Vedika Kulkarni, a student from the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati who secured the prestigious DESIS Ascend Fellowship 2020, is a role model for all women aspiring for a career in STEM and Technical fields. Her dedication and determination from a very young age to achieve her goals led her to various opportunities in life including the Google WomenTechMakers 2020 Scholarship. She is a confident and enthusiastic woman gifted in public speaking and dance and equipped with incredible technical skills. 

Read on as she shares her experience of achieving the DESIS Ascend Fellowship 2020 with Scholarship Track.

INTERVIEW

1. Describe the application process in brief

I had to submit my resume (a self-nomination), and answer 4 questions:

  1. Why should women be encouraged to take up STEM careers?
  2. What value do women bring to the tech field? 
  3. How has finance transformed over the years? 
  4. What is the role of technology in finance?

The selection was based on the resume, the answers given, and nominations only.

2. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Feel free to write about anything fun, deep, emotional, or motivating!

Born and brought up in Pune, I have always been a girl with a lot of confidence and enthusiasm. I liked public speaking, dance, and was active in many extracurricular activities in school. I liked studying and developed an inclination towards academics at a very young age. 

In the 8th Standard, I decided that I am going to get into the IIT. JEE preparation was a rough road filled with ups and downs but I focused on my goal and eventually landed at IIT Guwahati – Electronics and Communication Engg. I enjoyed my first year as I made some great hostel memories with really awesome (“machau”IITG slang) friends, and also secured a CPI that got me into Computer Science. The last year i.e. sophomore year has been a year of emotional and academic success and I feel overwhelmed looking back!

3. Major accomplishments

  • Google WomenTechMakers 2020 (74 selected out of ~2600 from India and China)
  • DESIS Ascend Fellowship 2020 (30 selected out of ~2500 from India)
  • Author and presenter at IEEE’s icSmartGrid2020
  • Smart India Hackathon finalist 
  • Landed in top 15 out of 800 startups, researchers, and students teams in MHRD Samadhan Hackathon for COVID-19 (Among top 3 student innovators)

4. Why do you think you were selected?

  1. I had a lot of experience on my resume with 2 internships, a research paper, a government-funded project, hackathon projects.
  1. I have a good community engagement as I volunteer as a guest lecturer at few organizations, hold talks to guide students, and also run my own YouTube channel for JEE aspirants (Vedika’s Tutorials).
  1. My answers were genuine and were supported by my resume. For example, I mentioned cryptocurrencies on my resume and I also had a project on the same.
  1. My answers were personalized and contained examples from my own life.

5. Can you tell us a bit about your experience?

The DESIS experience was mind-blowing!! Had it not been for COVID-19, we would have visited the Hyderabad office of Shaw! But even in virtual mode, D. E. Shaw made sure that it was one of the most memorable and engaging events for all of us.

30 girls were divided into Pods of 6 each, and a Pod lead by the Shaw group was assigned to us. Our lead, Nikita was always in touch with us after every session and we could talk about anything with her.

Day 1 

It consisted of the sessions “Life at DESIS” and “Introduction to Finance”. I loved the Finance one so much as it gave us insight into the world we are going to enter as adults when we make our financial decisions. An origami workshop was held in the evening to help us relax. I felt very proud of myself after making a beautiful origami rangoli.

Day 2 

This day was way busier and involved sessions on Introduction to FO Tech, Tech Case Study on Object-Oriented Design, Tech Case Study on Data Science problems, Tech Panel Discussion, and Introduction to QTE. You can imagine the amount of knowledge we engulfed in like 8 hours. It was a marathon and I loved it! I got a glimpse of a lot of fields I could choose to work in later. D. E. Shaw is really genuine, and each session enriched me. The day ended with a fun yoga session planned for us, which has become very necessary nowadays for mental and physical well-being.

Day 3 

The last day started with a “Systems Talk”, followed by the much-awaited “Meet our Technology Head”. We had very interesting discussions with Mr. Koneti, the Tech Head of the Hyderabad office, and his advice will help us make a smooth entry into the corporate world. That was followed by a session on Interviewing Tips and then the Closing Remarks.

The 3 days of the DESIS Ascend Fellowship event provided a very enriching experience, and I feel happy and proud to be amongst the 30 girls out of ~2500 who got this golden chance.

6. Any advice you would like to give future applicants?

  1. Be very genuine in your answers. Include personal experiences wherever possible. Make sure you know what you write in your answers. E.g. Writing about machine learning without having a single ML project/internship in your resume is something I would strongly condemn.
  1. Be precise and to-the-point in your answers. E.g. If asked about which technology you are passionate about, choose one (preferably have projects in that) and write about it. Writing a few lines about 4-5 technologies makes your answer very confusing.
  1. Don’t be shy about writing the self-nomination. Display your skills smartly by quoting your experiences. Express why you think you deserve the scholarship very clearly.
  1. Start preparing for the scholarship at least from a few months before the deadline by undertaking projects, internships, and volunteering for STEM activities, etc. Enrich your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Now, that was a whole lot of useful information and tips we got from Vedika Kulkarni. Scholarship Track encourages all students to gain insights from her experience and make use of all the resources you have to achieve the best in your respective fields!

Click here to view her LinkedIn profile!


Written by Vishnumaya Unni

A trying-to-be-an-engineer with a loud laugh, And a passion to play with words. Esoteric like an unrhymed poem, Anytime ready to visit 'Crossword'.

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