It’s not easy to address a crowded room of college students, especially if you were in their position less than a year ago. But you’d never know that listening to our quantitative analyst, Ananth Bevinahally, dish out worldly advice to international graduate and undergraduate students at Drexel University.
Ananth is an inspiring person. He grew up in Bangalore, India, a city known as the “Silicon Valley of India.” But, despite being an incredible city with huge economic growth, it’s not exempt from the same issues many cities in Southeast Asia face—social inequality, mass displacement of people, economic disparity, and severe water and sewage problems. This is what inspired Ananth to look for answers to help his community—he turned to “On Ethics and Economics” by Amartya Sen, a book that hypothesizes how to resolve disparity by making ethical business decisions.
“Economics is great because you can do anything with it—it’s really a problem-solving major,” Ananth said to a class packed with students. “It’s about using numbers as a tool to answer questions.”
Ananth exemplifies what we’re all about here at 50onRed. He’s passionate about his career, ever-curious when it comes to discovering new solutions and agile when work calls for him to adapt. Here are ten takeaways from Ananth’s lecture.
Recognize the people who shape your career
From what motivated him to study economics, to the steps that led him to what he’s doing today, Ananth always thanks and credits the past professors, peers, and co-workers who have shaped his career path.
Is it about having a rigid major in a specific field? “No,” he says, “it’s about the environment you’re in—you can learn so much from different people.”
Seek help and advice from everyone
Most college students are required to take classes that they don’t necessarily love, or have interest in pursuing long term. Classes or speakers that catch your attention—even if for a moment—are worth listening to, Ananth notes. “In business, you’re responsible for communicating data with people to help them understand what’s affecting their work,” he says. “It’s important to talk to everyone to understand their roles, and how their background translates to what you’re analyzing.”
Do as many different things as possible
With co-op experience abroad as well as domestically, and an international background, Ananth was comfortable opting for a unique challenge versus the traditional track.
“Don’t be intimidated to try a variety of things in your field,” he says. “There may have been people [competing for jobs] who had a higher GPA than me, but they never challenged themselves to try new things.”
Diversify your experience both geographically and figuratively
Ananth spent time working in China, India, and the U.S. during his college career—all of which offered unique experiences for him culturally and educationally, he says.
“Being away from your family and all your ties will help show you what really drives you,” he says. “You’ll be able to shape who you really are in so many ways when you’re out of your comfort zone.”
Embracing what makes you a unique person, and ultimately a unique applicant is something virtuous today—it can also enlighten you to what you’d like to be doing on a daily basis. “I knew when I was graduating that I have a lot of skills and a broad range of skills, so I knew I wanted to be at a smaller company,” Ananth says. “What I like about working at a small company is that my ideas are translated into a reality right away.”
Learn what motivates you
Traveling the world in search of what you want to do isn’t wasting time; it’s part of learning what drives you to find answers and stay inspired, Ananth says.
“At work people won’t be able to really gauge how well you know how to do something until they see how well you do it on your own,” he says. “Your true test is when they give you a project and see how you complete it—having skills to do it is one thing, having motivation to improve it, is another.”
Have an independent nature
When a student asked Ananth about the classes he took and his GPA, he didn’t want to dwell on topics he learned in the classroom. “I learned a lot of things myself,” he says, “It’s important to learn things on your own—it shows employers you’re willing to go above and beyond, which is something they look for more so than someone who knows how to do a bunch of functions in excel.”
Be agile and adapt
Being an international student had its challenges—from language barriers in China, to visa restrictions in U.S. The coolest bit of advice Ananth shared with students was that you have to be ready to acclimate quickly to changes that happen in life, and business.
He doesn’t just deal with a situation or solve the problem in front of him, he responds to situations with swiftness and dexterity that’s makes you do a double take at the amazing work he’s doing.
When you’re dealing with millions of changing figures on a daily basis you need to learn how to put in it perspective, he said. “Throw me wherever and I’ll learn; I’ll adapt.”
“When you aren’t sure about what you want, it’s important to venture and do as much as possible,” Ananth says.
Do more than what’s expected
Ananth totally nailed it in college—solid GPA, killer co-ops, extracurricular activity, volunteer work—but we had to ask, was there anything he’d do differently?
“If I could go back I would try to learn more computer science when I was younger,” he says. “I think it’s super important for every career, because it’s awesome to know how to do your job, but if you can also automate your work that’s even better.”