Elizabeth Garfoot, an August 2023 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Information Technology Management, describes herself as a “forever student,” a trait that has more than paid off for her career.
She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UW-La Crosse and began working for Trane Technologies as an Information Technology Analyst. She had started at Trane as an intern, but because her background isn’t in IT, she felt like she was missing something.
“I had always been looking for an online tech-type program, just to have that certification that says ‘Hey, I work in IT,’” she says. She found ITM after searching online and chose it because of her connection to UW-La Crosse as an undergrad.
“I had such high hopes, high faith in the UW System, and I’m in super rural southwest Wisconsin. So if I can stay in my home area, keep working for my same company and still be able to get my degree, that was the trifecta. That’d be perfect. It fit my lifestyle, fit my budget, all the boxes. It really worked out for me.”
She started the program in 2020, taking one to two courses each semester–and Trane supported her with tuition reimbursement. When she first started, she was a project manager at Trane, but when she applied for a data analytics role she was told she didn’t have enough experience. However, when she took ITM715: Data Science, she discovered a whole new career path.
“Now, I’m a Tableau and Alteryx data developer (at Trane),” she says. “After I was able to go through the course in our program, it kind of gave me that background and information that I can speak to. It helped me find my fit in the technology space. It was great.”
Elizabeth also celebrated another milestone while in the program – having a baby in November 2022. She appreciated the flexibility she was offered as she was about to give birth.
“My cohort was really understanding and accepting. My professor was super understanding. He let me get some stuff done a month or two in advance. But everybody was flexible and just super helpful. I thought I’d be overwhelmed. But it just worked out great,” she says.
The program also helped her better manage her time, before and after having a child.
“I’ve always been a procrastinator. They’ve really helped me evolve through that. It’s just been nice for me to get out ahead, stay ahead of everything.”
When she first started the program, she created a schedule to help her set aside time for schoolwork, which of course shifted once she had her baby. It’s still helpful, however.
“Beginning of every semester, I would put together a schedule of what my week looks like,” she says. “On Wednesdays I’ve got to hunker down and work on X,Y, Z, or whatever it would be.”
One of ITM’s strengths is how the material is organized, Elizabeth says. “I really liked how a lot of the courses were a lot of discussion, collaboration. There wasn’t a ton of busy work where you’re drowning once you get to the weekend, you have six papers to do or something like that. I feel like it was the perfect amount of work.”
“I’m just really impressed with the depth and yet the brevity that the program has. It gives you a lot of topics throughout the different courses. And yet, it’s not so much that your brain is just swimming in information.”
Elizabeth is content with her role at Trane, but wants to continue learning through certifications, or even teach courses herself as an adjunct. She’s in touch with her classmates and professors through LinkedIn to continue the relationships she built with them during the interactive components of the curriculum, which included video calls and virtual discussions. These experiences were especially valuable for Elizabeth, who has been with the same company for a long time, and wanted to learn more about what others in similar roles do at their jobs.
“Everybody’s really great about ‘Oh, I have this experience. Let me share. I can really bring it to a high level, if you really need to understand it better.’ And I think that was a huge part of the collaboration with your peer group. It was great to see people from other walks of life to talk you through some of those more in depth topics.”
For those thinking about enrolling in ITM, Elizabeth encourages taking the plunge. In fact, she regularly recommends the program to peers and colleagues.
“I just would highly recommend anybody to get into this program. If they’ve been thinking about it, I’d say take the leap. I think it’s really worth it.”
Learn more about the 100 percent online UW Master of Science in IT Management by exploring the program’s curriculum or contacting an enrollment adviser. For more information, call 608-800-6762 or email email@example.com.