Walking East to Walking West – A Thousand Miles Away #10 (Life of an MS Student)

by | Jul 3, 2018 | General Information, Life | 6 comments

[responsivevoice_button voice="US English Female" rate="1" pitch="1" volume="0.8" buttontext="Listen to Article"]

If I had to pick the month in the last one year when I picked up most number of goof habits and completely transformed the way I spent my time, it has to be this one. Although I cannot guarantee if the habits would permeate into the next semester at Columbia, I’m happy to see that it’s possible to change my lifestyle with a bit of push.


Books on my list now!

1. University vs Job Life:

The reason why this did not happen in Columbia (or why I couldn’t make it happen) was because of the number of distractions present there.

  1. Assignments
  2. Studying for minor and major tests
  3. Searching for internships
  4. Working part-time
  5. Attending networking/miscellaneous events
  6. Doing chores (laundry, cooking, surviving)
  7. Spending time with friends and having a life

and so on.

Image result for too many things to do meme

But while you’re at an internship, you only have to focus on your project at work. Once you step out of your office, you have the rest ~15 hours to indulge in your hobbies and interests. Especially if you get to work at a company away from your University, the number of distractions drastically reduce.

I knew I had to keep aside another 8 hours for sleep and everyday chores. I was left with an odd 7 hours every day now. This was split into: 1 hour Yoga, 1 hour dinner, 1 hour browsing, 1 hour talking to parents and friends, 1 hour reading novel/watching a video, and the rest 2 hours to work on YouTube videos/write articles/listen to podcasts/watch documentaries and movies.

Not every day goes as planned however. There are days when I hang out with the other interns, go for a movie, a hike or a company event. In general though, when you begin to break down your day into individual hours, you realize how much time you have. And how you can do so much more than before.


From the patio of the 18th floor, Salesforce building.

2. Lessons Learnt at Salesforce So Far:

a) Own the project: For someone like me who has a Technical Program Manager role, I am the bridge between what a manager wants accomplished and the engineering team who accomplishes it. Similar to a Product Manager, it is my job to completely understand what the end-customers want and ensure that it gets implemented. Along this process, you need to work with countless people to get the job done. Many times, these are people who’ve had decades of experience in what they do, and have a dozen other projects going on.

But, you can’t let that stop you from doing your work. I was really hesitant to ping someone related to my project, who was extremely high up in Salesforce. But the person had valuable information that could hep me. My manager simply told me that I need to own this project. And if I don’t do it, nobody else will. The best part is, none of the people that I’ve spoken to till now have any superior aura around them and have been extremely helpful.


A beautiful morning spent at Little Bit organization, volunteering to set up their special event.

b) If you don’t have work, ask for it: 4 weeks into my internship, I was done (90%) with the project I was working on. I did not anticipate it to be a short project. I had two options: I could take it easy and continue to work on the project but not learn anything new or ask my manager for more work. It was obvious that I had to choose the latter.

It turned out to be the best decision. The project that I’m working on currently is a lot more abstract and nebulous, and could definitely not be completed before I leave. However, those very reasons make it more challenging.

c) Go beyond just your projects: One week into my internship I knew I needed to work on something other than my project with my time here. I kept three things as priorities: meeting at least one random person (preferably Product Manager) every week for a coffee chat, shooting a YouTube video on something related to Salesforce (going on right now!) and begin reading as much as I can to help with my interviews later on.

I would definitely advise anyone to take advantage of your time at the company, and begin thinking about your full-time job from the beginning.

Image result for go beyond

No, that is not me. Yes, I wish it was.

3. Importance of a hobby:

This was never obvious at Grad School. But here, as you start talking to various employees, you realize how multidimensional they all are. I know someone who goes for dance classes and puts up performances, someone in a sailboat racing team, someone who hikes every weekend.. (most) people have a great work-life balance. That’s what keeps them sane.

So, pick up one habit when you enter your first job, and stick with it relentlessly. Most often than not, we lose out on our hobbies because of lack of discipline. However, once you stop thinking about it as just a hobby and more of a daily routine, and push yourself to give it first priority, that’s when you become inseparable from it.


Mount Rainier (Please take this from me: wear waterproof shoes while hiking a mountain filled with snow)

 4. Time Management – What Warren Buffet Said:

Most importantly, making YouTube videos every week for the past one month has been a completely new, difficult and surreal experience. I had so many people who came up to thank me for the videos. The truth is, I had so much fun making every single one of them! I need to thank everyone who watched and took some value out of it. But, there’s a downside to it (like everything) – I need to invest a minimum of 10+ hours every week to work on this. Time that I could otherwise spend reading, going out or watching a video.

This is when I realized the importance of something that I wrote 9 months back – You can only make sacrifices, you can’t make time. At times like these, I get reminded of this article written on what Warren Buffet said. His pilot asked Mr. Buffet how to manage time well. Mr. Buffet asked him to write down the top 25 activities he wanted to do (assuming he had unlimited time). When he came back with the list, he asked him to circle the top 5 and completely neglect anything under it. To completely focus on your primary goals in life, you need to discard all secondary distractions.


En Route to Mount Rainier 🙂

So, I hope you make your sacrifices cautiously.

Do you feel like talking to me?

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pooja_balasubs/

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pooja.balasubramani?ref=bookmarks

Cheers! 🙂

P.S. Some fun pictures!