Getting the Graduate Assistantship
Well, as the post title says I am now a Graduate Student Assistant at the University of Southern California :-) I no longer have to pay any tuition towards my masters and I would also be getting a generous stipend on a monthly basis. This meant free education!!
I never ever imagined in my wildest of dreams for this to happen. Such a thing is very rare for masters students especially here at USC. You generally would get funding only if you are pursuing a PHD and you have a good profile. Everyone who I spoke to while I applied to USC told me that don’t even think of scholarship here, it’s close to impossible. They were not wrong about it, but I would like to add that there are opportunities, but they are like very limited.
So during my Orientation here at USC, an anouncement regarding this was made. This caught everybody’s ears during the orientation. There were two positions open, and the applicants had to be international students who joined in Fall 2012. I satisfied all the criteria required for the application and decided to give a shot. I brushed up my resume, made a list of projects which I had done and I had a limit on the number of words I could use too. I applied just before the application deadline. I was pretty sure that most of my fellow batchmates would have applied.
Finally, after a week I get a call for a written interview. I never expected a call. I was quite surprised. This is when I thought, I should give everything I can. I was motivated! The written test was a very lengthy one and I had to answer around 100+ questions in about 40 minutes. I answered the questions which I was quite sure of. There were around 20 others who wrote the written test.
A week later, I get an email saying that I had done quite well in the test and I was shortlisted for the second round. The second round was a project round. The project was to design a web based unix terminal. I was given the flexibility of choosing any framework and any language.This was given on Friday evening and the deadline was Sunday evening. I used node.js on the server side and twitter bootstrap for the user interface. I was able to build the web app in a day. I managed to submit my solution way ahead of time. You can find the code on github.
After a week I also had an interview and demo of what I built. I was interviewing for the System Administrator position. I demoe’d the app. The interviewers were quite impressed with what I had done. They asked me some questions and I was able to answer most of them. The interview went quite well. I somehow felt after the interview that I had a strong chance. But you never know, sometimes things don’t turn out as you want them to.
Finally, a week later I receive an e-mail asking me I could drop in for a meeting and I said yes. I assumed it was one more round of interview, but it was not. They had called me to inform me that I was hired as the Graduate Assistant as a Sys Admin for the Graduate School. I did not know how to respond. That feeling was just special. I just smiled and said thank you. I must say the people at the Graduate School are fun people. They pulled my leg, asked about my interests, hobbies etc. I was already begining to like it.
I returned the money which I had borrowed from the bank for my first semester here. My parents are super proud. I am still surprised myself about the turn of events. I would conclude by saying that oppurtunities like these are very rare and you need to grab them. Always believe in yourself and never undestimate your potential.