“Be a Safe Investment”


Applying to foreign universities and lessons learnt.


Dr Anil Kumar did his B-Tech in Naval Architecture from IIT Madras before pursuing a plethora of degrees including an MS, PhD and an MBA from Booth University, Chicago. In the fundae session organized by the IIT Madras Alumni Association, Dr. Anil Kumar answered various questions regarding colleges, applications, resumes and funding.

What is the value of a PhD? What is the scope for employment in India after a PhD in USA?
A PhD is a necessary qualification in many industries. Try to get in touch with alumni working in the industry of your choice. iitmentor.org can help you in that.

Is choosing a specialization harmful for job prospects?
I would suggest that you broaden your skills a little bit. A specialization is detrimental in a consulting environment but nevertheless as students it would be best to keep your options open. Always try to seek and get hold of people who follow similar paths as the one you intend to follow.

I am a Dual Degree student. Should I do another Masters?
I applied to university straight out of BTech. For a school to take you, they must feel that you are a safe investment. But most importantly, see what options you have!

How important is a University Rank?
It always helps being in a good university. To be in academia, it gives you a definite edge if you are a Superstar or if you worked with one.

What should I keep in mind while applying for MS/ PhD?
Remember that it is not all about your resume. It is about how much you stand out and how much you can establish that what you have done is consistent with what you want to do. So do your homework. Don’t just go by University website and Faculty profiles. It is important that you are well aware of the present scenario in your area of interest. A fact exists that professionals are busy researching and publishing papers. Yet, it might take a couple of years before it has been published online and the link is on the faculty website.

At the end of the day, Professors are under a lot of pressure. They want the brightest, most committed people who will stick around for a long time. If you can tell your story in that regard, then your chances for a PhD are higher.

How easy is it to get funding?
Reach out to your seniors. Find out the situation!

How common is MS (Research)?
In USA, Master of Science has a Thesis option and a Non-Thesis option. The Non-Thesis one is seen as more of a business in many universities unfortunately.
Think hard before selecting between Thesis and Non-Thesis. Some programs, the field is so hot that as soon as you get your degree, you will get flooded with job offers.

How good is a job after MS?
A company will view both Masters and PhD differently. A Masters will be seen as someone with a broader base and who is “hire-able” while a PhD will be seen as someone with a few years more experience and a specialist in a particular field. For a PhD, the opportunities decrease, but the pay will be higher.

What do Universities look for?
A University looks for smart, enthusiastic and sincere applicants, whose goals fit in with their goals. They think of how well you will publish and also how you will contribute as Alumni. They do care about co-curriculars and extra-curriculars. It is basically a question of how well you narrate your story.

When applying to US universities, it is important to understand that they recognize UG as a foundation and nothing more. Inter-disciplinary apping is not a problem! Remember though, that you are competing against others with a preferred background. So you have to demonstrate how you are worthy!

What is your take on working before Masters?
Most people do it right away after their bachelors. An insight is that most mathematicians have done their prime work in their 20s.

What kind of experience should one target before an MBA?
Do something relevant!
1. What do you do?
2. Why you are doing what you are doing?
3. Why should they choose you?
Make sure that you can answer these three questions well.

Show the connection that you are interested in management and you want to continue to do what you are doing now.
But most importantly, GET SOME EXPERIENCE! Think Long Term. What would they look for, from a Long Distance student.
Reassure them that you will not flunk in their classes. Show them that you are excited about what you wish to do.

What kind of references should I get, while applying for an MBA program?
Get a reference from someone who knows you well and whom you have worked closely with. Be sure to include immediate supervisors and at least one professor.

My research interests have changed since I joined. Unfortunately, I have done no projects related to my present interest. Should I convert to Dual to get more experience?
A UG program is a foundation program at the end of the day. Begin a project and be able to talk about it. Ask people who have done stuff related to your field of interest. Get their insights and then proceed!

About the speaker:
Anil Kumar has over 15 years of varied experience as an inventor, code developer, researcher, consultant, activist, entrepreneur, and angel investor.  He is the founder and chief product manager of Jodi365.com, a social matchmaking site for educated, quality singles.

Anil was previously the lead associate at Hyde Park Angels, an angel network affiliated with the Chicago Booth School of Business.  Prior to HPA, he spent seven years at a Seattle-based boutique consulting firm, providing specialized engineering and consulting services to clients in the marine industry.  His operational experience includes restructuring and leading a non-profit organization, and he has been repeatedly recognized for his leadership and organizational abilities.

Anil holds a PhD in computational hydrodynamics from the University of Michigan, an MBA in entrepreneurship and strategic management from Chicago Booth, and an MS in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa.  He is also a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

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