Kamal Keshar Khanal from Surkhet, Nepal works as a graduate intern doing SAS programming at Phillips & Cohen Associates Ltd., in addition to being a candidate for the master of science in information systems and technology management (ISTM) at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. Keshar Khanal, who plans to graduate in 2021, shared his experience choosing Lerner graduate programs and how it has impacted him both personally and professionally.
Q: Why did you go back to school to pursue your graduate degree? Why did you choose the Lerner College for your studies?
Keshar Khanal: My thoughts about the use of information technology in the research and business world drastically changed when I worked as a research assistant at the Center for Experimental and Applied Economics at the University of Delaware, where sophisticated computer programming is used to collect the experimental data. I found that the application of information systems is inevitable in any research and business work.
My enthusiasm to develop skills in the field of information systems and technology management persuaded me to search the program of my interest at UD. I participated in the free Lerner graduate program information session, where I got information about the M.S. in ISTM program offered by the Lerner College. I also got in-depth information about the program from Professor Andrea Everard, who is the graduate program director. I found that the M.S. in ISTM would be the right place to get the rigorous training and skills that prepare the students for advanced management positions in the field of ISTM that require analytic and strategic leadership solutions. That is the reason I decided to pursue my graduate degree at the Lerner College.
Q: What did you learn through this opportunity that you wouldn’t have learned anywhere else?
Keshar Khanal: The M.S. in ISTM program is a very flexible program. By taking suggestions and approval from the graduate advisor, I was able to take the interdisciplinary courses which helped me to develop the skills to pursue my interest. The program also provided the opportunity to develop and equip myself with contemporary data analytical and management skills that prepared me to go deeper into the subject, carry out analysis and develop ways to use the insights to make informed decisions. It also allowed me to connect and learn from the career service advisor who guided me to connect with potential employers and find the internship.
Q: What is an example of a course or concept that you were able to apply directly to your life and/or career?
Keshar Khanal: Broadly, all the courses that I took at UD helped me to increase my technical and soft skills which are helpful in my professional career. However, my current role as a SAS programmer demands the programming skills in SAS and SQL. The database management and programming skills that I learned from courses like Database Management and Implementation (ACCT 804) and Applied Database Management (STAT674) are directly applied in my current work.
Q: Can you describe an important connection you have made through your graduate program?
Keshar Khanal: My graduate program is very helpful in connecting me with diverse people and personnel both inside and outside the University. For example, Professor Everard guided me in my graduate journey since the very first day I met her. She also motivated me to explore the different resources available to students within the university and utilize them optimally, for example the services from Career Services advisors, which is also a key to my success in the program.
I am very glad to have met experienced career service advisor Sarah Baker Andrus, assistant director of Lerner Career Services. She guided me when forming professional connections, including with UD alumni. She also helped me in crafting my resume and with interview preparation. By following her advice, I was able to get an internship which is very important to me as it is my first professional experience outside the University in the United States. I am also able to increase my virtual connection with many professional people around the world which helped me to share my skills with them and learn about their work and companies. I also got a chance to work and learn from Professor Prayuth Nidhi Sharma as his teaching assistant. He taught me to manage time and be a responsible person.
Q: If you were to describe your classmates in one word, what would that be?
Keshar Khanal: I found my classmates very helpful. I got the opportunity to learn about different cultures while they are also helping me to explore the job opportunities and working as a referral!
Q: How do you balance your career with your studies?
Keshar Khanal: I plan, manage time and communicate well with my manager, professors and peers. For example, while doing a group project, I communicate well with my teammates and work together to deliver the result on time. When I encounter problems I immediately communicate with my professors, graduate advisor and with my manager which ultimately helps me to solve issues. In addition, strong determination with high morale helped me to balance my career with my studies.
Q: Fill in this sentence: “My graduate program helped me become…”
Keshar Khanal: technical, responsible, ethical, professional and a nice person.
Q: What was the most impactful hands-on project or case competition that you were able to participate in?
Keshar Khanal: I believe that skills and knowledge we get from the University should be useful to the community too. I am voluntarily working as one of the team members to develop the database system of one of the colleges situated in rural part of Nepal. With this project, the college will be able to manage its information using a computer system. This has not only helped me to hone my technical skills but also made me a responsible person in society too.
Q: What are your plans or next steps for the future?
Keshar Khanal: My current plan is to find a full-time job in a company where I can use my skills. My long-term plan is to use information technology to promote education in the rural part of Nepal. In addition, I want to help others whenever and wherever I can!