Ankita Chaudhari '18 MBA, MS MIS, Program Manager, PayPal
Ankita Chaudhari was fascinated by technology as a child. More than anything, she wanted to understand how things worked and channeled that desire toward a degree in electronics and telecommunications engineering. Not far in, though, she discovered the degree wasn’t all she’d hoped. And though by then she’d also found an interest in business, Chaudhari finished her bachelor’s and began work as an application developer.
“It was a completely tech job,” she recalls, “but I got to work with the client really closely.” That relationship fueled Chaudhari’s business interests such that two years on, she made her move for change. “I spoke to the VP of the unit I was working for, told him my plans to pursue an MBA and said that I needed to learn the businesses side of the service industry,” Chaudhari says. “He was very kind to give me a chance.”
That chance came by way of said VP creating an entirely new unit that Chaudhari would join: a pre-sales division, where she became assistant manager in less than a year. There, she served as a liaison between technical teams and various clients, bridging their worlds and learning the business language and processes she’d only sampled before. Then came time for strategic move number three: higher education.
Once Chaudhari decided she would study in the U.S., she focused on schools strong in both business and technology. “I was aware that for an international student, it can be more difficult to find jobs if you radically change your career path,” she explains. As a national MBA and MIS leader, Eller ranked high in her prospects, and Chaudhari found advice and community in “a lot of Eller alumni, who were gracious enough to connect with me on LinkedIn.”
Ultimately, her Eller experience delivered on the hopes those conversations inspired. “I was lucky to work with Susan Brown as a research assistant in my first year,” says Chaudhari, who counts the MIS department chair among her most valued mentors. She notes also that Eller sponsors at least 30 students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing each year.
Chaudhari completed her MBA/MS MIS dual-degree in four semesters versus the usual five, invoking strategy once more: “I always had it in mind that if I were to get an internship that I would want to convert into a full-time job, I would finish in two years because you cannot ask an organization to wait.”
Of course, she did get that prized internship, working in program management at PayPal. Chaudhari describes it as a kind of dream come true, treated like a seasoned employee and working closely with senior staff, including a final presentation to the CTO. She was one of 14 MBA interns, 12 hailing from Ivy League schools, and at the end of it, walked away with job offer in hand and the chance to once more bridge tech and business, working with internal product teams to create a more seamless platform for PayPal’s corporate customers.
Header image courtesy Ankita Chaudhari.