Vaidehi Pulavarthi, MCS 2016
Vaidehi Pulavarthi, MCS 2016

My name is Vaidehi Pulavarthi and I’m from India. Before coming here, I pursued an undergraduate degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological Institution in India and afterward, worked at TCS for Belgacom Telecom, Belgium for 2 years as a technology developer. In 2013, my marriage brought me to the United States. I have a passion for teaching. My goal is to eventually make teaching as my profession.

I have always wanted to pursue higher education not just to get a pay raise at work but for more exposure to the current trends. Being from a country where IT servicing is prevalent, keeping up with learning process is a must for professional survival.

I have my family living in Fairfax, Virginia, so naturally, my primary factor was the geographical location. Within the area, after considering multiple factors like affordability, flexibility, diversity as well as the richness of the courses offered, FXUA felt like a natural fit for me. I was especially encouraged by the wide variety of specialization courses offered at FXUA. These courses are up to the market trends (for example, Mobile Application Development). I graduated in 2016 with my master’s in computer science.

During the time I have spent at FXUA, I was lucky to have great professors who introduced me to new ways of learning, gave me a great exposure to a new set of career opportunities, and helped me in crafting my personality. I am so glad I made the decision to go to school at FXUA; the experiences I had are helping me every day in my current position at Fannie Mae.

A few notable examples:

  • With the assistance of Professor Andy Yao (he teaches Design and Analysis of Algorithms) I approached Fairfax County to understand the process on how they track school buses to build a mobile application for them. This helped me learn how to write business requirements for an app.
  • Initiated and been a part of developing a mobile application for Student service center at FXUA through which they can monitor the number of students attending an event. Conducted user acceptance testing with a set of students on the application that was built and received their feedback on it. The end to end experience helped me with my entrepreneurial ambitions and the confidence to execute on them at a later stage in my career.
  • Received guidance from Professor Hany Eldeib (he teaches Computer Architecture and Implementation) on perspectives of pursuing higher education which I am sure to pursue in the next couple of years.

Currently, I work for Fannie Mae as a Scrum Analyst. I came to know about the position through my sister-in-law who works for the same company.
The interview process was very different from what I had experienced for my first job in India. It was not as technically complex as I thought it would be since the position was closer to an entry level analyst position. I had a phone interview followed by an in-person meeting. As the interview panel knew I was a fresh college graduate their focus of questions were mainly on what I had accomplished through my masters. After having me introduce myself and making me comfortable, the panel followed up with questions on my prior job experience and some technical questions.
Before attending the interview, I made sure to thoroughly do my homework in the Secondary Mortgage Market and specifically all the news articles (prior and current) on Fannie Mae which gave me a very good context around the history of the company and where they are currently. That homework showed during the interview process where I was able to surprise the interviewers with my domain knowledge and followed up with a few of my own set of probing questions. That gave them the confidence to hire me because they felt that I had proven to them that I had the attitude to learn new things.

I would like to share with you some of the questions I was asked on the interview, just to give you an idea what might be an interview question. Here are the examples:

  • Why did you choose to do master’s when you had an opportunity to take up a job?
  • Tell me few situations where you failed and also tell us about the lessons you have learned through your failure.
  • Do you say ‘No’ when management insists you to deliver something with an impossible deadline? If ‘Yes’, how do you explain it to them.
  • How will this job benefit you in your current career?

Competing in the market with others is tougher than you think it is. However, do not let your initial failures get to you. Remember that you failed because you had the courage to try. Learn from them and let them be a stepping stone to your future successes.

It is never too late to start networking. Building contacts and keeping in constant touch with people will eventually land you in the right place at the right time. I was very surprised to learn that most of the job openings in any company are filled internally through contacts. Follow up after your initial call. People get busy at work very quickly and need to be reminded of what a great candidate you are. Do not expect them to make the first move!

Always, always keep working on your resume – stand out by taking special courses or certifications in your free time. Your efforts will never be wasted.
While always important, in more recent times it has become more imperative that you work on being culturally assimilated. While remembering where you come from is important in how you are defined so far, you would be wise to take stock of and be respectful of the culture, customs, and norms of the country that you currently reside in. A potential employer is impressed not only by your knowledge and experience but also by how you carry yourself.

Never lose sight of your dreams. If you have made it here all by yourself, then you definitely will make it to where you belong. Be open to all opportunities and paths. You never know which path will lead you to your dream job.

Vaidehi Pulavarthi
Master’s of Science in Computer Science, 2016
Scrum Analyst, Fannie Mae