Deeksha, a virtual design and construction (VDC) engineer with Austin Commercial, began her journey in the US at Auburn University, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees after starting with Auburn Global. Originally from India, she was raised in the Middle East, and moved to Auburn after high school.
Deeksha recently shared her unique experience studying in the US — how she made the most of her opportunities at Auburn and continues to support other international students in reaching their career goals.
Combining Design with Construction
During her time as an undergraduate and then graduate student at Auburn, Deeksha explored a variety of interests — and was always encouraged to do so.
“I moved to Auburn to pursue my degree in environmental design,” she said. “I had a lot of fun with it. It was a great program [and] perfect for what I wanted at the time. I got to do a lot with it — I got to study abroad, I got to pursue a language, I got to participate in a lot of extracurriculars while working on the degree.”
As she approached her final year in her undergraduate program, Deeksha realized her passion for construction and decided to pursue a master’s in this field. Her enthusiasm, the supportive environment at Auburn, along with guidance from her professors, encouraged Deeksha to begin classes while still completing her undergraduate program.
“Communicating that you have an interest will take you a long way,” she said. “I don’t think as an international student you should shy away from that. Take full advantage of it! If there is a class you like that does not fit your coursework or schedule, reach out to the professor, and say you’re really interested in this class. I can’t think of one time a professor said no.”
Studying for Two Degrees at Auburn
U.S. News & World Report ranks Auburn University 27th for first-year experiences in 2022. Auburn Global offers international students more than 150 undergraduate and 25 graduate programs to choose from, including top-ranked engineering, architecture, design, and business degrees.
With its campus located in the beautiful city of Auburn, Alabama, the university gives international students the chance to explore its rich history and culture while enjoying adventure sports such as biking, hiking, camping, and much more.
Deeksha’s background, ability to adapt, and social skills were her biggest strengths during the first few months living in Alabama. She said, “I [grew] up in a very international community. My family are very avid travelers, so it wasn’t a hard journey for me to mold myself to Auburn life. I remember being very excited to be in this new place to start this new journey.”
Deeksha also highlighted the crucial role of Auburn Global student ambassadors, who are assigned to help international students adjust to campus life from the first week of arrival (and often earlier, with pre-arrival activities, too). Student ambassadors keep you updated on orientation events, share information about campus facilities, housing, academic options, and provide emotional support when needed. Their kindness and support is what inspired Deeksha to become a student ambassador herself.
“Some of the first friends I made in Auburn were the global guides. [I] stayed friends with them throughout my entire time in Auburn, and I am still friends with them,” she said. “I thought it was a very kind thing to do. In the first week there is so much information being thrown at you, so having the global guides around, and getting to know them, helped. They had shown me so much kindness, I wanted to do that for someone else.”
Deeksha’s welcoming personality and ability to make others around her feel comfortable made her perfect for the role. She encourages international students to be flexible and open to new experiences. Signing up for clubs, going to football games, and participating in extracurriculars provides the ideal environment to meet new people from different schools and universities. It gives you the chance to build new friendships, learn about different people, and improves your confidence to communicate with others.
“If there is an event, just go! You’ll meet people and you’ll talk to different kinds of people!” she said.
Developing Career Skills at Auburn
Auburn University provides students with multiple opportunities to network with industry experts. Deeksha encourages international students to take advantage of the visits.
“We have a lot of companies that come visit us throughout the semester. They’ll come every week and they’ll organize events. I would go to all of those,” she said. “I would meet anyone, talk to everyone. One, it’ll help you build connections; two, it’ll help you [feel] more [comfortable] in your own skin.”
Practice and research are a vital part of widening your career scope. Deeksha believes Auburn’s Career Fair was her biggest resource. She began participating as a freshman to learn how to have an impactful interview, understand what recruiters are looking for, know the type of job offered, and learn which companies hire international students.
Deeksha is confident her experience at Auburn gave her both the skills and clarity for the career path she should take.
“I was very clear about wanting to pursue a degree in the US and access [an] affordable education,” she said. “I had applied to seven schools in total, and Auburn was the only one that checked every single box. It was very clear in my head: this is where I want to go.”
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