As the judges at the CaseIT international competition pressed her for answers about her team’s solution, Carlson School of Management senior Indu Damodar calmly delivered her response, referencing an agile product backlog.
“Not a topic that many students would have at the tip of their tongue,” quips Corrie Fiedler, a retired senior lecturer and one of the advisors for the school’s MIS Case Competition team.
Then again, Damodar has made a habit of standing out during her time at the Carlson School, from embracing student leadership positions to landing an internship at Microsoft last summer. Damodar, who was recently named Senior of the Year as part of the Carlson School’s Business Week, will join the technology giant full time in August as a business development analyst.
“With technology, there’s so much you can do,” she says. “That potential excites me.”
Finding a home at Carlson
Damodar never pictured herself in business school until her high school guidance counselor told her about GopherBusiness, a weeklong summer camp that formerly brought promising and diverse students to the Carlson School to explore careers in business.
“I came here and I just fell in love with the school,” recalls Damodar, who has remained close friends with two Carlson classmates from the program, Ananya Mishra and Jacob Stalsberg. “The leaders of the program at the time had a huge impact on me. They were all super motivated. They were doing cool things in life, but they were also very humble. It felt like I had a home at Carlson. That really inspired me.”
It also introduced her to the field of management information systems, which harnessed both her interest in computers and extroverted personality.
“I’ve always been a science nerd,” she says. “MIS, where you interact with people and then also work with technology, was perfect.”
Growing into a leader
Damodar remembers surveying the scene in the Carlson School atrium at the student organization fair two weeks into her first semester. She came into college planning to join as many groups as possible, but she felt particularly drawn to Business Board, the school’s undergraduate student government.
“I want to lead that organization one day,” she remembers thinking to herself.
Sure enough, she’s now the president.
“That group I love because it’s one of the few groups in Carlson where recruiting or corporations aren’t involved,” she says. “It’s all about just giving back to Carlson. I loved that aspect and I knew I’d be challenged in new ways.”
Making it to Microsoft
During the summer after her sophomore year, Damodar flew to Seattle to visit Mishra, her friend dating back to GopherBusiness. The latter also happened to be interning at Microsoft.
“I was like, ‘This is awesome. I want to do this too,’” says Damodar.
When she returned to school that fall, she stopped into the Undergraduate Business Career Center, whose staff connected her with alumni working at Microsoft. After a flurry of emails, LinkedIn messages, and phone calls – and encouragement from friends like Blake LaBathe, ’17 BSB, who had interned at Microsoft and now works there – she secured a spot in the company’s new business development internship program.
“Some of the people that helped me a lot, I’ve never met them,” she says. “It was all phone conversations. Just the fact I was a Carlson student was the only connection I had and they were going out of their way to help me.”
Three months after graduating from the school she unabashedly loves – “I’ll talk about Carlson day in and day out,” she says – Damodar will start a rotational program at Microsoft, where she’ll get to use her knack for building connections on the job.
“When she walks in front of an audience, we are compelled to listen,” says Fiedler. “One of my goals in teaching and coaching is to help our students think and communicate like adult professionals, rather than students or interns. Indu has hit that mark.”