An interview with Archita Sajjan

ACM-W focuses on putting out inspiring stories from strong women, to motivate fellow women and draw inspiration from.

Our fourth and final article of the series features Archita Sajjan from final year Metallurgical engineering. Having interned in an established firm, Fidelity Investments, as well as a bunch of startups to having started her own startup, she serves as a motivator for all of us! In this article, she shares her journey, along with some very insightful pointers on how to get through college life. Archita has been a very valuable core member of ACM and ACM-W, creating an impact with every responsibility she takes up.

1) How was your journey in college, managing internships, clubs and academics, all while having fun and making the best out of the four years?

  • For me, school was just about studying. So,college was honestly a very life changing experience. First year was mainly about exploring the various clubs and activities, and I joined a few of them in my second year. Through clubs, I was able to meet some of my closest friends, meet a lot of inspirational people, and mentors, who helped me figure out what I like and what I wanted to do. It was a very transformative experience. Through clubs, I met people who helped me figure out my next steps in life and my leadership style.

2) What helped you narrow down your interest in Business Analytics and switch from Engineering to the Management route?

  • I had done an internship in the metallurgical department to start off, but very early on I  realised that this is not something that I want to pursue as a career. In my first year, I participated in various events, Apprentice by ACM being one of them. I also saw various E-cell events and entrepreneurship was something that inspired me. In my second year, I joined ACM, and did a few projects under Kaaryavarta and also a few courses on the side related to business and management.
  •  I discovered my interest in Analytics and developing things that create impact. So business analytics helped me integrate both and explore various fields. Unlike say economics, it wasn’t restricted to an industry and it’s a widely required skill used in every industry. With the rise of Big data, it’s also a very upcoming field.

3) You have interned in a lot of start-ups. How do you decide whether a particular internship is right for your resume or essential to develop your skills? 

  • I reached out to the start ups only when I heard about them from people I know. A few seniors told me about the first start up, how it was a great experience for them, and hence I gave it a shot.They asked me to work on a field that was new to me, Social media management. I was scared but I learnt those skills and it turned out to be a great experience.
  • For the second startup, I was more open to trying out new areas. I worked in marketing analytics and built monetization strategies, recruited a few more people to work on social media. 
  • In short, Network plays a very important role. Build strong networks and leverage them. Don’t shy away from branching out in fields related to your interests.

4) How would you compare the work experience gained in an established company to that in a start-up?

  • An established company always has a structured hierarchy and curriculum for employees. There’s a rigid structure, where usually you need to show progress, make reports daily, present a ppt almost everyday. On the other hand, a start-up provides so much more flexibility and freedom to choose a domain, learn and execute it, provided that you show promise in completing the task in hand. Branching out in different domains in a company is difficult in your initial years. Communication is very free in a startup with everyone, including the founder most of the time. Also you can see the direct impact of your work in a startup, leading to a steeper learning curve.

5) What are your plans post graduating from NITK? 

  • Firstly, right after college I plan to work in Fidelity for a couple of years. I’ll keep working part-time in start-ups and growing my own startup too. I will also be targeting MBA programmes after a few years of work experience.

6) How impactful do you think are roles of student leadership and community service in one’s career?

  • I think they’re very important. Community work could be anything that you value and want to give back to the community. It could be as small as mentoring a junior or a peer for an interview or application. It gives you a chance to create direct impact. You need to focus on the process, more than the result. Also I had a strong drive to help women in STEM. Seeing a lot of people not knowing and grabbing the opportunities available specifically for women was disheartening to see. This pushed me to go forward with establishing ACM-W in NITK. 
  • Coming to leadership, it’s not always about official titles. It’s more about creating impact, showing teamwork, taking the right decisions for the team and effective communication. Sometimes, you need positions to bring about official changes in say, the functionality of the club. But in most of the cases, just taking charge on a project you’re working on, or solving conflicts shows effective leadership. Coming to the industry, every recruiter wants to see if you can create an impact and bring about change. So demonstrating leadership skills early on is very important.

7) Congratulations on initiating your start-up Wommuniti! What inspired you to start this project? Could you tell us a little about the initiative and what’s lined up for Wommuniti in the future?

  • I knew I wanted to do something for women as a community. So Sitara (Batch of 2020) and I brainstormed on ‘What is it that we would like as a community?’ We came up with Wommuniti. It’s basically micro-communities of women to help like- minded women come together, exchange ideas and discuss common topics of interest. 
  • Currently, our main focus is to build an inspirational social media presence for  Wommuniti. To expand, we want to create media channels. Here, we talk about the small challenges that women face in our daily lives, to try and make a difference. We also want to launch our website, app and collaborate with more people soon.

8) You have accomplished a lot since you started college and there’s only more to follow, but were there any additional challenges that you faced along the way, being a woman in your field?

  • Being a woman, you always hear stuff. I was in a class having 6 girls and 70 boys so I’ve seen and heard a lot of comments being passed, not just by peers but professors as well. Fake rumors were occasionally spread too. But through all of this, I learnt to not give it any attention, persevere through them and just keep working on yourself and your skills. I am also a person who likes doing things my way. This has got me into trouble a lot, being a very strongly opinionated woman. It worried me for a while, but in the end, this has only taught me how to handle comments and resolve conflicts. In situations where you have no control on, it’s best to ignore and strive towards your goals. That’s the most important thing I’ve learnt.

We are grateful to Archita for sharing her experiences and time with us. Furthermore, we wish her the best of luck for her journey which will surely bring us nothing but more inspiration and motivation.

Curated By Shalaka Deshpande

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