July 30th, 8AM: Here I was, standing in front of the big statue – the Family Group – at the Red McCombs School of Business, impatiently searching through the emails on my phone to find the venue of my first class of Bootcamp – Quant. As I entered the building, it did not feel at all new to me. After all, it was here that I had got my first job in the United States, seven years ago!
I was then a curious 21 year old, with a fresh bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Bangalore, India, and had come to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in computer sciences at UT Austin. I had always been passionate about technology, and this degree would give me the perfect kick-start to a career in the field of my choice. And as is the case with most graduate students, I had been searching for an assistantship to support my expenses, and McCombs had offered me an RA just about a week before classes started. From then on, this building had become my second home, as I would end up spending more hours sitting in the atrium and coding data parsers in Java and meeting my professor to discuss my work, than in my own department!
Two years later, after graduating from UT, I joined Microsoft at its headquarters in Redmond as a software development engineer for the Windows team. Working with talented and passionate people there helped me learn something new every day. It was here that I realized that building software was much more than just coding – writing code was the easy part; it was more important to understand the business drivers behind the product being developed, gain insights into customer needs, and understand and improve end-user experience. And my interests slowly gravitated towards project management and marketing, and I eventually decided to switch careers. That was my #1 reason to want to pursue an MBA.
Alongside my day job at Microsoft, I started volunteering with a non-profit – AID Seattle – around late 2008. I started out by helping review socio-economic development projects from India, but soon became the Fundraising Coordinator and led teams to organize fundraising events in Seattle. I loved making budgets, coordinating various groups and activities, charting out logistics, gathering and presenting creative revenue-generation ideas, and of course bossing around! :^) This experience helped me discover another passion – coming from a family which is actively involved in community service, I had always wanted to do something for society. Down the line, I want to take my technical and management skills back to India and establish a startup that provides online education to kids who don’t have access to good teachers, by setting up virtual universities. A long shot, but that’s why I’m here at McCombs There, reason #2!
Bidding adieu to Snoqualmie Falls
I finally took the plunge, and UT was an obvious choice, given that it was a top B-school and my alma mater (my GMAT score would have expired if I hadn’t applied last year – reason #2.5? Just kidding ). The weather change was more than noticeable – the lush greenery and cool breezes of Seattle summers to the scorching heat of Austin. But it was my first home in the U.S., and my excitement to become part of the McCombs family would trump everything else any day!
Flash forward to July 30th, 8AM: I rushed to the classroom, only to find friendly faces of my soon-to-be good friends filled with aspirations and the passion to achieve something big. Thus started my B-school journey, and I can’t wait to plunge into the roller-coaster ride!
And as I end this post, I want to leave you with this management gem from Calvin and Hobbes:
Full-time MBA Candidate, Class of 2015. Ex-software engineer and a self-professed techno-geek, trying to find my way through the party they call Life! Hopefully you’ll enjoy the little tidbits about my journey and experiences at McCombs and in Austin 🙂
Republished with permission from McCombs blog.