In last two posts, we touched upon financial concerns and SOP tips. To recap,
1. MS in USA is affordable and within your reach if you understand the numbers and plan properly. We discussed break even analysis to look into that. Read it on http://wp.me/p39Fhf-oB
2. SOP is the magic wand you can use to help your application stand out. We looked at some Do’s and Don’ts. Check it on http://wp.me/p39Fhf-oW
We built specific tools for these two in the MS Book that you can use to save some time.
Applications are a multi-step complex process to ace which you need clarity of thought and action. Don’t let the details daunt you. The key is to know what kind of career you want to build and then choose the right program that will help you get there. But getting to a good university alone is NOT enough. It also matters how you spend your time in Graduate School. At least, in my case, I wish that I had taken some courses from non-CS departments too to augment my understanding. I felt that such advice can be valuable when you are about to join the Grad School.
Stories of successful grads and professionals
Have you ever wondered what kind of career you can land after MS? To answer this very question, I talked to 10+ super successful people. One of them is Parth, now working as a Civil Project Engineer at J Roberts Inc. (just got his H-1B this year)
Parth Shukla finished his BE from a low-key college in central India in Electronics & TC when he found that he was more interested in Civil Engineering & construction processes than Electronics. If he wanted to switch his field & pursue a study in Construction at that point, India offered him no options. This is when he decided to apply for Construction Management program in USA. Luckily, he got accepted at Civil Engg program at University of Maryland & it didn’t require any pre- requisites. I interviewed him in detail to understand what was his journey like. Here are some highlights from it-
Q: Would you advice current students to do MS?
A: Yes, I would advise them to do it. However, now I personally feel that if I would have had a little work experience before doing MS, I could have better understood my subjects especially since I was switching branches.
Q: What was your plan of action when you did not get any funding at the time of an admission?
A: So, as I said, finances were a concern for me. I had taken a loan to fund my study and my plan was to come to the school and then try to land an opportunity here. Since my cousin lived in the same area and had graduated from UMCP as well, it was a comforting factor. While TAs and RAs were hard to find, there were other kind of on-campus jobs that are available. She encouraged me to apply and believed that I could manage something after coming to the USA. I am happy I took the risk.
Q: What did you do to ensure you are moving towards your goal of finding a good job?
A: I kept looking for things and applying. By God’s grace, I finally found a Graduate Assistant position in the Department of Construction in 2nd sem which was more administrative kind of work. It covered my full tuition and got me a stipend, so it was a big financial relief. Even though the work was not helpful to my studies, I connected to people in the department and asked a lot of questions. This really helped me because a clerical position opened up in 3rd semester and they knew me by then. So, I got that position! That is what I did in the 3rd and 4th semester. Also, I decided to take full 4 semesters to graduate so that it could give me more time to look for jobs. This decision along with my assistantship experience helped me in landing a good job later on.
And, then there is Nikhil who after doing his PhD from UCSD, came back to India (because he wanted to!) at Yahoo Research. He recently sold off his startup to Snapdeal. One profound thing he shared with me is that it is okay to not know what exactly you want. But keep moving and exploring until you know it. When he had enrolled for PhD, he was not even sure if he wanted to do PhD!
I loved interviewing people like Parth and Nikhil for MS Book and collect the little gems of advice that are rarely available when we need them. And, I am proud to have collected this kind of information and advice in last ONE year. I wish someone had written this book when I was about to go to UIUC 🙂 Just to be clear….the advice has been further tested and proven by the success stories of students who worked personally with me. Many of them are heading out to UIUC, UT Austin, UCSD, Cornell, Columbia, CMU and so on.
I am full of gratitude to people who have signed up to receive updates about this book. There are more than 500 of you waiting on this list.
Next time you hear from me, it would be to inform you when the MS Book is live and ready to be ordered. For a limited period of 3 days after the launch, I am offering almost 50% off to early readers like you. After those 3 days, the price would be back up for normal audience. So, keep an eye out for my next post.