masters (online). My dream job would be to design embedded systems for environmental monitoring/measuring devices. I like programming, but like hardware just as much. Realistically though, this program will still give me exposure to similar embedded systems and arch classes, while allowing me to take some ML/Stats class as a complement to that.Anyways, I guess I don’t really have a specific question, but was curious how it all turned out for you. I like the idea of not having to be in a specific place while I get a MS. I have spent a lot of time living abroad and that appeals to me as well. If you ever have any time to talk and share your experience, let me know!

Thanks for your time!

Redacted

Hi Redacted,

Thanks for reaching out and congratulations on your acceptance to both of your remote programs. And yes, our interests do overlap; We both skirt the line between hardware and software. It’s no fun playing on just one side of the fence, right?

You pose a broad but supremely valuable question. How did it all work out? And by “all” I understand this to be doing OMSCS remotely while traveling as well as the career outcome. I haven’t taken a moment to reflect on the journey or where I ended up several years removed from my last OMSCS class so thank you for the question.

Let’s get this out of the way. I didn’t graduate. About a year into the program I got a job offer and started a position as a power architect at a semiconductor company. Six months into work and a year and a half into the OMSCS program I stopped pursuing the degree. In some ideal universe I would have stuck it out and added to the alphabet soup after my name. In reality four factors contribited to my leaving; 1) OMSCS was a way to cover my tracks in a gap year/s while I traveled long term, 2) I landed my dream job, 3) I already had an MS in ECE so I didn’t feel driven by the need or credentials, and most importantly 4) I dove headfirst into the deep end at work and didn’t have the time and energy to focus on courses.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can address how things turned out. I landed my dream job as an architect in one of the premiere CPU design houses in the world. I can’t say with certainty that OMSCS was the reason I landed this but an interesting tidbit of information is that my manager and a good portion of my colleagues have PhDs from brick and mortor Georgia Tech. The fact that my studies were done remotely was either unknown or a non-detrimental to the hiring process. So how did things turn out? I didn’t completely goof off in my time traveling, I pursued an avenue that was constructive to my knowledge and career, and I ended up landing an excellent position that I’ve been at for over four years. Success.

Would I recommend traveling and studying? This is more difficult to answer. There were sticky points to being in a foreign place and being burdened by the responsibilities of a graduate degree program. I didn’t have full reign over my time and there were situations where I didn’t have a reliable workspace or Internet. I recall more than a few instances of taking lectures on my phone while waiting for a bus or frantically solving problem sets on a cramped airplane tray table. Despite the logistical stress the experience was valuable in that it provided meaningful and productive structure to open ended travel. And this structure and rigor was to a degree that I would not have been able to self impose.

In summary and to close out my rambling answer, I do whole heartedly recommend scratching that travel itch and pursuing a graduate degree remotely. The positives far out weigh the negatives and the if you are diligent and a little bit lucky, your experiences traveling will add an extra dimension to your life experience and education.

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