WHY IGHE ?
Ever since I was little, I had wanted to go to the U.S. and study in an American university. I was 23 years old when I finally made the move to the U.S to pursue my Master’s degree. This has definitely been one of my biggest decisions and has shaped up a lot of subsequent life events.
Hailing from a relatively small city in India, I did not know much, in terms of professional choices, beyond Medicine, Engineering or Education; most middle-class people there aspire for their children to select from one of these three streams of work. Back in the day, us children are not made aware of all the endless possibilities there are to select a profession from. I am a talented artist and have always enjoyed the creative realm, but my parents were not in favor of me pursuing Arts as a major. I was an above-average students and never had any academic setbacks, so it was assumed that I could easily get into Medicine or Engineering. I dabbled with Commerce for a few months, but then heard from people around me that Engineering was one of the easier degrees to pursue in America, the land of my dreams, so I switched my major to Science so I could get into an Engineering college for my undergraduate degree. Moving forward to 5 years, I had a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and had my i-20 and study visa to come to California for my graduate studies in the same. Again, taking classes and getting a decent GPA was not a problem, though it was a big adjustment initially from the college culture, completing different courses, test-taking techniques and overall lifestyle I was used to in India. Adding to that was the fact that I was away from family and totally responsible for myself.
Since I had not thought much past getting my degree, when I moved to the U.S., I did not put much effort into getting internships during my study semesters. On completion, I found my first professional job in a lab that I was overqualified for but had to take up since I did not have prior work experience for other positions I applied to. I then had to take up some IT and Management classes as I understood more about IT and how jobs in that field were more aligned to my capabilities and career preference. After a period of struggle, and many points of discouragement, I was successful in making a switch to IT and landing a great job that led to several other successful projects.
When I look back at the roller-coaster ride that has my last decade, the one thing I would like to change is my awareness in terms of the right education that would enable me to find a job of my liking. I have done well for myself, but I definitely could have done better by saving time, money and effort that did not directly benefit me when it came to my career. The time and resources I had to spend to change my field was something that could have been avoided if I was more aware. Even though I am proud of the accomplishments of my friends, I felt dejected at times to realize it was taking me that much longer to get the success they were already enjoying due to those early decisions. Looking back now, I feel that it would have benefited me, and those like me, greatly if I had support from a source that was knowledgeable about could guide me when I was selecting my college degree or not paying attention to the importance of internships or not aware of the right career choice based on my competence and liking.