- Nirali M
UIUC Chicago's Technology Management Graduate speaks on Studying Abroad with Nirali!
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
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Undergrad - Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management, and Engineering.- Computer Engineering
Postgrad – University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC).-
Hicool Electronic Industries-Procurement Head
Skillephant - Partner
“Studying abroad helped me step out of my comfort zone and explore my limits which in turn helped me understand a lot about who I am.
It helped widen my thoughts and built up a lot of confidence in me.”
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 Akash Doshi I am currently working as the Procurement head at Hicool Electronic Industries and a Partner at Skillephant – an Education company. I hold an Undergraduate Degree in Computer Engineering from Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management, and Engineering. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Technology Management from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC). Post my graduation from UIUC, I worked at Deloitte Advisory in their Chicago office as a Consultant and eventually Senior Consultant for almost 3 years. Following my time at Deloitte, I moved back to India where I started Skillephant with a friend of mine while simultaneously working in my Family Business – Hicool Electronic Industries.
2. What was your undergraduate Major? What prompted you towards it?
My Undergraduate Degree is in Computer Engineering. At the time of admission, I wasn’t entirely sure which field I wanted to be in – Science/Commerce/Arts. Through the advice of elders, I chose engineering as career opportunities post an engineering degree are comparatively not that limited. Amongst the Engineering fields, I could explore, I chose Computer Engineering as it seemed more interesting to me. Computer engineering also happens to be a skill in demand for many companies. 3. When and why did you decide to study abroad? Early on during my days studying Computer Engineering, I knew that while the knowledge I was gaining was extremely valuable, this was not a field I wanted to work in. So it became very clear for me that I needed to switch things up and pursue a different field. Business and Entrepreneurship sounded most attractive to me. Along with a change educationally, I felt like I needed to step out of my comfort zone and push myself to understand my limits. (I feel, everyone must do this in some capacity during their lifetime). Considering my requirements, a move abroad would help me achieve both my goals.
4. Did you receive a scholarship? Do you recommend any good organizations/institutions that provide for scholarships or financial aid?
The course I applied for did not have any provisions for scholarships. 5. Is it worth taking a loan to study abroad? How does one measure one’s ROI?
Personally, I did not take a loan to study abroad so I would not be the right person for this question. 6. Why did you choose that particular university/college for your studies abroad? What was the process you went through while choosing the university/college?
Since my background was in engineering and I had future aspirations in Business, I began researching courses that allowed me to leverage my engineering background as well as help me learn a lot about Business. That’s when I came across a couple of different courses like Engineering Management, Entrepreneurship, Technology Management, etc. I made a list of all such colleges that had courses suiting my requirement. Then I began prioritizing the list based on recommendations from alumni, rankings on famous public websites, cost, quality of education, the location, etc. Eventually, I had a list of 6-7 colleges where if accepted, I would move there in a heartbeat. UIUC was my top college in terms of preference and I was lucky enough to be accepted in their MS in Technology Management program.
7.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 in?
While GPA is important, in my experience I have seen the admissions department give more importance to an applicant's SOP. My reason for this is not to scare any applicants. I believe they just want candidates who are unique, authentic, and interesting. So my advice would be, make sure your SOP is a good representation of who you are, what your hopes and aspirations are, and how studying the course you are applying for will help you get there. 8. Were you satisfied with your choice of university? What is your most and least favorite thing about the university experience? I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The only complaint I have is that my course was only a year-long and I wish I had more time there. What I loved about studying there was that there were plenty of opportunities to do whatever you wish to do. Not only was I able to do well academically, but I also had the opportunity to work in a 3D Printing Laboratory and an on-campus Consulting firm which eventually proved extremely valuable in my career path.
9. How was the Indian fraternity over there? How was the overall campus diversity?
I believe there was an Indian fraternity there however, I was not actively involved with them other than attending a few cultural events that they had planned. The campus diversity was amazing, I was able to meet people of many different backgrounds and cultures which opened my mind to a lot of new and interesting experiences. 10. Tell us something about the faculty and resources which were there on campus.
The faculty was stellar. I am still in touch with a few professors whom I would consider my mentors. I found that educators in the US are extremely positive, encouraging, and motivating. Campus life was amazing, we had some beautiful libraries, auditoriums, cafes, gyms, etc. I am not doing justice to them through this description, really just look at the pictures on the college website and you will know what I am talking about. 11. Tell us about your journey from the first semester to the last both academically and non-academically? What was campus life like? What were the extracurricular activities on campus?
My course started in Summer with a couple of introductory classes In Business and Statistics. As I had some free time in summer, I was able to look for on-campus jobs as well as prepare my resume and interviewing skills for the career fair. At the end of summer, I was able to get an on-campus job at our 3D printing lab. I had also joined Illinois Business Consulting as a Consultant where I was able to work with some Fortune 500 Companies. We had the first Career Fair during the start of our fall semester. It was after this fair that I got my offer letter from Deloitte. Apart from my on-campus jobs and my Master's program, I spent time in the rec center playing football and swimming.
12. What did you learn and what were your most dear experiences? Any suggestions or recommendations for freshers starting out?
My recommendation would be to explore what your university has to offer you apart from just academia. Try joining social groups that interest you or get an on-campus job. This will not only help build up your resume but also help you learn more about yourself. 13. How is the quality of education compared to Indian institutes? What were the gaps in both systems? How did you manage to cope?
It wouldn’t be fair for me to compare my Computer Engineering degree from India with a Master’s degree in a business field from the US as they are vastly different fields. However, I did find my professors in the US to be more positive, encouraging, and more invested in guiding me towards achieving my goals.
14. What were the career opportunities available? How does one manage to grab them?
Endless career opportunities will be made available to you, however, only a small portion of companies are willing to hire an international student. Networking is the best and only way to get a job. A Career Fair gives you the best opportunity to network and learn about companies. Apart from the Career Fair, one can use LinkedIn to connect with recruiters or alumni to network with. 15. Tell us a little bit about your current job profile and work.
I am working as a Procurement Head at Hicool Electronic Industries which is the Business my family had started 30 years ago. In my role at Hicool, I manage the procurement of all required raw material required to make our product and ensure that is of the quality we require. I have also co-founded a company called Skillephant which provides modern and engaging learning solutions to help up-skill organizations and their people. 16. Any other suggestions or pieces of advice you would like to give students who are starting out the study abroad process?
The process can get overwhelming but just stay patient and trust in Nirali, everything will work out 😉
17. How did a study abroad help you?
Studying abroad helped me step out of my comfort zone and explore my limits which in turn helped me understand a lot about who I am. It helped widen my thoughts and built up a lot of confidence in me. I was able to build life-lasting relationships with some amazing people I met during my time at UIUC.
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