From India to Australia – Atharva Desai’s Masters at Swinburne University

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Atharva Desai was working in a high-level position for an IT firm in India when he decided to go overseas to Australia. To take his career to the next level, Atharva knew that he needed a higher education as well as international experience. 

Atharva arrived in Melbourne, Australia in 2017 to commence his master degree in Information System Management at Swinburne University. This is his story.

What made you choose Swinburne University?

“Before commencing my master’s degree, I had worked in the IT Industry for around 4 years and was improving and gaining practical knowledge and experience. However, I realised for me to grow and progress, I needed skills in Leadership & Management. That’s what spurred me to pursue my masters, and I chose Swinburne University of Technology because the course provided a blend of technology and management units as well.

“I was also lucky to receive a scholarship from Swinburne which I knew had a wonderful international reputation. I had met some of the course advisors in India and based on my discussions with them I was able to identify pretty early on that they had great support for students. This included student services, wellbeing programs, webinars on career & professional development, job hunting, interviews and much more. Largely the units offered as part of my course were exactly what I was looking for, so that was a defining factor for choosing Swinburne.

“It was a difficult decision for me to quit my job and study overseas. When I notified my colleagues, friends, and family, everyone was shocked. They said that I was at a pivotal point in my life and quitting a good job to move overseas to start over wasn’t advisable. But for me, I was in my comfort zone and I wanted to expand and challenge myself. I knew I had to get out and focus on developing myself, my skillset and meet new people.”

What challenges did you face when you first came to Australia?

“The largest challenge I faced was finding part-time employment. When I was in India, things had always fallen into place. After graduating from my bachelor’s degree in India, I received full-time work in IT which is where I had remained for those four years. I therefore had never really been in the job-seeking market.

“Coming to Australia was a completely different world! The Australian job market is vastly different from India and understanding the nature of it initially was a big challenge for me. I had no professional or personal network in Australia and had to start from scratch. I knew it was important to engage in different activities, meet new people and create my own opportunities. Other challenges I faced was analysing the types of jobs, the requirements and much more. Another challenge I faced was understanding the job roles, their requirements and attaining feedback on unsuccessful applications so I would know where to improve.

“Coming from an Asian country, where things are convenient and cheap, Australia was a big change. I needed to plan to succeed. Thankfully though, I had come to Australia with an open mind and could let go of some of the things I had gotten used to. Funnily enough, I didn’t romanticise the idea of ‘Australia’ so I didn’t feel too much of a culture shock. I also love trying new and different food, so Melbourne was the perfect place for me!”

How was the course you studied?

“The course was great! Honestly, I can’t complain about anything! I am so beyond happy with my decision to study Information Systems Management at Swinburne because it provided me with a wide range of technical skills, management skills, leadership and so much more. I learned a lot about Business Analytics, Visualisations, Database Analysis & Design including SQL, MS PowerBI, MS Visio, requirements and analysis. Besides, the other units like Software Project Management, Agile Methodology, Business Model Canvas, Project Charter, Digital Risk Management, Design Thinking and Business-IT alignment were all great for my career. I can honestly say that at the end of my course, I learnt the skills to recommend effective solutions to complex business problems by thoroughly analysing the people, processes, and technology aspects.

“The combination of my previous experience and the vast knowledge and range of skills I learnt from my course, means that I am able to handle various responsibilities and do multiple roles in my current organization, thereby providing me with an edge over other resources/graduates.

“The academic staff were very supportive! I remember when I was first transitioning, the course advisor actively scheduled a meeting with me to help me plan my semester and all the units. He also had a wealth of knowledge about the units, so he advised me well on which ones I should take for each semester that gave me the best outcomes of the course.

“Throughout the course, we had a very high collaboration with industry partners, so we frequently had lecturers coming from different industries to deliver workshops and conduct seminars. They gave us great insight into the industry, what skillset the people are looking for, how the industry is transforming and how we can shift our learning efforts.

“There was also great academic and non-academic support available at all times on campus like career advice, or the Swinburne Students Union. With learning support services, sometimes I just walked in and showed them my assignments and they would sit down with me and give me advice to improve my writing. For an international student like myself, academic requirements for the context of our assignments and exams were very different to the education system in my country. English is my second language, so this kind of support was vital to me. One of the most important things was that our academic staff had a very strong industry background. Some professionals worked in the industry for 20 years before moving into the academic spaces, so they always taught us based on their practical experience, they talked about the industry’s insights rather than based everything on the academic point of views.”