Hey folks, my name is Divya Inamdar and I am from India currently located in Boston. I came to the US in 2018 to pursue Masters in Electrical Engineering at Drexel University, Philadelphia. I was looking forward to getting this degree right after graduating from Bachelors in Engineering in India. My primary motivation to seek higher education was to gain more practical experience in the field of my interest which is Medical Image processing and have an opportunity to increase my knowledge along with experiencing the education system outside.
In my last year of Bachelors, I was introduced to this subject called Digital Image processing as an Elective where we were taught ways of manipulating 2D images and understanding the source of how pixels form images along with more concepts. I was fascinated by the theory of Image processing, and we learnt a few methods of improving image quality which could make the data of better use for various applications that involve imaging. I found universities in the US that have courses focused on image processing and labs that I could possibly join and work with Professors to collaborate on projects. Drexel University turned out to be one of them that worked out for my profile and interests. Coming from a background in Electronics and Telecommunication, my master's in electrical engineering course had quite an overlap to the courses I was looking for.
Little did I know that my horizons would expand more in Medical Image Processing specifically. I got a chance to work in 3 different labs which had different projects focusing on domains of medical imaging like histopathology, X-rays to Fluorescence Microscopy imaging. One after the other, my experiences expanded in the medical domain, and I was also able to get a chance to learn medical image processing segmentations and algorithms through a course. I also had some exposure to the genetics world through one course which helped me build my signal processing knowledge in genes.
While my last quarter of masters was going on, I knew that I wanted to continue contributing to the Medical domain through my knowledge and experience. I applied to all Medical domain companies for the positions that went with my profile and I wanted to gain more industrial experience and was prepared to learn as needed, so I was inclined to work at startups since it was my first ever job post education. Fortunately, I was offered a job at a Medical startup based in Cardiovascular domain. I was hired for doing Software Engineering using my image processing skills and knowledge but I learnt so much more than that including understanding CT scans and DICOMS, working on cases like a radiologist would read them and develop the new version of the current application on web. As they say in a startup you wear multiple hats, that turned out to be my case and I was involved in various areas of the product development from designing, gathering requirements and implementing code to regression testing for legacy versions of the software.
Everyone’s job search experiences are different and each one faces different hurdles to land up in a job. The struggle was more for me since my graduation was at the time of the COVID pandemic and the job market was highly unstable. I had to make sure I stop the unemployment clock post graduation since I did not have a job offer until Jan 2021 and I graduated in June 2020.
I worked in my professor’s lab, did some volunteer work at the side while my job search was the primary focus. The work at lab was inclined to my course in Image processing. Working at the lab has been a great addition to my resume, as it has allowed me to develop my programming skills and gain practical experience in Medical Imaging field. I was active on LinkedIn and had all the relevant filters checked on job portals like Indeed, AngelList and others. Networking on LinkedIn and reaching out to friends and family to network for contacts and sharing resumes was my routine. The positive part of wanting to contribute in the medical field was that the job industry there had started opening up more as compared to the others.
Seeing more job postings and getting interviews at least once a week kept me motivated. Based on the company size, every company had different ways of interview process, for J&J my interview was really tough in terms of the in-depth questions asked in the field to test concepts. I felt like I would have been a better candidate for the position if I had a little more experience. For the rest, interviews went well but they found better candidates so that did not work out. Being an international student, a lot of companies were not open to sponsoring visas but I was still prepared to start work with them if offered a job since we have the 2 years OPT STEM extension to help there.
One of my friends at Drexel happened to find the posting for my current job and share it with me. I interviewed with the CEO first and then then CTO who happened to be the founder too. My interview with the CTO was such a different experience and I liked the way he structured our conversation and wanted to know my ideas of the application of the knowledge that I had and I was offered the job later. I was extremely grateful for all the days that went by and everyone who helped me go through those. I was the first immigrant to my current job so had to get the company on-board with the documents and process information but they were really supportive of everything that was needed to be done.
I would say to my younger self that the situations are uncertain, there are times when things will be in your favor and times when they wont. One should not focus on the parts that are not in their control and rather spend time on persistently becoming a better version of themselves by building confidence in what you do and want to achieve. Retrospecting and refelecting on your daily activities is something that I find helpful. Finding opportunities and working on how those opportunities can be perceived. Taking risks and being open-minded to try new approaches and believing in yourself is important. As they say, “Consistency is the key to success”, so i feel constitently motivate yourself to cover each of these parts mentioned above and it will lead you to the best way possible.
Final tips would be,
Hope this helps and all the best for your journey ahead! Your hardwork and genuine efforts will always pay off!