I have been working on my SOP for the past few days and have gone over it a few times in order to refine it. I was wondering if the experts out here could review it and offer suggestions to improve it. Any feedback or criticism is welcome, and would be highly appreciated.
Prompt: Please give a short statement that describes your academic interests, purpose, objectives and motivation in undertaking this postgraduate study. (max 3500 chars - approx. 500 words)
Details: 511 Words, 3195 Characters
My association with computers started at the age of 15, when my elder sister took up a part-time job at a cybercafé. She would allow me to use one of the machines there, and I would explore it endlessly for hours. Shortly thereafter, I wrote my first "Turbo C" program and thus began my journey as a programmer. Ten years hence, I am employed with one of India's leading engineering companies, Larsen and Toubro (L&T), as a senior programmer and thriving professionally. My career has spanned almost four years and I have had extensive experience programming mission-critical enterprise applications. I have also led a team to develop TestNav 7.0, a brand new product for Pearson Educational Measurements (PEM), currently being used by students across USA for taking K-12 examinations online.
I hardly consider professional success as the culmination of learning, having always harboured the desire to constantly challenge myself and push the limits of my abilities. I have a fascination for synergism in large systems and developed an intense interest in the areas of Computer Networks, Operating Systems and Distributed Computing during my undergraduate years at the Thadomal Shahani Engineering College (University of Mumbai). I was able to apply advanced concepts such as multithreading, inter-process communication and n-tier architectures while writing software. By taking up the M.Sc. course in High Performance Computing offered by EPCC at the University of Edinburgh, my goal is to take my skills to the next level by being able to develop software capable of exploiting emergent parallel and multi-core hardware architectures. Due to its practical orientation and emphasis on programming techniques, the course is ideal for me and the modules contained therein coincide with my areas of interest. I can rely upon my strong foundations in C++ and Java programming as well as in-depth understanding of modern software development paradigms such as object-oriented design patterns and life-cycle processes, to excel at this course.
EPCC's strong link with the industry is sure to provide me with tremendous exposure to the commercial use of high-performance computing and numerous opportunities to participate in global forums on the subject. I look forward to working hands-on with some of the world's most advanced supercomputers such as the Cray XT4 MPP and the IBM Blue Gene hosted at EPCC. Going forward, I would like to delve deeper into the subject by following it up with a PhD and the Master's degree will equip me with the requisite knowledge for such an undertaking. My stint as a software professional has inculcated in me, the maturity required to take on the rigours of a career in research. I have had sufficient experience working on real-world projects to be able to translate the products of learning into commercially viable solutions. Securing a place within the M.Sc. course at the University of Edinburgh is a giant leap in my career and only the first step towards finding my niche in the rapidly evolving arena of high-performance computing.
All of the paragraphs are well written, but the concluding paragraph looks a bit too long. It just look weird to me since you have the first three paragraphs having about the same amount. I suggest that you broaden the first three paragraphs if you can to make it look even because the last paragraph is really good (and I don't think it's a good idea to cut it).
Thanks a lot for the input Will. I had to cut it down because the limit is 3500 characters. Also, it is impressive to the reader if more information can be conveyed in less words. My only inhibition is that an SOP should not become a running commentary on one's résumé. Rather than talking about what I have done so far, I should probably elaborate on what I want to do in the future and how this particular course/university fits into the picture. At the end of it, the reader should be able to judge what my big plan is and how motivated am I to pursue it! Do you think that point comes across sufficiently?
This is as good as they get, very impressive. It is even enjoyable to read!
I could not find errors, and I think the style is very good. Here, at the end, I found something that could be improved:
Securing a place within the M.Sc. course at EPCC is, therefore, a giant leap in my career and I plan to follow it up with a PhD as the logical next step for my interest in High Performance Computing.
"... step for my interest" does not work. You can say this:
Securing a place within the M.Sc. course at EPCC is, therefore, a giant leap in my career and I plan to follow it up with a PhD as the logical next step in my process of mastering the field of High Performance Computing.
Thanks for the feedback Kevin. I have created another lean and mean version of my SOP. This one is more to-the-point and talks about why I am ideally suited for this course and how the course in turn helps me achieve my goals. Please have a look and let me know which one would improve my chances of getting an admission. Thanks!
It really is lean and mean. That first para takes the reader from your first experience at age 10, and makes us see a cyber cafe, and then brings us all the way to your current job, even including some mention of accomplishments. That is like the start of a good movie!
As it continues, you make a pretty strong case. I don't think I have any more ideas! It's great...