Working to Get Ahead

Bo Zhu was working 11 hours a day, six days a week, as a Java developer when he was looking for opportunities to expand relevant professional knowledge, which proved tricky during a global pandemic.

He discovered Illinois Institute of Technology’s collaborative relationship with Beacon Education, which offers online degree programs for working Chinese students.

“I found this new way of studying was innovative and attractive,” Zhu says. “Beacon’s services made Illinois Tech’s courses fit the schedules of Chinese working people thanks to their LUMINA platform, which I used to take advantage of fragmented time during commutes or whenever I was free.”

Zhu studied databases, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and software development procedures through Illinois Tech coursework. He says these job-related courses immediately helped support his career.

“After learning agile software development in one of my courses, I can now employ the method more confidently and constructively to improve the development process,” Zhu says. “I got promoted to senior Java developer while I was studying at Illinois Tech because I leveled up the company’s database system and provided more value to the development of the company based on what I learned from the computer science courses.”

Zhu found the coursework in the program strongly related to each other. For example, the combination of a computer networking and a graph theory course showed how the network itself is a graph.

Zhu now works as a Java developer in charge of developing electric systems for the State Grid Corporation, a Fortune Global 500 company in China. He works on projects that involve innovative technologies such as pilotless aerial vehicles and renewable energy. His responsibilities include making sure systems operate stably and adding new functionalities to our system.

“These opportunities are life-changing to me,” Zhu says. “With the experiences of studying in both China and the United States, I gained a more comprehensive view of my major and honed my technical skills.”

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