Varun Shetru, a graduate student in Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Industrial Engineering program, shares his experience at the top-50 university. Read on to learn how he chose a major, how his Northeastern professors impacted his professional development, and how his co-op experience helped him gain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Finding the Right Program
With so many colleges in the United States and around the world to consider, choosing the right grad school can be daunting. For Varun, Northeastern University stood out among the competition, largely due to its co-op program which allows students to gain real-world experience while working toward their degree. This program not only affords Northeastern graduates a competitive edge in their field, but also allows them to gain valuable insight as to whether or not their chosen industry is right for them. This experiential learning program, along with the variety of majors offered that supported Varun’s interests, solidified Northeastern as his choice university.
Varun knew he wanted to study a subject that would enhance his technical and management skills, but he wasn’t quite sure which program would be the best fit. To narrow his options and choose a major, he first shortlisted programs that piqued his interest. Then, he reached out to Northeastern students via social media platforms to help him identify which programs would also allow him to pursue a career in a sector with a promising job market. With their help, Varun opted to pursue a major that focused on supply chain, and chose the MS in Industrial Engineering program with a concentration in Supply Chain Engineering.
Faculty and Students at Northeastern
When asked about his Northeastern experience and the people who contributed to his development, he says, “Northeastern has been an all-round experience for me. Academically, there are a lot of professors who are very helpful whenever I reach out to them. They respond positively and are eager to help you.”
Varun notes that his business professor, Bob Murray, was especially influential: “He was phenomenal in his classes. He helped me outside of classes and helped me with my resumé. He gave me a push to apply to different companies. Although I haven’t had a class with him in five or six months, I still keep in contact with him regularly. ”
Regarding student life at Northeastern, Varun says, “There are also a lot of events and workshops going on [at] Northeastern that help you in developing your skill sets. There are many language classes going on for students from many countries which are free of cost for everyone—and anyone can join them. I have been there for a few events and it is always good to meet new people. Students, too, have contributed to my growth.”
Northeastern Co-op and Experiential Learning
Varun asserts that the co-op program played a significant role in honing his skills and shaping his overall Northeastern experience. Particularly, Varun remarks, co-op helped him hone the soft skills that are so important in the American job market. This was an important distinction for Varun, as he noted that the work culture in America is “so different from India.” At other universities, he says, these are typically skills one will not sharpen until they start working somewhere, after graduation. However, at Northeastern, he was able to gain valuable technical skills that prepared him for a full-time job while still in school. He maintains that students should consider internships and experiences like these that can help secure a desirable job after graduation.
Regarding the major differences between India’s and USA’s job markets, Varun says, “Everyone here is on time; nobody expects you to be early—and definitely not late. There is an abundance of formality, which differs from the usual casual conversation in India. It’s always nice to be polite here and use “please” for getting work done. [In the U.S.], there is a strong emphasis on building hard-skills; you can enroll in [supplemental educational courses] during the co-op itself, take some time off from work, and go to those classes. In India, there were limited opportunities [like these] due to time constraints. Here, it’s about perfecting the skills to progress in your career”.
Varun also notes that without his co-op at Wayfair as an Operations Analyst, he might not have obtained some of the finer technical and communicational skills required in the American job market. He also emphasizes the importance of networking in America—building contacts, communicating with people who can get you an interview, and conversing with experienced industry professionals—in order to continue your personal development, no matter what field you are in.
After he completes his master’s degree, Varun says he “would like to take up a job at a company in a field that interests me. Paying back my educational loan is also important after I complete my university.” He says that while he doesn’t want to commit to a doctoral program immediately, he may consider it at a later date.
When asked “Would you recommend Northeastern to others?”, Varun was very enthusiastic in his response.
“I would certainly recommend students to come here, for it is very accommodating. With language barriers elsewhere that had put me in a dilemma about where to go for my studies, here it is all easy and accepting. Boston has cultural and historical importance and so it’s great to be here. Northeastern lived up well beyond my expectations. I have had a great experience with a lot of invaluable memories.”
Quick-Fire Questions with Varun
Q. What is the one word that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Northeastern?”
A. Out of this world.
Q. One word that describes your parent’s reaction when you told them that you want to go to Boston?
A. Sad. They were sad about me flying so far away.
Q. What is your favorite memory there?
A. An OGS Ballroom Dancing event.
Q. What is the word that comes to your mind when you hear the words industrial engineering?
A. Sounds complex.
This article was written by Ben Mallett, Harminder Singh, and Radhika Boruah.