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I developed an Android app to navigate a crowded train station in Singapore; SOP - CMU MISM Program

praneetha17 1 / 2  
Oct 9, 2014   #1
When a visually impaired person used an Android app that I developed to navigate a crowded train station in Singapore easily, I knew that no matter what I do, I would work towards it being beneficial to the society. The growth in technology in the past decade has provided endless opportunities to work on that and prompted me to pursue bachelors degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. During my study there, I didn't just learn the technical aspects of a subject, but also to apply them in the real world and skills to build more on them. During my work at Merck, a giant Pharmaceutical company, I worked to learn and implement effective systems and projects that helped the company invest more in saving lives around the world. Management and proper applications of technology is as important as the technology itself. And with this viewpoint, I jumped on every opportunity I got to learn and showcase more about technology management. However, I believe a Masters in Information Systems Management (MISM) degree from Carnegie Mellon will give me a bigger boost to realise my goal of creating effective technological solutions.

I must admit I had no technology background prior to my undergraduate studies which affected my scores in my freshman year. However, I persevered and took up online courses while working on my other modules. When Apple Inc. launched the first ever iPhone, I attended several seminars to discuss how the breakthrough can impact the world in a positive way. I started learning mobile technologies in my free time. During my work in Technopreneurship and Incubation Program at my university, my team and I developed and pitched business plans for various technologies and mobile apps including automated home security management through mobile.

As part of the winter business exchange program to the major business cities in India, Mumbai and Hyderabad, I was one of the few people to meet with the several managing directors of the prominent retailers to discuss with them on how crowdsourcing technologies, especially in collaboration with universities, can benefit both parties. I also worked on a business plan for companies to provide updates regularly to their customers directly to their phones. This plan caters especially to the Indian market with a huge customer base for middle class and constantly rising mobile phone users. I decided that I wanted to work on fostering the bridge between technology and business to help corporates and consumers at the same time.

My academic projects also provided me with an outlet to work on different upcoming technologies. Even though I did not do well in my object oriented programming module taken in my freshman year, I worked continuously to improve those skills and learn, as I progressed into my senior years. As part of my final year project, I developed an android application that communicates with a transmitter-receiver kit that my partner built into the walking cane to help the visually impaired navigate public places. The app was praised by the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) for its ease, convenience and usability. As part of a team for my Software Engineering Course, I developed a desktop to-do application using C# that connects with google calendars, facebook and other custom applications to help individuals keep track of their items as well as remind them of upcoming tasks. This course also helped me build more skills in general programming and software project management that I used in my other courses and during my work as a Web Platform Engineer.

Working at Merck provided me with a lot of opportunities to learn, build and utilise my technological skills while working with and managing teams across the globe. During my first year, to solve the problem of slow or unresponsive Microsoft Sharepoint pages in parts of Asia Pacific and Australia branches, I helped design, build and test the infrastructure in Singapore. This system would support delivery of pages directly instead of routing through our main data centre in the United States. Confident that I was able to manage this project on my own with the help of one of my colleagues, I headed the project of building a customized intranet site that would handle requests for the Merck internal SAP system and store data into one of our Oracle databases all through the process of a workflow that is run on a Microsoft Sharepoint site. This system is currently used by the Singapore Merck team and handle around 100 requests daily. I worked on building an archiving system for unstructured data collected from Sharepoint Sites. Pharma companies have a lot of confidential records and data dated years back that need to be archived and be available readily and this system made that easier.

I was then asked to work with our Cloud and Web Platform Services team to help administer, customize and manage the cloud environment that Merck decided to adopt. I worked with my team in New Jersey to retire a content deployment system that was about a decade old and built a new cost-effective system that syncs developers code into the cloud and help them deploy their content into production systems within seconds. I am currently working on customising the Amazon cloud services to better fit Merck's needs in terms of security and usability as well as migrating the existing infrastructure from the data centre to cloud. Working with cross-cultural teams located in the United States, Prague, Asia Pacific region and Australia gave me amazing learning opportunities not just regarding work cultures but also regarding the challenges of managing teams overseas, importance of communication, challenges of time-difference and necessity of collaboration and work towards common goals.

I can proudly say that my education has evolved from just learning to survive in a class with students from different countries to being able to survive the culture shock, learning from mistakes, perseverance, building up soft skills, learning the importance of communication. Time and again, I have tried to put all these lessons to use in my work and I see the results very positively. My curiosity to learn more and implement it to my work pulled me towards higher education that will help me achieve it. And hence, I apply to the CMU MISM Program in hopes of pushing my career towards effective use of technology and management and the importance of them put together for an effective enterprise.
nicolezmh1997 6 / 30 8  
Oct 9, 2014   #2
I really appreciate for your effort and ability in developing an app! And I think that CMU may like the talented students such as you.

But after reading it, I find that your narration is lack of vivid description and some deeper reflection. It's a little bit boring to read your essay

What's the word limit? If your essay is now under the word limit, you could try to curtail some part about your success in your Android App.

I think you may encounter failure during the process, so you could say that the education in CMU could further your dream to develop more well-constructed and helpful apps.

In your conclusion part, you could restate your determination in becoming a person who is beneficial to the society, and you hope that the education or the program in CMU could promote your personal well-being as well as social progress.

Above are just some of my suggestion. You could determine whether you accept them or not!
Keep on working :)
OP praneetha17 1 / 2  
Oct 10, 2014   #3
Hi, thank you for your input. I really appreciate your candid response. I am going to edit my essay and keep your comments in mind while I do it. Thanks again!
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 11, 2014   #4
Praneetha, one thing I always ask when I read an SOP this long is, "What is the essay really asking for? What is the prompt? Unless you tell us what the requirements are we will not know what parameters to consider in editing the essay. At this point, I will agree with Nicole about the lack of clarity in the paper. You need to realize that just because you discuss everything about your academic and professional work in the essay, that does not mean it is interesting nor does it answer what the prompt is asking for. You can actually edit the essay to the nitty gritty parts that are needed to satisfy what the admissions officer wants to read. At this point, you only succeeded in boring the reader because of the extra long essay you wrote.

I hope you can upload the prompt for your essay so that we can advise you about which portions to build up, what to remove, and which part to simply mention but not discuss. We can actually help you revise and shape up the essay to the point where it will adhering to the essay prompt. Just remember, you will need to do the work as we advise you. Expect to do a number of rewrites before you get it right.

The one thing that i can say is that there is nothing in your paper that relates to how your app connects to your SOP or the CMU MISM program. Your discussion should have somehow made that connection at the start in order to give your essay a solid foundation and show us that your interests and past achievements have led you to the need or desire to take advanced studies in the field. That is how you establish and effective SOP, specially for such a complex program like this one.

At this point, I will hold back on my comments about the content until I read the prompt. Somehow the paper is informative but is lacking something. I am sure I will be able to pinpoint what it is that we need to add or fix once I see the prompt :-)
OP praneetha17 1 / 2  
Oct 11, 2014   #5
Hi vangiespen, thanks for your input. This is the prompt for the SOP: Please upload an essay of approximately 1,000 words describing your academic and professional background, your career goals, and how the program will help you achieve your goals.

I am willing to make several edits to my SOP this is my first draft and I tried to put in as much information as possible. I am also unsure of how much I can talk about how the projects affected me or shaped me. I felt like I have to provide more examples of what I have done than simply saying that I am capable of.

Regarding the course itself: it's about creating technology managers. Someone who can manage the creation and delivery of technology with a knack of business so they could provide innovative solutions to enterprises. And that's why I tried to provide examples of how I worked on projects in tech and business
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 11, 2014   #6
Praneetha, multiple presentations of your abilities tend to confuse the reader. The most effective SOP's always present your best ability in relation to your application. So choose the best one and expand upon that. The same applies to your academic achievements. You need to work the best information about you into a maximum of two pages otherwise you will lose the interest of the reader and you will come across as a show off. You want to be seen as enthusiastic but not over eager to please. If I may, I will highlight the portions that I believe will best help your SOP develop in an interesting and logical manner.

- Before you proceed to the Merck paragraph, you need to state your reason for applying for advanced studies and what your future occupational plans are. There needs to be a direct relation between your current job position and your future plans that require the higher understanding of the demands of your job. Then develop the Merck paragraph as a separate paragraph because this directly relates to your interest in the program. Don't discuss any topics that will not show how you developed an interest in advanced fields of study.

- Only present yourself as a strong student bent on succeeding in everything that you do. There is no room for weakness in an SOP.
- Does your software project relate to your interest in advanced studies? If so, you need to show the connection in order to make the story of your project relevant to the essay. Try to shorten the story by simply telling us about the relationship between your project and the masters studies.

- Don't jump around with your discussions. Fully discuss Merck at the beginning and never go back to it again. Like I said, choose the most important and most relevant work project you participated in and make sure to fully develop that in an impressive manner. Right now your essay shows how undecided you are about the content you put into it.

And hence, I apply to the CMU MISM Program in hopes of pushing my career towards effective use of technology and management and the importance of them put together for an effective enterprise.

- You should explain how the advanced studies will help you in achieving your future goals.

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