Shikhar Mattoo worked hard to realize his long-standing dream of studying in the United States of America. Now that he has received an offer letter from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Master of Science in Technology Management (MSTM) program, both him & his parents are overjoyed since he will be the first individual in his family to study in the USA. Faith Career's Study Abroad Coach, Tanmay Singh, started working with Shikhar in early August and began his journey by providing him personalized coaching for the IELTS Academic test. Shikhar dedicatedly worked all throughout his journey & achieved what he wanted to. Read his story to know more.
#1) Shikhar, can you please briefly describe your profile?
I completed my undergraduate studies from IP University, New Delhi in the field of Computer Applications (BCA) and have approximately 2 years of work experience. Currently, I am working as an Application Developer at Infosys. My current role encompasses a variety of applications such as Coding, App deployment, CICD and Database Management System.
#2) Why did you decide to apply to the UIUC MSTM program?
I have always been passionate about technology. However, there was always a curiosity inside me about how businesses and management work. This passion and curiosity of tech and management made me interested in a program like MSTM. It perfectly aligns with my career goals where I will be able to explore more tech and how a venture works.
#3) What were your top 3 reasons for selecting Tanmay Singh to be your mentor for the UIUC MSTM application?
I was introduced to Tanmay through a mutual friend, and from our very first interaction, I was impressed by his supportive nature, positive energy, and expertise. I chose Tanmay as my mentor due to the following reasons:
A) Network Expansion: Tanmay conducted workshops and taught me ways to expand my professional network by connecting with relevant individuals. I talked to students & alumni from UIUC to know more about the university and the MSTM program.
B) One-to-One Support: Tanmay provided me one-to-one support which enhanced my overall confidence about the application process.
C) Resourcefulness: His resourcefulness in providing access to valuable resources, such as study materials, practice tests, sample essays, and relevant industry insights.
#4) What 4 tips would you like to share with an aspirant working on their study abroad application?
Start the application early (I started in August and Tanmay told me that I was not very early)
Put together your application strategically by inserting your differentiators
Research your target institution. Use social media too.
Show your authenticity and personalization - emphasize on your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations throughout your application.
#5) How did you prepare for the interview after submitting the UIUC MSTM application? What all steps did you take to prepare for the interview?
After enrolling with Tanmay, I was given a lot of documents to fill out. One of these documents was about personal branding, which helped me dive deep into my passions, strengths, and weaknesses. I gained a lot of self awareness through it which is what the adcom members look for in an application. This exercise helped establish a framework for answering interview questions. Additionally, Tanmay introduced me to the STAR, CAR, and CARL methods which made it easier for me to answer behavioural interview questions.
#6) You had a pre-application meeting with Johnathan Harmon from UIUC. What questions did he ask you during the meeting?
Tanmay recommended that I book a pre-app meeting with an adcom member from UIUC because this positively influences the application at a later stage. He told me that the pre-app meeting would be nothing short of an interview and he prepared me for the same by giving his interview document.
During my pre-app meeting with Johnathan, I asked him the questions that I had and I was asked the following questions:
I only have your resume right now. Can you tell me more about yourself?
You already have a master’s degree in Computer Application? Why do you wish to pursue MSTM?
UIUC is a diverse university. What values will you bring into the university as an international student?
Which other universities have you applied to apart from UIUC?
How will UIUC help in achieving your career goals?
What is your short-term goal just after completing your MSTM program?
Do you have any questions for me?
#7) How was Tanmay’s mentorship important while working on the UIUC MSTM application?
A friend of mine, who is currently studying in Canada, recommended Tanmay to me. After having a discovery call with him, he immediately sent me an email about the UIUC MSTM program, which perfectly aligned with my passion and goals. The application process was very smooth, while working with him he gave me many tips and tricks about the application process at UIUC, such as how to get an application fee waiver. Working with Tanmay has been an incredible journey. I feel lucky to have found him at the right time.
#8) What are your final ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for a study abroad aspirant?
A) Reach out to current and former students of the program or the university.
B) Start your application early.
C) Try to attend as many university events as possible.
A) Don’t leave your answers short. Try to be close to the word limit provided in the essays' questions.
B) Don’t be nervous while facing an interview. Keep smiling because this shows your confidence.
C) Don’t be stuck at something. Keep moving on and seek help from Tanmay before it gets too late.
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