From Belarus to the Bay Area

Sveltlana KotovaFor 25 years, Sveltlana Kotova worked as an architect in Belarus. When she and her family moved to the U.S. ten years ago, she suddenly found herself working a retail job, studying English, and looking for an architectural job.

She finally found a job in her professional field, but was laid off when the economy tanked. After being unemployed for almost a year, she decided to go back to school and find a program that would fit her skills and improve them.

That program was SDSU’s Construction Certificate. “I was not able to find any program locally, and I needed to take classes in green building because I was planning on taking the LEED exam. A requirement of the exam is to take classes. The only program I found was at SDSU, and I thought ‘San Diego, no way. I live in the Bay Area.’ I then realized it was online,” Kotova says.

Since Kotova had never taken classes online, she was a bit hesitant. She says, “I heard from people that there were many negatives to online education. One of them was there isn’t interaction with other students. However, communication with my classmates was great. In the classroom you don’t talk much to people, you go to class, do your homework, and listen to the instructor. With the online version, it as a requirement to engage, and respond to other’s posts. I learned from the instructor but I also learned from my classmates.”

The construction online program is rigorous and well-rounded with required reading, homework, and a weekly quiz. “With the online program, I felt like I had to read more, and had to do more research to answer all questions on the online board. I believe I learned more in taking the program online than if I had done it in a class,” Kotova adds.

Today, Kotova happily works as an architect at Aetypic in San Francisco and she says that taking the online construction program helped her secure employment.