INI Student Ties Success to Community Engagement

April 03, 2014

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Devika Nair Syama (MS24) gets involved and, by doing so, unearths new opportunities. She will join Sears Holding Corporation full time upon graduation after having
completed a success-filled internship there. Nair earned the grand prize in a showcase of hundreds of projects by Sears interns. Her manager loved her enthusiasm, describing her as "one of the most engaged interns" last summer.

Pursuing the Pittsburgh-Silicon Valley MSIT-SM, Nair studied hard but also sought out student groups and events. Not every student can balance academic demands and cocurricular activities with ease. Her strategy was to commit first and then manage her time proactively.

"I have always found it easy to work my schedule around these activities by planning a little early and making up my mind to attend them," Nair said.

Her peers elected her to officer positions for both GOINI and WINI. Nair felt fortunate for the chance to serve.

"It lets you continue the great job that has been done over the years and facilitate the platform for your fellow students to enjoy," she said. "You can also help conduct your favorite activities and gain practical experience in planning events, managing multiple tasks and working with others. These skills are very helpful in the real world."

At the Silicon Valley campus, Nair participated in hacking competitions. Her team won the "best app overall" prize at the Tizen Hackathon in Palo Alto, earning the team
$1000 in prize money. The app was also declared the MobileCON champion round winner, competing with winners from other hackathons and earning the team a trip to attend the CTIA mobile conference in Las Vegas.

"[In the Bay Area,] we also had the opportunity to attend networking events, meetups, visit incubators and meet people from startups and large corporations," she said.

Her participation at various events flexed her new skills and increased her network of contacts. She proved throughout her grad school career that a great deal of learning can take place outside the classroom.

This article appears in the 2013-2014 INI Newsletter. View the online version on Issuu or in PDF.