How Networking Can Impact Your Job Hunt

International Student Ankita Wankhede Used a Conference to Secure Several Job Offers Before Graduation

Will I have a job when I graduate? It’s something we hear often at the School of Computing and Engineering (SCE). We rattle off statistics – Missouri alone needs another 16,000 engineers and computer scientists by 2020, they are 8/10 hardest jobs to fill, and the average mid-career salary is more than $75,000.

As you can see, the stats are good. The job market is ripe for someone with one of our degrees – but the question is often more nuanced than that, especially for students joining us from abroad. The real question is; how will I get a job?

Ankita Wankhede figured out the best kept secret for starting your career while you’re still in college – get involved. Many of our students participate in student teams and organizations and in research projects with faculty, and these experiences certainly set you apart from the crowd, but the tool she utilized most was engaged networking.

Ankita joined UMKC in August 2016. Her career in computer science had begun years before. As a small child growing up in Raipur, India, Ankita became interested in computer science after her older brother left a university textbook laying around. She earned an undergraduate degree in telecommunications and began working in India for Huawei, one of the world’s largest technology companies. But she dreamed of a master’s degree and a life in the United States.

After meeting her now husband, Gaurav, and making her way to his new home in Kansas City, Ankita was ready for the next step and enrolled at UMKC in the Master’s of Science in Computer Science program. She credits her husband for his support in going back to school and her advisor at UMKC for making the application and enrollment process simple – from VISA documentation, to transcripts, and all the way to choosing classes.

In her first year she learned about a conference a friend – another international student at SCE – was attending, the Computing Research Association for Women (CRA-W). Ankita applied, but was not accepted. However, she was persistent and in her second year was accepted! It’s a competitive application and for good reason. This conference is free for all attendees. The program pays room and board, conference fees, flights, etc. for each young woman who make the trip for the annual event, which rotates locations.

But how did a conference get Ankita a job? Networking. This annual event is host to big industry leading sponsors such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, IMB, Intel, and many more. Through breakout sessions that help attendees practice interview techniques, communications skills, and self-promotion, Ankita perfected her pitch. She had the opportunities to talk to recruiters, present her resume, and set-up follow up interviews. She created lasting relationships with women in her field and heard about their experiences working in an arena typically dominated by men.

Ankita left the conference with several interviews scheduled and within weeks was fielding more than one job offer!

The conference gave Ankita a toolkit you can’t teach in the classroom and a network prepared to place her in a position that lined up with her professional interests. She graduated this past week – CONGRATS ANKITA! – and has accepted a position at a computer technology firm in Denver, a connection made at CRA-W.

As “words of wisdom” from a now SCE Alumni, seek out opportunities to make connections. Take advantage of everything they have to offer. And to all our SCE female graduate students – apply to CRA-W. They accept 450 applicants each year and we can’t wait to see more of you learning from this amazing experience.

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