Walking Right to Walking Left – A Thousand Miles Away #12 (Life of an MS Student)

by | Aug 30, 2018 | General Information, Life | 2 comments

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(Brownie points if you noticed the change in title!)

This was one of those months where there was a rich mix of environments. I spent the first set of 10 days in Bellevue, second set in New York and the third set in Mumbai, India. A few years back, before I had the fortune to travel by air, I remember thinking how incredible it would be to reach a stage where I get to fly every few weeks to new places. The grass is always greener on the other side.


Chism Beach Park, Bellevue

Since the division of month seems ideal, I’d like to talk about what I learnt from the ten days I was in Bellevue, New York and Mumbai respectively.

1. Bellevue, Washington


Bellevue, Washington

Takeaways from Salesforce

These were the final few days at Salesforce. The major chunk of the work subsided and I was left with demo-ing my project (to my team as well as other interns) and wrapping up the work to enable a seamless transition to whoever takes up next. I was extremely lucky that I got a few amazing friends to say goodbye to, and spent the final days thoroughly enjoying the city, my apartment and the company.


Salesforce entrance

If I had to distill what I learnt over the summer to only three points, it would be:

  1. Being Responsible
  2. Being Disciplined
  3. Being Multifaceted

Of course, those terms mean nothing without an anecdote. I was the owner of the projects I worked on. I had incredible guidance from my manager, mentor and team, but at the end of the day, it was me who knew the end-to-end process and hence me who is responsible for it to get executed. Combine this with a ton of independence, and you get a beautiful experience.

I am a (sufficiently) productive person, but not a disciplined person. You are lucky if you’re both! People say they like the fact that I always respond, but that comes at a cost – it means I’m checking my phone too much and too often. That is indeed my greatest distraction. But I learnt to be disciplined this summer, I learnt to keep my phone aside during the day and allocate a specific time to check the messages.


Who knew they used such devices in restaurants to keep track of time?

What I mean by Multifaceted is the various avocations I engaged myself in over the summer – making videos, reading novels, reading a lot of news, meeting people from various companies, exploring the city. While my vocation gave me a fruitful summer, these avocations gave me a holistic one.


2. New York City, New York


The Big Apple

Do you have Imposter Syndrome? I do too.

Have you heard of the Imposter syndrome? Even if you haven’t heard of it, you would have felt it at some point. I am no different. Coming from a Chemical Engineering background, working on pure research for a major part of my undergrad, I found myself to be technically challenged at Columbia. As someone who aspires to become a Product Manager, the ability to talk with Engineers and Computer Scientists is key. I lacked that, and probably still do.

My first two semesters, while I did take a course or two that helped in this regard, most of the courses were targeted to improve other skills. But spending 12 weeks at a company and division where I felt this every single day pushed me to do something about this. To keep it short, I enrolled myself in online courses (and completed/currently finishing them) and decided to take every single course in my final semester that will help overcome this.


Even if you don’t get over the syndrome completely, knowing that you gave your best helps.


3. Mumbai, India


Mumbai, India

How Environment Affects Change

Somebody asked me few weeks back why I did not think of starting a YouTube channel in NIT Trichy (my undergrad alma mater). It was not because I have more skills or time or courage now. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. But, the environment mattered. Leaving New York to fly to a new state (Washington) and entering a place where no one knew me helped. Once I post a video, it was going to be viewed by people I knew and people who knew me. I was still scared of being judged and misunderstood, but the physical distance really helped.

The same happened last week. I spent the past 10 days mostly preparing for my semester by taking courses, preparing for key interviews and spending time with family. I got a lot of ‘me’ time. This meant constantly wandering thoughts, and eventually I came to a realization about how my Instagram account was filled with a lot of clutter. Pictures which had no valuable content. I sat and removed over 200 pictures, and kept only ones where I was with someone else. I wanted a fresh start. I wanted  to turn my time on Instagram into something useful, for me and for others.

You can check my Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/thecuriousmaverick/) to know more, if you’re interested!

Prioritization to Productivity


Finally, to end this with a useful activity. Take a pen and paper, and start listing out every single activity that you believe will take up your time the next one month…… Done? Now create another list writing down the skills/tasks you wish to accomplish in a month….. Done? Amazing! Match the activities to the goals. For the activities that get matched, prioritize them from 1 to n (n = no. of matched activities). Those that do not get matched does not require your time. For those that do, follow this order whenever you feel overwhelmed.

Prioritization is key to the lock of productivity.


Almost finished reading: Rich Dad Poor Dad. Must read for all.

If you found this enjoyable, do Follow me for more articles. I’m a sufficiently frequent writer. The best way to get in touch with me is via Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thecuriousmaverick/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pooja.balasubramani?ref=bookmarks). I share lot of interesting content there. To know more about my professional life, check out my LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/soundarya-balasubramani/Happy reading!