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Undergrad - NYU Stern School of Business
“Study Abroad helped me grow and become a better person. I managed to become independent, mature and more open minded. I was forced to get out of my comfort zone, improve my communication skills and build my confidence. You land up meeting people from all walks of life and it just makes you realise that you are part of something much much bigger!”
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?
Hi! My name is Rahul Gandhi. I did my IGCSE and IB from B.D. Somani International School. After which I went to NYU Stern School of Business for my undergrad. I came back to India and worked at HDFC Asset Management Company for the next two years. After which I started working with my family while simultaneously trying to become a CFA charter holder. I am currently applying for my level 3 exam and hopefully will be done with it soon!
2. What was your undergraduate Major?
So I majored in Finance, Management and Economics. Stern has one of the best faculties and Finance program in the entire United States so I knew I could not miss out on such an opportunity. I was also really keen on doing my minor in Psychology and even landed up taking a few courses but the content turned out too theoretical for my liking!
3. Did you receive a scholarship? Do you recommend any good organization/institutions that provide for scholarships or financial aid?
No, I did not receive any scholarship. NYU Stern was not offering any financial aid or any scholarships to international students. However, I don’t know if they have changed that now.
4. Is it worth taking a loan to study abroad? How does one measure one’s ROI?
I don’t think this is a straightforward question to answer purely because of the unique circumstances of each individual. Personally, I do not think it is advisable for someone to be taking a loan especially if you are applying for undergrad. I think it is important to do a cost/benefit analysis because 4 years of tuition, rent and other expenses can be a lot of money! If you have the discipline and clarity on what you want to do and have gotten into a really good college then it might be worth taking a loan.
I had that understanding with my parents that if I am not going to get into a good university then I should consider a few Indian colleges as well because it’s not completely worth it to just go to any kind of foreign college for the sake of it! So I had actually applied to some Indian colleges as well just in case I didn’t get into my top 3 preferences.
5. Why did you choose that particular course in this particular university/college for your studies abroad? What was the process you went through while choosing the university/college?
So I actually hated my college choosing process. I didn’t really know where to begin, how to find good colleges and how to really make an ultimate choice among multiple options. So I finally landed up going to counsellor to guide me through this daunting process. However, I had a very unpleasant overall experience.
We met the counsellor, she asked me my SAT score, a few other basic questions and just gave me a list of schools that were potentially in my range. The process was extremely impersonal and I mainly spoke to and dealt with the assistant with regards to my college essays or application process. The best part is that she actually told me that I would never get into NYU Stern!
I wish I had someone who could actually have guided me a little better and been more hands-on. It is important to remember that most of these kids applying for under graduation are merely 16 – 17 year olds! More likely than not they might lack the clarity or maturity to be able to make such big decisions entirely on their own. So a bit of hand-holding might be helpful. So I do believe that high-schoolers require a good guidance counsellor!
6. Any particular advice you would like to give for the application process from SOP Writing to Academic GPA to other things which you thought were important that helped you get into that course at that university?
I don’t want to say much about SOP writing because honestly my application process was almost 9 years ago now but the one thing I would say is that in trying to be too different just don’t forget to be authentic!
Colleges are not only looking for good grades but focus more on trends like consistency and growth in performance. Extracurricular activities, leadership roles and unique hobbies are some of the things that can stand out in your application as well.
7. Were you satisfied with your choice of university? What is your most and least favorite thing about the university experience?
I loved my choice of university! I loved the city! The only thing that I didn’t really like was the winters. I am not a big fan of the cold and the gloominess that comes along with it. My favourite thing about university experience would be my semester long study abroad programme in Prague. I travelled to more than 10 countries and 20 different cities in those 4 months. I met some amazing people, I met my closest friends and I have memories that I will remember forever.
I wouldn’t consider this my least favourite part but I did miss at times having the traditional campus experience. Our campus was sprawled across a number of streets and we lacked that sports and campus culture.
8. Tell us something about the faculty and resources which were there on campus
The faculty was phenomenal. I pretty much loved all my professors. They were really approachable, always happy to help and willing to go the extra mile.
The fact that the college is located in the heart of New York really helps attract a lot of top faculties and teachers. To put that in perspective we had more than five Nobel Prize Winners on our faculty and I even had the privilege of being taught by a former Chief Economic Advisor to the US president, the likes of Aswath Damodaran and the man who was instrumental in toppling the Russian Govt. in Czech Republic.
9. How is the quality of education compared to Indian institutes? What were the gaps in both systems? How did you manage to cope?
I actually haven’t studied in an Indian institution since the 8th grade so I don’t think I am the right person to answer this question.
10 . What were the career opportunities available? How does one manage to grab them?
We had tonnes of job opportunities available both on and off-campus. The college hosted multiple job fests every year. Being located in the financial capital of the United States was a major proximity advantage because recruiters were more than happy to visit our college multiple times in a year. Recruiters were easily able to call students to visit their New York offices and meet more employees as well. This is a huge advantage for NYU students.
Being an immigrant, it's actually double the effort to find a job because you have to justify your worth to an American company that they should hire you over another American. I think it’s really important to be proactive throughout your recruitment process. You can’t just sit back and hope that you are going to get a job.
Networking is another aspect that is really important in your recruitment process. It is something that significantly boosts your chances of getting a job and helps you get a foot in the door as well. So I would suggest joining a business fraternity or a club that really interests you. These organizations can really help you meet seniors, help you with mock interviews, improve your resume and give you a chance to talk to the alumni.
11. How did a study abroad help you?
Study Abroad helped me grow and become a better person. I managed to become independent, mature and more open minded. I was forced to get out of my comfort zone, improve my communication and build my confidence. You land up meeting people from all walks of life and it just makes you realise that you are part of something much much bigger!
A few useful tips for students applying for Undergrad:
Pursue your interests. Try different classes and don’t only focus on your GPA.
Don’t be Shy! Get out of your comfort zone. Your first semester can be crucial to meet as many people and make friends.
I know it can be easy but do not just stick to other Indians.
Be yourself. Own your accent and culture.
Do not take advantage your new found freedom and independence.
Make the most of these 4 years because you are not going to get any of this time back and trust me time really does fly!
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