ITI graduating senior Adelaide Zibrowski feels lucky she didn't get into the first major she chose

Adelaide Zibrowski was at a crossroads. She had been planning to get into computer engineering or computer science through the U’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE). Although she very much wanted to go into IT, the demands and requirements of the program were proving too much. Just when she thought she might have to give up her dream, her advisor told her about the Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI) degree program in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS).

The ITI program offers a blend of business and technical courses meant to instill both the hard and soft skills, such as communicating, problem solving, and adaptability, that are necessary for success in today’s IT work spaces. The program offers six tracks—data science, data management, systems, security, development and operations, and networking—for students to specialize in, in addition to the more general coursework.

Adelaide transferred into the program and now is looking forward to graduating in May 2022. Below, she shares her insights about the program, her thoughts about taking courses online, the role mentorship is playing in her job search, and her advice for students who are disappointed about not getting into their chosen major.

How did you find the ITI program?

Adelaide Zibrowski stands in front of short white wall with a metalic spiral sculpture behind her

I started in CSE as a freshman and it didn’t work out for me. I wasn’t going to be admitted to my major. Then my advisor told me about CCAPS. The one thing that I really liked is the wide variety of classes, like networking, security, and databases. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what area I wanted to focus on, but I ended up choosing the data science track because it worked the best with my schedule and it turned out to be a really good fit for me. 

You were granted two scholarships, the Ingrid Lenz Harrison Scholarship and the Rosslyn Kleeman Scholarship. How did that support help you finish your degree?

I’m a first-generation college student and I pay for everything myself, so that’s a struggle for me and always has been. I get the FAFSA and everything. But that’s not enough, so I have to take out personal loans.
So the scholarships helped me a lot—they allowed me to take out much smaller personal loans. Like the one I got in the summer, that was nice, because I didn’t have to take out a loan and I was able to cover the entire tuition cost that semester.

How do you like taking the classes online during the pandemic?

I definitely like the classes a lot. Many of the courses in the ITI program were already online and asynchronous, so I can work at my own pace. That really helps me because I work two jobs and the flexibility of online definitely helps me with that.

With your impending graduation, what type of work are you looking for?

I just started applying to jobs, with the help of my CCAPS mentor, who is connecting me to people who may be able to give me a  job. I’m probably gonna go into corporate, because they have programs for recent grads that let you explore the industry and figure out what to do.
For example, Target has a software leadership program that lets you rotate positions every few months. You work in one sector and then you move to another. After about a year or two you decide which one you want to work in. 

How did you connect with your mentor in the CCAPS Mentorship Program?

Adelaide Zibrowski sits on stair on a spiral staircase with a white wall behind her

I filled out a questionnaire about myself—my personality, what I was looking for in the mentorship program. Then we were given profiles of different mentors and I was able to browse through and choose the top three or five people I thought I’d work well with. And then the program matched us up based on that. So I was matched with someone in networking. He went to the U and has worked at 3M and Target and some other places, so he has a lot of different connections. 

Before the mentorship program, I had no concept of the real world. I was really nervous about graduating because I really did not know what the IT industry was going to be like outside of the academic setting. But my mentor has been really helpful, walking me through the process of getting a job and telling me what a normal day looks like for him and helping me with my resume and applications. 

Like I said, I didn’t really have a lot of connections in the IT world. And, especially with COVID, it’s hard to make connections. So that has been really helpful for me.

What advice would you give to students who may be feeling like you once did, somewhat lost about not getting into the first program you chose?

If you’re feeling hopeless about not getting into your major, just know that it happens to a lot of people and you will be okay. For me, switching majors was a blessing in disguise that I never would have discovered if I made it into my first-choice major. You can get the same jobs with similar degrees in different colleges. Definitely make sure to reach out to classmates and instructors, and join the mentorship program because connections are important when it comes to getting a job. Explore your options and it will all work out. 

Visit the Information Technology Infrastructure website for more info about the program. The College of Continuing and Professional Studies financial aid page has a list of scholarships to contribute to and apply for.