I usually do not write a blog that frequently. My grammar might be wrong in some instances but all I am writing today because Mr. Sumeet Jain from Yocket requested me to put my opinion on the overall stages, heroes and villains of MS in USA! I have seen every aspect of MS and have worked hard to overcome difficulties to achieve the most that I dreamt in 2014 before I started my course. I would begin with the stages, which will essentially cover all the phases that one covers during his masters and post his masters. I will write from point of view of both experienced professional and freshman who is joining this dream of pursuing masters in USA. Later I would write about the heroes in the overall MS and end with the villains. Bad things must be kept at the end to discuss.
During Semester 1:
The first priority for anyone who gets here is to start of smoothly. Some universities have good Indian Students Association (just like my university, we have an android for airport pickup!) who take care of students coming in. However, many are not that fortunate to get this privileged treatment. Some have to spend more in order to settle down in the beginning. The first thing one should do when he/she arrives in USA is to adjust to the dynamics of the outside world and the world within the house. Make sure you stay with good roommates (I had the best one!) and maintain cordial relations so that you will not be frustrated. Learn cooking and doing all of your stuff on your own before you be here. Your roommates would do no spoon-feeding or even you best friend or even your girlfriend. Everyone is so busy. Once you adapt to you home here, move outside make new friends and try to get involved in many activities across the campus. I would say try to stick to technical stuffs like Formula SAE club, Vehicle engineering club , some coding club etc. This will help you to work in a team and learn things from many students across the world. All I have seen Indian folks going around with fun stuff rather than tech clubs. Try avoiding that. If you are a fresher, you will have to involve yourself more into technical organizations across campus. Try approaching the professor for a research assistantship. RA would be far better than doing a cafeteria job; this will help you build something on your resume and help you learn technical stuff. After a month or two of your arrival in states comes the first Career fair, this is an ideal chance to prepare your resume, get it checked from career services office in the university, prepare yourself to sell yourself in the career fair within two minutes. This career fair will not give you any job but at least will prepare you for the next one. The real battle comes in semester two, this is just a small raid to learn how to present and sell yourself while getting some freebies. Academics must be maintained with good grades, so study hard. Be attentive, ask questions, do your assignment on your own and most importantly do not copy! Even if you copy, do not cut paste. Make sure you write in your own words and acknowledge the original author’s contribution in the reference section of your assignment or project. Every exam is different, every professor is different and so is the grading pattern different too. Also most importantly do not work off campus illegally this gives bad name to INDIA (people have done it in the past and were caught and deported back to India!)
During Semester 2:
I would not write about academics in this. This is most crucial semester of your two-year career as it dictates lot many things. By now, you should have got either a RA or an on campus job. Start applying for summer internships starting December.
Let us talk about CPT:
CPT is curricular practical training, which means you can work off campus in your field of study after you stay 9 months in USA or 2-semester completion. Most universities allow you to work only during the summer period of May-August but there are few universities, which may allow you to take job and complete your course in parallel. Therefore, the job can be either internship, co-op or fulltime. Yes, people from my university worked fulltime on CPT with a full time job.
What is an internship?
Usually offered to student who do not have much experience. However, given a chance to have versatile candidates and availability of experienced people in market who wants to do internship the chances of internship are tough these days.
What is a CO-OP?
Similar to internship but this job goes hand in hand, as you are taking courses while you are working that means when the semester is in progress. Competition is tough here too.
What is a fulltime job?
It means you work for 40 hours a week. If your school allows you for this then it’s a best opportunity to work a year before your OPT starts. Most school do not allow fulltime.
What does recruiter look in my resume?
If you are applying online for a job, the primary recruiter is the computer algorithm, which you need to cross before your resume hits the desk of the hiring supervisor. So if you have hit the bullseye make sure to mention most of the keywords in the job description. If the count is less than 70% of the keywords match, the system will automatically send you a reject mail.
A hiring supervisor usually get 6-10 secs to evaluate your resume. Try to put stuffs, which will easily catch the hiring supervisor’s eye. Resume should be prepared with readable font and attractive way (Try novaresume.com). Your technical skills are the key factors people will look into your resume. No one cares about your social work activities. Try to avoid putting irrelevant stuff. Usually experienced folks have many things to put in the resume while fresher do not have much.
How can I develop skills, I am a fresher?
Easiest way is to get a research assistantship. I will recommend almost every fresher to do research in field of interest. Thesis can be done or skipped depending upon the university policy.
During Semester 3:
This is the summer semester. If you find a job, go and work hard. If you do not try looking for a RA. Do not hurry to take summer courses and complete your education quickly as this will put an end to your master’s program a semester earlier forcing you to go on your OPT. Try doing some courses outside the university like the industrial courses which will help you in the future. Some people go to India and do internship as they might have good referral back home.
What is the role of networking to get a job?
Networking is a media to help you get a job with some ease. I know my seniors from my university who passed out in 2008-2009 and are in good jobs across the industry. One of the senior helped me by referring me for the current job I am working in. He made sure my resume reaches the hiring supervisor in right time and discussed my qualities to the supervisor. Yes, I did give interview and cleared it too. So have a good relation with your seniors who may assist you to pull in the industry for job while on OPT or whenever you are seeking a full time.
During Semester 4:
Keep the same study pattern for this and next semester. Typically, this semester is the most boring semester of the entire MS life. Mostly because you are still in school and not looking for jobs (90% university do not allow fulltime job during the semester). Hence, focus on learning and improving your skills.
This is final semester for almost 75% of the students who graduate normally without extending the thesis. So, start looking for jobs beginning of this semester as 75% people will be graduating and competition would be tremendous for full time jobs. Start applying for jobs beginning January. Some applications take 3 months to process, while some might be processed in two weeks depending on the urgency of hiring requirements.
Therefore, after you graduate you will working on your OPT. Mostly people put OPT start date 1 month late after their graduation. Try doing that. If you already have an offer, the next day of graduation should be the joining date. Make sure you discuss this with your employer and then decide on the start date.
HEROES OF YOUR MS:
You yourself would be the hero who will be driving yourself into the success path. Therefore, you will have to plan your goals, decide your academic and professional interest, choose course accordingly, work as a research person, and build a strong resume before you go ask for a job.
Your Professor is another driving force in your success story. Work on a research project with him, offer him your loyalty and he will reward you with good referral in the industry. I received a very strong recommendation from the director of my course who was also my thesis guide. He will make you work hard in two years and some time you will feel ‘Isse accha toh India mein hi rehta mai’. However, given the fact that you will always praise your professor once you are into a job.
Your Networking Skills is one another silent hero in your success. Try looking for seniors and people working in the industry. Network with them. Networking is a skill, which should be learnt in parallel to your coursework. University offer such workshop every now and then to motivate foreign students to learn the art.
Research Assistanship is always a hero for me in my success to work in automotive industry. The hard work that I put while as a RA helped me build a versatile resume, which helped in getting an interview.
Previous Job Experience is always helpful. My 2.5 years of work experience in automotive domain was a silent partner in my success story. A hiring manager looks at fresher and an experienced candidate in a different way. If you are experienced then it is a plus point for you. Fresher’s can put in different internship experience if they have or else would have to do a strong research.
Right Time, Attitude and Strong Communication Skills will help you achieve things quickly specially in the United States. Most importantly, be honest to whatever you do, do it at a right time and with a right attitude. US values honesty, right attitude, punctuality and strong communication skills.
VILLAINS OF YOUR MS:
You are the biggest villain in your success story. There will be instances where in you will face a situation where your second mind will say you cannot do it and you will not do it. First thing you should do is get out of the comfort zone before you start you Masters. Struggle begins. Every time someone messages me for advice on pursuing a masters his/her first question is ‘JOB HAI KYA WAHA’. Second thing remove this question from your mind unless you start applying for jobs. Worrying about jobs kills your productive time and puts you under pressure and you may end up underperforming. So, make learning, researching, networking your first priority.
Plagiarism is another villain. If you copy assignments, projects you end up learning less and may struggle when you are in job. Be faithful to your master’s coursework even if you do not like it, this will produce new horizon in your success story. After all, you invest heaps of money to get education and then you copy. Sounds like horseshit!
Your VISA is another impediment or villain in your job search story. You get rejection because you do not have a H1B, GC or you are not a citizen of this country. Believe me my 100 applications were rejected in 2 minutes of application. When I did research, all I found was that since I checked in that I need sponsorship I got a denial. You may face same story but do not give. There are jobs, which requires highly skilled people like you and me.
Your OPT is another villain for your stay in USA. After you graduate, you get OPT. From the OPT start date you get only 90 days to look for a job. If you do not find job in 90 days you have to pack your bags or enroll yourself in another school for either double masters or PhD.
What after MS if you get a job on OPT?
If you get job on OPT then you work for 12 months straightaway before your OPT Extension begins (only applicable to STEM graduate, check your CIP Code listed on your i20 https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf ) In this mean process you mostly apply for H1B. If picked you are lucky or try next year. OPT extension is usually 24 months.
Few Update on H1B:
1) Will it affect MS students ?
No it wont affect much. Since we have a specialized degree. Specially as of now NON IT folks are safe 100%. IT/CS students who will be working as programmer that too at an entry level job may have to face additional documents scrutiny through his/her employer justifying as to what nature of specialized coding the employee does which needs a master level employee.
2) Who will get affected by the new changes?
FAKE Consultancies who exploit and over garnish students resume with fake experiences. So students who choose this path after their masters might have to face tough times. It is definitely designed to hit the bullseye and target indian tech companies like TCS, infosys etc who have abused the overall H1B program. I have heard from friends and colleagues that each company files multiple application for an individual thereby increasing the overall number of application. This is to put an end to it. Only the deserving will be considered. People who have indian diploma degree, BCA degree, BCOM degree and who aspires to be a computer programmer would receive a denial.
3) What should I expect in coming days which will benefit masters student?
As of now no one knows. You have a long time to go. 2 years plus 1 year of OPT to apply for your first H1B.
4) What other changes can be expected in the immigration process?
The H4 EAD is under scrutiny. It might get a new restructuring allowing only spouse who have STEM degrees to work. It is just my assumption, they might revoke it. GC process might get simplified.
Few questions on Jobs:
1) Is getting a job in USA easy?
It is easy and it is not too. Prior work experience in India helps to secure job quickly (only legitimate experience). But if you're a fresher you make experience a tough time. you have to work hard in your masters develop skills in order to get a job at the end of your graduation.
2) What branches faces tough times?
Mostly core branches. Mechanical/ Industrial have tough times. But looking at development in past few days we may expect a setback in the IT industry jobs.
3) Why getting a job is tough task?
It is mostly because no one wants to sponsor you a working visa. You may face hundreds of rejections or may be thousands in some cases just because you selected VISA REQUIRED IN FUTURE when you applied for a job.
I think I will end my blog here. This covers most of the queries. I will write someday about how to write an effective resume. I will thanks Yocket for giving me this opportunity.
Pradeep Prakash Borate,
University of Michigan
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