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International USC engineering students share their tips

Prodigy Finance - October 14, 2019

Is work experience important for MS Engineering students? Will you miss home terribly while you’re away? What are the prospects for finding a job after graduation?

International USC Viterbi engineering students at Prodigy Finance event

Madhu, Supriya, and Sushant with Prodigy Finance's Claire Hopkins

Prodigy Finance took the time to chat with three students pursuing engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). As part of our Prodigy LIVE series, Madhu, Supriya, and Sushant answered questions about their journey to a masters in the US.

All 3 students hail from India originally and were certainly attracted to the sun and entertainment that seems to radiate through Los Angeles. 

But, as they were quick to share, a US Masters in Engineering isn’t a walk in the park. There’s always plenty to do. And, these international grad students certainly provided insights that will make your experience the best it can be.

Is work experience important for MS Engineering students?

While MBA applicants definitely need some work experience before applying to grad schools, the same can’t be said for engineering students. All 3 of our USC Prodigy LIVE panelists had a couple of years under their belt but pointed out that it’s not necessary. Indeed, there are pros and cons either way.

Madhu believes, “it’s good to have a foundation before launching into a career.” And that’s exactly what prompted her to pursue her masters. 

While the choice of school may have been a little more difficult, choosing a country to study in was not. “A degree from the United States matters all over the world,” claims Sushant – and quite rightly too.

You’re not alone if it makes more sense to pursue the degree before the career. But, first, you need to get in. And for that, you’ll need a strong Statement of Purpose (SoP)

All three of our panelists believe that a stellar SoP is more important than your undergrad marks, work experience, or even GRE scores. They suggest spending a lot of time refining this piece.

When you arrive at USC, will you feel homesick?

It’s almost impossible to find the time to miss home. There’s a big leap between your undergrad and your masters. And, coming from India, there’s also a big jump in expectations and the way teaching and information are handled. 

As Supriya puts it, education is “application-oriented.” It’s not about theory, which Madhu believes makes American educated engineers “more prepared” than their Indian counterparts.

But, they’re quite certain you won’t need to worry about adjusting to life in the United States. 

At USC, there’s a strong Associate of Indian Students (AIS) – and you’ll find similar clubs at other universities and for students coming from other countries. These associations are very supportive, providing airport pickups, mentors, and organising temporary stays until you find your feet.

Madhu and Sushant have found that there are so many clubs and organisations that it would be impossible to be bored – even if you had the time. Whether you’re busy with projects or (as they suggest starting before your arrival) looking for a campus job, “you’ll be on your toes from the start,” says Supriya.

How do MS Engineering students find a job in the US?

While it can be tough to find an on-campus job, it is possible. Our USC students recommend reaching out to professors before leaving home. The student associations, such as the AIS, can help point you in the right direction from the moment you’ve accepted your seat.

And after graduation, and it’s totally up to the student to find a position. But, with all the practical application of theory, students studying their MS Engineering degree in the US definitely have advantages.

Companies tend to recruit on campus in the autumn – and many professors have solid working relationships with recruiters. Securing a referral from within these networks is a terrific way to get your foot in the door.

How can you pay for an MS Engineering degree in the US?

If a strong SoP is what gets you into an American MS Engineering programme, Prodigy Finance makes it possible to attend

Although Supriya was initially skeptical, she ended up giving a shout out to someone Prodigy Finance who helped her along the way. She’s most impressed with the “hassle-free” process. “There’s nothing to transfer back and forth; Prodigy Finance deals directly with the school.”

With a second from Madhu, Sushant says, “life is simpler because of Prodigy Finance.”

Want to learn more from Supriya about financing your USC degree with an international student loan from Prodigy Finance? Take a look at this webinar. It'll answer all your questions.

Does USC offer the MS Engineering degree you want?

Once you know where you want to go, you'll need to figure out how you'll get there. And we're ready to help with international student loans for top masters degrees across the US and the world. 

Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Post updated for accuracy and freshness on October 14, 2019. Originally published on March 28, 2017.

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