Computing degree opens up new world for US language student

30 April 2021 | Students News

Lincoln University’s new Master of Applied Computing (MAC) appeals to people from all walks of life, as it’s aimed at those who haven’t studied the discipline before.

American student Liz Horton is part of the first group of students to enrol in the programme, which she began in November last year. It’s a long way from where she started out as a student of French and Spanish.

“After graduating from university in Portland, Oregon, with a degree in foreign languages, I thought I might pursue a career in interpretation,” she says.

“But I felt a bit lost and initially started working for the US equivalent of the Department of Conservation.”

A love of the outdoors brought Liz to New Zealand, and after travelling and developing a deep appreciation of the country, she secured a job carrying out manual labour at a lumber yard.

“I was looking for a change from that, and the more I thought about interpretation, the more I felt it was a career that was going to employ fewer and fewer people, thanks to technology. And I thought, why not pick a career that is going to offer more and more positions instead? That’s what led me to the MAC,” she says.

Before beginning her studies, Liz started teaching herself the programming language, python. 

Having recently completed her first semester at Lincoln, she says she has discovered a lot that she would have struggled to teach herself.

“Learning things like using databases on online servers has been especially useful, and I certainly like the practical focus of the course.

“That was one of the big draws for me, to have our assessment for the first semester be to create a web application that is actually something I could imagine people using in real life. It’s pretty gratifying.”

The application that Liz has developed is a management system for youth groups, which gives group leaders the ability to create meetings, check attendance and have youth members check in at the meetings.

“It’s been exciting to create the application totally from scratch,” she says.

After completing the programme at the end of 2021, Liz hopes to move directly into a software development role.

“Another reason I was interested in the MAC was that it includes an internship in the technology industry, and I’m hoping to use that experience as a leg up for an entry level position somewhere in Christchurch.”

The internship will take place in Semester 2.