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As a part of our on-going Career Series, we are covering the experiences of several recent alumni who joined various companies and universities after their stay at IIT Bombay. If you are interested in contributing a piece, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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Chief Editors: Anshul Avasthi, Chirag Chadha

Manish Shetty is an alumnus of IIT Bombay, who completed his Dual Degree (B. Tech., M. Tech.) in the Chemical Engineering department, and found himself giving management consulting a go before settling for a future in academia. He talks about why he chose not to apply to grad schools right out of IIT Bombay, and about how the transition back to academia worked out for him.

What led you to take up a job immediately after graduation, as opposed to directly signing up for higher studies?

I was not sure if a PhD was really what I wanted to pursue after my Dual Degree in Chemical Engineering, and I had enough perspective then to realize I did not want another Masters. However, I was not sure about a long term commitment of 5 years for a PhD and whether I really wanted to pursue research as a career. Besides, I was not even halfway into my Dual Degree Project when I had to apply, which made it all confusing for me.

Only when placement season came over and I got lucky with shortlists that I seriously started considered consulting as an option. However, all the way through, I was clear that if I grad school would always remain an option.

[pullquote]The job involved long hours and hard work but the people made it worth going to work everyday.[/pullquote]
Why did you chose consulting? More specifically, why Bain & Co. as the company to work with?

Honestly, I was fortunate with shortlists. Once I got shortlisted in most consulting companies, I seriously started considering consulting as an option. I think the Company events really gave me a good perspective too. I was drawn towards BCG and Bain &Co., largely due to the people I met during these events. On D-day, I was fortunate to get an offer from Bain &Co. and I am still grateful for the opportunity.

Why consulting? I think it gives you a good perspective as a first job to figure out what you may want to do in the future. Besides, it also adds credibility and value to your CV for future job prospects, and B-school applications as well. Bain & Co. had really nice and smart people and it was a pleasure working there for a year. The job involved long hours and hard work but the people made it worth going to work everyday. The impression that I had during the Company events indeed matched the work atmosphere to a large extent.

What propelled you to take up higher studies after working for a year?

I was always weighing my next step as I was going through my final year at IIT and while working at Bain. I wanted to get a flavour of what is on the other side before applying to graduate school. I would not be sure what I would miss if I joined Graduate school directly after IIT. I went through a long phase of introspection whether the path I saw after consulting (be they through business school, or private equity) for myself. I did not see myself happy in those career paths. Meanwhile, I had submitted a paper on my Dual Degree work and I had a good sense whether research would be tolerable and interesting to pursue in the slightly longer term. Discussions with peers and friends helped a lot and I had a lot of encouraging words from friends, faculty at IIT, and even colleagues at Bain.

Applying 4 months into the job in December of 2011, when I didn’t have a clear perspective of consulting didn’t make the decision to apply any easier. However, I thought when the time comes to make a decision in April 2012, I would have had enough projects and time at Bain to decide on accepting any admit decisions that I may get. Come April 1, I was quite convinced that I should be joining graduate school as rather than continuing for another year at Bain. Friends, colleagues, and mentors at Bain encouraged my decision. I remember one of the partners mentioning to me, “If you still have any second thoughts about graduate school, please don’t! Go ahead and follow your dreams! ”

[pullquote]Having stayed away from classes for a year made the transition [to MIT] slightly difficult[/pullquote]

How’s MIT treating you? What are your plans after Ph.D.?

The start of my time here at MIT wasn’t smooth. Sharing space with a smart bunch of students from all around the world with a rusty mind after having stayed away from classes for a year made the transition slightly difficult at the beginning. As they say “The grass is always greener on the other side”. I initially questioned quitting my job at Bain and joining MIT. I did well during my first year to clear all classes and qualifiers I believe.

[pullquote]At some point, I want to come back to Mother India.[/pullquote]
As I look back, I do not regret having left my job and I am quite happy with what I am doing. There are daily frustrations like in every job – but I feel challenged everyday and I am making mistakes and learning everyday. I work with smart people just like at Bain & Co. and I try to learn as much as I can and contribute in my own way with my strengths. Its been satisfying so far and very humbling to realize how much more I have to learn everyday.

After PhD. perhaps a job in industry is what I seek. At some point, I want to come back to Mother India. I don’t intend to stay here in the US.

[pullquote]Opportunities are immense and there are ways to change career paths[/pullquote]

In your opinion, what could be done so that students take an informed decision on what to do after graduation?

I went with my gut feeling through IIT and even during placement season. We are still young and it’s okay to not been able to figure things out by your final year, I think. Lots of your decisions will be based on your experiences on campus and your seniors’ views. However, life after IIT is only the beginning of another stage of your life. IIT gives you a good springboard for the next step in your career. However, it is by no means the end of your opportunities. Opportunities are immense and there are ways to change career paths. If you are confused about what you want to do, it’s fine. It probably means that you are at least thinking. I may have graduated 3 years back, but I still go through the confusions of what to do on a daily basis, so welcome the club.

Relax and do your best! 🙂

McKinsey & Co., BCG, A.T. Kearney, Strategy &, PwC Diamond and several other management consulting firms also recruit students from IIT Bombay regularly. Keep following Insight for more interviews written by alumni working across different sectors.