How a professional master's degree gave this alumna career options

After quarantine, Wenxing Qiu '19 is back to coding at Schlumberger.

Wenxing Qiu

In February, Wenxing Qiu returned from China in time to be quarantined for two weeks in her apartment in Houston.

She’s healthy and back to work as a full-stack software engineer with Schlumberger, though, like millions of others around the world, she works from home.

“I am very fortunate. I am safe and my job is good. I enjoy coding and problem solving and what I like the most about my current job is that I get to work with cutting-edge technologies every day,” said Qiu, who graduated in 2019 with a professional master’s degree in computer science from Rice.

First, a definition: a full-stack developer is experienced in all stages of software development. Qiu can work in the server, network and hosting environments, in relational and nonrelational databases. In digital terms, she’s adaptable and omnicompetent, and can take a concept and turn it into a finished product.

“I enjoyed programming a lot. It is never difficult for me and I enjoy doing it,” she said.

Qiu was born in Nanchang in southeastern China. Her father, who taught her the basics of computing when she was a little girl, is a doctor at Jiangxi Normal University Hospital in Nanchang. Her mother is a business manager for an architecture and interior design company.

Qiu started as an accounting major but earned her B.S. in computer science with a minor in mathematics in 2017 from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. While there she worked as a math tutor and a teaching assistant.

“Missouri was very cold. I wanted to go to school where it was warmer. Rice is in the southern part of the United State and is very highly rated. That’s why I came to Rice to get my master’s degree. And Texas people are very friendly,” she said.

While at Rice, Qiu had job offers from three companies at a career fair — Schlumberger, Oracle and Capital One.

“The Professional Master’s Program at Rice not only extended my technical knowledge but gave me a variety of career opportunities including career fairs and networking events,” she said. “The leadership courses I took helped improve my communication and networking skills, which are very valuable for a tech career.”

She hopes eventually to work as a product manager or a software architect. “I was thinking if I work as a software engineer for a few years,” she said, “I would understand the products from the ground up and know how they are implemented in the technical aspects.”

During her last semester at Rice, Qiu was selected to be a participant in the Owl Edge Externship program.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity I had for one day to job-shadow at Facebook with Karen Pieper, who is a software development manager and who graduated from Rice in computer science. I learned a lot from the program, which taught me how the software engineering industry works while I was still in school.”