Henry Narits

Viktoriia Abakumova: This Software Engineering Master's programme has fundamentally changed my way of thinking

That is how Viktoriia Abakumova describes the University of Tartu Software Engineering Master's programme. Currently, she is finishing the programme, and the following interview gives her personal insight about her experiences at the university and future plans.

Why did you choose to study Software Engineering at the University of Tartu? 

My decision was driven by the program's strong focus on practical skills in Enterprise Software Engineering and its alignment with my career goals. The course's hands-on approach and the university's renowned reputation in tech education offered the ideal environment for developing real-world skills essential for managing complex software systems in large corporations or launching a startup. This balance of practical application and academic excellence made it the perfect choice for advancing my career in the tech industry. 

How would you describe your experience with your studies?

The experience of studying Software Engineering has been multifaceted and enriching. The program is structured into various modules - Core, Specialization, Practice, Seminar, and Elective courses - providing a comprehensive education. 

What stands out in this program is the flexibility in course selection. Beyond the mandatory courses, students can take a wide range of subjects, whether they lean towards technical expertise, management skills, or language proficiency. This freedom to customize my learning path has significantly enhanced my educational experience. I selected courses focused on DevOps to gain the ability to create and maintain infrastructure. This choice aimed to broaden my technical expertise, encompassing software development and systems operations. 

Additionally, the emphasis on group work in many courses has been invaluable. It's about developing the ability to collaborate effectively, organize tasks, and manage time within a team setting. These are essential skills in today's workplace, particularly in the tech industry, where teamwork is pivotal. 

The University of Tartu itself offers an ideal setting for study. Its facilities are well-equipped to support an academic program, making Tartu a great place to learn and thrive in an academically stimulating environment. This combination of a well-structured program, flexible course selection, practical skill development, and excellent facilities makes the Software Engineering program at the University of Tartu a truly rewarding educational journey. 

What did you like the most?  

What I appreciated most about my studies was the vibrant startup spirit and the opportunities for collaboration with industry and business. Each semester, I engaged in various events and programs like the UT sTARTUp Lab, SEB Design Hack, and CDL-Estonia (Creative Destruction Lab), which allowed me to apply my academic knowledge to real-world cases. This not only enhanced my practical experience but also enriched my resume, showcasing my ability to implement learned concepts in practical scenarios. The entire journey has been about gaining valuable experience, expanding my professional network, and personal development, all within a dynamic and entrepreneurial academic environment. 

Was there anything surprising or especially difficult?  

What pleasantly surprised me in my studies was the exceptional dedication and expertise of the lecturers. They are highly knowledgeable in their respective fields and incredibly supportive of students. Their willingness to share expertise and assist in any way possible was remarkable. I was particularly impressed by their responsiveness; questions were welcomed anytime, and answers were often provided swiftly, sometimes even during weekends. This level of engagement and support from the faculty significantly enhanced the learning experience. 

Whenever I encountered difficulties, student community support, lecturer guidance, and personal self-discipline helped me overcome them. The sense of connection within the student community constantly reminded me that I wasn't alone in facing challenges. The lecturers provided support and guidance, helping me to navigate my academic journey. Additionally, maintaining self-discipline was crucial for managing the coursework load and staying on track. This blend of external support and internal determination was vital in overcoming obstacles throughout my academic journey. 

What has the Master's programme given you so far? 

So far, the Master's program has given me a comprehensive view of problem-solving, going beyond just coding skills. It has taught me to see things from a project perspective, considering aspects like risks, planning, and overall project management. This has fundamentally changed my way of thinking, making it more holistic and strategic. Additionally, I've built a great network here, connecting with knowledgeable professors and fellow students from diverse backgrounds. Above all, the program has provided me with a strong foundation of fundamental knowledge in software engineering, which I believe is crucial for any successful career in this field. 

Why and to whom would you recommend this curriculum? 

I've had a fantastic experience in this program, so I would definitely recommend this curriculum, especially to prospective students with a background in Computer Science or a similar field. My advice to them is to explore the curriculum and learn about the various research groups at the university. This will help them determine if the program aligns with their goals and expectations in both academic and professional journeys because the opportunities here are abundant. This experience can be highly rewarding, but it depends on how much you want to dive into these possibilities. 

What are your plans for the future?  

Right now, my main focus is on wrapping up my thesis. Once that's done, I plan to find a job here in Estonia. The tech scene here is fascinating, and I feel like it's a great place to kick off my career. Down the line, I've got this dream of starting my startup. It's a big goal, but everything I've learned and experienced here has set the stage for that. 



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