After having a fellow Indian American girl as her mentor, Niyati Sriram gained confidence and constructed expertise that ready her for a aggressive — and profitable — job search
When Purdue College pc science pupil Niyati Sriram got down to safe an internship for the summer time earlier than her senior 12 months, she didn’t put a lot emphasis on illustration. An Indian American, she was used to being certainly one of just a few ladies amongst her pc science friends, and certainly one of even fewer ladies of shade.
Sriram felt prepared for her internship search due to the world-class training she was receiving within the pc science division. Purdue has been ranked by Occasions Larger Schooling as having the eighth-most employable graduates amongst public universities within the U.S., and firms in Sriram’s trade know that Purdue graduates do nice work.
Sriram says she’s been fortunate. Her classmates at Purdue are collaborative and supportive. “However,” she says, “there have been situations the place folks don’t take me severely.” Somebody in her community as soon as urged a chance got here her manner as a result of she’s a lady and minority — and never as a result of she earned it.
“It’s hurtful to listen to,” Sriram says. “Once you work laborious for one thing, you don’t need to hear that you just acquired it due to some quota.”
Sriram shrugged it off and accepted an internship with Capital One. Then, she met her supervisor, Sonal Aggarwal, and every part modified.
A mentor who’s been there
Aggarwal is aware of what it’s prefer to be the one girl within the room, too. In her 15 years as a software program engineer, six of which have been at Capital One, Aggarwal has attended many 50-person all-hands conferences the place solely two or three units of arms belonged to ladies. She has seen even fewer girl leaders within the tech trade.
“Not seeing a number of ladies leaders all the time pinched me,” Aggarwal says. “It makes you marvel, what are my possibilities? I don’t see somebody like me up there.”
When Sriram discovered she can be reporting to Aggarwal, she was thrilled. “I didn’t understand how precious it was to have a mentor I might actually look as much as till I had an Indian girl as my supervisor,” Sriram says.
All through the summer time, Sriram labored carefully with Aggarwal on each technical and interpersonal challenges.
“I acquired an incredible perspective on (Aggarwal’s) profession trajectory and what it’s like being a supervisor,” Sriram says. “She shared what she has to do in a management position to be taken severely. One thing she all the time stated was, ‘Don’t consider your self as a lady in STEM. Consider your self as a really competent pc scientist.’
It shouldn’t matter on the finish of the day. What you appear like is just not what’s essential. What’s essential is your work.
BS pc science ’22
Provides Sriram, “It shouldn’t matter on the finish of the day. What you appear like is just not what’s essential. What’s essential is your work.”
Sriram’s work on cloud structure at Capital One spoke for itself in an end-of-summer presentation for senior executives. Alongside her three teammates — all males — Sriram fielded questions and feedback with confidence.
“Niyati’s crew was very thorough. They didn’t simply clear up the programming downside. They went above and past and understood it deeply. It was one of the best intern crew, based on the executives,” Aggarwal says.
Initially of the summer time, Sriram was apprehensive about whether or not she would succeed, Aggarwal says. “However by the tip of the internship, she was not solely technically educated but additionally extra assured. She didn’t want validation from anybody anymore.”
Sriram’s small steps at Capital One constructed on the steps she took at school at Purdue, which boasts the first-ever pc science division at a college in the USA. Laptop science can be one of the well-liked and aggressive majors at Purdue. Every second of progress and discovery throughout Sriram’s coursework primed her for fulfillment in a full-time job search through the fall of her senior 12 months, she says.
Preparation was key — Sriram had her sights set on Disney Streaming.
“I’ve all the time been a Disney fan, and I’ve been saying for the reason that day I acquired to Purdue that I actually, actually need to work for Disney,” Sriram says. She additionally had heard Disney is a superb place to work, particularly for ladies. The expertise with Aggarwal at Capital One helped her prioritize discovering a supportive, inclusive atmosphere during which she might launch her profession.
Although Disney was her dream, Sriram knew she needed to be reasonable concerning the hypercompetitive nature of pc science jobs.
“It’s loopy. My mates don’t know,” Sriram says of the interview course of. After a candidate applies on-line, for instance, they have to full a web based coding problem that weeds out candidates, she explains. Up subsequent is the technical interview, the place candidates clear up a coding downside in actual time in entrance of an interviewer on a video name.
“It’s demanding as a result of it’s important to discuss the entire time and clarify your entire thought course of. There ought to by no means be a second of silence. You need to discuss as you suppose,” Sriram says.
After a spherical or two of technical interviews, profitable candidates transfer on to the behavioral interview. There, candidates reply questions on problem-solving, collaboration and managing crew dynamics.
“It is sort of a sport present in some methods,” Sriram says. “After each spherical, they’ll let you know in case you moved on or not, and you then simply hold going. I interviewed for one firm that had six rounds of interviews. I didn’t find yourself getting that job.”
Sriram didn’t let the rejections get to her. “I’m grateful as a result of, on the finish of the day, even in case you don’t get the job, it’s good apply for the subsequent interview,” she says.
Making ready at Purdue
These many hours of apply ready Sriram for an important interview of all: Disney. However when she first learn the outline of the position, she was apprehensive she won’t be certified. “I assumed, ‘I don’t meet half of those necessities. They’re asking for 2 years of trade expertise, and I’m simply popping out of faculty,’” she says.
Although the position appeared out of attain at first, Sriram’s confidence grew as she labored by way of the interview course of. A very good gauge for whether or not a pc scientist is prepared for a job is how snug and assured they really feel through the interview course of, Sriram says. “The questions they requested me have been precisely what I ready for,” she says. “At no level throughout my interview was I misplaced, and my lessons performed an enormous half in that.”
Sriram took a number of pc science programs at Purdue that taught her tips on how to clear up the issues she needed to handle in her interview.
“Typically, interviewers will ask you obscure questions on one thing technical. I might suppose again to instances at school when a professor stated one thing that was related to what the interviewer is asking me,” she says. “Even when the query wasn’t one thing I hadn’t particularly studied, I had the instruments I wanted to determine the reply.”
On the conclusion of the Disney interview course of, Sriram felt stable. “I didn’t notice how ready I actually was till I went by way of it. That’s a testomony to my professors and their lessons.”
Sriram additionally credit her success to mutual assist from her pc science friends at Purdue.
“Having peer assist in your lessons is absolutely essential,” Sriram says. She and three of her classmates labored carefully collectively for 3 of their 4 years at Purdue. “After I was learning for interviews or worrying about pc science-specific issues, I knew I might lean on them as a result of they’re doing the identical factor. We gave one another assist, and now we’re all mates as effectively. I’m very grateful to them.”
Sriram and her research group labored on homework collectively, and if one particular person acquired caught, the group wouldn’t transfer on till everybody acquired it. “I see that assist all through campus, too. After I got here to Purdue, I observed how everybody could be very supportive and collaborative. Although Purdue is an academically difficult faculty, everyone seems to be right here to assist one another somewhat than going up towards one another.”
Sriram’s big leap
Sriram and her research group helped one another by way of the demanding job search course of as effectively. She and her friends spent a lot of Fall 2021 working lengthy hours on each coursework and job purposes. “We have been all going by way of the emotions of uncertainty collectively,” she says.
In the long run, Sriram utilized to over 120 firms and went by way of greater than 40 interview processes.
Her dedication paid off.
Sriram acquired her dream job at Disney Streaming. She begins within the spring and will probably be engaged on machine studying. One of the best half? Her new supervisor can be an Indian American girl.
“Throughout my interview with my new supervisor, we spoke about our households in India and the way lengthy it’s been since we’ve seen them due to COVID. I actually felt related to her. I’m beginning at a very enjoyable office, and I’m additionally working beneath a supervisor who I can actually look as much as personally. I can see myself studying so much and aspiring to be like her throughout my time at Disney,” she says.
Sriram graduated in December 2021, and he or she stated closing out her time at Purdue was bittersweet. “I actually really feel like I discovered my place at Purdue,” she says. “It took me some time to be OK with graduating early. However now that I do know what’s coming subsequent, I really feel extra prepared than ever.”