You won’t hear many Indian students who’ve gone to study abroad in USA and other countries talk about it. At least, not openly on a public forum.
That doesn’t imply that every international student has a fairy tale experience. It just means that there aren’t enough students brave enough to confess what happened to them after the celebrations subsided. You’ll occasionally read in the media about Indian students in USA sent back for intentionally doing what they weren’t supposed to do. However, that’s a minority. Many international students have to leave the U.S. after completing their MS for other reasons.
As if the trauma of their journey wasn’t painful enough, there’s also the likelihood of being judged by peers, employers, relatives and friends. Some may do it out of envy, others out of ignorance.
Either ways, it’s not fair, since some of the downsides have nothing to do with the student’s capability or potential. There are several factors beyond their control – like the state of the economy or a change in the leading recruiters’ hiring policies.
A field that was hot and cutting-edge during the MS application phase, may no longer offer the same number of opportunities by the time the course gets completed.
Along with the huge upside associated with an international Masters degree, the risks of going abroad to study have always been there. And they will continue to remain.
Rohit Mishra (name changed) was among those who ended up being scarred by his MS experience. He was still large-hearted enough to share what he went through. He hopes his experience will help other Indian (and international) students aspiring to go overseas in search of a better life and career opportunities.
Lessons from my bad MS degree experience in USA
I had a pretty bad experience after getting MS degree from the United States.
I completed my MS degree at the peak of recession, in June 2009, in a highly specialized field of semiconductor electronics from a leading university that’s well-respected in the technology domain. Getting a job in the US in the field of my choice became extremely difficult due to the recession and I wasn’t inclined towards switching to software just to get a job.
I ended worker in a semiconductor plant as a production trainee with bare minimum salary, and at the end of my term there they refused to provide visa sponsorship as the company was cost cutting, the same company shut down completely in 2011.
I left USA in 2010 January and came back to India in search of job in electronics industry. Getting a job became a nightmare as there are virtually no semiconductor technology jobs in India.
In other relevant fields, I was over qualified for entry level jobs due to having an American degree compared to others with local degree. So, I worked extremely hard for quite some time to learn other electronics technologies like VLSI design and embedded systems, which are quite popular in India.
After this I did get many job offers from several companies, but, with the same salary and job level as any other BE or Btech degree holder. All the bigger organizations had one answer – “we are looking for IITians only.”
Even though I had much broader experiences, including research with a university professor and strong technical background, I ended up working at the exact same level as someone with a Bachelors degree, making my MS degree completely useless.
What I should’ve known before I started my MS and what I could’ve done to alter the outcome
I wish I had known the value of having a good mentor. The one I hired, took a hefty amount of money, and yet misguided me in so many wrong ways.
My mentor never did break a sweat to work on my SOP/LORs, university selection, GRE preparation, etc. He kept asking me to take admission during winter semester (middle of school year in US) instead of fall session (Start of school year), which I did.
And it backfired badly as I didn’t know that almost all scholarships are awarded at the fall session and no scholarships remain available until winter session. Out of all the universities I applied to, most rejected me as winter sessions usually have extremely limited seats availability.
Having admissions from very few universities, I ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and all the hard work for admission to a top university went in vain. Not just that, I have been working extremely hard for the last several years just to make up for all the things that went wrong.
Had I followed my guts, instead of some half-baked mentor, my life would have turned out completely different than what it is now.
Lessons that may help other MS aspirants avoid the mistakes I did
– Do as much research as possible, and take inspiration and guidance from the right people, but, also trust your own instincts.
– Studying abroad is a great experience, but, even a small mistake during admissions can ruin the whole experience.
– Do not take uncalculated risks. Do not make assumptions. Consider all aspects from program rankings to scholarships to ongoing research to location before taking admissions.
You may like this story about an IIT graduate who dropped out of a US MBA program and Value of MS degree from USA, Germany, Canada, UK, Australia for jobs in India.
Image (source) for representation only