My life-changing journey from disadvantage in Delhi to the University of Sydney

31 August 2021
Written by Abhishek Handa
Current Master of Management (CEMS) student Abhishek shares his experience as an international student and recipient of the first Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship.

Abhishek Handa

Inspired by Asha

Growing up, the idea of going to university was the farthest thing I could imagine because no one in my family had gone to university. It was when I met the Asha team in my slum that I was motivated, encouraged, and inspired to go to the University of Delhi for further studies.

The Asha Society is an international NGO founded and directed by Dr Kiran Martin. I was connected with them in Delhi in my final year of high school. I began to study at the Asha centre instead of my home because they provided a quiet and safe environment for me to study. They mentored me and provided me with study material which helped me to excel in my exams.

Asha provided me with several internship opportunities at some prestigious organisations during my undergraduate degree at the University of Delhi. I was an intern at the British High Commission, Macquarie Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

I then received this life-changing opportunity to pursue my Master's degree at the University of Sydney because of the Asha Society and Dr Kiran Martin. I am also eternally grateful to the University of Sydney for selecting me for the Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship.

Receiving the Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship was a life-changing experience for me. Studying at the University has broadened my perspectives of my life and career. It allowed me to dream big and achieve the highest goals of my life.
Abhishek Handa

Professor John Shields from the University of Sydney Business School (centre-L) with Abhishek Handa (centre-R) and members of Abhishek's family.

The Master of Management (CEMS) experience

I started studying the Master of Management (CEMS) in early 2020 after being awarded the first Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship.

The exchange element and the global cohort of the degree offered the opportunity to meet, interact and learn from students around the world. I was also excited by opportunities like skills seminars, learning a third language and an 8-week internship.

The style of teaching within the degree has been very practical which has made my studies interesting and relevant. I was introduced to the concept of peer learning, which has proven life-changing for me. Working in teams for group projects is something which I've never done before and it made me learn the value and significance of that method.

The Master of Management (CEMS) has helped me develop intellectual, communication, teamwork and performance-based skills in management, consulting, strategy formulation and technology.
Abhishek Handa

The most memorable part of my degree was working on a business project with Coca-Cola. We worked on their initiative to help youth with employment opportunities in the hospitality sector. It was a very special unit as I was dealing with real company clients in Dublin, and working with my team online from different parts of the world. All team members were very creative, smart and committed to the project.

All the contents of my degree are going to be very useful to apply in a practical sense when I start working full-time. My perspective towards my career and goals has been transformed completely, and this program is going to give a sharp edge to my career prospects after completing the degree.

Advice for international students

Studying at an international university made me learn a lot about my own personality. There are several things I would like to suggest to an international student like me coming to a foreign university.

First of all, prepare yourself physically and mentally for the super busy university and study life. Work hard and give your best in every assignment and exam. There are going to be many group-based assignments, so prepare for this and be professional and understanding. Working in teams is also a great learning experience for the future, as with overall university studies, so take as much from it as you can.

And most importantly, do not forget to enjoy the university life – research university clubs and societies to join based on your degree or interests and take advantage of all the facilities and services at the University. Make friends and get the most out of the whole experience.

Paying it forward

I would like to start working full-time in the consulting field once I graduate from the Master of Management (CEMS). I have developed an interest in this sector during my master's degree.

When I start working, I would also like to start paying it forward to society. The Asha Society will continue to help me do the same. There are so many students in Asha who need help, guidance and support for their development and career building. I am willing to support them in their education and growth.

By paying it forward I will also help to achieve Dr Kiran’s goal, which is to educate and provide a good life to each and every child in the slums of Delhi.

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