Walking Left to Walking Right – A Thousand Miles Away #6 (Life of an MS student)

You don’t get to experience major successes frequently. You shouldn’t. Otherwise you would stop valuing them. But you definitely need minuscule wins from where you can derive your energy from. Most people tend to overlook these wins – but once you start noticing them, at least once I started doing it, the level of optimism was a lot higher.


This month has been a mixture of interview preparation, incredible learning and following routines. I tried segmenting my thoughts the best I could:

  1. Keep the clutter out and curiosity in:

As I had mentioned multiple times in my previous posts, one of the most important assets you will (and should) find here are the people you meet. That being said, it’s critically important to keep the clutter out. Don’t surround yourself with pessimists and people who clearly add more negative than positive energy in your life. We all come across and deal with such archetypes everyday – it’s not easy. That’s why you need an overwhelming number of those who inspire, encourage and motivate you. It’s very hard for me to answer the question on, ‘Who’s your inspiration?’. My latest inspiration was a talk from this Product Manager from Facebook. Prior to that, I was inspired in one of my classes at how the Professor kept it engaging with ease. And before, I was inspired by this acquaintance of mine who has been working on a brilliant start-up idea for close to two years now (will be writing an article dedicated just to his work – must read for all upcoming graduates).


One of the few days when I saw morning light before sleeping

So in short, find something meaningful in what you do and keep the clutter out.

  1. Social Media and sacrifices:

I have always been an active user of social media – apart from connecting you with people and biting away your time (We’re all victims), it gives you a chance to voice out your opinions on issues you care about, learn about what is happening around the world in a fashion that is compelling, and use it as a medium to give voice to even the slightest idea in your head.


Over the last few months, I have slowly decreased my usage of it, knowingly as well as unknowingly. This is a trend that I’ve seen a lot of people fall into, and I hope I don’t. It is illustrative of the sacrifices that you have to make at every step of the way – something to keep in mind whenever you take upon more than you can handle. And you know when you’ve taken more when you realize it’s been months since you took time to enjoy by yourself.

  1. Preparation and play:

Honestly, you feel overwhelmed a lot thinking about your future. You have to keep pushing – and have fun along the way. From the few interviews that I’ve had here so far, I learnt more than I could imagine: ranging from SQL to agile project management. People think interviews are a key to fit the lock where your internships and jobs lie. They are not. They are key to unlock all possible doors in your sight where you get to learn the gamut of possibilities.


On the same note, trying comes with its share of rejections, even when everything in your sight goes as planned. Staying optimistic at such times is painfully hard – but, one of the traits of positive people is that they don’t worry about things they can’t control.


If anyone wants to know how an engineering block’s floor looks like late night

  1. Adaptability is key to success:

This might not be the case of everyone – but definitely of many. In grad school, most of the simple pleasures you took for granted previously are gone. Initially you start out learning to be a Chef in India (I tried), and the first month you’re here you try to replicate all the scrumptious meals you had back in the good days.

But with time, you realize how much of a luxury it is to go through the process of cooking, and your enthusiasm and care decreases linearly. It reaches a stage where you need just enough to survive.


The same curve can be applied to a lot of other needs and wishes – doing laundry, playing your favorite sport, exploring the city. (Once again, there are still exceptions who manage time well and get to enjoy these simple pleasures)

This is not a bad thing. You can’t make time, only sacrifices. If nothing, this only makes you more adaptable, a quality that is looked for in every company, industry and place.


Shine bright like a diamond?

  1. Delving deeper into randomness:

Untitled image (176)

I took a course on Psychology and Product Design this semester – the motivation behind picking it was influenced by many factors. But I ended up liking the course for different reasons. The Professor makes us read a lot, and I’m glad he does. I came across this concept of chance and randomness – the same old trite ‘You cannot control what happens to you (or anyone)’. If you assume that over a million events happen in your life over a span of 80 years, it is inevitable that at least a few dozen of them are extremely good (or bad).

I wanted to understand the relation of chance to the concept of fate a little further. While browsing, I came across a brilliant article that went in depth to talk about his relation – http://onewithnow.com/fate/

Researchers found that most of the processes (for example, breathing, moving, eating) are automatic, and are executed without much conscious awareness. Modern brain scans show that unconscious activity occurs a few seconds before the conscious activity arises in other areas of the brain. It appears that the subconscious mind decides first, even when we think we’re making a conscious choice.

When you look deeper at a Quantum scale, there seems to be no discernible order (remember the Uncertainty principle?). However, if we dig even deeper and go to the Plank state, order does seem to exist. What appears random or chaotic may be encoded into the most fundamental level of existence. This leaves little room for chance and choice. Who knows if we’ll ever be able to test this theory though. Cutting short this tangent to talk about science and fate, my underlying point was that if we accept our choices and agree that the consequences are indeed random, we save a lot of worry and time.

On similar lines, I love how this sentence covers it all – “Accept the things to which fate binds you and love the people with whom fate brings you together, and do so with all your heart. ~Marcus Aurelius”


I hope people never get tired of watching snow fall

One of my checklists for this semester is to release a video talking about the path followed to finding an internship, because I feel this is a prevalent topic that a lot of people seem to take immense pressure over. I would love any sort of ideas/suggestions! 




Walking Left to Walking Right – A Thousand Miles Away #3


Have you ever felt that you were driving down the road, and you knew exactly where the destination was and where to go for the next few kilometres, but after that you have absolutely no clue what lays ahead?

There is a feeling of knowing exactly what you want to do on short-term (next few months) and long-term (7-8 years down the line) but connecting the two bubbles seems impossible. This past month, I felt this way more than a dozen times. Last year this time, it was a battle against choosing Chemical Engineering and X (the X being Management Science and Engineering). This year, the battle still persists, only the players have changed.

In this article, I wanted to talk about few things where most of my time was spent the last month.

  1. Midterms:

My place of solace to study

Fortunately (or unfortunately), my subjects were spread over three weeks. Hence it was three weeks of continuous preparation, practice and patience. In hindsight, I can easily say I studied much more than what I did in undergrad. And I thoroughly enjoyed studying two out of the three subjects (third being Probability, which is NOT in my interest area).

For anyone considering the Management Science course at Columbia, your most challenging and demanding course would be Operations Consulting. You are put in a multi-cultural team and made to work with 3 clients from companies in New York for a year. As you start navigating the problem statements, developing team dynamics and having client meetings, slowly you’ll develop certain habits of a consultant.

What’s interesting about a midterm is the integrity that students uphold while giving the exam. Even when you get the question paper 10 minutes before the exam begins, you should stay true to your ethical values.

  1. Networking. And never stop Networking:


I did not consider this to be top priority my first month. I kept thinking, ‘Let me focus on my academics and honing my skill-set this semester, internship search can wait’. Apparently not. Many companies have a deadline by the end of fall, hence it’s important to stay ahead of the game. Initially I thought of allocating a few hours every week to focus on this – but as the weeks went by the number of hours increased and it became a routine now.

What the hell is Networking though? People keep using this term ubiquitously. In my view, it is to do the following:

1. Constantly finding new people who add value to your previous cache of knowledge – you could find them via LinkedIn, at a professional event or even at a deli.

2. Following up with those who you have established a network with already. In the US, what never fails to surprise me is the benevolence of people when you reach out (hopefully if they see the message/email). As someone who constantly forgets to things on time, I definitely needed an organized way of keeping track. I created an excel sheet 3 months back, adding a few people who I knew in the US. Thankfully, I have been following up so far, constantly updating it every few days and always keeping it open on my laptop, so I get reminded every day. Google’s Keep and RemindMe apps have also been my best friend.

3. Researching on your own about the various roles at a-z companies. When you are trying to get into company X, it is important that you know more about the firm that what the first para in Wikipedia shows you. You need to know if they were in the news recently, what their latest product/projects are and what employees feel about working there.

I remember a day when I had 5 calls with people from all of these amazing companies, and I ended up feeling absolutely overwhelmed. The work does not get over with that call; it begins with it.

  1. Settling in and feeling like home:

When you move to a new city, especially one such as NYC, you might not feel at home right away. But now after spending almost 3 months here, I finally feel like I have begun to adapt.


One of the less-interesting and more-responsible works during your grad studies would be paying bills – phone bill, WiFi bill, electricity and gas bill… so on. It is crazy how many mails you get every week. As you start spending money every day, you start keeping track of all accounts. And as you do that, you become more conscious of how much you spend (at least in my case). This subconsciously helps in shifting from being a student into an independent person working on his/her own.

  1. There’s nobody but yourself who can do it:

I took this picture after a very steep climb while rushing to class, when I finally reached the top.

People outside USA keep hearing all the time, ‘Getting a job in the US is not going to be easy’. I did too, but I never took it seriously. Now having been here for some time, observing the trend and going through the process myself, I can say that it is mind-numbingly exhausting.

Most of the times here, I feel extremely positive about where I am, what I am doing and how much I’m learning. However, there are times when I wish it was a little easier. If someone tells you Graduate School is hard, believe them. It is. There is a funny saying that goes like,

“Getting a job is a job itself”


And while doing this job, you are supposed to manage your academics, social life, part-time job, sleep and anything else that you take upon yourself. But if you stat loving every bit of it, this will be the best experience of your life. Whenever I feel down, I keep going back to the speech given by Steve Jobs. It never fails to inspire, even when I know the lines by heart. Hearing him say it gives it a whole new dimension.

Link to speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHWUCX6osgM

As always, the University tried its best to organize amazing events for us to relieve the much-accumulated stress.


Sakura Park. Fun fact: 2500 cherry blossoms (Japanese meaning of Sakura) were donated by the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York to this park in 1912.

This has been an exhausting and amazing month so far – stronger bonds were made, and the harder side of being independent was experienced. And I hope I have something to write about every single month.

P.S. As always, here are some nice snaps below.





Internships in India – Laying a Base

I’ll keep this article short. When you enter your second year in College, you become keen on finding an amazing internship (and scholarship) for the summer next year, which will probably be your first full-fledged one too. Hence, it is important that you sit and do legitimate research for a few hours to narrow down your options. I did this in my sophomore year and compiled the list in a word document. It’s been 2 years and probably some of the internships/scholarships have been updated, hence use this as a starting base and then build upon it by putting in your own time of research.

I’m copying and pasting here whatever I had compiled then, excuse me for not using full sentences.

1. Cargill Global Scholarship: (I heard this scholarship was stopped last year. Kindly check with the office)

  • Given to 10 Indian students every year
  • 4 colleges – NITT, IITB, IITD and BITS Pilani
  • Last date March 31st
  • First application form – https://www.cargillglobalscholars.com/scholarship/
  • Two essays – one personal, one social issue
  • 10th, 12th, CV, other certificates
  • Make sure essay is coherent and impressive (but HONEST)
  • They select based on CGPA (8.5+ I guess), the two essays and your extra-curriculars
  • Second round is an interview in Delhi
  • Interview will mostly be in the first week of May (during exams)
  • If you’re selected for the second round, contact your immediate seniors for inputs.
  • If finally selected, $5000 in cash and two seminars – one inside India and one abroad over two years + assignment of a mentor who will guide you throughout.
  • The in-country seminar which I attended was for 3 days in Gurgaon and the second one was in Minneapolis, USA. Both were amazing.

2. IET Scholarship:-

  • Given to 4 students from India every year
  • National winners in final round – 1,00,000 INR. Runners – 80,000 INR.
  • Two categories – General and women. (which is an advantage for girls)
  • Regional winners – 40,000 INR. Runners – 20,000 INR.
  • Last date is April 7thhttp://scholarships.theiet.in/evaluation
  • 10th, 12th, Grade cards attested by HOD to be uploaded.
  • Basic questionnaire. Be strong when it comes to academics and extra-curricular.
  • If selected for the application round, next round is the online test.
  • The test will be mostly on 16/17/18th of AprThe testTest will go on for 1 ½ hrs. Will cover 8 major areas – Civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical, maths, physics, computer science and chemistry.
  • Third round is the regional assessment round – Need to make a ppt.
  • The topic will be disclosed by the end of June. You’ll have entire july to prepare the ppt. If selected for this round, contact me, will explain in more detail.
  • Fourth is the National round – those who win the regionals will be eligible.
  • Here also there will be a ppt to be made + group discussion.
  • I was the runner up of regional round so I did not get to go to Nationals. You all try your best!

3. IAS Summer Fellowship:-

  • One of the ideal fellowships for your Summer, specifically for research aspirants.
  • IAS does the job of selecting students from all over India and finally assigning them the colleges and professors under whom they’ll be working.
  • Last date is Nov 31sthttp://web-japps.ias.ac.in:8080/fellowship2015/
  • This is also a pretty big application – start right away.
  • Selection relies mainly on your SOP and CGPA (I think, although I did see people from the range of 7.5-9.5).
  • SOP will be for 250 words, use it wisely. Re-read it, Re-modify it and Refine it at least 3-4 times.
  • Previously, the process was such that you would be asked to choose 6 professors from a list of over 100, however I hear now that has changed.
  • After filling application, you need to post it along with necessary documents to the given address.
  • Internships is for minimum 8 weeks – Stipend will be 8000 INR per month. But this is including your stay, food, transport, etc. Finally you’ll be getting 3500 INR per month.
  • Apart from applying here, also send mails to profs from IISc, IITs, IIITs unofficially. There are many people who go to colleges through that way. Send them a cover letter along with your CV.

4. Jawaharlal Nehru Summer Fellowship:-

  • Very similar to IAS when it comes to stipend, colleges, etc.
  • Last date mid December – http://www.jncasr.ac.in/fe/srfp.php
  • Here you need to fill the application form offline and post it to the given address along with the documents.
  • You do NOT get to choose profs here. Based on your answers to the questions they will assign for you.
  • Reco from two profs are needed.
  • Apart from CGPA, they care more about your extra curriculars here.
  • I did not receive this scholarship, but from what I heard the experience was very similar to IAS.

5. IIT Delhi Summer Fellowship:-

  • Here the application is totally online – you just need to scan some documents and upload.
  • Here also there is a column for SOP and also another column where you need to write about your achievements. AGAIN, use this space well.
  • In documents they will be asking for No objection certicate and your rank certificate, make sure to get them from HOD soon.
  • Application is pretty simple – https://academics.iitd.ac.in/srf/
  • Internship for min 8 weeks and stipend is 500 INR per week.
  • Last date – 13th March. 

NOTE: They prioritize CGPA here I feel, because, in my year it was initially given to me and when I rejected it for IAS, it went to the next rank holder of dept who had applied.

6. IIT GANDHINAGAR Summer Fellowship:-

  • Very similar to IIT-D in terms of application form.
  • Last date to apply is March 5th and the stipend is 1000 INR per week.
  • You have to work there for a minimum of 6 weeks, you can choose according to your convenience from when to when.
  • Check this site for more details – http://www.iitgn.ac.in/summer-internship/srip.php

7. IIT Bombay – Eklavya Internship:- (Thanks to Rupesh Gupta for pointing out his internship)

This is a coveted internship for CSE and ECE students.
1. Portal to apply http://ekalavya.it.iitb.ac.in/summerinternship2017/
2. Last date to apply is around first week of February.
3. The intern would provide you great exposure and chance to work in best academic environment.
4. It spans throughout your vacation.
5. Three categories for selection: software category- requires high level programming skills, academic category- requires high cgpa 9.7+ alongwith qualifing a basic C test, embedded category- meant for students with electronics background, requires high cgpa again 9.7+ along with theoretical test, after you get shortlisted.

I know for a fact that IIT Madras also has its own SRFP, but I had not applied for it then. I’m sure the process would be similar though. Ensure that you properly check the deadlines for all the above once more! 

That being said, you can also approach professors unofficially by sending e-mails. A few tips there:

  1. Professors receive dozens of mails with students asking to work under them. So, it is important that you attract them with your subject line and the first paragraph of your mail.
  2. Don’t write a common mail to 10 Professors. It won’t get you anywhere. Read about what research they are conducting and specialzie the maila ccording to their requirements.
  3. Create a Resume that looks impressive and attach it with the mail.
  4. Try to take online courses or read books pertaining to their area, so that they know you have some background.
  5. Be patient. Getting a reply is not easy and there is no way of predicting.

Contact your immediate seniors for more inputs as they would be in touch with this process more and can give efficient advice. All the best!