• Nirali M

Dartmouth College Engineering Management Graduate Shares her #StudyAbroad Story

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

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Undergraduate: Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute - Bachelor's Degree, Engineering.

Postgraduate: Dartmouth College - Master’s Degree, Engineering Management.

Current Role: - CHRL & CTDP Candidate at The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA)

- Personal Growth and Career Coach

- Learning Management System Consultant at Hospice Palliative Care Ontario.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ishagada/

"The campus experience was brilliant. It was a really huge campus and with a lot of activities, a lot of clubs, opportunities for personal development and build a huge network so absolutely I would say it's an unparalleled experience."

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your Educational and Professional Background? Which college, company, and role did you work in to get you where you are today?

I did my Bachelor of Engineering from Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai in 2014. Then came abroad in the US for the Masters in Engineering Management which is a collaborative program between Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and graduated in December 2015. Since then it has been 4 and a half years that I have been working.

I started my career in 2016 as a Business Analyst for a Healthcare IT company. I was more into healthcare analytics. The job just very naturally fell into my lap because of my qualification given my educational training. However, my inner quest for being the best version of myself prompted me to transition into roles that are more aligned with who I am and what I want to offer to the world.

I always had a soft corner in my heart for learning and development and training, because I have always been extremely passionate about self-growth, education, and knowledge in general. So when I got this opportunity in Houston to lead the training product that they had for their Environmental Engineering team I was very happy. I helped them transition from an offline model to a virtual online model by implementing a Learning Management System. Thus, it was making use of my IT systems, engineering knowledge, and applying it to the world of education training.

I was also approached by an Education Technology MNC to help them build a team in India from scratch. Basically they have all operations in the US, since its a US-based company, serving the US market primarily. They were hiring an offshoring team in India for just their operations and wanted someone who was Indian but who also had exposure to US education. Someone who had a strong penchant for content, leadership, and management to build and lead a team in India, so that's what I did

I have an H-1B Visa. I still do but despite that, I have moved on a PR to Canada primarily because though the US is great with amazing opportunities as an immigrant the H-1B route is very restricted and the immigration laws keep changing.

2. Is it worth taking a loan to study abroad? How does one measure one’s ROI?

It depends on the person. There are ways to do a direct financial break-even analysis. Typically there are ways to calculate the expected financial outcome so, for instance, you are taking a loan of a certain amount of money and you decide to go to a certain school depending on the placement report, reports of the graduates how much are they making immediately post their graduation (reports are all available on the website) depending on all of these you can, of course, calculate and assuming certain expenses it's a fairly straightforward calculation around how soon can you break-even/ payback or what are the return look like but that is strictly from the financial perspective. Also, the caliber of the university and the program choice also play a role in determining your salary expectation post the program.

These questions do come up when you decide to take the first step of studying abroad and they really don’t have a direct quantification in terms of finances. I can’t say if getting this experience is worth how much money because there is no real quantification available there but it really depends on the person's values and what it is that the person really values in life.

3. What are the non-financial benefits of studying abroad?

Non-financial benefits of going abroad really need to be factored in as well. For instance, when you are living in and studying in a new country the experience that you get is unlike anything else. The network that you will build when you are studying with a group of like-minded people in a different country doing the same program so assuming that you know your professional goals and your personal interests may overlap so that is absolutely priceless. Experience, network, even the opportunity to work abroad.

For instance, when you study abroad it is a direct entry point in most of the countries to actually work there and then there is also another potential for migrating in a new country so these are all the possibilities which open up when you decide to take the first step of studying abroad.

4. Any particular advice you would like to give for SOP Writing. Other things which you thought were important that helped you get in?

Your SOP is really your marketing collateral for the brand which is "YOU." So be authentic, be genuine, but also your presentation matters a lot! This is because it's really the narrative you are creating around your uniqueness. So embrace yourself fully, embrace your diverse backgrounds whatever you have done, your passions, your interests, your strengths, your skills, and build a delightful story around it in your SOP.

Think of it as a pitch to convince an officer why you are suited for the program, why you want to do the program, what value you will bring to the table, and most importantly how it fits into your life and your dreams.

Here is my take. When you find a topic that you really want to do your Masters in, due to your passion and willingness to make a career out of it, I would highly recommend that you start taking initiatives early on wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Take initiatives to really create action around that passion.

For instance, holding positions or responsibilities in clubs, taking part in certain co-curricular activities around those topics, participating in competitions or presentations which can showcase your skills. Doing internships invaluable industries and getting exposure, all these things will really help you bolster your resume. The earlier you start the better. And this is very important because it gives evidence to an application officer about your passion.

Saying that I love cricket is one thing and actually going out there and playing matches and winning it for the state is a very different thing. So my point is translating your passion into action and creating experiences and examples and a story around what you did for that passion is very important.

5. Tell us something about the faculty which were there on campus.

The professors were truly world-class. Some of the best minds of that subject are affiliated with the research done at the universities in the US. So it's very easy to access to a world-class education.

6. How was your university experience? What was campus life like? What were the extracurricular activities on campus?

The abroad experience speaking of being and studying there was an extremely enriching experience. The courses that I took were extremely high quality at Dartmouth. The campus experience was brilliant. It was a really huge campus and with a lot of activities, a lot of clubs, opportunities for personal development and build a huge network so absolutely I would say it's an unparalleled experience.

7. Tell us a little bit about your current job profile and work.

Currently, I am in Toronto which is a lovely city and I am working as a Learning Management System Consultant for a Provincial Non-Governmental Organization. I am always open to roles in HR leadership, HR management, learning and development, organization development, industrial-organizational psychology because that is really where my interests and strengths lie.

Currently, I am also doing a couple of side hustles in the field of self-growth and personal development. A lot of these projects are still in their very nascent stage. I am still building a product around it and don't have much to talk about that yet. It's too early for me to say anything but that's just something I am doing because that's something I am extremely passionate about.


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