When it comes to her education, Yuliya Coey is a practical realist. She knows that getting a bachelor’s degree requires sacrifice: it’s a lot of work, demanding a lot of time. And what’s the payoff? In order to justify the investment, Coey expects her degree to work like a well-organized toolbox, outfitting her with the skills necessary to launch a new career or advance in a current job.

The Information Technology Infrastructure program at the U of M’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies was just the program to satisfy her expectations.


Discovering New Options

Coey moved to the United States from Russia in 2001 to complete her high school education. After graduating, her practical mind didn’t consider college. She thought, why pay to go to school when I can start working instead? She got a job as a teller at Wells Fargo, and began to climb the internal ladder, boosting herself from rung to rung: teller to customer service representative, to banker, to lead teller, to service manager. It was around 2010 that she enrolled in a local community college’s accounting program to earn her Associate’s Degree, a credential that would give her more options for advancement in the banking industry.

By 2016, however, Coey found herself hitting a wall. She questioned whether accounting was the direction she really wanted to steer herself professionally. Soul searching and conversations with family and friends led her to reconsider her strengths and interests. She ultimately found herself considering a transition into the IT industry.

“Programming is fascinating to me,” Coey says. “You can take the backend of a program and, through coding, make it run a thousand different ways. I realized I wanted to use my customer service skills to be a link between the customer and a business’ IT division. I can see myself asking the right questions, then returning to the IT team to come up with a solution. I like that kind of communication to solve common problems.”


The ITI Program

Coey researched the U of M’s Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree in Information Technology Infrastructure, and was excited about the practicality of the program—the instructors who all worked full-time in the IT industry, the evening classes to accommodate her work schedule, and the fresh course content, which would teach her the ins and outs of tech in today’s fast-paced world as well as business and management tools. She met with an advisor who convinced her that the ITI program would open up new opportunities for her at Wells Fargo and beyond. She enrolled in the program and began taking prerequisites in tandem with program coursework.

“Of course I want to finish as soon as I can,” Coey says. “But I’m taking the courses slowly, one or two each semester, so that I don’t get overwhelmed by responsibility at both work and school. I’m moving slowly but surely. You manage. You don’t know how you do it, but you manage to juggle everything.”

Coey’s new career goal is to become a business analyst at Wells Fargo. She’s excited by the shift in work and the added challenge. Course by course, she is making her way toward earning her ITI degree. It’s a practical decision that she feels confident making, sure that her degree will outfit her with the skills she needs to succeed.

“I’m eager to complete the degree and be back in the real world, full-time,” Coey says. “But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the program. The instructors and advisors are wonderful.”