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Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)   3-Minute Listen

Tushar Sharma is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.

Tushar gives us a very comprehensive overview of his experience as an International Student.

His emphasis on acquiring skills and competencies that would make him attractive in the job marketplace. His choice of campus jobs and internships at the ISU Foundation shaped the major he ultimately picked - MIS.

He took time to network and built relationships that paid rich dividends..

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. Overall Experience
  2. Why ISU?
  3. Transition from India to ISU
  4. Getting Summer Internships
  5. Advice for Aspirants

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Tushar Sharma on Iowa State University: MIS, People Networking and Career Fairs.

Episode summary introduction: In his high school in Punjab India, Tushar pursued Physics, Chemistry and Math, with Math being his strong suit. He participated in a number of Olympiad competitions. He was part of the Indian Red Cross Society and volunteered at social events and causes.

Tushar Sharma is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Choosing Iowa State University
  • Majoring in Management Information Systems
  • Campus Jobs and Internships
  • Advice to Aspirants

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Tushar Sharma, Iowa State University [0:46]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:46]
  • Overall Experience [4:35]
  • Why ISU? [5:47]
  • High School Interests [8:23]
  • Transition from India to ISU [12:07]
  • The Peers [15:45]
  • Profs & Teaching [17:46]
  • Campus Living [21:13]
  • Campus Activities [24:30]
  • The Summers [25:48]
  • Major: From Computer Engineering to MIS [31:30]
  • ISU Impact post-College [34:13]
  • ISU Redo [38:24]
  • Advice to Aspirants [42:09]
  • Memories: The Zodiac Jinx [45:05]

Our Guest: Tushar Sharma is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.

Memorable Quote: “... I was a total total introvert who would just love to sit in a corner, don't talk to anybody, keep focused, keep your focus on your studies and go home after that. But that switched to being more towards the extrovert style. I don't know why that happened. ” Tushar on his personality change over the first couple of semesters.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

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Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Tushar  0:14

Back home in India, I didn't have any rule of opening your phone and checking the weather app. And of course that's what I followed during my first semester at Iowa State to my memory, first memorable memory was seeing the first snowfall and I still went to the campus wearing shorts and flip flops with a long jacket on and that's how I think I spent most of my first winter.

Venkat  0:46  [Introduction to Tushar Sharma, Iowa State University]

Tushar Sharma is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.

Tushar grew up in Punjab, India.

In high school, he pursued Physics, Chemistry and Math, with Math being his strong suit.

He participated in a number of Olympiad competitions.

He was part of the Indian Red Cross and volunteered at social events and causes.

When he started to think about college, he was leaning towards Computer Engineering.

His family felt the US or Canada would be a good destination for college.

Tushar Sharma joins us to share his Iowa State University experience.

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

Tushar  1:46  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[Overall Experience]

Exactly what I had hoped for before coming to Iowa State and joining this program is exactly what I got after I graduated. So.

[Why ISU?]

The reason why I applied to our state was the tuition was very affordable as compared to other universities. So I got accepted from Iowa State. And then they offered me a scholarship a couple of months later. So that was more than sufficient for me to decide that if I'm coming to the US, I'm coming to Iowa State.

[Transition from India to ISU]

It wasn't a shock for me, because I grew up of course, watching Bollywood movies, you see tall buildings there and the movies that impression of the USA had. The only other way I could describe the US was I only watched some YouTube videos, took some virtual campus tours of the university. And they don't show what's the what the outside world looks like outside Ames. But it was all pretty much agriculture. So it wasn't something that was quite different than my hometown, or home state back home in India.

 

[Getting Summer Internships]

I had in my whole undergrad experience, I had two internships and those were both of them. Now, were they hard to get? Yes, they were. But were they impossible? No, not at all. I mean, I feel like if you have the right attitude and the right mindset, you can get a good internship experience in your undergrad and both at grad level life as well. But for me, I think what made me strong was getting these experiences so that I was ready for my full time experiences after I graduate.

[Advice for Aspirants]

So I would say if you are planning to come to Iowa State good enough, if you are not planning to come to Iowa State and coming to another university in the US, make sure they've got enough international students, because there can be different circumstances in your college life where you would require their help. And if they have a good team like the ISS at Iowa State, your experience would be smoother than others.

Venkat Raman  3:48

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Tushar. So without further ado, over to Tushar Sharma!

Venkat Raman  3:56  

So let me start by welcoming you to our podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters. Thank you so much for making the time.

Tushar  4:06  

Yeah, looking forward to it. Thank you.

Venkat Raman  4:09  

Sure thing I as we spoke, we want to talk about your undergraduate experience at Iowa State. So I thought be a good idea to sort of start from the top and sort of get your general view and you know, impressions now that you're, what, a couple of years away from college. So what does it feel like what was  the general experience like?

Tushar  4:35  [Overall Experience]

The experience was pretty awesome. I finished my degree in 2019 and I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems. And exactly what I had hoped for before coming to Iowa State and joining this program is exactly what I got after I graduated. So I work as a data analyst and I was State University Foundation which pretty much all to exactly the same exact studies and experience wise as what I studied when I was a student. So that's how my full time job role is, as well. So I'm pretty satisfied, pretty happy with what I've got, and how I finished my studies and how I made sure that I was very focused in terms of studying, making connections and exactly what I got, after graduating.

Venkat Raman  5:23  

Fabulous. Not very many people can say they got the job was exactly what they studied for. So that's, that's really great.

Venkat Raman  5:35  

So maybe we can start with why did you pick Iowa State University, you grew up in India. And so give us some context and color.

] Tushar  5:47  [Why ISU?]

So, like you mentioned, I am from India. And I had my grade 12 examinations in 2015, which was which you can call according to the US system, it's my senior year of high school. And about six months before I had my exams, I had applied to different universities in the US, I was state was one of them. And this whole process started while I was in my grade 11th, which is my junior year of high school where I was focusing on getting into top colleges of India. So I was preparing for some of those examinations. But then I had a conversation with my dad that why not apply to somewhere in US or Canada. And I was short about one thing, and that was that I want to do something in it. So US was the best pick regarding that. And so I applied to about eight to 10 different colleges, I got accepted from about five of them. But Iowa State was one of the first ones that accepted me. And the reason why I applied to Iowa State was the tuition was very affordable as compared to other university. So I got accepted from Iowa State, and then they offered me a scholarship a couple of months later. So that was more than sufficient for me to decide that if I'm coming to the US, I'm coming to Iowa State.

Venkat Raman  7:08  

Fantastic. So now you consider the US and Canada did you actually apply to any colleges in Canada, or you did not?

Tushar  7:18  

I did not because for Canadian universities, the process starts around March, if you're going for the Fall intake, but right in November, which was about seven months, he graduated high school, I received acceptance from Iowa State. And I was looking into Canada as well because us in Canada in terms of like living style, and all of that stuff is not too different. Right. But then after receiving that scholarship letter from Iowa State, looking at different research stuff and the way the university works, that was what made me choose the US now in case if I didn't get accepted into a good college like Iowa State, I would have definitely moved to somewhere in Canada.

Venkat Raman  8:05  

Talk a little bit about your high school what kind of things were you involved in? What were your interests? And what kind of preparation did you do to you know, to come to the US in terms of standardized tests and application etc.

Tushar  8:23  [High School Interests]

Right so I was involved in a lot of ... back home in India I was involved in a lot of different Olympiads different examinations related to non-medical stream, which we call as physics, chemistry and math. And physics was, I was I was good at physics, not too good. But I was relatively good in chemistry was my strong subject. Mathematics again, I was okay. So, and I didn't really have that much interest in biology. So I started studying physics, chemistry and math. That's where my main focus was in terms of my studies. And I wanted to pursue computer engineering. Now, the process in India is very different. If you want to get admission into a good university, especially in computer or IT field, you have to be at the top. Now, I was really good in studies, right from my ninth grade, until the 12th grade, I really got good marks and all of that stuff. And I was involved in a lot of co curricular activities as well. Now when I did think about coming to the US, I looked at different stuff that was involved, that I had to be a part of in terms of how to get a good scholarship in the US universities, how to get yourself involved in more activities and co curricular activities so that I could get a good acceptance from a good universities in the US. So that's when I started enrolling myself into lots of like different co curricular activities like I volunteered for about four hours. Organizations during my last three years before I came to the US so that my journey of building my profile and resume was strong enough to prove that yes, I'm a good fit for coming to the US for my studies. Now, again, the, it was quite a struggle for me, because the Indian system says you have to be good, you have to stay at the top to get into the good colleges. So we're still maintaining that, and also maintaining the co curricular aspect to get into US universities. And in case I didn't get into university in the US, then I could fall back on Indian universities. So it was quite a bit of a struggle, but somehow I managed both of them. But towards the end, as I came near my class 12th Or exams, I was like, nope, us is the best option. So I inclined more towards the US process rather than the Indian universities.

Venkat Raman  10:53  

Fair enough. Now, what kind of extracurricular activities were you engaged in? You mentioned a few Olympiads, what else did you do?

Tushar  11:00  

So I was involved with the Indian Red Cross Society. And I actually got involved with one of their Indian Independence Day parades. And I was helping out all the different participants in terms of being a first state team leader, then I was also involved with a citizen Council of human rights, that's an organization in my hometown hometown, and I was served as a member there. And in terms of my high school I serve did serve as a volunteer for a couple of different events inside the school, related to different career fairs, different visits to certain old age homes, and all of that stuff. So that was quite different than what a normal typical Indian student would be doing in his ninth to 12th grade classes.

Venkat Raman  11:54  

So now, you're accepted. You decided to come to Iowa State. How's that transition from India to the US from India to Ames, Iowa?

Tushar  12:07  [Transition from India to ISU]

It was quite different. And there was one similarity, and that was, since I moved from Punjab, India, which is the agricultural state of India, to Ames, Iowa, Iowa is you can call it, Punjab of the US, if I would, I would describe it because it's all agriculture. So it wasn't, it wasn't a shock for me, because I grew up of course, watching Bollywood movies, you see tall buildings there and the movies, that impression of the US I had. The only other way I could describe the US was I only watched some YouTube videos, took some virtual campus tours of the university. And they don't show what the what the outside world looks like outside Ames. But it was all pretty much agriculture. So it wasn't something that was quite different than my hometown, or home state back home in India. But the transition was different. The study system is different. The way you address your professors is quite different than you would in India. So that was a big change for me, right? When I started my going to my classes I do remember I called one of my math professors as Sir all the time. And then one day, he called me to his office, he's like, Oh, you could call me by my first name. That's okay. So that was what was quite different than the greeting styles were different. And there were some cultural differences as well. But it took me about, I would say, roughly four to five months before I understood, okay, this is how the American system works. This is how you get used to the people to get used to the cultures, different stuff that's going both on and off campus. So took me about, I would say, roughly four to five months before I got used to that transition. But transition wasn't too bad at all Americans are nice, one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. And a lot of people tell them that yes, they are. That's what's called the Iowa Nice. So as long as I'm in Iowa, life should be perfect. So that's what I went with.

Venkat Raman  14:01  

Very nice. Now, how are the academics? How was that transition?

Tushar  14:06  

Yeah, so I did enroll myself into computer engineering first. And after a couple of semesters, I did switch to MIS. So but academic wise, it was not challenging. I mean, the courses weren't that difficult. But you have to be really consistent. Yeah. How I would summarize this as if you miss a class, you are one week behind. Right? So for me, that wasn't too hard, because I was relatively good and studies back home in India. But the major difference that I had was everything was done online. All my assignments were online, nothing was handwritten on paper. So that that really was a challenge for me in the starting. So I started using OneNote to take my notes instead of using handwritten notes. So that was some of the changes I did make. After looking at all the other students and my classmates And I'm like, Okay, how are they doing this, okay? They're using online stuff to take down their notes, to do their assignments. And I tried to get into that. And handling the academics weren't hard. Yes, maintaining my consistency that I have to study about, for about two to three hours a day, every day about what was taught to me was a bit tricky, because I was also working 20 hours a week. But somehow I did manage it. But it was fun. I wouldn't say I was bored, or it was too challenging or too easy. It was at a good pace and a good difficulty level. And it was a good enjoyable experience for all my four years.

Venkat Raman  15:42  

How did you find all your classmates? What were they like?

Tushar  15:45  [The Peers]

So my classmates, most of them were from the US and majority of them were from Iowa. So the best thing the US, I mean, the US education system, it really does is a lot of group assignments. That's how I made most of my friends. And that was all my classmates, I got used to them. I got I worked with them on different stuff, I would ask them questions, they would ask me questions, so that that transition was really nice and smooth in terms of getting to know different people. Now, I arrived in August 2015. In the US, that's when my semester started. In September 2015, I joined, I was State University Foundation's phone Center as a student fundraiser. And my only goal was to improve my communication skills. Since I'm from a different country where English wasn't my first language, it was in terms of writing and reading, but not spoken. Alright, so my only goal to join that organization, spoon center was to improve my communication skills. But I ended up staying there for all my four years because I love that place so much. And I worked as a student fundraiser, that's where I made, I would say, 95% of my friends that I have today. And that was also my on campus job. So my only I had only two goals. One was to improve my communication skills. Second was to make a side income. And my only goal was to stay there for a semester or to improve my communication skills, and then quit and find another job. But I ended up staying there for almost four years. And as I progress towards my role at the phone center, it was really awesome, because I was at a point where I was running the shifts, night shifts for the entire organization, phone center part yeah.

Venkat Raman  17:42  

How were the classes? How was the teaching? How did you find the professors?

Tushar  17:46  [Profs & Teaching]

So the professors for the first couple of semesters were random, because I was going into what is called the class schedule, app on Access Plus, and I was just selecting the best classes that would fit according to my schedule, considering I was working as well. So the first couple of semesters were random. But all the teachers I had no problems. No, no problems, the teachers were top notch in the way that not only were they teaching well, but also if I was in some sort of I was having any doubts or troubles understanding something they were more than helpful. For me. I do remember that. I did have interest in coding and data, specific SQL language that I'm currently working on at my current full time position as well. I had lots of doubts, because it was a new language for me. And I do remember my professor always sitting with me helping me out with different doubts that I had. And it's basically like, I would say, a professor's role at Iowa State is a 24/7 kind of role. But if I had a question at any time, I would just shoot an email, I would get a reply within 30 minutes. So professors were very, very, very, like prompt and spontaneous in terms of replying back. So it was, it was something that I really liked.

Venkat Raman  19:05  

Now, did you take advantage of the office hours?

Tushar  19:09  

Oh, yes, yes, I did, especially for a lot of my non IP related classes as well. Because the reason being those were the subjects for example, English, Human Development and Family Studies. This was one of my electives that I had management classes, which I, which there was no coding involved in that. But I still took advantage of office hours because that was something that I wasn't good at. But I had to study and make sure that I cleared all my doubts. I do remember, since I'm from India, so I grew up studying British English. And the word learned is spelled as L-E-A-R-N-T right? Back home in India because I started British English here. LEARNED. So I do remember one of my English professors inviting me to his office One day and I was a bit scared. I was like, I don't know what happened, why would the professor invite me to his office, and he explained me that he said too short. That's how you write it. And I'm not going to deduct any marks for you. Because, like, that's how you grew up learning. And it's right, according to British English, but he gave me this personal advice that if you want to be successful in the US, always make sure you rectify these small mistakes. Those necessarily are not mistakes, but just a piece of advice, because an American person would appreciate that you have done something that is different than what you learned back home in India. And they would, they would appreciate that. So that's, that was one of the advices that I've always follow. Even today, when I'm writing some emails, I make a mistake or two sometime and I'm like, okay, yes, my professor told me that I should rectify that and make sure that I use the American system for that. It just adds more, more authenticity to my emails. So those are some advices that I did follow from my professors using the office hours, because that is something that the professor couldn't say, or let me know in front of the whole class. But it was something that I really found useful. And even today, I follow that advice.

Venkat Raman  21:18  

Okay, so let's kind of move out of the classrooms now and talk about campus life. How? How was that transition to dorms and food? And... yeah, let's start there.

Tushar  21:33  [Campus Living]

Yeah, so I was different than a traditional American student, I would say, or a traditional, like a student, according to the US, because I did stay in the dorms for about a couple of weeks. And after that, I moved to an off campus location, just because it was a bit cheaper, not a lot, but a bit cheaper. And the reason I did that was, first of all, because to save some money, and secondly, to avoid using the meal plans, because I knew cooking, how to cook. So. So I was like, yes, you know what, I should move to the off campus housing. But I still feel that was one of the disadvantages that I had. And it wasn't a good decision that I made. Yes, it was a bit cheaper. But that did make me like, not enjoy the college life that much. I did enjoy my college life, I wouldn't lie. I did have fun. I didn't, I didn't make friends and all of that stuff. But things would have been much better had I stayed in the dorms, because the dorm life especially if you're new to this country, makes you learn a lot of new stuff, for example, making friends. Yes, you do study, you make groups and all of that stuff. But there is also an aspect of getting involved in a lot of co curricular activities, like dorm life is different. There are a lot of projects that the students work on, for example, like, like helping out as a volunteer and different stuff. Like I see a lot of dorm students like getting into a group and helping out certain communities, both in and outside Iowa State University. So like experiences like that I did miss by not being in a dorm life. But that being said, I was not a part of the dorm life and in on campus housing. But I did make sure that I got myself involved in a lot of cultural organizations like Indian Student Association association was one of them. I did perform at an event. And I did Bhangra, which is the folk dance of my state Punjab, one of the Diwali nights, and that was one of the best, I think performances I've ever done in my whole life, because Andhra back home, but this one was better, in my opinion, so I did that. And then I was also involved in some technical student clubs as well. Like I have interest in web development. So I was a part of the web development club and I was serving as one of the web developers there as well. So those experiences like that they helped me out in making sure that I even though I was not on campus, physically living there, like I was off campus in an apartment, but still, I could connect that to the university.

Venkat Raman  24:22  

Anything else that you did, other than these two, associate, the association, Indian Student Association and the web dev club?

Tushar  24:30  [Campus Activities]

So um, I, I would say that I was more involved in or more focused in my studies. So being in a new country, especially in the IT field, it's not easy. You have to learn different programming languages, improve your logical skills, problem solving skills. So my student life actually looked a bit different. I would spend hours and hours sitting at College of Business and Memorial Union studying and learning new programming languages and tools. To prepare for my internships or any full time job, like opportunities that would help me out in gaining an edge towards, like improving my skills, especially technical skills, so that I could get a good job in an internship. So my experience in that sense was a bit different. Not a lot of students are like that. But it was just one of my personal goals to be technically so strong that I don't have a difficulty finding a job, especially being an international student, where legal issues could be a bit challenging sometimes. But if you have a have an edge over others in terms of like having a good technical skills, good communication skills, I think that could help you out in the long run.

Venkat Raman  25:46  

So what did you do during the different summers?

Tushar  25:48  [The Summers]

So my first summer, I didn't get an internship. So that being said, I was working at Iowa State University Foundation phone center, I decided to continue that for the three and a half months that I had, because that was the only job I had. And that was an on campus job. So it was very convenient for me. So I was working about four hours every day. But for the rest of the time, during the day, I was in the library, or college of business or Memorial Union, just practicing and studying different programming languages. And I did spend a good three and a half months in exploring different languages, just picking up my strong spot, or which language I should pursue in and have a good command over. So my first summer went like that. My six second summer, I did get an internship as a marketing and management associate at a company in Des Moines. And that was really awesome. Because I improved my communication skills there. I was also involved in handling different, like sales techniques, how the company works, how do they do sales, sometimes I would go and help out different individuals and talk to customers and clients myself. So that actually opened me up into the job market, that yes, shot is available to be hired. So that was a good internship that I had, then in the next summer, my internship experience went to a more technical side. So I did an internship as a Data Research Analyst at Kingland systems in Ames. So I did work on data research, and just collecting different types of data on the internet, just like manipulating it, and then just making it into different reports. And that was submitted for the company, which was kindling systems to efficiently run their processes. So it was a more technical role that I had. So I had in my whole undergrad experience, I had two internships and those were both of them. Now, were they hard to get? Yes, they were. But were they impossible? No, not at all. I mean, I feel like if you have the right attitude and the right mindset, you can get a good internship experience in your undergrad and both at grad level life as well. But for me, I think what made me strong, was getting these experiences so that I was ready for my full time experiences after I graduate.

Venkat Raman  28:09  

Sure. Now now how, what kind of help or resources did you have to find these internships? How did you go about doing that?

Tushar  28:18  

So the first thing was introducing myself, which was bit challenging for me, I was a very introvert before I came to the US before I came to Iowa State University. But things became better and I moved more towards the extrovert side.

So I was attending every career fair, my first ever Career Fair, which was two months after I landed in this country. I knew I had no way I could get an internship. But my role or my rule at going to the career fair was, I have to meet each employer and as get as many introductions as possible, so that I can make sure that I get that fear out of talking to somebody, especially at a level at an organization where they can hire somebody, then just handling site hire, which is one of the tools that the university Iowa State university offers. That was one of the tools that I use to find out internships because yes, a lot of companies do come to the career fair. Some of them don't, or they cannot, because of whatever reasons they might have. So they post their jobs. On the site hire platform, which is of university, specifically that is better than I would see other platforms because it's only meant for Iowa State University students. Right. So it's easier to find a job on site hire portal.

So then I would, I didn't even have a resume before I came here like not a professional resume. So I went to College of Business Career Services. They helped me out and making sure they pointed out my mistakes, gave me suggestions on how you should frame your resume and a cover letter. So I took advantage of Business Career Services. I'm actually ends with a couple of people there still now, even though I've graduated, two years back, still, I'm friends with them. And now we don't talk about how to find a job. But we did. But we do talk about how difficult I felt it was to get an internship and a full time job, but how easy those people out there, they helped me out in making sure that that process was very streamlined. Now, being an international student, you have to go through CPT and OPT and all of that stuff, CPT, which is used during your when you, before graduation. So when you need an internship, that process can be tricky. Sometimes, especially in my case, it was very confusing. But the College of Business Career Services at Iowa State, they helped me out in making sure that there were no hurdles no problems in getting that process figured out. And it was relatively very easy to I think about five to six days, and it was all done.

Venkat Raman  30:54  

Very good. So now it sounds like you know, there was a huge determination to make it happen. Obviously, aided by your competencies. So congratulations on getting those internships, I know they can be pretty hard to get.

Venkat Raman  31:14  

You mentioned a couple of times that you initially started with computer engineering and that you wanted to maybe explore that as a major, but he moved to MIS now, what what prompted that? And how did you end up doing that?

Tushar  31:30  [Major: From Computer Engineering to MIS]

So like I mentioned about my Iowa State University Foundation phone center experience, things changed, my personality changed over the course of about a couple of semesters, I would say, fear as I was a total total introvert who would just love to sit in a corner, don't talk to anybody, keep focused, keep your focus on your studies and go home after that. But that that switch to being more towards the extrovert style. I don't know why that happened. I still cannot. I'm 20... I'll be 25 in December. But still, as of now, I cannot figure out how that change happened. It's surprising to me. So I enjoyed talking to people as well, after a bit and various computer engineering, it's a very hard course in the sense that you're supposed to spend hours and hours coding and working looking at a computer screen all the time. So I talked to one of my professors, and I explained him that yes, I think I might be I'm not enjoying computer engineering that much. Because I do like talking to people. But this is just confining me into a different into a separate room where I'm spending hours and hours, and I'm not really enjoying it. So he suggested MIS and which is of course 50% is technical side and coding side. But the other 50% is the business aspect, which is giving out presentations being like learning different management styles, then working in a group. If you are working in a group, yes, you've got a technical role, but you also have to be able to explain your project to a wide audience like a class. So looking at that aspect, I think MIS was the best fit as to what I wanted to do, which I know if I compare it with back home to India, like it's it's not easy to switch your majors. But at Iowa State, it was really easy. Because I explained that to my academic advisor, I reached out to her and I said this is what I wanted to do. And she replied, I want you to be happy. This was her reply. And I was like, okay, things are different here. So it took just one day for me to switch computer engineering to MIS. And that switch, I think, is the reason why I got my current role, and is the reason why I'm satisfied with what I've done so far. And even looking at my future, I think I've made the best decision.

Venkat Raman  33:57  

Building on that. I know, it's just been a couple of years from school. How do you think I was stage shaped? Your post college life and how do you think it's going to help with that trajectory as we go forward?

Tushar  34:13  [ISU Impact post-College]

Right. So what I was did was it helped me improve my personal brand, in the sense that when I created I do remember when I created my LinkedIn profile. Being a student at Iowa State University is a big, it just I was at university is a big brand. If you would say in terms of an educational institution, it's pretty big. It has about 36,000 students. That's a good number of enrollment numbers that we have, and especially the international students as well. The number of international events we have, they're pretty, pretty, quite significant. So for me, I think Iowa State University's program, especially in the College of Business, help me out in tackling different technical stuff, communicating with different audiences through different courses. And in the sense, as I graduated after four years, I felt like I got through a complete package of how to be a successful MIS graduate. Now, my thing started with starting, like my current role at Iowa State University Foundation, I work as a data analyst in the business intelligence department there. So when I applied for that position, I would say 90% of the job description was exactly what I studied at Iowa State University. Because there were some loopholes. There were some, some software or different techniques that I hadn't studied in college. But it wasn't like I couldn't do it, it was very easy for me to pick up those skills. Like it took me I would say, about six to eight months, which was normal. If you are fresh out of college, and you are studying, or you are working, and you're finished your studies, and you're working at an organization, it took me about six months to understand the whole concept of how the organization works, right. So I think, if I would have not studied at Iowa State University, that would not have been possible at all. Because it's different experiences different. Like Like, for example, I worked on projects with 10,000 rows of data. Now I work on projects with millions of rows of data. So there's a huge difference. But the foundation was all done by the University. If I couldn't solve those 10,000 rows of data, there is no possible no possibility that I could, like familiarize myself with millions of rows of data. So I think my fundamentals and basic concepts got done at university in a way that they helped me out in getting this job and being successful at it. And in the future, as I'm looking forward to my career, just helping me in shaping my career over the long run, I still remember, there were certain concepts that I never use at my current role. But those techniques, I do use sometimes. So even though I'm not using 100%, what my degree taught me, but I know over the next few years, I will be using certain concepts. One of the classes that I did was organizational behavior, which was one of the electives that I took as a part of Department of Management at Ivy College of Business, no way related to my degree in no way related to my current role. But there are certain times during my current job where I use those concepts that I studied in that course. So even though I didn't study with an aim to help me out with my technical skills, but they do help me out in my professional skills, for sure.

Venkat Raman  37:43  

Fantastic. I mean, this is, this is great. And, you know, more importantly, it's good to sort of see what you gained out of that experience, which hopefully you can build on as you're talking about this.

Venkat Raman  38:01  

Another related question, which is sort of a different way of asking now, obviously ISU has helped you with your post college life. Now, if you were to go back to ISU, and if you could do redo those four years? What would you do differently? I know you mentioned the dorm, probably live in the dorm. But what else would you do differently?

Tushar  38:24  [ISU Redo]

So I would say, first of all, you mentioned the dorms, which I did touch about, like few minutes back, and yes, staying in the dorms would be my number one thing that I would redo. The other thing is getting just more involved into the campus life. Living off campus, I was kind of like, even though I live two miles away from campus, but still, I wasn't getting involved in a lot of other stuff at the university. Now, that being said, I did work at Iowa State University Foundation phone Center, which helped me out in gaining those communication skills. So that is something we do again, if I get a chance to I would redo that, I wouldn't change that aspect.

But the other stuff would be that just finding some extra time in doing some co curricular activities. For example, I wasn't good at art, right from when I started my high school life. So but it's not like I hated art, but I never got a chance to explore it. So yeah, getting involved into that would be something that I would redo, if I get a chance to go back and like redo my four years of undergrad experience. So stuff like that, like I did well in academics and all of that stuff, but non academic life, I could have done it better.

And that is something I would redo if I got a chance to do that. And even as an advice to future students as well. I would say you should always maintain a balance of both co curricular and academic experience in life. So that that help you out in showcasing your like, like, talents. And not only that, but just improving your personality as a whole?

Venkat Raman  40:09  

Sure, what about some courses that you would have liked to take the other things that you feel, you know, if you had time you would have done this or that as a way of learning new things, or different things.

Tushar  40:23  

Right. So in terms of my college of business, I would say, management, that is something that I saw, I took management classes, couple of management classes in the last year. And those were basically done to fulfill my elective needs, and college of business courses needs. But I think as I finished those, I really liked that. So I would go back and just redo or not redo but like, get myself enrolled in some management courses, because I think that's a very strong area that I have that I haven't been able to explore that. So that is something that I would do if I got a chance to go back to college and get my degree again. So management being the other one, then a certain physics courses, because Physics I did like, but I didn't I didn't study physics at all, in my whole undergrad experience. So physics is something that yes, I I know, it's a bit tricky. It's a bit hard, but I enjoyed studying it. So that is something that I would have would definitely go back and achieve is getting doing something in physics in management. And of course, in IT related technical stuff, I think I'm good, because I did enough for me to just make sure that I was good enough for my full time job experience and getting internships.

Venkat Raman  41:49  

So now, with all that behind you, what kind of advice would you give students who are applying to the US applying to Iowa State, maybe address the international students? Because that could be something that, you know, you could help people you could help.

Tushar  42:09  [Advice to Aspirants]

Right, definitely one of the advices that I would like to give is, if you're picking Iowa State, then you're good. The reason being, and I'm not saying is being I'm not being biased, because I got my degree here. But the reason being Iowa State is a big school. More than that it has got a huge amount of international students, they've got a very strong ISS office, which has international students and scholars office. That means that they receive a lot of different students from different countries with different immigration requirements. Right things can be tricky. You are here as a student, but you never under you could never understand the immigration stuff. But the university and their employees at the ISSO, they do. So I would say if you are planning to come to our state good enough, if you are not planning to come to our state and coming to another university in the US, make sure they've got enough international students, because there can be different circumstances in your college life where you would require their help. And if they have a good team, like the ISSO at Iowa State, your experience would be smoother than others. The other stuff that I would let you know is that always be patient. Don't get frustrated. Yes, you do apply at universities. After you're here you apply for internships and full time jobs. Things can be tricky. You might not always get the answer you always want, which is a yes. And that is okay. You just have to be patient, you just have to be consistent and make sure that you always put your best foot forward in whatever things you're trying to achieve. And the last point that I would mention is always focus on networking. Always, if you want to get ahead in a country like the US, networking is the key. Yes, you will be good in studies, everyone gets a degree and everyone gets good marks. That's not a big thing to achieve. But what is big is do network with a lot of people, networking can open new opportunities for you that you would not never have opened if you had no networking experience. So I did that I didn't make a mistake in doing that. I had a lot of networking through my on campus job through the internships that I had through being active on LinkedIn. But just make sure you do enough networking you stay. You make a lot of friends, you stay in touch with them because you never know when one of your friends would help you land a dream job that you always thought about.

Venkat Raman  44:41  

Okay, so Tushar. We are beginning to wind down here and before we sign off, I wanted you to reflect on or share some memories or traditions from Iowa State that you thought was memorable or Interesting or just sounded good. So anything that you want to share?

Tushar  45:05  [Memories: The Zodiac Jinx]

Right, so I'm, like I mentioned before, I'm from a state called Punjab in India. And winters are like foggy back home, there's no snow. So it was the first time in my life that I saw snow in the US. And that was in Ames Iowa, of course, when I was a student. And it was one of the most memorable experiences I had in my life. Back home in India, I didn't have any rule of opening your phone and checking the weather app. And of course, that's what I followed during my first semester at Iowa State, to my memory, first memorable memory was seeing the first snowfall, and I still went to the campus wearing shorts and flip flops with a long jacket on. And that's how I think I spent most of my first winter. And the thing, the reason behind that was, I don't know, I wasn't able to, to just digest how cold it got. And after about a week or so, during my winters, I was like, okay, you know what, I'm, I'm being weird. I don't know why I need to have proper clothing. So it took me a few, a couple of months in winter, when I first got new clothing. And I had no idea that the sweaters I got from India, they were of no use. So because I never saw that much snow back home in India. So that was one of the most memorable experiences.

The other is Zodiac. I don't know, if you've been to Zodiac that's one of the cyclone traditions, which is inside the it's located on the floor of the main entrance to the Memorial Union. And just, it's just like a void that the students and the university they spread, that if you step on the Zodiac, that was bad luck. And during my first I think couple of weeks, I didn't hear about this tradition. I was always stepping on that. And until I realized one of my, friends and actually not my friends, one of random strangers. He talked to me while I was going out of the Memorial Union. He's like, you're, you're not supposed to step on it. And I asked him why. And he said, that means you're failing your next class. So I got really scared because I didn't believe any superstitions. But the way he explained to me, that was pretty scary. So I asked him, What should I do? And I think there was the tradition was that if you throw a coin into the fountain, outside of Memorial Union, that it cancels out. So since I was doing it for two weeks, I think I threw about like 10 to 12 different coins in just to make sure it truly cancels out. And that was true. I didn't fail a class at Iowa State. That's one of my favorite memories that I had at Iowa State.

Venkat Raman  47:48  

That's hilarious. That's really, really good. So great memories. And I also want to say that you're a brave young man walking around in shorts in the Iowa winters. But hey, you're here to tell the tale. So couldn't have been so bad. So Tushar this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing so much detail. And obviously it has, you know, sounds like a great experience. very positive, very uplifting. And I wish you all the luck as you go forward. So for right now, thank you take care and be safe.

Tushar  48:23  

Awesome. Thank you Venkat. It was really nice talking to you. And thank you for this

Venkat Raman  48:27  

Sure thing. Take care. Bye. Bye

Venkat Raman  48:36

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Tushar Sharma on Iowa State University.

Tushar gave us a very comprehensive overview of his experience as an International Student.

His emphasis on acquiring skills and competencies that would make him attractive in the job marketplace. His choice of campus jobs and internships at the ISU Foundation shaped the major he ultimately picked - MIS.

He took time to network and built relationships that paid rich dividends.

I hope that Tushar’s story inspires you to check out Iowa State University further.

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

College Podcast, Iowa State University, US Colleges, College Admissions, International Interest, Management Information Systems, undergraduate, career fairs


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