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#womeninSTEM Series (3)

Snigdha Nagarajan is a Strategic Deals and Partnerships Manager at Apple Inc. where she helps establish and lead business engagements between Apple and third parties. Snigdha completed her M.S. in Management Science and Engineering from Columbia University, U.S. in 2020.

Our third feature in the #womeninSTEM series, highlights Snigdha’s STEM journey - her motivation, learnings, challenges and how she met some of those challenges, as well as, her advice to young women wanting to pursue STEM studies. Read more here…

What are you currently doing?

I’ve recently joined Apple as a Strategic Deals and Partnerships Manager where I help establish and lead business engagements between Apple and third parties. Prior to that, I worked at EY San Francisco for 2 years. As a Senior Consultant at EY, I worked on improving sales, operational and financial strategy for clients across multiple industries.

What made you take up your field of study in the U.S.?

I was keen on pursuing my graduate studies in the U.S. because of its excellent academic quality, cultural diversity and most importantly, post-graduate career opportunities at the intersection of business and engineering.

When applying for my graduate studies I had considered programs across the globe. I was particular about wanting to pursue my masters in operations engineering and learning its applications in day-to-day business scenarios. Programs in the U.S. were unique in providing such practical learning opportunities. Additionally, having already interned in Europe I was keen on exploring the U.S. and immersing myself in its diverse culture.

What were the challenges you faced during your academic journey to your University and how did you overcome them?

Two of the biggest challenges I faced in my academic journey were the lack of funding and administrative support.

a. Lack of funding - I was privileged that I had the opportunity to complete my undergraduate education without any financial restrictions. However, the expenses of masters in the US, especially in New York City is a whole different ballgame. Realizing my financial constraints, I started applying for several scholarships and competitions from my 2nd year and started saving all my winnings in a “college fund”. This significantly helped reduce the cost of my education loan. I would strongly recommend applying for scholarships/interest free loans as they significantly help cover the cost of education- JN Tata Endowment (<10 lakhs), KC Mahindra Scholarship (<8 lakhs) and Narottam Sekhsaria Scholarship (<20 lakhs) are some of the sources of funding available to Indian students. It’s also good to check for financial aid opportunities with your department well ahead of the application deadline.

b. Lack of administrative support – As a woman pursuing engineering in India, I often felt underrepresented. Fortunately, I discovered a network within my seniors and peers who constantly motivated me. When applying for your masters degree, I would highly encourage students to reach out to folks who are completing/have already completed the program you’re planning to pursue. Speaking to college seniors and cold messaging on LinkedIn has usually worked for me.

What is the impact you intend to make with your chosen field of study/work?

I believe in the potential of operations engineering to make our lives more efficient. Whether that’s route optimization to make public transit accessible to all or reducing packaging waste in retail, I want to make meaningful contributions for the benefit of the community.

One tip or advice for women who intend to make a mark in STEM fields..

Ask for your seat at the table - No matter how intimidating or challenging, introduce your ideas to the world.

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