A Network of Experts at Your Fingertips

Stella Warfel (MSIT '14) discusses the benefits of being a part of the Northwestern MSIT community.

By Stella Warfel (MSIT '14)

This past June, I had the honor of speaking to the newest class of graduates from Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program. Four years earlier, I sat in the same position as I received my MSIT degree and was ready to take my place in the IT world.

Stella WarfelI started my speech to the graduates with a joke about how the one thing we had in common — besides our MSIT degree — was our role as 24/7 tech support for our friends and family. I've visited friends who I haven't seen in months and ended up cleaning a virus from their computer for the entire visit. At Thanksgiving, I've had my uncle ask my to look at his computer because it doesn't turn on anymore. At Christmas, I've had my cousins ask for help in selecting their next cell phone.

We've all been there, I said.

But that's not our only commonality, I explained. Our biggest shared trait, I said, is we are all part of the MSIT network. It's a network of IT professionals that we always have access to, regardless of our professional position.

It starts with our classmates. I can reach out to any one of them — and I have — and ask for help or support. For example, I spent five years at Elevate Energy, and I vividly remember multiple conversations with my cohort partner Melissa Varghese about how to ask for promotions. Her advice helped, and within a few months of graduating, I was promoted to IT Manager.

Those people in your cohort, you can always reach out to them for advice, and they'll be ready to help you.

The MSIT network extends far beyond your classmates, though. I actually got my current job because of other members of the MSIT network.

Kevin Glynn is the Chief Information Officer at DSC Logistics, and he also is the chairman of the MSIT Industry Advisory Board (IAB). His IAB position gave him the opportunity to grade my final MSIT presentation. Afterward, he and I connected and stayed in touch.

Three years after I graduated, a position at his company opened up, and Kevin thought of me. That is how I became an IT Project Manager at DSC Logistics, where I now have been working for nearly a year.

Dimitra Kane (MSIT '99 and MSIT IAB member) is another MSIT network member who has played an important role in my career and my life. I vividly remember having multiple conversations with Kane, who is the Enterprise Architecture Senior Manager at Discover Financial Service and also on the IAB. Knowing she's a woman in IT who has been highly successful in the industry for many years helps me. She always pushes through and perseveres, even in an industry with very few women.

Most of the time when I'm in an IT meeting, I'm the only woman in the room. Dimitra has told me to not let being in the minority get in the way of working as hard as I can and trying my best.

It is wonderful to learn from the experiences of my fellow MSIT network members. Knowing you have access to IT professionals that are in different parts of their career can really help you learn and grow. If you ever have a question, I encourage you to reach out. You always have an expert you can turn to.