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Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)  3-Minute Listen

As a member of the University of  Wisconsin Madison Alumni, Sachin Ravi looks back at his Undergraduate Experience in this podcast. Sachin Ravi is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics.

Sachin’s college experience is a story of exploration that ultimately led to Computer Science. This realization motivated him to transfer from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of Wisconsin Madison.

The transfer was hard.

a) He was leaving behind his Pitt friends.

b) At UW Madison, social adjustment was harder as a junior, but Sachin stayed focused on his academics.

It all worked out in the end.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. Overall Experience
  2. Why Pitt?
  3. Deciding to Transfer
  4. Transition to UW Madison
  5. Advice for Aspiring Students

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Sachin Ravi on UW Madison: Computer Science, Exploration, and Pickup Basketball.

Sachin was a typical high school kid. He was a good student. Got good grades. Liked Math and Science. Played tennis for his High School. Played basketball. Loved video games. But, he didn’t have an outsized interest or passion for any of the subjects.

Sachin Ravi is a graduate of University of Wisconsin Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. As a member of the University of Wisconsin Madison Alumni, Sachin shares his Undergraduate Experience.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Why Pitt?
  • Exploring in College
  • Transferring to UW Madison
  • Majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics
  • Advice to Aspiring Students

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Sachin Ravi, UW Madison [0:50]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:44]
  • Overall Experience [4:07]
  • Why Pitt? [6:03]
  • High School Interests [7:34]
  • “Great” Transition to Pitt [9:45]
  • Academic Transition [11:07]
  • Motivated Peers [12:53]
  • “Great” Profs [14:06]
  • Pitt Campus Activities [15:08]
  • Trying to Find Passion [16:37]
  • Deciding to Transfer [18:26]
  • Applying to Transfer [21:31]
  • The Transition to UW Madison  [23:47]
  • UW Peers [26:37]
  • “Amazing” UW Profs [28:18]
  • Campus Life at UW [29:18]
  • Summers [30:47]
  • UW’s Impact on Career [33:45]
  • Senior Thesis [35:17]
  • College Redo? [36:44]
  • Advice for Aspiring Students [39:58]
  • Memories: “Being Around People” [41:47]

Our Guest: Sachin Ravi is a graduate of University of Wisconsin Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. Sachin has a Master’s and PhD in Computer Science from Princeton University.

Memorable Quote: “I think the main theme is that passions oftentimes just don't like, click. It's not like you have some magical inspiration.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

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Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Sachin R 0:14

I think the most memorable part of college is just being around people that are at the same stage of life you are, have the same amount of responsibilities you have, and are all within like a certain area of you. And so you never get that again in your life.

Venkat  0:50  [Introduction to Sachin Ravi, UW Madison]

Sachin Ravi is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

Hello I am the host Venkat Raman.

Sachin was a typical high school kid.

He was a good student. Got good grades.

He liked Math and Science.

He played tennis for his High School. He played basketball.

He loved video games.

But, he didn’t have an outsized interest or passion for any of the subjects.

When time came to apply for college, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to study.

Venkat Raman  1:14

Sachin joins us on our podcast to share his undergraduate experience - which began at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt for short) and finished at the University of Wisconsin Madison as a Transfer Student.

Venkat Raman  1:29

Now, Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:

Sachin R  1:44  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[Overall Experience]

Transferring to Madison definitely, you know, affected the experience. So yeah, by the time I got to Madison, I'd actually finished so I transferred in my junior year. And I'd already finished a lot of my general education requirements. So by the time I got to Madison, I was focused mainly on my math and CS courses.

[Why Pitt?]

My family lived, like a little bit outside, in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. So it was a you know, good school that was nearby. And coming out of high school, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. There wasn't like a passion or major that stuck out to me. Um, so yeah, it was a good school that was nearby, and there was in state tuition. And I had some scholarships.

[Deciding to Transfer]

Mainly, my teacher in high school suggested that like, you know, Pitt is a good school. But for computer science, especially, if you're looking at you know, companies that are recruiting, it might be harder to get sort of a good job right Out of like a career fair.

 

[Transition to UW Madison]

Getting to Madison, they had this transfer dorm, which was also for people that transferred in from other schools to Madison. So that was also very nice. Because it was easier to make friends there. Because everyone is looking to make friends because they're new to the campus.

[Advice for Aspiring Students]

Passions oftentimes just don't like click, it's not like you have some magical inspiration in a certain course, or when you're doing a certain homework problem where you just realize, okay, this is, this is what I want to do. I think, for some people you need to explore, figured out what you don't want to do. And then the things you liked, then seem much better in comparison.

Venkat Raman  3:34

These were the Hi5s, brought to you by College Matters. Alma Matters.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Venkat Raman  3:45

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Sachin.

So without further ado, here is Sachin Ravi!

—--------------------

Venkat Raman  3:55  

Sachin maybe you can start with some reflection on what the undergraduate experience was like, at Madison. I know it's a few years out, but how does it feel today?

Sachin R  4:07  [Overall Experience]

Yeah, so I think the transfer, transferring to Madison definitely affected the experience. So yeah, by the time I got to Madison, I'd actually finished so I transferred in my junior year. And I'd already finished a lot of my general education requirements. So by the time I got to Madison, I was focused mainly on my math and CS courses. So that probably, you know, made the experience something different than I did typically is when in the beginning, you're taking like, multitude of courses to cover various requirements. And the other thing was, yeah, because you're transferring socially, it's a sometimes a difficult experience because people who are already you know, juniors in the university, they've already made their friend groups because and been together since freshman year. So it was, it's a bit of a transition to make new friends and find new people, because you're starting out sort of later. But what made the experience sort of easier for me was my cousin already went there. So I, you know, made a few friends on my own. Because I was in transfer housing, which was a transfer that come in lift the first year. So I made some friends there. And also, I hung out with him a lot, and his friends a lot, too. So that sort of made things easier. But in general, I felt Madison I was more focused on my studies and things because I was later on in the undergrad experience and focusing more on those things.

Venkat Raman  5:50  

So let's go back a little bit in time then. And let's start with why, Why did you pick Pitt initially, you know, University of Pittsburgh initially. Why did, How did that come about?

Sachin R  6:03  [Why Pitt?]

Yeah, so I'm, I'm from Pittsburgh, my family or I lived like a little bit in the outside in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. So it was a good school that was nearby. And coming out of high school. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. There wasn't like a passion or major that stuck out to me. So yeah, it was a good school that was nearby. And there was in state tuition. And I had some scholarships. So it felt like a good choice to basically go somewhere nearby where I could visit home, you know, once or twice a month, and try to figure out like, what it was that I wanted to major in.

Venkat Raman  6:42  

Fair enough. Now, did you look at other schools at that time as well? Or was Pitt pretty much where you were at?

Sachin R  6:48  

Yeah. So I think my other options for now, it's been a long time. So I'm forgetting the exact schools that I applied to, but I think I was debating between CMU and Notre Dame and Pitt. But because those other schools were, you know, much higher tuition. It felt like because I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I didn't know what departments I should be looking at. It seemed like, you know, I wouldn't say a waste of money, but it seemed like it was better to stick with a school where, which is nearby and you know, cheaper for me while I tried to figure it out what what it is one wants to do.

Venkat Raman  7:29  

So what were you like in high school? What kind of things were you into?

Sachin R  7:34  [High School Interests]

Um, so yeah, you know, typical high school kid, I was the video games in the sports. I played basketball. I played tennis. I played tennis though. I was only on the tennis team in high school. I was on the basketball team. But yeah, I was big into sports, pretty active. And then, yeah, I was studious. But I didn't have like a passion. Like, there wasn't a subject that stuck out to me. I liked a bunch of things. You know, I like math, computer science, statistics. But none of them felt like they were passions. I think maybe I was used to like the movies where you start studying the subject, and it's just like something clicks, and you're like, oh, wow, I can do this. For the rest of my life. Nothing felt like that. So I basically, you know, did well on my courses, but it was part of it was, you know, I knew I needed to do well. So that was, you know, that led me to study well, but there wasn't anything that stuck out as a passion. So, yeah, typical high school kid who, you know, tried to do well in school, but didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life, which I think is typical in that image.

Venkat Raman  8:40  

Other than sports. Did you do any community oriented services or anything else that you got into or?

Sachin R  8:47  

Yeah, so our high school had a requirement where you had like a senior project, where you either like, picked her some sort of topic and did some like research about it, or you did some community service and talked about that. So I volunteered at Meals on Wheels, which I don't know if it does, well known on the west coast, but she's coast. Yeah, it's the laundry organization that delivers meals to senior citizens. I volunteered with that for my junior and senior year with a neighbor who actually already used to volunteer there.

Venkat Raman  9:29  

Let's jump over to Pitt then. So you transition from high school to University of Pittsburgh? What did that feel like? What is that from going from high school to college? Of course, a short drive from home I assume, but how was the overall change?

Sachin R  9:45  [“Great” Transition to Pitt]

So one thing was I was admitted to like the University of Pittsburgh honors school, or honors college, I think it was called so yeah, I was basically you satisfied some scores or GPA and you had the option to participate in it. But the big thing that sort of affected me was in our freshman housing, we, we got to pick whether we want to like live in a dorm, that was all honors college kids. And so I did pick that. And that was probably a great choice for me, because I met some amazing people, like from an Honors College people are coming from all over, you know, around the East Coast, and even some people from west coast. So I met some amazing, you know, friends, and, you know, people I'm still friends with to this day. And so that made the transition pretty great. Because it was like, firstly, I walked in, and it was living with really amazing people and who were really passionate about, you know, some people had already decided what they wanted to do. But some people were also trying to figure it out. But it was a great place to be in this setting where it was, like similarly minded people that you met from day one.

Venkat Raman  11:02  

How was, how was the academic transition? How did the courses feel?

Sachin R  11:07  [Academic Transition]

So because I didn't know what I wanted to do, I took a bunch of, like, the general education requirements, but my parents wanted me to be a doctor. So they suggested, okay, yeah, which is not uncommon. They suggested, you know, take take your Gen Ed requirements, but also maybe start satisfying the pre med requirements, if it's something that clicks, at least you have some sort of direction. And it's not hard to, like, pivot away from that. And so it was a mix of, you know, I was taking, you know, literature, sociology, stuff like that, that, that you need to take to cover whatever requirements there are, but I was also taking biology and chemistry courses, and stuff like that. So that would cover the pre med requirements. And in terms of the course difficulty, it was a bit of an adjustment for me, I would say courses were definitely harder than there were in high school. But it was mainly more the biology and chemistry courses that I felt were harder, because I think I pretty quickly realized my interest level was not there. And so doing well in those courses, when you're one of your classmates are people who have been passionate about medicine or are have been thinking about pre med for a while, it's hard. You're forcing yourself to study on like the same level that they are paying attention in class at the same level they are. And so that made things a bit difficult, though I did manage. But that's when I started realizing like, okay, biology, chemistry, I don't think I know for sure, these are not what my passions are.

Venkat Raman  12:49  

What were your classmates like at Pitt?

Sachin R  12:53  [Motivated Peers]

Yeah, because I was in the Honors College, it was like, pretty academically, I would say gifted people and a lot of them. Like, because Pitt also has a great medical school. A lot of them were in pre med program and had aspirations toward medical school. So they were like, pretty motivated people and pretty on top of, you know, their, their stuff. And, yeah, really smart. And so like, I think, not that, you know, general ed, students aren't like that. But at least from my experience, I was around like, yeah, these type of people. And so that definitely also made me think like, Okay, I need to find my passion. And because I'm around these people who are clearly passionate and, and working hard, and for them, it doesn't seem like they're working hard, because there's stuff they're, like, genuinely interested in, and don't mind putting in the hours. So it was sort of helpful because it kind of put like, a little bit of fire in me like, Okay, what is my thing that, you know, that I can pursue for so many hours, and it doesn't feel like a chore? So I think that way, it was sort of helpful to be in that environment.

Venkat Raman  14:02  

What are the professors like, what was the teaching like?

Sachin R  14:06  [“Great” Profs]

I would say the faculty was really great. Yeah. So because I took I was taking both biology and chemistry courses and the gen ed, like, what sticks out is obviously the biology and chemistry courses like the professors were amazing, but even I really enjoyed a lot of my Gen Ed courses, which some I still remember to this day, for example, there was like literature course. I'm forgetting like the actual topic, but I still remember the books we read and the essays we had to write and stuff. So it was like actually, even though like I was still trying to figure out what I wanted, even the courses were clearly this is not gonna be my interest. I still really enjoyed them. Because it was like, you know, reading books I would never read on my own reading novels I would never even think about so from that aspect like it was it was pretty great.

Venkat Raman  14:59  

While you were at Pitt, did you get involved on campus, Campus Activities? Anything that you got excited about?

Sachin R  15:08  [Pitt Campus Activities]

Yeah, so I was because of I was part of the Honors College, there was a lot of activities involved with that, you know, certain trips and certain events to raise money or certain, like sport, I think this will be like a topic that comes up over and over again. But even sports, there were like leagues within the Honors College where we'd have like, flag football competition, or a basketball tournament and stuff like that. So a lot of my lot of my social life was like, built around the Honors College and the activities that were like part of it. And so I was typically busy with whatever was going on that weekend, with something organized through the Honors College.

Venkat Raman  15:49  

How big was the college? How big was your group in your year?

Sachin R  15:54  

I don't really, I don't know the exact numbers. I feel like the honors call it like pit itself. Like, of course, it's the big public school. So yeah, the freshman class is going to be huge, but I want to, I'm gonna make an estimate. I can't tell you how. This is what I felt like to me. And it's been two years later, but I want to say it was like, maybe, you know, 1002? Yeah, 1000 kids, maybe some some like that. That range.

Venkat Raman  16:24  

So you've said this a few times. And I want to kind of now talk about passion out. What happened? How did you find that thing that you wanted to do?

Sachin R  16:37  [Trying to Find Passion]

Yeah, it's weird, because so as part of the Gen Ed courses, I also had to take like, I think calculus three. And I obviously I'd taken calculus in high school, and I enjoyed it. But that point, it didn't feel like okay, wow, this is super fun. This is my passion. It just felt like okay, this is, you know, this is cool. I like doing calculus, I like math. But, but I think somehow taking calculus three, I was like, maybe it was like, I was comparing it to my other courses like biology and chemistry. And they like when you in comparison, I was like, This is much more fun. Like, maybe when I was in high school I was evaluating like, objectively like, is this this is going to be my passion, which maybe is like a wrong question to ask. It's more compared to the other things you could do. And you could be doing, you know, what is more fun, and it was definitely like, wow, my calculus course was very fun. And also, sometimes, when you start getting into more of the advanced stuff, it you realize you like it even more. And it's hard to tell that when you're taking the basic courses, like all of our work, but somehow things clicked in that end. And then because I was enjoying my math courses, my parents suggested, oh, why don't you take some computer science courses, because it was also something I liked in high school. And it was the same thing where when I started getting into the more advanced computer science courses, I'm like, Okay, wow, this is way more fun for me than my chemistry and biology courses.

Venkat Raman  18:08  

Okay, so, so now you discover that CS may be an opportunity or a pathway for you. Why, so you decide to transfer? Tell us a little bit about that? How did that come about? Why did you say that? You had to leave it to do that?

Sachin R  18:26  [Deciding to Transfer]

Yeah. So it came up, it didn't come about, you know, it didn't come out. Suddenly, it was more like a slow process. Basically, by beginning of my sophomore year, I was realizing that I wanted to do you know, math and computer science, because what I mentioned that those courses are the ones I enjoy most. And so I think I had reached out to my computer science teacher from high school. And maybe, you know, there's obviously a lot of people in my family and friends who were doing, you know, software engineering kind of stuff. And so, but I think it was mainly my teacher in high school suggested that like, you know, it is a good school, but for computer science, especially, if you're looking at, you know, companies that are recruiting, it might be harder to get sort of a good job right? Out of like a career fair. And, you know, pen, there were a lot of good software companies, software companies that were coming to the career fairs, but it wasn't like the big sort of big companies that you'd see as often. And so the path is a little bit harder. And so he suggested like, why don't you apply for transfer somewhere, and then depending on what you get, you can decide like, I think you'll be fine here too. But if you apply somewhere and you get in and you do the research and you find like it's better for the specific things that you're looking for, it might be better to transfer. And so I think it was after a discussion with him, but I just thought about like, what are the schools I would be interested in then transferring to that, maybe it's easier to like, find, you know, a great company that's recruiting on campus and such. And that's sort of where the search, I would say began. And then I started looking at schools, that would be a good fit. And I think I wanted to go to a public school because I didn't want to pay too much tuition. And there's a lot of good public schools for computer science, like around the country. And the other big thing was, I didn't want to like, walk into a school, which is far away from home, not knowing anybody, because the transition is tough, you know, as it is, and if you sort of, even socially have to, like, make all these, make all these new friends or meet new people, it makes it even harder. So one good thing was my cousin was doing his grad studies at University of Wisconsin Madison. And you know, Madison is a great public school, also great for computer science. And so I think I applied to other schools for transfer, which I'm forgetting now, which ones is a small list of public schools. And so that one seemed like a good fit, because it had all the requirements that I was sort of looking for.

Venkat Raman  21:22  

So how did that process work within Pitt? You had to apply all over again. How was that experience?

Sachin R  21:31  [Applying to Transfer]

Yeah, is a bit of hard because it's like, you're doing your usual like college course level work, but also sort of doing this extra work in terms of applications and getting recommendation letters and such. So that's why I didn't apply to a lot of schools, because their forms and their requirements and essays and personal statements can differ a lot. So I just kept it to a small amount. Basically, again, if I thought that if I didn't, you know, find anything that was really good in terms of transferring, I'd be happy at Pitt. And I think things would have been fine. But it was just I had a small set that I thought it was worth applying to. And so yeah, I think it's, you know, very similar to the high school college application in a lot of ways, but your transcripts are more about your college courses, your recommendations are from current college professors. And I think you have some personal statements about why you want to transfer and writing those things out. So yeah, it was difficult to balance basically the regular coursework with also doing a lot of this applications, but it wasn't too bad.

Venkat Raman  22:42  

How was, how did Pitt respond to it? Were they were they helpful? Were the gracious, how did you feel?

Sachin R  22:51  

So there isn't like a Pitt entity that I had to like, inform. It was more, I think the only the only form of contact with professors, right? Yeah. So I think professors are, you know, pretty happy to write recommendation letters. Especially, you know, given enough time, I think they're always happy to do things like that, to benefit students. So, yeah, I just made sure like, I gave them enough time in terms of the application deadlines and such. And they're happy to write recommendation letters that especially if you pick courses you're doing well at, I don't think professors will mind writing you a recommendation letter.

Venkat Raman  23:33  

So you transfer over to University of Wisconsin Madison. What was that transfer experience like? How did you feel as a transfer student? What kind of help did they provide?

Sachin R  23:47  [The Transition to UW Madison]

So yeah, it was a difficult process leaving, like I said, because I had a good friend group had PID and had built some close friendships. And that leaving part was also difficult. But getting to Madison, they like because they recognize most of the courses that I took within Pitt, and they satisfied the requirements were actually sort of similar in terms of general education. Requirements, they had to fulfill a lot of that stuff that made pretty easy, where you just submit your transcript, they tell you like, okay, these courses are equivalent to the courses we have here and you You satisfied, you know, all these requirements. So that part sort of made it simple, because didn't seem like I did a lot of wasted work. And so a lot of the requirements easily transferred over. And then getting to Madison, they had this transfer door, which was also for people who are transferred in from other schools to Madison. So that was also very nice. Because it was easier to make friends there because everyone is looking to make friends because they're new to the campus. And then other than that, it was you know, yeah, like, just getting to work as a regular college student. Of course, you have like, basically figured out everything you'd feel You're not from freshman year, but you're doing it your junior year, like something as stupid as like, where are my courses? What are the departments? How do I get from one department to the other for all my classes, like all that stuff, you kind of have to pick up on the fly. And especially Madison is a huge campus, it was more enclosed. Like, you could pretty much walk from one department to the other to make all your classes for Madison, it is a little bit more spread out. So that also took some time to figure out but I'd say yeah, in terms of how Madison helped, I would say the transfer dorm was a big help. And then also making clear. What are the what are the things that transferred over from your previous university? And what are your requirements that you need to fulfill to graduate like that was all made very clear, which really helped a lot. Sure.

Venkat Raman  25:53  

Did they have some sort of an orientation program as well? Or was that? I know they have for freshmen, but...

Sachin R  26:00  

They do. It's been a while but I do remember there was a transfer orientation program where they walk you through a lot of this stuff, too.

Venkat Raman  26:08  

Okay. Very good. So here you are in Madison. Was it pretty cold? Probably.

Sachin R  26:19  

Yeah, Pittsburgh is cold. But Madison is like another level. Yeah. You think you know, cold weather and you get to Madison? Yeah, it's like, okay, maybe I don't know, cold weather.

Venkat Raman  26:33  

How were your classmates, your peers?

Sachin R  26:37  [UW Peers]

Yeah, so I think my Madison experience, I think, like I said before, was a bit different, because I was like, fully focused on the courses that are math and CS, because I had already fulfilled a lot of the other ones. And I had determined that this was, you know, what I wanted to do. So I just went like full in. And so a lot of my interactions and stuff were with people within like the department. And so I would say, yeah, like, compute, like, the standard for math to but computer science, like, yeah, classmates that were incredibly smart. And, and these people had been, you know, knowing they wanted to do a lot of them, knowing they wanted to do computer science, since like freshman year. And also, I took some classes with grad students who are studying computer science. So like, really smart classmates. And so like, especially a lot of the courses had a degree of collaboration, you do class projects together, you do coding assignments together, where you split up the work. And so it was like, really fun, getting to like work with people there. And I think it was like a real good preparation for real world software engineering, which again, is not you writing your own program, and then, you know, not working with anyone else. It was a lot of this collaboration. So that was super nice to, like, get used to that and see how that works. Because that transferred over pretty well to the real world where at software engineering is a lot of collaboration.

Venkat Raman  28:13  

So what about the teaching? How did you find the teaching at Madison?

Sachin R  28:18  [“Amazing” UW Profs]

Yeah, the professors were really amazing. I think the, like computer science faculty at Madison is like really great. It's like people basically at the top of their field and whatever respective sub area of research they're looking at. So yeah, it was like I was learning from like, some, like some of the best people and yeah, and professors really took pride in their courses. I would say, it wasn't just like, you know, I'm really good at doing research. You know, I'm also teaching a course and I'm putting minimal effort, it was a lot of effort was put in and they really cared about how good the course was. So it was a, I would say, really great experience.

Venkat Raman  29:02  

Let's talk campus life in Madison. I mean, I know that you had pretty focused and probably more academic at Madison, but anything that is noteworthy things you want to talk about?

Sachin R  29:18  [Campus Life at UW]

Yeah, so I made some friends through the transfer dorm. I think my main activity was playing pickup basketball, which is something I think I did a lot of Madison, I think he also like don't appreciate that when you're there that you'll just have like a bunch of people to play basketball with who will be there like anytime of the day that you go to order. You know, people have more responsibilities and have busier lives. It's not easy to like just walk into a gym and find people to play with. So yeah, I would say a lot of my social activity was built around, you know, going to the gym or playing basketball. I also was friends with a lot of my A cousins friends. And so they were grad students that as also hung hung out with them. And with them, it was more we'd go out to restaurants and stuff like that just typical hangout stuff.

Venkat Raman  30:13  

Any any clubs or anything that you were part of?

Sachin R  30:17  

I can't, I can't remember, I don't think I explicitly joined any specific clubs that I can remember. I feel like all my social activity was focused a lot of pit. And then once I got to Madison, it was more nothing official in terms of clubs.

Venkat Raman  30:36  

So let's move on and tell us about the different summers. You know while, at Pitt and Madison, what did you do the different summers?

Sachin R  30:47  [Summers]

So, freshman year, I don't think I did anything or a freshman. The summer after freshman year, I think it was too early for me to like, get an internship or anything. And then sophomore year summer, I think I did. I did an internship at my dad's company where I helped out with programming a little bit, I had learned a little bit of programming. So I basically, you know, automated some of the stuff that they were doing. And I don't I didn't know that much. So I don't know how much of a help I was. But it was very useful. Because first, like, real job. And so I got used to like how things work. And it was a good opportunity to try out different thing because there wasn't a lot of pressure. Basically, they were just looking for someone to, you know, do anything. So anything that worked decently well was a big help. So that that was good to experiment and learn things. And then junior year, this was, you know, after I'd finished one year at Madison, I interned at Amazon through on campus interview. And so that was in Seattle, that I spent the summer. And yeah, that was really great. I mean, Seattle during summer is amazing. I can't speak for the weather the rest of the year, but during summer Seattle is great. And yeah, that was working at Amazon. It was like, my first real tech internship. And so it was a, I was I learned a lot, it was a good amount of pressure that made me focus. And it was a pretty successful internship, I'd say so, yeah,

Venkat Raman  32:32  

What what, kind of what kind of things did they make you do? Anything that you can share?

Sachin R  32:36  

Um, so back then there was like, Amazon Studios website, I don't know if that exists now. Whatever, basically, people could submit movie ideas and things. So that I think that was a precursor to some of the Amazon Prime stuff, in terms of Amazon starting to come up with their own content. But that was more like a user submitted website that just started building. So I built like a newsfeed for that site where you basically follow other people. And your newsfeed shows you their activities and stuff. So yeah, I just made built, built that over the summer. And I think it went live, like, a couple of weeks after my internship.

Venkat Raman  33:22  

That's pretty cool. Look back. How do you think the Madison experience has shaped your career? I know, you went on to do your PhD at Princeton. But, you know, post that, how fundamental or how basic was the Madison experience?

Sachin R  33:45  [UW’s Impact on Career]

Yeah, it's hard to think about like a counterfactual. Like, if I didn't go to Madison, what things would have been like, but I will say, going to Madison, I think, I took a bunch of CS courses, I figured out even within CS, like, what are the things I liked? And so that helped. I did a, I did a senior thesis on CS theory, which was also interesting. Maybe I figured it out. I'm not good enough at theory to do a PhD on that area. But it was like helpful in terms of figuring out what what research is in CES and how you do sort of new work, and comparing to like existing work in terms of differentiating yourself or doing something new. So that was all super useful experience. And again, like I said, because my internships and stuff were from on campus recruiting, that made things pretty easy like you basically go to the career fair, or you know, people are sending out emails to the sort of CS listserv or professors are pointing you to things that also made it easy in terms of finding an internship

Venkat Raman  34:58  

During the four years, did you do a lot of research in any area? Did you do any research undergraduate type of research? I know, you know, maybe your senior thesis involved quite a bit. But prior to that, did you get the opportunity to do anything in the form of research?

Sachin R  35:17  [Senior Thesis]

Yeah, I would say the senior thesis was probably the closest thing. Okay. I mean, within Classes within courses, you always like, maybe had like a presentation or something. But it wasn't like something long term. It was like, you know, something short. But the senior thesis definitely was pretty like official in terms of your proposed the project you did, like you studied when the previous work was. And, you know, I didn't end up publishing anything from it. But you wrote a thesis. Hopefully, you were at the edge of what was known and what was done and operating in that area, instead of just like, typical courses, where you're learning about established topics. But I think things are also different. Now I see undergrads that are coming out in publishing and conferences and stuff. So I think the competitiveness has also increased a lot. Maybe I was just lucky that when I was applying to grad school, at that time, you didn't have to, like show that kind of work on your resume. Because I didn't have published papers and stuff coming out of undergrad.

Venkat Raman  36:26  

You had quite a varied experience in your undergraduate. If you could go back in time and redo four years, what would you do differently now?

Sachin R  36:44  [College Redo?]

it's hard, because I feel like each of the things that happened sort of led me to what I was supposed to do next. And it was like, important in whatever my or I mean, my final destination ended up being give undergrad. So ideally, of course, you just want like, ideally, I'd want to go into undergrad, knowing I want to do computer science, like from day one, and just staying somewhere for four years. Because, you know, the transition has difficulties associated with it and like leaving, you know, friends and going to a new school, it's not easy, right? So ideally, you'd want that, but for me, it just, I don't see how my experiences would have just automatically led me there, it kind of had to be this path. Because at each, I wouldn't call them missteps. But each like each, each step that actually followed, gave me information or gave me data about what I should do next. And so yeah, in terms of changing anything, I think everyone would prefer the ideal path. But I would say this was the path that I needed. Because from where I was coming into undergrad, I did not have the information necessary to like immediately say, like, Okay, I'm going to start doing this and then proceed for four years, you know,

Venkat Raman  38:01  

Fair enough. Now, while in college, the things you did in college, would you do anything differently? You know, you came in not knowing what you exactly wanted to do. But the path you choose? Would that be any different if you were to go back and redo and know what you know, now?

Sachin R  38:23  

Yeah, like I ended up taking a lot of courses are very difficult. And because of my lack of interest in them, that probably made them more difficult. I'm talking about like, you know, organic chemistry, which is never fun for anyone, but especially if you're not interested in chemistry, it's way less fun. So, yeah, I took a lot of those courses where Yeah, I don't think I'd want to do that again. But again, I just felt like it was necessary things where you have to take those courses and realize, okay, this is definitely not something I'm interested in. And I don't have the passion to like, do well, and then edit, like a high level. So in terms of that, I, I definitely needed to follow that path. In terms of once I decided on computer science. Yeah, I think I think I took interesting courses I learned, you know what I needed to and then the internship experience was amazing. And then, yeah, like, I decided I wanted to do at least a master's to figure out like to see like, is there some interest in a specific field that I couldn't go further or do a master's and just learn some more, you know, do more CS courses that helped me with my career. So yeah, I don't I don't know if I've changed anything. I felt like I took the path that I needed to take and everything along the way it was helpful

Venkat Raman  39:47  

Now that you've gone through that experience, and much more what can I advice would you give students applying to college today?

Sachin R  39:58  [Advice for Aspiring Students]

Yeah, I think the main theme Is that passions oftentimes just don't like click, it's not like you have some magical inspiration and a certain course or when you're doing a certain homework problem where you just realize, okay, this is, this is what I want to do. I think, for some people you need to explore figuring out what you don't want to do. And then the things you liked, then seem much better in comparison. And then also, as you dig deeper into them, sometimes the passion also increases. Because you notice something about it that you didn't see before or, you know, it's, it's, it also changes as you go deeper into subject because you're doing different things. So I think my advice would be like, give it give yourself time, which maybe things have changed. You don't have as much time as I did, like I talked about, I did a good bunch of exploration. But yeah, anytime that you'd have take advantage of exploration and let things like, you know, don't expect something to click immediately. Sometimes these things take time. But I promise you, once it clicks, it's, it's pretty great. Because yeah, like, my main thing was, I never wanted to do it, I wanted to do something where it didn't seem like work, like the actual work part, it seemed like something you could do for hours, and I ended up finding it. So when you find that it makes life a lot easier, because, you know, you're basically get to work on your passion every day, which is really great.

Venkat Raman  41:31  

We're kind of winding down searching on this podcast. Before we sign off, do you have any memory or tradition from Madison or Pitt, that you'd like to share?

Sachin R  41:47  [Memories: “Being Around People”]

Yeah, I was trying to think of this. And I don't think I have anything specific. But I would say things something like I've mentioned before, I think the most memorable part of college is just being around people that are at the same stage of life you are, have the same amount of responsibilities you have, and are all within like, a certain area of you. And so you never get that again in your life. And so you should really enjoy that. Because the type of experiences you have with all those people, I think that's the most special part. Because as you grow older, you realize that, you know, even friends or even people, they have their own lives and own responsibilities, and they move farther away. So when they're all in one place, it's like a special time. So I think that that's the most special part of college and something I think people should try to enjoy.

Venkat Raman  42:37  

Awesome. So Sachin, thank you so much for making the time and sharing your experiences. I think it'd be very beneficial for all those kids out there who are trying to figure out what to do as part of their college journey. So I'm sure we'll talk more, but for now, take care, be safe. And thank you again. Awesome, thank you. Yep.

—-------------------

Venkat Raman  43:08

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Sachin Ravi about University of Wisconsin Madison & Pitt.

Sachin’s college experience is a story of exploration that ultimately led to Computer Science.

This realization motivated him to transfer from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of Wisconsin Madison.

The transfer was hard.

a) he was leaving behind his Pitt friends.

b) At UW Madison, social adjustment was harder as a junior, but Sachin stayed focused on his academics.

It all worked out in the end.

I hope you check out University of Wisconsin Madison for your own undergraduate study.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

UW Madison Alumni Podcast, University of Wisconsin Madison Alumni Podcast, Podcast for High Schoolers, Undergraduate, University of Wisconsin Alumni Podcast, College Podcast, Transfer Student, Undergraduate Experience, UW Madison Alumni, University of Wisconsin Madison Alumni, High School Students, University of Pittsburgh, Pitt, US Colleges, College Admissions, College Applications, Computer Science and Mathematics, University of Wisconsin Madison.


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