Ask Me Anything : Jobs & Visa After Masters In USA

This Ask Me Anything session will be hosted by Bharath Kurapati who completed his Masters from Arizona State University. He will volunteer an hour of his time to answer your queries related to Visa, job prospects, living in the US as an international student, and many other topics . Bharath is currently working in Los Angeles with Bonduelle Fresh Americas (Ready Pac Foods inc), one of North America’s largest fresh food processing sites. Prior to joining ASU and his current firm as a full-time employee, Bharath graduated from the National Institute of Technology, Warangal , with a couple of internships and research roles with a start-up and Bhabha Atomic Research Energy Centre (BARC, Mumbai) to his name.

Here is how the Senior AMA works:

Ask Qs now: You can start asking your questions right away here.
Answers via video: On Friday, January 10th, at 6.30 PM, Bharath will answer your Qs via a webinar, which you can join here.
Answers transcribed for future reference:
We will transcribe Bharath’s answers and post them in response to your questions here.

Please post your questions here.

Hi , Please start asking questions here.

In what aspects should I prepare myself before starting my masters in computer science in Fall 2020, so that I can have a great masters experience (General preparation for masters)?

  1. How difficult or easy is it to get the sponsorship for work visa from the employer for MS in Chemical Engineering ? What are the important aspects to work upon?

  2. And is it possible to get the full employment before we graduate itself?

Job prospective for masters in industrial engineering with specialization in systems engineering

Do your work ex matter while looking for internships in masters as I do not have any work ex other than an internship

How is Masters in Manufacturing Engineering program at Arizona State University, Polytechnic Campus in terms of quality of coursework, fundings and professional development?

  1. Do the location of university matters in getting a job?
  2. Which one has more weightage - Location or Rankings of the university when it comes to getting a job?

Questions related to Visa,

  1. Am doing a career transition from Civil in UG to CS, Do the UG degree affect my chances of getting H1B visa or will it create any negative impact ?
  2. After masters, within how many days should I get a job to get my OPT / CPT approved? Will they deport us if I don’t get any jobs in 6 months?

What is scope for jobs in Additive Manufacturing (3-D Printing) if one has Master of Science degree in it? And in what terms or position the work nature is?

America is in trade war with china and lot of other issues like iran. So how the jobs are going to affect in the future?How will be the cs jobs for international students after 5 years?

Additive Manufacturing hub is good on west coast or east coast as said by you?

Replying on behalf of the speaker -

I will share a little about this on two aspects - personal aspect, which is non-academic and on academic level.

I am not a computer science expert so I will give a generic advice which probably should be applicable to everybody. So, to start off with personal advice, I would say finances are going to make you or break you and I have seen that personally. If you want to apply for a part-time job and work on campus for 2 years, that’s a good break from your studies. But if you have an ability to not work on campus, I would say, by all means go for it. The reason is that these two years in your university is what’s going to add to your history and shape your career outside in the US. What that means is, if you are spending your time wisely and doing projects which are really deep and not superficial then that’s going to really help you. You need not have the pressure of finances, if that is something you can afford then do that. See that as an investment in yourself. That is the advice I would like to give you as a personal friend.

As your academic friend, again, I would use a reverse engineering principle over here. You asked what you should do or prepare for masters in computer science. I would say start off with knowing what you want to do after completing your Masters. I know it would be unclear and ambiguous right now but if you think about it, you will know and have a rough idea to where your seniors are right now and just reverse map it. So if I were to be a software engineer in a company like SAP or Accenture, I will focus more on how my profile is going to look like, what are the courses I am going to take, what are the supplement certifications I am supposed to have and what are the connections that I need to have. So, research about these areas and I am sure that your classes are going to sell like hotcakes and will be gone on the first day itself. So, prep yourself up for what courses you are supposed to take in which semester and prep yourself up for all these online courses. Even if you are not starting it right now, have an idea about what you are supposed to do rather than figuring out as you go. Planning is going to give you an edge over other people and also create a killer LinkedIn and resume. So, once you start off writing your resumes, it is going to metamorphosis into a way better thing down the line in one year or something. So, trying to invest your time in yourself, keeping yourself free of other commitments and also reverse engineering as to where you are going to be and what you are supposed to do right now to get there, two things you would want to start right now.

Replying on behalf of the speaker -

I am so sorry guys, I don’t mean to frustrate you but I am not a Chemical Engineering or a Computer Science Expert. So, again, sorry to be generic. As per your visa or work employer query is concerned, the first thing is, if you want to land a job you have to be close to the location where there are a lot of chemical engineering companies. So, let me give you my example. Me being in California and in a manufacturing industry, it’s kind of an exception and not the rule because California is a Tech-hub rather than a manufacturing Industry. So if I were to apply for a job in manufacturing, I should rather choose a university which is in an industrial sector. Like if you are a computer science graduate and you are choosing a university in California or some Tech-hub, it would really make sense. So, location is an important parameter. To answer your question, if you want to make it easy for yourself, choose a good university which is in a good location, which has a lot of Chemical Engineering opportunities. I don’t know where Chemical Engineering opportunities are but if you know an area and you have a university nearby, I would say choose that.

And about how easy or difficult it is to get sponsorship for a work visa? So, in US, I would say, it is definitely difficult. It is also a person-to-person scenario. But is usually based on your profile, your experience and have you been in a university like Arizona State University, Columbia or University of Southern California. So, things are gonna go difficult for you or easy for you based on that. Also internship plays a key role. If you have a US work experience or co-op and internship experience, it’s gonna be really valued. All you can do is prep yourself up for that.

The possibility of getting a full-time job before graduating depends from person to person and like I said it depends upon multiple factors like your work location, course work, your university, your prior experience. From my experience, you should ideally look at anything between 3 to 6 months if you are from a non-tech background. If you don’t have a lot of internships then it takes about this much time. That’ s how I have seen my friends work it out, so, in 3 to 6 months they were able to land a job, an internship or co-op or something. I hope this answers the question.

Replying on behalf of the speaker -
My major is not systems engineering but from what I know and have seen other people take up, there are people who have had good prospects after masters in systems engineering. What I would ask you is to look up the people who are currently working in this area, have a focus in the area of systems engineering and then get a basic understanding. But from what I know, it should work out well, it should be good!

Replying on behalf of the speaker -

It does! It definitely does! But what matters more than your work experience is how you present the work experience. Like I said, I had a couple of gigs in India before I went to the US. The way I presented them to my employer and my transferable skills helped a lot. So, obviously, when I did an internship I acquired a set of skills. For example - I was hustling when I was working with a startup, I had to do a multiple number of things. I was working in different roles, one day I was content creator and other day I was doing market analysis and so on and so forth. When I was doing research it was all about patience and reading up material, trying to grasp as much as you can. So, there are some skills that can actually transfer and match up with the internship or the job we are looking up. If you are able to sell yourself upon those skills then it’s gonna be easy and relatively better for you when you are applying for internships. So, be it an internship or a full time experience, as long as you are selling it to a prospective employer, it should be fine.

Replying on behalf of the speaker -

This is a good question! I think I can answer this confidently! Thanks for the question! So, this is not the campus I went to. I went to the main campus. I did meet a couple of people at a conference recently and I heard really good things about the Manufacturing and Engineering program. But if I am not wrong and if I am not mistaken, it should be a fairly recent program. Polytechnic campus is fairly smaller than the main campus, the student body is also smaller but the quality of coursework should be good. For funding, none of the Masters programs in Industrial Engineering departments are great at ASU. Funding is really meager, but if you are somebody who’s doing some research with some professors or doing some thesis, you are going to have an edge. So, just to put this in perspective, as a Masters student who is doing a two years program, you are going to ask for funding. And then there is going to be a PhD student who will ask for funding, who is going to work with the professors. And obviously, they are going to prefer a Masters student or a PhD student to fund and put them in the research. So you would be competing with them or you need to have plenty of resources to fund you. There are some departments in Arizona State University, like Electrical Engineering, which back in the day had a lot of money and had Masters students as well. But traditionally, the Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering department, I don’t think they have a lot of funding. But yes, in terms of professional development and quality of coursework, you will do great if you can plan it out properly and land in right internships.

Replying on behalf of the speaker -

  1. Yes! I would definitely say yes! Let’s put it in perspective: there is a university far off from a job location. This particular company, as for an MNC with limited resources, they need to fly two people, person A and person B. Person A lives in the same state and has about 3 hours drive and person B lives across the country and he has to fly in for 4 hours or 5 hours. Both these people have the same level of expertise. So who would the company prefer? Obviously, the company would be leaning towards person A and then if nothing else works then they would go for person B. If you are Person B, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. That is why I would say location really matters while choosing a job. Unless and until you think that this university’s coursework is exceptionally well and it would put you above all; the skill level you are going to generate from taking this course in this university is going to put you above all the candidates then go for that university without the location. But if that’s not the case, I would say, definitely, location matters.

  2. Well, that’s a tricky one, location or rank of the university! As you move forward in your career what one understands is that you don’t have black and white answers. There are going to be a lot of grey areas. Again! Coming back to this question, I would say make your own equation. Let’s just say, if you are talking about Suny Buffalo in New York State, take into account how good the university’s coursework is, what the job ranking is, how much it costs and how good the alumni are doing, all of these are parameters. If you were in Arizona State university, it would mean the same thing. We are talking about 3 or 4 different universities. So, what I am essentially getting at, rank these universities based on these equations and parameters. So, don’t just do the binary equation where you compare the location or the rank. I would say it’s both of them but if you are in a top rank university like IV league or something like that then definitely location doesn’t matter. If you are in a mid-scale university then definitely the university’s location also matters besides the ranking of the University. I know it’s not a straightforward answer but I hope that helps.

Replying on behalf of the speaker -

  1. That’s a very good question and my situation or scenario is pretty much similar to what you have. So whenever you are applying to the US for H1B Visa, you have to be really honest on what really made you transition from Civil Engineering degree to Computer Science Degree. So, if you are honest and your explanation is really coherent, they are going to accept that. That was the case with me. Like I said, I tried my hands with many different things. In one of the internships I really liked the manufacturing scenario and I wanted to try my hands at that, I worked for it and it worked out really well. So, if you are able to justify it properly it should not be a problem. But then again, I would say that would be a thing to look out for whenever you are applying for your H1B visa or wherever it is. Your immigration attorney would be the best person to give you the proper advice on this because they must have seen a lot of such situations but I would say that you need to work on that area a little bit.

  2. Okay! I think, after your masters you have a grace period of 60 days if I am not wrong, which is two months to start your OPT. What that means is you can ask to start your OPT and you might not land a full time job. You could still work 40 hours a week with a professor in his lab or you could also work in a research department. You could also work free of cost for 40 hours a week at a company called Internal Volunteers or something like that, but you should be employed. That’s the case once you are done with your 60 days grace period without having any sorts of employment. That’s the situation in Optional Practical Training. As for deporting, like I said, your job should be related to your degree, whatever you are doing and as long as you are continuously employed 40 hours a week within your work area, irrespective of you are getting paid or not, that should be cool with your CIS. The rules are getting updated every now and then. So you have to be wary about it and put a close watch. Hope that answers the question!