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Is MS in the USA Worth It for a Middle Class Indian?

Many Indians aspire to pursue a Master’s degree in the USA, hoping to get a better education, career, and lifestyle. However, studying abroad is not an easy decision, especially for middle-class families who have to invest a lot of money, time, and effort. Is it worth it to take the risk and go for MS in the USA? Or is it better to stay in India and work your way up?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different people may have different goals, expectations, and experiences. However, in this article, I will share my own story of how I went from being a software engineer in India to a customer success manager in Silicon Valley, and what I learned along the way. I will also address some of the common questions and concerns that prospective students may have about studying in the USA.

Why I Chose to Study in the USA

I graduated from a reputed engineering college in India in 2010 and joined Accenture as an associate software engineer. I was trained in Oracle Apps and worked on a telecom project, where I developed databases and data warehouses for my client. I enjoyed my job and learned a lot about data analysis, which sparked my interest in this field.
After two years, I was promoted to a fraud data analyst, where I used tools like R and Excel to identify fraudulent customers and prevent revenue leakage. I loved this role and became passionate about data science and analytics. I wanted to learn more and advance my career in this domain.
However, I realized that the Indian education system did not offer many quality options for pursuing a Master’s degree in data science or analytics. Most of the courses were either too theoretical or too expensive. Moreover, I wanted to gain international exposure and work in a more dynamic and innovative environment.
That’s when I decided to apply for MS in the USA, where I could find many reputed universities that offered cutting-edge programs in data science and analytics. I also had a couple of cousins who were already studying or working in the USA, and they encouraged me to go for it. They told me that the education here was more practical, interactive, and engaging, and that I would have many opportunities to learn, network, and grow.

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How I Funded My MS in the USA

One of the biggest challenges of studying in the USA is the cost. The tuition fee, living expenses, visa, travel, and other costs can add up to a huge amount, which can be daunting for a middle-class Indian. I did not have the option of depending on my parents for the entire amount, as they had their own financial commitments and savings. So I had to plan ahead and save as much as I could.
I started by switching my job from Accenture to HCL Technologies, where I got a higher salary of 10 lakhs per year. I also worked hard and got good appraisals and bonuses. I saved around 9 lakhs in one year, which I used for my personal expenses like visa, tickets, insurance, etc.
I also took a loan of 25 lakhs from a bank, which covered my tuition fee and part of my living expenses. I had to borrow another 5 lakhs from my parents during the course of my study, as the cost of living in Boston was higher than I expected. I also worked part-time in the university dining services, which helped me earn some extra money and reduce my loan amount.
In total, I invested around 39 lakhs in my MS in the USA, which was a huge amount for me. However, I was confident that I would be able to repay it and earn more in the long run.

How I Landed a Job in the USA

I got admitted to Northeastern University, which is one of the best universities for data science and analytics in the USA. The program was one year long and very intensive, but also very rewarding. I learned a lot from the faculty, who were experts in their fields and had industry experience. I also got to work on real-world projects, case studies, and assignments, which enhanced my skills and knowledge.
One of the best features of Northeastern University is its co-op program, which allows students to work as interns for six months in a company of their choice. This gives them valuable work experience and exposure, and also increases their chances of getting a full-time job offer. I applied for several internships through the university portal and LinkedIn, and got interview calls from Facebook, Cisco, NBCUniversal, and Dell.
I prepared well for the interviews, using the tips and guidance from my professors, seniors, and mentors. I also leveraged my previous work experience and projects to showcase my skills and achievements. I was lucky enough to get an offer from Dell, where I worked as a network analyst intern for seven months. I performed well in my role and impressed my manager and team members. I also volunteered to train the undergraduate interns and took on additional responsibilities.
At the end of my internship, I was offered a full-time position as a senior network analyst, with a salary of $110k per year. I was thrilled and accepted the offer, as it was a dream come true for me. I also had an interview process with Facebook, but I did not pursue it further, as I was happy with Dell.

How I Repaid My Loan and Saved Money

One of the advantages of working in the USA is that the salaries are much higher than in India, even after taxes and other deductions. I was able to save around $75k per year, which is equivalent to 51 lakhs in Indian rupees. I used this money to repay my loan and interest, which amounted to 28 lakhs, within one year. I also sent some money to my parents, who had supported me throughout my journey.
I was able to get rid of my debt and start saving for my future within a short span of time, thanks to my hard work and luck. I also learned to manage my finances better and invest wisely. I opened a 401k account, which is a retirement savings plan, and contributed a percentage of my salary every month. I also opened a brokerage account, where I invested in stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, and earned some passive income.
I also learned to live within my means and avoid unnecessary expenses. I rented a modest apartment, shared with a roommate, and cooked my own food. I also used public transportation and avoided buying a car. I did not splurge on shopping, eating out, or traveling, but rather saved for my long-term goals.

How I Grew My Career and Skills

Working in the USA also gave me a lot of opportunities to grow my career and skills. I worked as a customer success manager at Dell, where I was responsible for driving the adoption and satisfaction of Dell’s products and services among corporate clients. I had to interact with various stakeholders, understand their needs and challenges, and provide them with solutions and support.
I enjoyed my role and learned a lot from my colleagues and clients, who were from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I also got to work on some exciting and innovative projects, using the latest technologies and tools. I improved my communication, presentation, and leadership skills, and also gained a lot of domain knowledge and industry insights.
I also took advantage of the learning and development opportunities offered by Dell, such as online courses, webinars, workshops, and certifications. I also attended some conferences and events, where I networked with other professionals and learned from their experiences. I also kept myself updated with the latest trends and developments in data science and analytics, and applied them to my work.
I also pursued some personal interests and hobbies, such as reading, writing, and photography. I started a blog, where I shared my thoughts and opinions on various topics, such as data science, career, education, and life in the USA. I also joined some online communities and forums, where I interacted with other like-minded people and exchanged ideas and feedback.

How I Plan to Return to India and Make a Difference

When I left India, I did not have any plans to return back. I was fascinated by the USA and wanted to explore its opportunities and culture. However, after spending more than three years in the USA, I started to look at things differently. I realized that there is a lot of potential and scope for improvement in India, and that I could use my skills and knowledge to make a positive impact.
I started to think about how I could apply the technologies and solutions that I learned and worked on in the USA to the problems and challenges that India faces. I also started to think about how I could create employment and value for the people in India, and contribute to its growth and development.
I decided to return to India in the next few years, and start my own venture in the data science and analytics domain. I want to leverage the experience and exposure that I gained in the USA, and build a product or service that can solve a real problem and create a social impact. I also want to hire and train talented and passionate people, and create a culture of innovation and excellence.
I have already started working on my business plan and market research, and have also connected with some potential partners and investors. I am confident that I will be able to execute my vision and make it a reality.

Is MS in the USA Worth It?

So, is MS in the USA worth it for a middle-class Indian? Based on my own story, I would say yes, it is. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling journey for me, both personally and professionally. I have learned a lot, earned a lot, and grown a lot. I have also made some lifelong friends and memories.
However, I would also say that it is not a cakewalk, and it requires a lot of hard work, planning, and luck. It is not a guarantee of success or happiness, and it comes with its own risks and challenges. It is also not for everyone, and
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