The university experience I always wanted.
Name: Pratiksha Arun Kapse
Major: Computer Science
Current Employer: IBM
Job Title: Software Engineer
Why did you choose to study in the U.S.?
From a very early age, I’ve always felt drawn to exploring foreign cultures and traveling abroad. Coming to the U.S. was a bold decision, which few of my peers would understand or agree with. In fact, although most of my friends and family were extremely happy and proud of me for my decision as I am the first one to go abroad and earn Master’s from the whole family, most wondered why I would choose to go so far.
The answer was that navigating and exploring a different “world” can be extremely rewarding. The process wasn’t easy — it involved a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and financial support. Despite the challenges, I was committed to pursue it because it was my dream. I knew there was no other country in the world that would provide me the same opportunities, liberties, and quality of education.
What factors motivated you to choose California State University, Chico for your education?
While researching the universities I heard good things about the computer science course and the community at Chico State from alumni friends. Apart from that, Chico State was better in arranging my finances.
What were the biggest challenges presented by the U.S. educational system and/or your program at Chico State?
The U.S. education system is different from my home country, as it is more focused on practical applications than just bookish concepts. The grading system, assignments, and more importantly, exams were carried in complete different way.
What were the biggest challenges presented by cultural challenges?
Imagine yourself moving to a new country 9,000 miles far away with no relatives and a completely different culture.
Cultural shock was real for me when I arrived, a complete 360 degree change in food and lifestyle. I developed a strong bond and lifelong friendship with many of my housemates, classmates, and the college community that helped me battle homesickness.
How did you overcome this/these obstacles? What were your successful strategies?
Professors were very approachable and were not only knowledgeable but also challenged me and helped me grow. Asking a lot of questions personally to professors and to tutoring resources helped me understand basic concepts better.
Outside of your program of study, were you involved in other activities? If so, were they valuable to your experience as an international student?
As a student, I have always strived to be involved in campus activities through organizations, events, and on-campus jobs. I lead the Indian Students association as president — and I felt the sense of belongingness in campus through cultural activities, During my job as a Tutor in the computer science department and at the Student Learning Center, I have developed a strong bond with students and faculty that I keep to this day. During WREC intramurals, I found new ping pong and badminton partners. I highly recommend joining campus clubs and having involvement in them, you would make many new friends.
What were your favorite things about Chico and/or Chico State?
Chico State community is welcoming and appreciative, I will always crave for the friendly community that enriches student experience academic as well as culturally. I miss roaming around campus creeks and biking.
How did your education at Chico State prepare you to compete in the job market?
Computer Science coursework at Chico State is practical-oriented and is designed in a way that prepare students for the job market. Be it DS/ Algorithm or Web development course — it helped us prepare for the current job market.
Did you use the services of the Career Center? What did you learn that perhaps you didn’t know before?
I used the Career Center services for my resume building purpose, it helped me design my resume according to American style.
You landed a really great job. What do you think the main factors were in landing your job?
Learning and consistency through writing assignments itself prepared me for landing a job. During my tutoring I learned the best ever different ways I could write a piece of code, plus I made a lot of connections on LinkedIn to know current job market, the application process, and importantly job requirements.
Do you have advice or tips to share with other international students about how best to prepare to get a good job after graduation? What do you wish someone would have told you?
Work on assignments beyond just what’s asked in it. Learning in and around of the assignment requirements teaches a lot. Make many new friends and set yourself free for new experiences.
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