International Adventure Leads to Amazon

International Adventure Leads to Amazon

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Hometown: Chennai, India

Program: Full-Time MBA

Undergraduate degree: Bachelor’s in Information Technology, Anna University (Chennai, India)

Career experience: Software analyst, Verizon

After graduation: Senior program manager, Amazon

Favorite faculty: “George John. His teaching is crystal clear and I found myself being constantly fascinated in his class. He has a great knack of drawing from his wealth of knowledge and experience and integrating it within course concepts.”

Best part about Carlson: “I definitely would say the people. The community at Carlson is just amazing.”

Hidden talents: Captained the state throwball team and played badminton at the division level in high school

The plane tickets were purchased and Sneha Ravindar was a month away from flying to the other side of the world to start her MBA program when a question at her visa interview caught her by surprise.

Why on earth was she going somewhere so cold? The American woman administering the interview in perpetually hot and humid Chennai, India—where Sneha had spent her whole life up to that point—was puzzled.

Sneha had been more focused on the Carlson School of Management’s Enterprise Programs than Minnesota winters while researching schools, so she returned home and did some quick sleuthing. Her conclusion? “Oh, it’s pretty cold out there.”

But that belated discovery didn’t deter her—and, more than a year and a half later, she’s thankful it didn’t.

“I love this place,” she says. “It’s a lot more than just the cold.”

Finding her fit

Sneha will graduate from the Carlson Full-Time MBA Program in May, having thrown herself wholeheartedly into her overseas adventure, gained valuable experience in the Carlson Brand Enterprise, and capitalized on her summer internship at Amazon to land a full-time job at the ever-growing Seattle-based company. She will join Amazon as a senior program manager in August.

“Opportunities like this are pretty hard to come by and so I was pretty focused on trying to convert that into a full-time job,” she says of her internship.

During her summer in Seattle working in Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing arm, she dug into strategies to improve a particular digital tool’s adoption rate among stakeholders. Her manager advised her to interview at least 20 stakeholders to gather information; Sneha did 65 one-on-one interviews. She says she found a fit with Amazon’s fast-paced, demanding culture.

“When I went to work every day, nobody was going to come up to tell me, ‘Hey Sneha, do you know what you have to do next?’” she says. “You have to decide what your day is going to be. If you want to push yourself, you push yourself. You are your own master and you have the full freedom to take risks, learn from mistakes and make history.”

An adventure abroad

Sneha clearly isn’t scared of a challenge. She had grown up, attended all levels of school, and started her career in Chennai; when she arrived in Minneapolis in August 2016, it was her first time leaving home.

“I was so inspired by her courage,” says classmate Ashley Ver Burg Soukup, ’18 MBA.

“I think everything is an adventure, and I think that’s how I took this whole experience,” says Sneha, who became interested in studying in the U.S. while working in software development at Verizon and remotely collaborating with American co-workers. “I decided that I would not say no to anything and keep an open mind to new challenges and possibilities.”

Career preparation in the Carlson Brand Enterprise

She got involved with the MBA Association, serving as vice president of international affairs, and held leadership positions in several student organizations, including Carlson 4 Community, Graduate Women in Business, and the Women’s Mentorship Program. She used her time in the Carlson Brand Enterprise—which she calls “the single most valuable thing I’m taking out of this program as a career switcher”—to get comfortable with approaching ambiguous business problems, handling clients, and managing a team.

“It’s given me tremendous hands-on experience with companies that I probably would never have gotten the opportunity to work with otherwise,” she says. “Working with people with experience from different industries and roles in a variety of team dynamics, people who’ve probably done this in the past and people who are trying to figure it out together, led to a holistic learning process and I loved the experience.”

Finding a supportive community

When Sneha showed up for orientation, she encountered a bewildering flood of new information. So, last summer—in the midst of her Amazon internship—she decided to write emails to the incoming group of international students to prep them on concepts like networking strategies, STAR stories, and more.

“I think for someone who’s never been out of the country, a new place, having to figure everything out, and plus being an international student doesn’t make it easy,” she says.

But she’s keen to stress her gratitude for the support she’s found in her program, including classmates who have hosted her for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and helped her in a variety of endeavors.

“I think the community has been so welcoming,” she says. “It’s a great support system.”