Tips for the MS Aspirants

Writing is an instinctive process. You are in the middle of some work, something strikes you and you desperately want to grab the laptop or paper and write down the thoughts wandering in your head. At least that is the case with me. So, know that the rest of the article is written over the last whole week. So, below you’ll see the best of my thoughts compiled into one article.

I got a Verbal Offer from Facebook on Nov 6. I updated my LinkedIn to officially share the news with my Network that I had accepted the Offer. It is after putting down the Status that I realized how big of a deal it was. I got tons of messages, requests and congratulations comments. It is such an overwhelming experience. I truly feel blessed. To everyone whom I had not talked to in months, texted me to say how happy they were for me. Achievement unleashed. Starting a career at a Big Firm surely opens up many doors for the future. It feels wondrous to have 6+ months left to graduate, and I don’t have to worry about the Job Search anymore. It’s been a really difficult journey so far, I have struggled mentally, physically and worked hard to make ends meet, to put up with the Deadlines, but yes … it’s all worth it in the end.

So below are my tips and practices ordered randomly. I hope it helps.

  • I recently started a new practice. Every morning, I begin my Day with a Productive Tedx Talk. It’s motivating and I can avoid being distracted by the whole morning Social Media Ritual. With Tea and cereals, I enjoy an excellent motivational Talk which just prepares me well for the energetic day.
  • Use Blank White Sheets to make Notes and Study. The white sheet helps you to put forth your thoughts more naturally, than the lined ones. Since lined sheets bound your thought process and sometimes you get stuck in trying to fit your thoughts in a particular space and direction. The freedom to express in any form eases the thought process. It gives the mind the natural flow which isn’t hindered by the boundaries of the page.
  • Use a pen whenever possible, write write write. Everything where you are stuck and can’t figure out, just write it down, you’ll find your way out. Especially Math and Algorithm-related subjects, they can never be studied without writing. Have a habit of writing the long formulas, it imprints the pattern in your head and increases the recall rate.
  • Have a habit of making To-Do Lists. They help you track your progress and keeps you motivated. Carry a pen and paper with you, you never know when a brilliant idea will strick you. You can instantly jot down your idea if you have the paper, so you can remember and work on it afterward. Either this or an iPad, but it’s tough to carry it everywhere.
  • I get a lot of messages on LinkedIn for the University Suggestions. For all of them, I’d like to say that it depends completely on your final aim. I’d confine my advice for the Computer Science Students only, as I don’t know the scenario for other branches. Master’s Program is meant to increase your Knowledge and not designed specifically for your Career Growth. Keep in mind, the more prestigious the university, the more challenging the course curriculum and the struggle. It means you’ll have to congest the time slots to fit in the Job Search, Independent Study work and Assignments, all of these in 24 hours. Not to forget the Money, most good Universities have the same Fees range, so be ready to screw yourself and spending a lot of money on Fees and Living. But on the brighter side, the reputable universities have their perks, they allow for more exposure, and Tech companies value the Students graduating from these Universities. They realize the hustle is real, and take in a large number of candidates from these Universities.
  • Again this topic is a bit too complex. Now also let me consider if you are coming to the US with Relevant work experience i.e. a year or more. In that case, for CS Grads, if you are just aiming for Jobs, then it doesn’t matter where you study. I have seen people studying in low-ranked Universities getting High paying Internships and full-Time Offers. The main aspect here is that they have things on their resume to showcase, and they do not need the University backing to stand out of the crowd. I do not mean that people with work experience should not try for the Prestigious Universities, I am just stressing on the fact that they need to be clear with their Goals. For some, Education is equally important. People working at big Tech Firms back in their country, won’t accept studying at a mediocre University in the US, because they want the Best, hence they’ll aim for it. So, instead of asking current Students for advice I want to advise all these students to sit and Question themselves. Ask yourself the most important questions…
  1. Do you have the right experience to shine in the crowd? 
  2. What is more important to you, Education or Job?
  3. How much financial support you have got? Can you afford expensive private Universities? 
  4. Do you have to Time Management Skills? How well do you handle stress and pressure? 
  5. How dedicated and passionate are you about your field?

Ask yourself these questions and you’ll never need advice from anyone.

  • That brings me to my next point. Ask the most important Questions in whatever situation you are. Learning something new can be intimidating, especially if you got less time to do it. If you can develop this skill to ask the correct questions, you’ll never struggle to learn anything new. Be it an Interview or Exam Preparation, this is the one-star skill that has helped me excel. Once I know what to ask, I can prioritize, and in the process of getting the answers, I find hidden facts that just blow my mind. Learning with this technique is just phenomenal.
  • Practice Leetcode from the day you get your US Visa. If you applying for any kind of Data Role, SQL is a must. Get into that practice of putting long hours sitting at one place, coding, and intensely concentrating. You’ll need those skills for the Interviews. About Leetcode, It doesn’t matter how many questions you solve on it, it’s the logic that stays with you. If you can look at a question, describe it and come up with the solution at least verbally, you have won half the battle. First, few phone interviews are typically straight forward Coding rounds. So, no stress about Behavioral as such. Typically for the full-time rounds, you need to be well-versed with the prep material they send you beforehand.
  • Networking can indeed be tricky – Try going to Career Fairs. Be selective. You don’t want to waste your time going to a fair that doesn’t even have tech companies visiting. Over the two years at USC, I have mostly avoided going to career fairs, since it’s way too crowded, and they mostly hand you with a card to apply online. Sometimes we had to stand in queues for hours to talk to a recruiter for just 2 mins, and that will be your moment to shine, if you can’t make it count, then leave it.
  • Make sure you know when to network. Like if you are approaching a recruiter for Jobs in the month of December, it won’t be very fruitful. Because most of the recruiters are on holiday. Even if you are pinging someone on LinkedIn, find the correct time. Jan – Feb is the correct time for Networking. It’s the peak recruiting season for Full-time and Internships. Most of the companies, do not recruit in December. At least that’s what I have seen. I may be wrong.
  • Understand that the recruiter isn’t obliged to reply to you. It can get humiliating sometimes to spam someone for the Jobs on LinkedIn. But you got to do it if you are desperately looking for a Job. The Best thing you probably can do is project yourself well using customized messages. Make sure you send them a short message describing your skills and other major achievements. Barely 10 out of 100 recruiters will reply. While I do not advocate this activity, I suggest you to try your best to get a referral. The message you send should be personal and well written. No one would waste their time on you if you can’t put up your experience correctly.
  • Don’t let the emotions get the best of you. You might be intimidated by the people and their profiles but just focus on yourself. Be positive. Know what you want to do and believe in it. Positive Attitude will help you face any kind of situation.
  • Communities and Skills are built not in a day but over a long period. You need to dedicate time every day for small tasks to reach the ultimate goal. Start early. Be it assignments or Interview preparation. It gives you some confidence.
  • The Bigger the Calculated risk, the greater the Reward. If you are confident about yourself, then you can achieve anything you want with hard work and Determination. Be Honest, and keep working, everything falls into place.

When I had to decide Canada vs the USA back in 2017, it was very difficult. I choose to do a Masters in the United States because it is the Land of Opportunities. It was indeed a hard decision. The Money, Visa Preparation, Admission Process, it’s troublesome. Come prepared to cook your meals, make your bed, do your Laundry, and paying your bills. The freedom you experience at the end of it is priceless. 

So that’s it for this post. I will keep posting stuff on the Blog. Comment down below if you want me to write about any specific Topic! Also, I’d be happy to hear your experiences after adapting any of my practices. 🙂


PS: For people texting me on LinkedIn, it is difficult to reply to every person. So, in case you want to message me, I want you to ping me directly with the questions instead of putting down long text describing your profile. 

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