DTU Times interviewed Karthik Krishna R., ENE, Class of 2019, who got admitted to
Stanford University for an M.S. in Environmental Engineering.
What was your primary motivation behind pursuing a Master's degree from abroad?
After exploring different fields and internships in the First and Second year, I realized that Environmental Engineering and problem solving in this particular domain was something that excited me. Once I was sure with that, the obvious choice for excellence in this stream was to work towards pursuing M.S. abroad.
How important are the academic projects and the Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) while applying to foreign universities?
Both of these factors hold a huge amount of importance although they are sometimes underestimated, especially the LoRs. Every point that you write in your CV about your technical experience, your projects and similar ventures have to be validated by your recommenders in the letters they provide. I'd also suggest you work on a project and get LoRs from professors who have a good amount of publications and citations in Scopus because that further adds to your credibility. And as far as the project is concerned, you need to make sure that you work on something that holds regional relevance and is of global significance.
Apart from academics, what other aspects should a prospective candidate take care of, to increase his chances of selection?
I think the internships and field experience that you gather is really important. In my case, I preferred to intern in smaller firms because I felt it would give me greater opportunities to explore and be more hands on with the activities there. Attending an international conference and presenting your work there is always gonna look good on your CV and you might even get the contacts of professors from Ivy league universities. And in addition to this, top tier universities also value social work and extra curricular and cultural exposure if you mention them in your Statement of Purpose. It is definitely a bonus if you can involve yourself in some of these activities.
What friendly advice would you like to give to the juniors who are about to take up the same career path as you?
My advice would to be evaluate your preferences and your own profile and keep working on improving it in some way or the other throughout your stint in college. Something that worked in my favour might be present in someone else's profile and hence it's hard to provide generalized advice. If a student feels his/her academic grades aren't good enough for a top tier university, then he/she needs to put in extra effort in their projects, internships and so on. The top tier universities look for are a well rounded profile with a sound scientific temper, so ideally you need to mould your profile such that it reflects these qualities.