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IT can be done: Transitioning from liberal arts to tech

UL Online -- Mon, 03/08/2021 - 11:33am

Jason Suire’s resume lists titles like IT coordinator, systems analyst, and his current role as cyber security engineer. But that wasn’t always Suire’s projected career path.

As a teen, Suire had an inclination toward computing, but his passion was creative writing. So, when it came time to declare a college major, Suire went with his passion. 

“I originally wanted to go into computer science, but in my senior year I decided to choose English,” he says. “I kind of fell in love with creative writing.” 

Suire earned an English degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with honors in 2016. He soon found his career interests leaned more tech than Twain, and he accepted a position as IT coordinator at UL Lafayette.


Returning to the University put Suire on track to another goal: earning an advanced degree. The Master of Science in Informatics turned out to be the perfect conduit to bridge Suire’s undergraduate degree and his career aspirations. 

The M.S. in Informatics — offered on campus and 100% online — isn’t restricted to students with undergraduate computing degrees. Students who meet Graduate School admissions requirements can apply with any accredited bachelor's degree. Jason Suire in his cap and gown during commencement in 2019 when he earned his M.S. in Informatics

“For some computing programs, the level of access is high coming from a non-technical academic background, even though I built a lot of those technical skills in my career,” Suire says. “Informatics was accessible and applicable to a wide array of skill sets.” 

Students accepted to the program complete courses in data analytics and visualization, network security, database management, data mining, cloud computing, web application development, and process analysis, among others. Students also have the opportunity to take elective courses in other areas, like those in the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration MBA program.

With the critical thinking skills honed through his liberal arts degree, Suire says the informatics course material was very manageable. His biggest challenge was adjusting to the project format.

“They weren’t so much writing-based as, say, building a product plan and implementing it,” he says. “I had to analyze an organization, find areas where they could improve, build a plan for them, build architecture documentation. That was pretty foreign to me.”

Diving into Data

Suire says the data science courses in the program were a natural fit with his affinity for statistics and provided a springboard for future opportunities. 

“I especially love data science and data analytics because that's applicable to any field you go into,” he says. “If you go into, say, political science, the statistical background and the procedural learning background is extraordinarily helpful in setting up strategies.”

Having those identified interests allowed Suire to guide his coursework to get the most from the degree personally and professionally. 

"I gave myself, two or three fields, including cyber security and cloud computing. It turned out I really loved data science, so I focused on that with three independent projects and data science courses to get that foundational learning and really ground in that skill set,” Suire says.

“I think if you go in at least with the intention of finding a field you can really focus on and talk to professors, they will work with you to figure out what you need to tackle.”

Suire completed his degree in December 2019 while working full time as a systems analyst with the University. In January 2020, he accepted a position as cyber security engineer with international IT and business consulting firm CGI. He now works with his team to ensure data is processed to accurately identify clients’ risks and weaknesses. 

Request information today about UL Lafayette’s M.S. in Informatics — on campus or 100% online — and learn how you can gain the skills to advance or transform your career.