Siblings take team approach to MSIM

By Jessi Loerch Monday, October 17, 2022

Locksley, Lynzley and McKaulay Kolakowski don’t have to go far when they need a study partner. The siblings, who live together in the Seattle area, are all working on degrees through the iSchool’s Master of Science in Information Management online mode. And, because they’re all pursuing the same specialization — Program/Product Management and Consulting — they’re also in all the same classes. 

McKaulay, who is the eldest sibling, was the first to join the iSchool when he was accepted to the Informatics program. Lynzley and Locksley, who are twins, followed him a few years later. They all got jobs after graduating with Informatics degrees.

McKaulay worked for a couple years before returning for his MSIM. Locksley (pictured at left above) and Lynzley (right) jumped right into the graduate program. The siblings started the program in 2021. Because the pandemic meant all their jobs had gone remote, the timing made sense; when they weren’t commuting, they could use some of the time they saved for their studies. 

They agree it’s been a positive for them to all be working through the same program — even if it’s sometimes been a bit surprising for their fellow students.

“Sometimes people seem a little intimidated when they realize we all have the same last name,” Lynzley said. “It’s been a good experience. We get to work together, but we also get to meet other people. We get to discuss our different experiences, and it’s really easy to stay connected between our different classes. We’re a little team working together even if we’re not always on the same group project.” 

Locksley said they’ve been impressed by the instructors for the MSIM program. 

“The professors have been the coolest, most interesting and accomplished professors we’ve ever had,” she said. 

“Plus one to the teachers and the people,” Lynzley said. “I met a person who used to be a surgeon and now she’s doing this. We meet all these different people from different walks of life and we get to work with them and discuss with them and it’s been great.”

The siblings, who will finish up their studies in December, are already applying what they’ve learned to their work. 

Lynzley said she’s been sharing what she learned in the iSchool about promoting diversity in the workplace with her coworkers at Avanade. She’s also shared what she learned in ethics, and explained how it applies to her company’s work. She suspects that the skills she’s gained from studying at the iSchool helped her to get promoted sooner than she’d been expecting. 

Locksley, who had been working at Accenture until recently, hadn’t been planning to look for a new position until she graduated, but a perfect role opened up, and she was excited to get hired. She started in late August with Major League Hacking. She’s a program manager, working with academic developers and helping them discover the variety of technologies that are out there to help them do their work. She will be managing seven gender-focused hackathons across the United States and England and growing the TechTogether program in future seasons.

“The interview team was really impressed with the MSIM,” she said. “What I learned at Accenture and through the MSIM is what prepared me for this role.” 

McKaulay, who works for Amazon Web Services, says he is putting what he’s learned to use. While he’s not looking to change positions anytime soon, he’s been able to show his managers the skills he’s developing in project management, and he’s keeping the doors open.

He’s also grateful for how the setup and flexibility of the program allowed all of them to study together.

“We all appreciate how unique this situation was — that we were all able to take this at the same time,” he said. “We recognize it’s a rare opportunity for siblings to all go down the same path.”