Shrikant at Cleveland State Explores Multiple OPT Opportunities in the US

Cleveland State University
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By Deshan Mendis
Last updated on August 10, 2023

Shrikant, a grad student from India at Cleveland State, recently obtained Optional Practical Training at Koch Disruptive Technologies. Read all about his work experience – and what’s planned next.

ShrikantIndiaCleveland State University

Shrikant from India, an international graduate student at Cleveland State University, smiles while wearing a blazer and stands in front of a brick wall

Shrikant, an international student at Cleveland State University, recently received an Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunity at Koch Disruptive Technologies, the same organization where he completed a Career Premium internship

Read on to learn more about Shrikant’s experiences studying with Cleveland State Global, working at Koch, and future plans.

Shrikant’s Journey to Cleveland State University

Shrikant, a second-semester graduate student from India at Cleveland State, is pursuing a Master of Information Systems with a focus on data engineering. Compared to other US universities, Cleveland State’s affordability, quality of academics, and strong outcomes made the school a smart choice for his goals. “The opportunities are the same,” says Shrikant. 

The university also offered unique courses that met Shrikant’s career objectives, including “data mining, big data, advanced big data, analytics. [These interested me] and Cleveland State was offering [them], so I made my decision.”

Cleveland State University is a top-ranked public research institution, home to 17,000+ students. The university offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree options with more than 3,000+ internship opportunities annually to help students pursue their dream jobs.

Currently, Shrikant is also an ambassador at the university, supporting other international students and introducing them to the Career Premium program. 

“[It’s important] for me to make students aware of the Career Accelerator, what advantages they have, what they would be doing, what it includes, and help them get enrolled in the Career Accelerator.”

Shrikant’s internship experience with Career Premium was a key part of his professional development, and even helped him find OPT opportunities.

Shrikant’s Career Premium Internship

Career Premium, part of Shorelight’s Career Accelerator program, gives international students access to virtual internship opportunities. With Career Premium, students receive training through online bootcamps, develop professional skills, and get the chance to intern with top US companies and work on real projects. Through Career Premium, students gain valuable professional experiences, even during the pandemic and/or while studying from their home country. 

Shrikant was part of Shorelight’s first Career Premium cohort in 2020, and his internship was at Koch Disruptive Technologies, an investment firm. 

“My role was a venture capitalist and business [analyst]. We had to gather data and then filter out the data. There were a few parameters we [had] to focus on,” he says. 

He was also responsible for researching companies seeking funding, specifically in the field of complex medicine. Although Shrikant primarily had a tech-based background, the introduction program for his internship helped him adjust to the role. 

“The tutorial was designed in such a way that we got everything on our plate,” he says. “We learned about it in detail, then worked on it. We had plenty of time to complete [the work assignments].”

Shrikant’s Internship and Professional Growth 

During his internship, Shrikant met both international and domestic students from multiple universities. This gave him exposure to working with people from different cultures and backgrounds, while also gaining valuable skills through his daily work responsibilties.

He was also able to leverage his unique knowledge and cultural background to support others with their projects. 

“One guy had an agricultural project and he didn’t have that much knowledge about agriculture, but since I’m from India and I know how agriculture works and what are the different avenues for agriculture, what are the difficulties in agriculture, I offered [to] help,” he says. 

These interactions over the course of his internship helped Shrikant build up his network of professional contacts. “Since I offered help, they got to know me and I got to know them,” he says. “If I asked them right now for help, I’m sure they would help me out.”

One of Shrikant’s biggest learnings from the experience was how to stay motivated and competitive in a demanding workforce. 

“You learn who you’re competing with. If you’re in your own bubble, you probably won’t understand the competition,” he says. “But once you are out there, you know there are other people who will be smarter than you… You need to make certain efforts to match up with the skillset that other people have, who are applying for the same job.” 

Shrikant’s Plans for the Future

As Shrikant works toward completing his master’s degree, his aim is to be a data engineer after graduation. His time with Koch Disruptive Technologies was so successful that the organization has expressed interest in having him return to the company through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or OPT

CPT opportunities allow international students to engage in training or internships while studying, usually as a part of their degree program. OPT opportunities allow students to work or train in the US during their studies or after their graduation. This makes OPT a great option for students who want to develop their careers in the US as young professionals. 

Shrikant is leveraging this opportunity to pursue his personal long-term dream job. 

“I want to work for Formula One!” he says. “It will be a long road, but I know what I need to do in order to get there. I’ve read so much about it, and I’m sure I’ll be there in the next two to three years.”

Shrikant’s Advice for International Students

Shrikant urges international students to explore different types of job roles and work experience opportunities, especially when just starting out.  

“Don’t get stuck to one field. Of course, I want to be a data engineer, but I am applying for multiple roles,” he says. “It doesn’t matter where you are or what you want to do, you can get there eventually. Just get into some internship. Don’t waste time!”

He is also interviewing with several employers for roles where he can gain professional experience, even in areas outside data science. Shrikant is also utilizing his professional network to explore even more opportunities, and recommends that other students do the same. 

Make connections — if you have connections, you will get an internship very fast,” Shrikant, MS in Information Systems, Cleveland State University

“The entire Shorelight team is really great, you can walk up to anyone. I’m a [Cleveland State] Global student and I work at the Cleveland State Global office. Everyone here [is] so helpful. Everyone pushes you hard for you to be successful, and the Shorelight team helps you out with everything. They have been with me since day one,” says Shrikant.  

Shrikant’s rapid career growth was possible in part because of his advisors, who were there with him every step of the way – and continue to assist him today. 

With Shorelight, you will have support from when you apply to your US university, all the way to graduation. Support services include transition guidance to adapt to life in the US, how to pursue the right degree for your goals, and discovering opportunities to get your dream job.

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