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Persistence pays off as an online student, even when you don’t have a bird’s-eye view

Oregon State alum pushes past a lack of self-confidence to earn her degree online and build a career in tech

By Tyler Hansen

There was a time when the idea of “seeing the big picture” was more than Ravonne Byrd could manage. She was trying to find her footing professionally, but the different career paths she tested became unappealing the further she ventured down them.

Newly married with a baby on the way, Byrd wondered if she’d missed out on her prime career opportunities. The Ivy League graduate was swimming in self-doubt, and if there was a big picture, she feared it might have swallowed her whole.

“There was a lot of uncertainty, and I did a lot of crying,” she said.

Emerging out from under the uncertainty began online, in Oregon State University’s postbaccalaureate computer science program. In no time, the floodgates of success opened. Byrd found her place in the professional world while still learning online, first in a student worker position with Oregon State’s Center for Applied Systems and Software (CASS), then in an internship with Salesforce.

Upon graduating with her OSU computer science degree, she began working full time with Salesforce as a software engineer.

Resuming her academic journey as an adult helped Byrd summon the confidence to keep moving forward despite lingering doubts around what it would all lead to.

“I think persistence is a big part of being a software engineer, because you need to keep going until you find the answers or how you can solve a problem,” she said. “Being able to see that, even when I couldn’t see the outcome, I kept studying when I felt hopeless. It does my heart good now that I know I have that persistence in me.”

The only thing more common than students dealing with self-doubt is the number of students who overcame those feelings and ultimately succeeded. Byrd is one of them. And she has some wisdom to impart.

You can’t take on the challenge? “That’s not true,” Byrd says.

Everyone faces roadblocks as they work toward a more rewarding future. The circumstances vary from person to person, but there’s a common denominator among students: They discover that they are more determined than they imagined.

Byrd had to push past the notion and stereotype that she wouldn’t be the best fit for the technology industry.

“A lot of people think tech is not for them. There are barriers — things to overcome — whether you’re Black or white. People in their 30s and 40s might think they can’t do that,” she said. “That’s not true.

A woman, Ravonne Byrd, eats at a table with her young song on her lap.

Ravonne Byrd had the ability — and found the self-confidence — to earn her degree online while working and raising a family.

You can impact lives. “That’s a powerful thing,” Byrd says.

Earning your degree, certificate or microcredential online will give you a suite of skills that can help you advance or change your career. Beyond that, you’ll acquire the type of knowledge and abilities that empower you to make a difference — whether that’s in your community, the world at large or your household.

Take Byrd, for instance.

“You can make a career switch and have an immediate effect on your children’s future,” she said. “That’s a powerful thing, as a mother. I’ve definitely cried out of happiness.”

You’ll find your passion. “That helped me feel comfortable,” Byrd says.

Learning online with Oregon State will provide you with the life-changing opportunities to discover your calling. Oftentimes, you’ll find it through coursework, in a research project, a conversation with your classmates or instructor, or in an internship.

As an intern with OSU’s CASS, Byrd honed her skills as a software engineer. And she realized that her passion lies in helping others see what they’re capable of — and working to make it a reality.

“I want to be in a position to mentor. There are really excellent mentors at CASS, and that helped me feel comfortable later in my internship with Salesforce,” she said. “I want to be an effective communicator, and I want to see someone else’s big picture and help them get there.”

Discover how learning online with Oregon State University can help you stand out in the job market, and learn about the unmatched support you’ll receive as a student.

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