In 2019 Krushnaraj Pandya was running an ice cream shop in India.
With a declining economy in his home country, the Memorial computer engineering student yearned to come to Canada for an education.
Upon discovering Memorial, he was inspired to sell every last scoop in order to buy his first plane ticket ever and pay for his first year of university education.
Time of need
With solid grades, scholarships and competitions, Mr. Pandya has continued to support himself and pay for his education.
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, employment opportunities became scarce.
“At the same time, my parents in India were infected with COVID-19 and were laid off,” he recalled. “Not being able to find a work term for winter would spell the end of my education.”
In his time of need, he thought back to those who’d helped him in the past. In May 2020 he connected with alumnus Adam Keating (B.Eng.’17), co-founder and CEO at CoLab, a software company that sprouted from the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship.
Mr. Keating had become an important mentor to Mr. Pandya. That fall, he decided to reconnect.
“Adam came to my rescue,” he said. “Knowing that I was a hard-working student, he forwarded my resumé to other Newfoundland and Labrador tech companies. Rally was one of the companies that reached out to me.”
Rally is a current member of Genesis’ flagship Enterprise Program with alumnus Scott Stevenson (B.Eng.’12) as co-founder and CEO.
GlobalNL – connecting expats, worldwide
Another mentor, alumnus Mark Duffett (B.Eng.’21), a software developer at Google, advised Mr. Pandya to join GlobalNL, a partner of the Office of Alumni Engagement.
“I made a post (in GlobalNL) about my predicament and how I am looking for opportunities, and included my resumé. A handful of Newfoundland and Labrador companies reached out to me, including Kingsley Gifford (B.Eng.’09).”
Mr. Gifford and Gregory Smyth (B.Eng.’07) founded the GlobalNL platform with the goal of connecting Newfoundlanders and Labradorians all over the world. Mr. Gifford, who also graduated from Harvard Business School in 2014, has since become one of Mr. Pandya’s greatest mentors.
“GlobalNL has become a powerful tool to connect the Newfoundland and Labrador expatriate community and those within the province,” said Mr. Gifford. “Krushnaraj has been a very active member, both in advancing his own career opportunities and in connecting and encouraging others. It’s exciting to see his hard work and enthusiasm pay off.”
Mr. Pandya says he is inspired by the possibilities of furthering his education.
“Kingsley opened my eyes to the possibility of pursuing management degrees at schools like Harvard, and he gave me great advice on how to grow my career. Through GlobalNL, I also connected with Memorial University students working at Tesla, all of whom convinced me to apply for a work term even though I was a junior student.”
“Mark Duffett gave me his old books that he used to prepare for his interviews with Tesla and Google and guided me on how to use them well,” he explained, adding that Mr. Duffett was, at that time, the only person from the computer engineering program to have had work terms with Tesla and Google.
Mr. Pandya received offers from all of the companies that he connected with. Thanks to his alumni connections, he’s had work terms with some of the world’s most impressive tech organizations, two of which that began at Memorial (InspectAR and Rally).
Next up, he’ll be working with Tesla. Because of this, he won’t have to worry about funding the remainder of his degree. He can’t say enough about the Memorial alumni connections he made.
“Any sort of success, whether in personal relationships or in a career, happens only because we can connect to other people’s experiences who have been in the same shoes before. Without even one of the people who have helped me, I would not be where I am today as the youngest person from Memorial engineering to intern at Tesla.”
He is excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.
“There are countless opportunities before me once I graduate, including starting my own Newfoundland and Labrador-based tech company and pursuing entrepreneurship, a top graduate management school such as Stanford or Harvard, climbing the ranks as a software developer at a big tech company or something entirely else. Who knows what the future holds for me? And that is precisely what excites me.”