How to spend your time during MTech studies?

If each one of us asks, “Where should I go such that I make the best use of my time?”, we will start doing things that is most productive for us and for this universe. This is the right question which will transform you into someone great.

Now, that you have decided to go for MTech, let us answer the second best question to ask which is, “How to utilize my time during MTech?”. Before anything, my first advice is not to worry too much about what after MTech. You are in. You will rock. Believe in you. You should have a goal. But, you should not have worries like “Do I have a future”. So, your first job is to make a goal. You need a plan to achieve that goal. Do not have a plan B. That will drag you down. Always have Plan A and only Plan A. You may keep changing your Plan A. That is alright. But, at any moment, you have only one plan. All you have to do is 1) Make a Goal. 2) Plan how to achieve it. 3) Achieve it. I know this does not help. So, let us discuss a bit more in detail.

Some goals are bad. For example, “I want to work for Microsoft Research” is a bad goal. You are putting your happiness in Microsoft’s hands. Do not do that. “I want to do high quality research” is a good goal. If you do it in Microsoft, it is a blessed company. Else, it is it’s bad fate. So, all goals should be inward focused.

Having fixed this goal, the next is “How to be a good researcher?”. MTech is not for preparing yourself towards this goal. PhD is. From research perspective, MTech prepares you for a PhD. The goal of MTech program is to give you the necessary breadth in CS, much advanced than a BTech program so that you can do your PhD well. Some of you are not good at theoretical CS. Some of you are not good at programming. Some of you may not have studied few areas of your liking at depth. MTech is an opportunity to fill these gaps by taking two more years. Having done a BTech, and having prepared for GATE, you should know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Use your MTech time to remove weaknesses and add strengths. This means that you will sign up for courses, select electives, do projects accordingly. So, for someone with theoritical CS weakness or interest, the electives to chase would be Randomized Algorithms, Advanced topics in ToC, Approximation Algorithms, Number Theory and so on. If the goal is different, say, “I want a job with more than X salary”, the plan would be very different. I am not the best to advice for this goal. So, I will stay out of it.

Irrespective of what your goal is, to become a master, you need to perform on a larger stage. You should be a good communicator. You need to be good at all forms of communication – spoken, written, body language and presentation. It should be your constant endaevour to observe, and learn from all possible sources to improve your skills here. The fortunate ones can take courses inside and outside the university. But, if that can’t happen, learn from the better ones. You will always find great orators around you. Observe them. There is no other better way than to try and fail. Don’t be shy. Just do it.

Hope this helps.

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Author: Venkatesh Vinayakarao

Researcher, Computer Science.

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